Getting to Turkey is simple. Getting around Turkey requires a little more thought, but the public transport system is fairly modern and the roads are improving all the time.
If you don’t know the language, it is particularly important to plan ahead if you want to use public transport in Turkey. Work out your route from the comfort of your own home, rather than squinting at your phone screen as you panic about missing a connection.
International transport links
Turkey is easily accessible from abroad, although it’s worth looking into customs regulations before attempting to bring anything other than “normal” luggage with you. Customs are currently pretty tricky to navigate. See our Guide to Importing Your Possessions into Turkey.
Travelling by air
Turkey has many international airports. The busiest ones are:
|Atatürk International Airport||Istanbul||IST/LTBA||61,322,729|
|Sabiha Gökçen International Airport||Istanbul||SAW/LTFJ||28,112,438|
|Esenboğa International Airport||Ankara||ESB/LTAC||12,326,869|
|Adnan Menderes Airport||İzmir||ADB/LTBJ||12,139,788|
You can get a direct flight into Istanbul from most places in the world. If you can’t get a direct flight to another Turkish city, it is easy to take a domestic flight from Istanbul to most other cities.
Flights into Turkey are generally reasonably priced. Examples for flights to Istanbul, booked a month in advance for July 2017:
|New York||Turkish Airlines||£736/€847/US$940|
The main Turkish airlines are:
- Corendon Airlines
- Freebird Airlines
- Onur Air
- Pegasus Airlines
- Tailwind Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
Travelling by sea
Arriving in Turkey by sea is quite rare, unless you’re a tourist hopping across to Bodrum or Fethiye from the Greek islands.
A ferry from the Greek islands (e.g. Kos or Rhodes) will cost between £17/€20/US$22 and £70/ €80/US$89.
Transport within Turkey
Travelling by road
Roads in Turkey vary from modern motorways to single-lane dirt tracks. Within and between cities, roads are usually of a good quality – head into the countryside, though, and you may struggle a little more.
Driving in Turkey (see Driving in Turkey) is a challenge if you’re used to a sedate experience. Speed limits are roundly ignored, and drivers will often drive through stop signs and even red lights. Driving at night can be stressful, as many on the road will neglect to turn on their headlights – and street lighting can be patchy.
Renting a car in Turkey is easy. All of the major international companies (Avis, Europcar etc.) have offices in the country, and most international airports will have a car hire desk.
Taxis in Turkish cities are generally modern five-seaters that run on environmentally-conscious liquified natural gas. This helps keep pollution down, but means that boot (trunk) space is severely limited, as the tank is kept in the back!
All taxis are fitted with a digital meter. All taxi drivers are meant to use them. Sometimes they don’t – but they will usually give in if you insist (and your price will usually be lower).
The starting fare in a Turkish taxi is usually around TRY3 (£0.60/€0.75/US$0.80). From there, the fare will vary depending on the city – but expect another TRY3 per km.
A taxi waiting for an hour may charge around TRY30 (£6/€7.5/US$8).
Tipping is not expected (rounding up is the norm), but is appreciated if your driver helps with heavy luggage.
Travelling by train
Contrary to many countries, Turkish train travel is generally a cheaper and slower method than traveling by bus – although many long-distance travellers are happy to sacrifice a couple of hours for the additional comfort of a train. Most are now air-conditioned and well maintained.
A ten-hour journey on a normal train will cost you about TRY40 (£9/€10/US$11) for a single ticker.
A single ticket on a high-speed train from Istanbul to Ankara will cost around TRY70 (£15/€17.5/US$19).
A return ticket costs around 20% less than two single tickets would do.
İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa and İzmir all have metro (underground) railway systems. A jeton – a transport token – will cost around TRY2 (£0.40/€0.50/US$0.60).
Travelling by bus
Buses are a great option for long-distance travel in Turkey. They are reasonably fast (6-7 hours between Ankara and Istanbul) and run regularly (every 15 minutes or so). They are usually modern, air-conditioned vehicles.
See a list of bus routes here.
Buses within cities
Bus systems in Turkish cities are generally reliable and well-connected. In most places, you’ll have to buy a ticket in advance from a special kiosk. Tickers cost around TRY2 (£0.40/€0.50/US$0.60).
Dolmuş are a little more expensive than buses, but they’re generally more comfortable and faster. They can be used to travel within or between towns. Dolmuş stops are marked by signs with a capital ‘D’, and are usually located near town squares or other landmarks.