Transport and Driving in Turkey
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With a developed transport infrastructure, it is quite easy to get around Turkey. Most towns and cities have taxis and bus services, and railway and bus routes also connect most destinations across the country. There is also a developed road network so it’s possible to drive in Turkey; although driving conditions are not of a high standard.
Public transport in Turkey
Turkey has a well-developed bus network and bus travel is one of the easiest and cheapest options for getting around the country. Most Turkish cities and towns have a central bus station (otogar) where expats can catch a bus to most destinations across the country. Tickets can be bought at the bus station or at bus company offices.
Most buses are air-conditioned and offer a good quality service, with many staffed by assistants who serve drinks and snacks. Long-distance Turkish buses are not usually equipped with on-board toilets, but there are frequent stops at rest stops along the way. Cell phone use is generally restricted on many buses, and expats may get a few dirty looks if talking too loudly on a bus.
Turkey’s rail network covers most of the central and eastern regions, with Turkish Republic State Railways operating passenger trains across the country. There are no rail lines along the western and central Mediterranean coasts, apart from a short stretch between Izmir and Selçuk, and no train services to Bodrum and Antalya, or to the Black Sea coast.
On some routes, there are comfortable seating and sleeping compartments. The high-speed Istanbul to Ankara line is the most used in Turkey and there are several daily trains on this line. Delays are frequent, but the journey generally takes between six and ten hours.
Many of Turkey's main cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Adana and İzmir have metro systems. A number of cities and towns in Turkey also have light rail transit systems, including trams.
There are numerous ferry services in Turkey, including a regular service across the Dardanelles at Gallipoli, cross-Bosphorus and short-hop ferries between various parts of Istanbul. Ferries also connect Turkey with other countries in the region, including Greece and Cyprus.
Taxis are available in most Turkish cities, and are reasonably priced. Yellow cabs are metered. Most drivers don’t speak English so it’s best to have the address written down in advance to show the driver. Tipping is not expected, but a small tip may be appreciated.
Mini-bus taxis, commonly known as dolmuş, are available in large cities and towns. These taxis stop to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere on a pre-established route and they can be flagged down anywhere along their route. Although these taxis are cheaper than yellow cabs and are often faster than regular buses, they can make for a scary ride as drivers tend to be reckless.
Local rideshare apps such as BiTaksi operate in Istanbul and Ankara. Many expats prefer using these apps as it gives them more control over routes and service prices while diminishing language barrier issues.
Driving in Turkey
Although the country has a good network of roads, driving standards in Turkey are generally poor. Turkey has one of the world’s highest motor vehicle accident rates and Turkish drivers are known to be reckless. Expats should drive defensively and with caution.
Traffic drives on the right. Road signs are similar to those used in Europe and are plentiful. There is no shortage of petrol stations, which are often open 24 hours a day. However, petrol is expensive in Turkey.
Air travel in Turkey
Turkey’s main airports include Atatürk International Airport, located outside of Istanbul, and Ankara Esenboğa, which is just outside of the capital. There are daily domestic flights to and from a number of destinations across Turkey, with the national carrier, Turkish Airlines, as well as a number of smaller carriers offering flights in the country.