Transport and Driving in Turkey
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With a developed transport infrastructure, it’s quite easy to get around Turkey. Most towns and cities have taxis and bus services. Railway and bus routes also connect most destinations across the country. The road network is well developed, so it’s possible to drive in Turkey. However, driving conditions are not of a high standard.
Public transport in Turkey
Turkey has a well-developed bus network. 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 bus company offices.
Most buses are air-conditioned and offer a good quality service. Many are staffed by assistants who serve drinks and snacks. Long-distance Turkish buses aren’t usually equipped with onboard toilets. However, there are frequent stops at rest stops along the way. Cell phone use is generally restricted on many buses. 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. There also aren’t train services to Bodrum and Antalya, or 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. 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. Some cities and towns in Turkey also have light rail transit systems, including trams.
There are numerous ferry services in Turkey. They include 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. 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. Due to long-standing tension between local taxis and Uber, it isn’t advisable to use the app to get around Turkey.
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.
Renting a car in Turkey should be easy and straightforward. There are a few international car rental companies like Hertz, Europcar, and Budget available throughout the country.
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 many destinations across Turkey. The national carrier, Turkish Airlines, is the most popular. However, there are several smaller carriers offering flights to various destinations in the country.