- Download our Moving to Turkey Guide (PDF)
With a developed transport infrastructure, getting around Turkey is quite easy. Most towns and cities have taxis and bus services, and 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, but road conditions are not always 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 city buses in major cities only accept pre-purchased tickets; in Istanbul, expats can purchase jetonlar (tokens) or an Istanbul Kart (smart card).
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, 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 they talk too loudly.
Turkish Republic State Railways operates passenger trains across the country and links all the major cities.
On some routes, there are comfortable seating and sleeping compartments. The high-speed Istanbul to Ankara line is the most used in Turkey, with several daily trains operating on this line. Delays are frequent, but the journey generally takes six to ten hours.
As well as the Istanbul to Ankara route, the high-speed train also operates on the Ankara–Konya and Eskisehir–Konya routes. Turkey's transport minister announced plans to have high-speed train routes operating throughout the country within 30 years.
There are also metro systems in many of Turkey's main cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Adana and İzmir. 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.
- The Turkish Republic State Railways website has more information on trains, schedules and routes in the country.
Taxis in Turkey
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. After being banned in 2019, Uber has made a comeback in Turkey and is operating in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Therefore, this is another option for travel around the city.
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 local drivers are notorious for being 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 side of the road, and 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. That said, petrol is expensive in Turkey.
Expats who will be living in Turkey for six months or longer will need a local driving licence to drive in the country legally. New arrivals must receive a health certificate from a medical practitioner and take an eye test to confirm their fitness to drive. Thereafter, expats will need to take and pass both theoretical and practical tests to secure their driving licences. Expats from certain countries can simply exchange their driving licences for local driving licences if their governments have reciprocal agreements with Turkey.
- Turkey's traffic department website has more information on securing driving licences in the country.
Air travel in Turkey
Turkey's main airports include Atatürk International Airport, located outside of Istanbul, and Ankara Esenboğa, which is just outside the capital. There are daily domestic flights to and from many destinations across Turkey. The national carrier, Turkish Airlines, is the most popular, but there are several smaller carriers offering flights to various destinations in the country.
►For more city-specific transport options see Getting Around in Istanbul.
►Read Frequently Asked Questions about Turkey for responses to common queries.
What do local expats say about public transport in Turkey?
"The train network is very limited but the national coach system is fantastic. Tickets are cheap and you can get anywhere in the country, though some of the journeys take more than 20 hours (Turkey is a huge country!). The coaches have reclining seats, are spotlessly clean and have two drivers swapping over so they can adhere to the strict limits on driving hours. There is also a host on each coach who serves drinks and snacks throughout the journey and the coaches stop every two hours at service stations along the way for toilet breaks. The coaches run on a tight schedule and are never late so be sure to get to the station early to claim your seat." Read about Faye, a British expat, and her experience of life in Turkey.
"One of my favourite things about using public transport is the occasional stop-off for the driver to get a cup of tea. Turks drink multiple cups of steaming black tea every day, and public transport drivers need their fix too. It’s not uncommon for the driver of the bus or minibus to pull over, run into a café or their friend’s shop and come back with a cup of tea. In the meantime, all the passengers sit on the bus, patiently waiting for them to come back. No one complains. After all, it’s perfectly understandable – you can’t live without tea!" Read more about Ginny Lou, an American expat, who moved to Adana in 2016, in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Turkey?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Turkey. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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