Turkey: Local Travel Info
Bridging the East and West
Internal Flights and Major International Airports:
There are ten main airports in Turkey, many of which are international airports as well. Ataturk International Airport is the major international airport of the country, located in Istanbul. Other important airports in the country include the Ankara International Esenboga Airport, the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, located to the east of the city, the Antalya Airport situated to the east of Antalya, and having three terminals - one for domestic, one for international and one for cargo. A shuttle bus provides transport to the nearby resorts and hotels, while taxis are also readily available. Located to the west of Antalya and also on the Mediterranean coast is the modern Dalaman International Airport. There are regular flights from Istanbul as well as direct flights to European destinations. The airport is open 24 hours a day and is situated very near to the city, with transport links provided by buses and taxis.
Domestic and internal flights in Turkey for transporting passengers between the cities include Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, Fly Air, Atlasjet, IZair, Pegasus Airlines and Sun Express.
To and From Ataturk International Airport (Istanbul):
The Ataturk International Airport is located in Yesilyurt, 23km west of the city centre. The airport is the biggest and busiest in the country. There are a number of transport options available at the airport to get to the city. The metro and Tram service is available from the airport and takes close to an hour and cost only YTL3 ($1.90). At the exit of the airport there are signs directing passengers to the Light Rail system. Tickets can be purchased at the booth located on the platforms. Airport shuttle buses ply to Taksim Square which is at the center of the city. Buses depart from the arrivals of the International and Domestic Airports and takes about 45 minutes to an hour to reach. Other buses ply from the airport to different parts of the city. Taxis are available at the Arrivals of the domestic and International airport. A ride to the city center or Sultanahmet will cost YTL25 to 30 ($16 to 19). Post midnight the fare goes up by 50%. A reserved taxi service is also available at the airport. Shared shuttle vans ply to the city center but are not advisable for tourists. A suburban train service also transports passengers from the airport to the city centre for less than YTL12 ($7.50).
Travel Costs in Turkey:
Turkey is not very expensive to travel around in, though cities frequented by tourists are more expensive than the rest. Buses ply in the cities at frequent intervals, and inter city bus travel is popular as well. The cost for an hour’s ride in a public bus will cost YTL2.50 ($1.50). The metro and Tram services ply in the main cities of Turkey and the minimum cost of a ticket is YTL3 ($1.90). Taxis are popular, but expensive compared to other modes of transport. Taxis in Turkey have a starting fare of YTL1.25 ($.80). All taxis are run on a digital meter except for inter state or city travel, where a price is fixed upon before hand. A 30 minute ride in a taxi costs YTL15 to 20 ($9-12). Ferries are another popular mode of travel in Turkey, with a return ticket costing YTL12.50 ($8). Istanbul has an efficient tram system, with trams departing every five minutes, plying from 6am to midnight. A fare of YTL1.30 ($.80) is charged. Local trains ply to most parts of the city with tickets being priced the same as trams.
Car Hire inTurkey
Renting of cars in Turkey is expensive compared to any other Middle Eastern or European country, primarily because of the high taxes charged to import cars into the country. A day’s rental for a medium sized car with insurance and other costs included will cost YTL117 to 125 ($75 to 80). However, renting a car and driving around Turkey is a great way to see the country, so if you can afford it, then go ahead! Cash deposits are required at the time of rental, and payments are usually made by credit cards. There are a number of small and large car rental agencies in Turkey with most offering competitive rates so don’t be worried about getting cheated. It is advisable to do a recce before selecting your rental car. Clear all doubts regarding mileage, insurance, etc at the time of renting the car.
Driver’s License Requirements in Turkey:
The minimum legitimate age for driving in Turkey is 18. A valid driving license from the tourists’ home country is a must (international driving license is not required).
Rules in Turkey:
Driving takes place on the right hand side of the road and right of way always belongs to traffic coming from the right. The speed limit for driving in Turkey is 90 km/h on the highways and 50km/h in towns although these limits are often ignored and people driving in Turkey tend to go as fast as they can. Seatbelts for drivers and front passengers are mandatory. Children should always have special car seats for their own safety.
Buses in Turkey:
Buses are the most common form of transport in Turkey and travel to every nook and corner of the country. They are cheap, comfortable and fast. There are a number of bus companies that operate buses in the country. Inter city bus travel is popular in Turkey owing to the excellent road conditions and comfortable buses. Trips between the capital city Ankara and Istanbul are completed in 6 to 7 hours, with buses departing every 15 minutes. Depending on the luxury you seek, there are a range of options to choose from, with tickets ranging from YTL25 to 80 ($16 to 51) for a one way ticket. Owing to the frequency of departures tourists are most sure to get tickets right before the bus’s departure and prior booing is hardly ever necessary, except during festival season. Buses plying within city limits are as efficient and cost effective. A bus ride of a few kilometers or a half hour costs YTL1.50 to 2.50 ($1 to 1.50). For travelers on a shoestring budget try the ‘hop on hop off’ or ‘Fez’ buses. These buses allow tourists to see the country at dirt cheap prices. The bus service is pitched at independent budget travelers and backpackers, departing every destination every 2nd day in an anti-clockwise direction from Istanbul. A pass is required and is valid for a few months, wherein you can travel the entire length and breadth of the country for a one time charge of YTL620 ($399). The ‘Dolmus’ or minibuses run on pre determined routes and charge a set fare of YTL2 ($1.20).
Taxis in Turkey:
Taxis are popular in Turkey, but more often than not, tourists are bound to have an unpleasant experience in them. Taxis are fitted with digital meters, but more often than not, drivers insist on a pre fixed fare and try their best to avoid traveling on the meter. Also, taxis opt for passengers traveling longer distances and will often refuse passengers if the distance is too short. However, for inter city trips taxis fix a pre fixed rate that is usually printed on the taxi. The base fare for taxis in turkey start at YTL1.25, and goes up with each kilometer. At night, the fare goes up by 50%. Tipping drivers is not encouraged, unless they have been of extra help in any way. Shared taxis or ‘Dolmush’ are a cheaper way of traveling by taxis but be ready to be squeezed in with at least 4-5 other passengers.
Cycling in Turkey:
Cycling in the scenic country of Turkey can be quite an exciting experience and more so if you embark on a complete cycling holiday. The scenery of Turkey is breathtaking and a cycling trip is worthwhile. While cycling in Turkey, avoid main roads at all costs. Turkish drivers aren’t the most gentlest and rash driving is often the norm, especially on unmanned stretches of road. So stay safe and use smaller pathways and alleys. If you plan on buying your cycle in Turkey, Istanbul or Ankara will offer you the best deals, with a sturdy bike costing close to YTL325 ($208). Hiring of cycles in common in Turkey and most cities and towns has shops where you can hire a cycle from for a cheap price.
Water Transport in Turkey:
Ferries are the most common form of water transport in Turkey, transporting passengers between cities and ports. Istanbul Fast Ferries operate a frequent sea bus service from Bostanci, Kadiköy, Kartal, Yalova and Büyükada Island to Bakirköy, Karaköy, Yenikapi, Yalova, Avcilar and Bandirma. A short distance ferry trip costs YTL12.50 ($8) for a return trip.
Hitch hiking in Turkey:
Hitch hiking in Turkey is safe, easy and definitely worth a try although it is always advisable to avoid hitching a ride alone. Turkish drivers are usually very friendly and if there is space in the vehicle he will stop for anyone hitch hiking a ride. Lifts with big trucks are the most common, partly because personal cars are very often quite full. Turkish truck drivers are generally very friendly and helpful but may not speak a word of English. Some drivers ask for money and if you are not willing to pay let the driver know before getting into his or her vehicle. If you have a signboard with your final destination written on it, it can be more helpful.