Getting around Turkey by bus
The bus service in Turkey is excellent. Every city seems to be connected with every other city, and finding a bus at any hour is never really a problem. If you're not bothered which bus company you take or where you want to sit, or don't mind waiting a few hours for the next bus, then just go straight to the Otogar (bus station) where dozens of bus companies will compete for your business.
Otogars tend to be located out of town nowadays, and aren't always well served by public transport, so a more reliable way to get started on your bus journey is to head to one of the many bus company offices, usually clustered together in the centre of town. You can book your tickets here, and most companies also offer a free minibus service to the otogar in time for your bus. In many offices, you can also leave your luggage for an hour or so.
Bus tickets can also be bought online, often at a slight discount, from the company websites. A useful site for an idea of timetables and costs is www.neredennereye.com although it only shows timetables for a handful of companies. Each city has its own company, some good, some not so good, and there are also some national ones serving the whole country. Good bus companies include Metro, Ulusoy, Varan, Kamil Koç and Nilüfer which serve most parts of the country...but that doesn't mean the regional companies are to be avoided. I've had very good bus rides on Cizre Nuh based in Cizre, Truva based in Çanakkale and Mardin Seyahat based in Mardin.
Buses are getting better and better, and the best companies have comfortable seats with personal video screens, an assistant who brings round tea, coffee, water and snacks, as well as lemon-scented perfume, and there are rest stops every few hours. Service stations are pretty good too, large complexes with clean bathrooms, grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, a mosque and sometimes outlet fashion stores. You generally get half an hour at a service station, but if the journey is a short one, it might be just enough time to have a pee and light a cigarette. Make sure to ask the assistant, although they are quite good at making sure everyone is on board before leaving!
Between smaller towns, the bus is replaced with the dolmuş, a minibus which leaves when it has enough passengers. You pay the driver directly, usually at the start of the trip. If your maths, Turkish or knowledge of the route isn't great, it's not a good idea to sit directly behind the driver, otherwise the other passengers will be handing you their money and telling you where they are getting off!
Hitching is possible in remoter parts, but not really recommended. Not being one to stick to recommendations, we decided to hitch in SE Turkey in 2000, which in hindsight was probably a very foolish thing to do, considering the security issues in the region at that time. But even in the dead of night, we found lifts.
Seat Belt legislation at the buses in Turkiye
According to changes at Traffic Legislation changes on 19th Febuary 2014;
All passengers who travels between cities must use seat belts at the BUSES now.
I believe this system will spread very fast around the World.
Have a safe travelRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
BY PLANE: 2001... I flew British Airways direct from London to Istanbul, which was the cheapest deal for the length of time I wanted to stay (£200 I think). There are, of course, hundreds of charter flights from the UK and the rest of Europe to Istanbul and coastal airports...but these come with time restrictions of a fortnight usually. From Trabzon, you can fly to Tbilisi on a rather tired plane in the Georgian Airlines ageing fleet. It cost me only $89 one way, and this included a tourist visa for Georgia which would otherwise have cost $60, so this is a very good deal, as long as you don't mind not having a seat which is attached to the floor of the plane!
2005 and later...I generally fly Turkish Airlines by choice, which now connects more countries than any other airline, mainly with Istanbul. Within Turkey, Turkish Airlines or its sister company Anadolujet serve most airports in the country, and independent airlines like Borajet, Pegasus and Atlasjet offer similar routes...the competition makes flying a reasonable option, especially if you are heading to the east or south of the country and don't fancy an interminably long bus ride.
BY LAND...from Iraq
Getting to Iraq is fairly simple. First make your way to Cizre in the far south east of Turkey. The easiest way is to fly to nearby Şırnak Airport which has daily flights to Ankara and Istanbul, or you could take a bus from Mardin or Diyarbakır (or even Istanbul if you are masochistic). From Cizre, take a minibus to Silopi, the last town before the border, where shared taxis tout for business to take you through the border to Zakho and beyond. Passing through the Turkish side doesn't take long, and soon you cross a bridge over the Habur River to Iraqi Kurdistan. Many nationalities can get a free visa on arrival, valid for 15 days in the Kurdistan region of Iraq only (i.e. not valid for travel to Baghdad or Basra or Mosul or anywhere in "Arab" Iraq). The taxi driver takes all passports, and all you have to do is stand in the plush passport office (complete with leather sofas, HD televisions and crystal sugar bowls) waiting for your name to be called out. Someone might ask what your plans are, so it is a good idea to know where you want to go (and where you are not supposed to go). Some taxis dump you in a car park where you can find onward transport to Zakho, Dohuk or Erbil, others dump you by the roadside on the outskirts of Zakho. From Cizre to Zakho, reckon on three hours.
Buses also make the trip from Istanbul to Erbil, but these spend much longer at the border, so it is easier if more expensive to do the trip in stages. Try Cizre Nuh or Habur Tur bus companies.
From Iraq to Turkey, the process is a little more complicated, although most of the paperwork is handled by the driver or his assistant. It is easy enough to find vehicles in Dohuk or Zakho travelling through the border to Silopi or Cizre, and the price is reasonable. But once through Iraqi passport control, the fun begins. Cars sit and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait, inching forward to access the bridge over the Habur. Once on the bridge, more waiting...and a bit more...and a bit more. The reason for all this waiting is that Turkish customs officials check every vehicle for smuggled goods, especially cigarettes. Drivers and their assistants are very good at buying excess cigarettes and trying to get their passengers to hide them in their luggage...EU passengers are prized in particular because they have a larger tobacco allowance than Turkish or Iraqi citizens. Most cartons are confiscated, but as cigarettes are cheap in Iraq, it must be financially worth it to go to such lengths. Anyway, all luggage is screened by modern x-ray machines, and the process takes forever. When I say forever, I was stuck on the border for four hours this time, and last time it took six hours. One passenger who does this trip every two weeks told me he once waited overnight on the bridge. Once in Turkey, Silopi and Cizre have frequent bus connections with cities further west.
The Iraqi border post is called Ibrahim Khalil, while the Turkish side is known as Habur.
buses from rize and trabzon to batumi,georgia
Be aware if u take a bus from rize to batumi in georgia or from trabzon.when bus gets to border crossing,they let all passengers off to clear turkush and georgian immigration but do not pick up their passengers once at the georgian side
Travel by Car
Turkey is also a good country generally for exploring by your own car.
Rental cars are readily available and agencies are, in our experience, reliable, friendly, and accommodating.
Roads are overall good and there is an extensive highway system in the western half, with excellent freeways. Gasoline/petrol stations are plentiful and often have great stores, bathrooms, etc., and Turkish highway rest stops are grand things - whole markets, restaurants, gas stations, etc., rolled into one. Of course, there are plenty of mediocre or dirt/gravel roads, and the road network is not as good in all areas, especially the far eastern part of the country, but overall, thw road network is good and driving places is easy.Related to:
- Road Trip
Bus travel is probably the number 1 method of long-distance travel in the country and Turkey has an extensive, extremely effective bus system. There are numerous bus lines running everywhere throughout the whole country, major bus stations where all bus lines converge together in all significant cities, buses run constantly, day and night, and they are generally fast, clean, and efficient. They also provide snacks, movies, etc., during the trip. Long hauls will stop at rest stops along the road where people can eat, rest, etc.
known air carriers in Turkiye
country is developing very fast and so many new agencies are also around late ten years. The main problem i see here, the system force you to follow all discount campaings if u want to get good priced flight.
There are two airport in Istanbul ;
Ataturk Airport (European part and easy to reach city center even by metro)
Sabiha Gokcen Airport (Asian part, it takes really time and no metro line here)
Carriers i know;
Atlasjet, Pegasus, Anadolujet, Sunexpress, Turkish Airlines,Onurair
all the best
Driving in Turkey
You'll have no problem driving in Turkey.
Actually I found it very "exciting" in Antalya as the speed is not so strict controlled and the roads are new and wide... that's the nice part of the life isn't it? :)
Of course, you have to be more careful than in your place as they are driving a bit "different"... nothing to be scared about anyway.
The rules are more or less the same and you’ll understand the signs without problem… keep safe anyway and … have a nice trip!
All is so simple… “do what the locals- but not the Romans- do” :)
Hire a car & drive yourself
The beauty of driving in any country is that you are the boss and in control of your own jouney - stopping (or not) where it does or doesn't suit...
Driving in Turkey is pretty easy. The driving test is 10 meters forwards and 10 meters back in reverse... and this is probably the biggest hazard of the road... the standard of driving combined with some of the silly risks some of the drivers take.
It seems as though there is not a road in Turkey that is not being constructed or being repaired or resurfaced. This means that you can drive a full day spending your time switching from one side of the carriageway to the other... and it is not always easy to guess where you are meant to be driving!
There are lots of signs that say RADAR and you really want to take notice of these and ensure you are doing the correct speed because 8 out of 10 times the police will be there with their radars. I got pulled twice - both times I was waved on my way after several minutes....
The petrol stations do not all supply the same quality of petrol. We were very specifically told (by National car hire) to only use O-pet & Shell petrol stations and to use "Euro petrol/diesel". At the time of writing (Aug 2011) the price of petrol/diesel was on a par with that of the UK - very expensive. Petrol stations are not self service and if you wish to pay by credit card it involves having to go into the shop and so it is not unusual for the guy to ask you for your pin number to save you the hastle. Of course, only an idiot would provide it... decline the offer, go into the shop and enter it yourself and stay credit card fraud protected!!!
All petrol stations have toilets which are usually in relatively good condition and the shops sell everything you would expect - cold drinks, snacks etc...
There are tolls on the big motorways (the E roads) - a good road map will clearly show these roads. They are well kept and offer some rapid relief when trying to travel vast chunks a little quicker. At the tolls there are NO kiosks that take money! The ONLY way of getting through these kiosks is by having a KGS kart which is prepaid. Each toll charges a different amount of money. The lowest denomination KGS is 20 lira. When I arrived at my first kiosk (expecting to pay with cash) I had to reverse out and slink off to the side where there was an office and a man who looked very unimpressed with me but sold me a card. I was lucky I had come across a pretty empty toll first - all the ones I went through after that were heaving with traffic and I would not have been able to reverse out! Do NOT rely on there being anybody around though! These cards can be purchased in petrol stations. I was told my 20 lira card was good for 5 tolls. I managed to eek 6 out of it. I did not manage to work out how to tell how many kiosks a journey would take me through... it was all a bit of a magical mystery stumble on my behalf!!! You hover the card over the scanner, it reads it et voila - the barrier gets raised!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
Buses - long distance - overnight
There are pros and cons to the buses...
The good thing is that you can travel overnight which means you do not waste any precious time travelling. Another positive aspect of an overnight bus is that you save on a nights accommodation. The buses are generally comfortable - at least as comfortable as you can be when sitting still for long periods, such as 13 hours!
The down side is that the buses have to stop approx every 3 hours for toilet/cigarette/snack break so you don't really get any proper sleep.
Amusingly the buses have little tv screens on the back of the chairs and one of the things you can do (yes, yes on a night bus where is is totally dark - pitch black outside) is watch the live camera that is on the front of the bus... so you can enjoy the same thrills as the driver - dark, dark, dark,,, ooooh bright headlights oncoming and burning out your retinas!!!
The bus journey from Istanbul to Goreme in Cappadocia, for 3 people, was (give or take) the same price as a cheap flight from Istanbul to Nevsehir... so it is worth checking around and then seeing what fits in with your travel plans best.Related to:
- Road Trip
THE TRAMS THE WAY TO GO
USE THE TRAM IF YOU CAN.
First of all if you are staying in Sultanahmet or anywhere along the tram line and arriving at ATTATURK INTERNATIONL AIRPORT and want to avoid Istanbul and an expensive taxi ride catch the Metro and than a Tram for about TLR3.50
After exiting the arrivals hall turn right and make your way to the end to the escalators down to the Metro. You need to buy a token first, go through the turnstyles and down to the Metro catch it (theres only one way to go) to Zeytinburnu(6 Stops) get off grab another token and go through the turnstyles and catch a tram to your destination of choice.
Note: easiest to put your bag through the disabled/pram gates and you walk through turnstyle next to it.Related to:
- School Holidays
- Budget Travel
Connecting cities (countries)
that's true! Here you cand find or just compare cheap flights to Istambul http://www.liligo.co.uk/cheap-flights/flight-istanbul_tr/
It would take 1h 10 aproximately... Its faster and more comfortable than a bus or train!
Have fun in Turkey!Related to:
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
Onur Air: fly for the same price as the bus
I flew roundtrip from Istanbul to Adana in southern Turkey for $90! The service was pretty good. It was about the same as Turkish Air. Onur Air travels from Istanbul to places such as Izmir, Antalya and Trabzon. All are about the same price.
Getting to Antakya from Istanbul
To get to Antakya/Hatay from Istanbul, book a flight to Adana. From there, you will have to take a taxi to the Adana bus station. There are frequent buses to Antakya, taking about three hours. It is a very scenic ride that passes along the Mediterranean Sea and through the mountains.
There are also several buses each day going from Istanbul to Antakya. If you are in another city in western or central Turkey, you might want to take a bus to Adana and then change buses.
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