MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION
Turkey’s primary international gateway by air is Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport. Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights, and there are also direct charters to Mediterranean resort hot spots like Antalya in the peak summer and winter seasons. In 2005 customs at Istanbul international airport was rearranged to the effect that one is now required to go through customs and “enter the country” there, rather than first travel to a regional destination and pass customs there. Luggage will generally travel to the final destination without further ado, but on occasion you may have to point it out to be sure it will be transported on. The information given by flight attendants in the incoming flight may not be adequate so until the procedure is changed (it is supposed to be only temporary) it is wise to inquire on Istanbul airport. Since one must pass security again for any inland flight, it is advisable to hurry and not spend too much time in transit. There are also some other regional airports which receive a limited number of flights from abroad, especially from Europe and especially during the high season (Jun-Sep).
Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW)
Of special interest to those travelling on low-cost carriers, this airport is situated some 50 km east of Istanbul’s Taksim Square on the Asian side of Istanbul. Airlines servicing this airport include EasyJet, Germanwings, Condor, THY (Turkish Airlines) and many more. It may be interesting to point out that there is the possibility of catching a plane from Emirates’ budget carrier Air Arabia to Sharjah in the [United Arab Emirates]] and from there to India for a very competitive price. All those low-cost options though, entail departure and arrival times in the middle of the night.
You can still travel from Europe to Turkey by train, although these days this is more of historical or perhaps even romantic interest than fast or practical. The famed Orient Express from London now travels no further than Vienna, but you can take the daily TransBalkan from Budapest (Hungary) via Bucharest (Romania), a two-night journey with a scheduled 3-hour stop in Bucharest. 1st/2nd class sleepers and couchettes are available, but the train lacks a restaurant car so stock up on supplies. From/to Greek stations there are two daily services, from Istanbul to the border station of Pythion every morning and from Istanbul to Thessaloniki every night. (Due to budget cuts by the Greek government, the services to/from Greece has been suspended indefinitely since 13th February 2011.) There are also daily trains to Istanbul from Sofia (Bulgaria).
From Middle East, there are also once-weekly services from Tabriz and Tehran in Iran to Van and Istanbul, via Ankara. (Due to railtrack renovations, for at least two years from February 2012 on, Istanbul’s Asian station will receive no services. As such, the western terminus of Trans-Asia Express, which provides service between Iran and Turkey, has now been shifted to Ankara.) While direct Istanbul-Damascus service has been discontinued for some time now, there are still once or twice weekly trains between southern cities of Mersin, Adana, and Gaziantep and the Syrian city of Aleppo. There had also been a train connecting Gaziantep with Mosul in Iraq, but it was suspended shortly after it was inaugurated and does not seem to come back into service, at least not in the foreseeable future.
A cheap way of traveling to or from Turkey might be the Balkan Flexipass.
From Central Europe, getting to Turkey is not too difficult. In any case you’ll need your International Insurance Card (Green Card). Pay attention to “TR” not being canceled and be sure your insurance is valid for the Asian part of Turkey, too. Otherwise you will have to buy Turkish car insurance separately. In any case, Turkish customs will make an entry into your passport stating when the car (and thus you) have to leave Turkey again. A carnet de passage is not necessary unless you intend to move on to Iran, which requires you to have a carnet de passage. National driving licences from some of the European countries are accepted. If you are not sure about your situation, obtain an international driving licence beforehand.
Major roads from Europe are:
- E80 enters Turkey at Kapıkule border gate (NW of Edirne, SE of Svilengrad) from Bulgaria
- E87 enters Turkey at Dereköy border gate (north of Kırklareli, south of Tirnovo) from Bulgaria
- E90 enters Turkey at İpsala border gate (west of Keşan, east of Alexandroupolis) from Greece
A convenient connection from Western Europe, especially if you want to avoid narrow and perhaps poorly maintained highways of the Balkans, is to take the weekly motorail trains run by EuroTurk Express, which depart from Bonn-Beuel station (Germany) every Saturday at noon, arriving two nights later during the afternoon in Çerkezköy, about 100 km northwest of Istanbul or an hour’s drive through a high-standard motorway. Fares start at €139 for passengers, cars at €279.
Major roads from Middle East enter Turkey at numerous border gates around Antakya (Antioch), from Syrian cities such as Aleppo and Latakia, Habur border gate (south of Silopi, north of Zakho) from Iraq, and Dogubeyazit border gate (near Ararat) from Iran.
Major roads from Caucasia enter Turkey at Sarp/Sarpi border gate from Georgia (south of Batumi) and Türkgözü border gate south of Akhaltsikhe (this is the nearest border gate from Tbilisi but the last few kilometres on the Georgian side were really bad as of summer 2009). The border with Armenia is currently closed, thus impassable by car.
There are also other border gates (unlisted here), from all the countries Turkey has a common land border with (except Armenia), leading to secondary roads passable with a car.
Driving in Turkey varies a lot – be aware, that in highly congested areas such as in and around Istanbul and other dense areas, driving is chaotic and that general rules are rarely observed; expect such behaviours as passing in any lane on a motorway, not respecting right of way, speeding etc. In less dense areas, this is not as often the case, such as the road from the Ankara motorway towards Samsun, or the Northeastern road between Samsun and the Georgian border. It is advisable to always observe any car near you, since local driving is far less predictable as in, say, Western Europe.
From Bucharest there is a daily bus to Istanbul at 4PM for 125 Lei. There are also several daily buses from Constanta, Romania and from Sofia, Bulgaria and from there you can get connections to the major cities of Europe. Another possibility is the bus from Athens in Greece via Thessaloniki. You may also find smaller bus companies offering connections to other countries in the Balkans.
There is a direct bus to Istanbul from Teheran in Iran which takes approx 48hrs and costs US$ 35.00 for a one-way ticket between Istanbul or Ankara and Tehran.
Dogubeyazit/Bazerghan This Turkey/Iran border crossing is easily (and fast) done by public transport. Take a bus to Bazerghan and a shared taxi to the border (ca. 2-3$). Cross the border stretch per pedes and catch a a frequent minibus (ca. 5 TL, 15 minutes) to Dogubeyazit. Check the security situation in the region, due to the unsolved PKK conflict.
There are also buses from Van to Urmia crossing the Turkey/Iran border at Esendere/Sero. The buses cost app. €13 and it takes more than 6 hr to finish the 300 km path. That’s because of the poor roads, harsh snowy conditions during the winter and also many military checkpoints because of security reasons concerning the P.K.K..
This southern route is less frequent than the northern Dogubeyazit/Bazerghan, as it is much slower but therefor a scenic mountainous route. Make sure you get a clear idea about exchange rates if you want to change TL or Rial as the official bank at the border does not exchange these currencies and you have to deal with the plentiful black market.
From Aleppo in Syria a 3hr bus to Antakya costs S£250 departing at 5AM. There is also a minibus service at 3PM for S£350. From Antakya you can get connecting buses to almost anywhere in Turkey, however initial prices may be overinflated and often inconvenient times. If travelling through to Istanbul, there are bus services from Damascus with bus changes along the way at Antakya. Purchasing a bus ticket in Damascus will be significantly cheaper than in Aleppo or Antakya. If travelling from Syria it is worthwhile to purchase additional supplies of snacks and drinks before leaving the country – these are significantly more expensive at bus stations in Turkey.
Many people arrive in Bodrum on one of the hydro-foils or ferries that run from most of the close Greek islands into the port. A fairly pretty way to arrive. While many of the lines that originate and terminate in Istanbul have recently been discontinued (due to bankruptcy), there are still summer departures direct to Eastern Italy. Other main towns on the Aegean coast have ferry connections with the nearest Greek islands as well. Trabzon, a major city on the eastern Black Sea coast has a regular line from/to Sochi on the Russian Black Sea coast. Mersin, Taşucu, and Alanya on the Mediterranean coast has ferry links with either Famagusta (with Mersin) or Kyrenia (with others) in Northern Cyprus.
ISTANBUL Istanbul Atatürk Airport
Official webpage: http://www.ataturkairport.com/en-EN/Pages/Main.aspx
Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA: IST, ICAO: LTBA) (Turkish: İstanbul Atatürk Havalimanı) is the main international airport serving Istanbul, Turkey (followed by Sabiha Gökçen International Airport) and the biggest airport in Turkey by total number of passengers. Opened in 1924 and located in Yeşilköy, on the European side of the city, it is 24 km (15 mi) west of the city centre. In 1980, the airport was renamed Atatürk International Airport in honor of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. It served over 51 million passengers in 2013, making it the 17th busiest airport in the world in terms of total passenger traffic and the 10th busiest in the world in terms of international passenger traffic. It was Europe’s 5th busiest airport in 2013, just below Amsterdam. The Turkish Chamber of Civil Engineers lists Atatürk International Airport as one of the fifty civil engineering feats in Turkey, a list of remarkable engineering projects completed in the first 50 years of the chamber’s existence. In the 2013 Air Transport News awards ceremony, İstanbul Atatürk Airport was named Airport of the Year. Also, the airport has been named Europe’s Best Airport in 40-50 million passenger per year category at the 2013 Skytrax World Airport Awards.
ISTANBUL TERMINAL OPERATIONS Co.
Istanbul Atatürk Airport International Terminali 34149 Yesilköy / Istanbul / Turkey
Call Center (Domestic) 444 9 TAV (828)
Call Center (International) 0090 444 9 TAV (828)
TAV Central +90 212 463 3000
Telephone +90 212 463 3000
Fax +90 212 465 5050
ISTANBUL Sabiha Gökçen International Airport
Official webpage: http://www.sabihagokcen.aero/anasayfa
Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (IATA: SAW, ICAO: LTFJ) is one of the two international airports serving İstanbul, Turkey. The facility is named after Sabiha Gökçen, the first female combat pilot in Turkey. Located 35 km (22 mi) southeast of central İstanbul, it is on the Asian side of the bi-continental city. It was built because Atatürk International Airport (on the European side) was not large enough to meet the booming passenger demands (both domestic and international). SAW’s international terminal capacity was 3 million passengers per year and the domestic terminal capacity was 0.5 million passengers per year. In June 2007, Turkish conglomerate Limak Holding, India’s GMR Group and Malaysia Airport Holding Berhad (MAHB) consortium gained the contract for upgrading and maintaining the airport. In mid-2008, ground was broken to upgrade the international terminal to handle 25 million passengers annually.
The new terminal was inaugurated on 31 October 2009. In 2010, Sabiha Gökçen airport handled 11,129,472 passengers, a 71% increase compared to 2009. The airport is planning to host 25 million passengers by 2023. In September 2010, the airport was voted the World’s Best Airport at the World Low Cost Airlines Congress in London and received the award. The other awards received by the airport in 2010 were: Turkey’s Most Successful Tourism Investment 2010, the highly commended award from Routes Europe and the airport is honored with Airport Traffic Growth Award by Airline News & Network Analysis web site anna.aero.
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport Investment Development and Operation Inc
Sabiha Gökçen Airport Terminal Building Pendik 34912 Istanbul – Turkey
Airport Pbx: +90 216 588 88 88
ISG Management Phone : +90 216 588 80 00
ISG Management Fax : +90 216.588 80 10
ISG Management Office hours are between 08:00 – 17:30.
ANTALYA Antalya Airport
Official webpage: http://www.aytport.com/en/index_1.asp
Antalya Airport (IATA: AYT, ICAO: LTAI) is 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of the city center of Antalya, Turkey. The airport is operated in Turkey’s primary holiday destination located on the country’s Mediterranean coast. The airport was built to accommodate the millions of passengers who come to Turkey’s Mediterranean beaches in summer. It handled 25 million passengers in 2011, more than 20 million of which were international passengers. The airport has two international terminals and one domestic terminal. Based on the projection from data from peak months (e.g. August 2009), it currently has an estimated capacity of accommodating up to 45 million passengers/year, theoretically. Antalya is one of the major airports on the Southwest of Turkey, the others being Bodrum and Dalaman. In July 2011 the airport was selected as Best Airport in Europe (10-25 million passenger category) by Airports Council International
Fraport IC İçtaş Antalya Airport Terminal Investment and Management Inc.
Antalya Havalimanı 1. Dış Hatlar Terminali 07230 Antalya – TURKEY
Phone: +90 (242) 444 7 423
Fax: +90 (242) 3303648
IZMIR İzmir Adnan Menderes International Airport
Official webpage: http://www.adnanmenderesairport.com/en-EN/Pages/Main.aspx
İzmir Adnan Menderes International Airport (IATA: ADB, ICAO: LTBJ) is an airport serving İzmir and is named after former Turkish prime minister Adnan Menderes. It is located in the Gaziemir area of İzmir. İzmir’s main airport is located 18 km (11 mi) southwest of the city on the way to Selçuk, Ephesus and Pamukkale. The easiest way to get there from İzmir is by İZBAN metropolitan rail service or the Havaş airport shuttle bus (every 20 minutes, 35 to 60 minutes) from the Turkish Airlines office. Intercity trains operated by the Turkish State Railways stop at the Airport Station. There are currently about 14 daily trains in both directions. Northbound trains all go to Basmane Terminal in the city center, while southbound trains serve Ödemiş, Tire, Söke, Aydın, Nazilli Torbalı and points in between.
Selçuk and Ephesus are 60 km (37 mi) south of ADB, reachable by rental car (less than an hour’s drive), or cheap, slow train (six times daily). Pamukkale is 252 km (157 mi) from ADB, a drive of about 4 hours (4½ to 5 hours by bus). The new international terminal was opened in September 2006 and the new domestic terminal is opened in March 2014.
ADB served 6,201,794 passengers in the year 2009. 4,534,339 of them were domestic passengers and 1,667,455 of them were international passengers. It ranked 4th (behind Atatürk International Airport (IST), Antalya Airport (AYT) and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW)) in terms of total number of passengers, 6th (behind IST, AYT, Dalaman Airport (DLM), SAW and Milas-Bodrum Airport (BJV)) in terms of international passengers, and 3rd (behind IST and Esenboğa International Airport (ESB)) in terms of domestic passengers among Turkish airports in 2009.
TAV IZMIR TERMINAL OPERATIONS CO.
Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport New International Terminal Sarnıç Mevkii 35410 Gaziemir / IZMIR
Call Center (Domestic) 444 9 TAV (828)
Call Center ( İnternational) 0090 444 9 TAV (828)
Phone(International) +90 232 455 0000
Phone(Domestic) +90 232 455 0000
Fax +90 232 274 6454
ANKARA Esenboğa International Airport
Official webpage: http://www.esenbogaairport.com/en-EN/Pages/Main.aspx
Esenboğa International Airport (IATA: ESB, ICAO: LTAC) (Turkish: ‘Ankara Esenboğa Havalimanı or Esenboğa Uluslararası Havalimanı’), is an airport located 28 km (17 mi) northeast of Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. It has been operating since 1955. The name of the airport comes from the village of Esenboğa (the g is silent), which literally means “Windflowing Bull” or “Serene Bull”, the modernized form of Isen Buga, the name of a Turkic warlord in the army of Timur who settled his troops here during the Battle of Ankara in 1402. Esenboga Airport Domestic and International Terminal constructed under “Build-Operate-Transfer” model has been completed within a record time; a year earlier than the committed completion date. Esenboga Airport Domestic and International Terminal, which went into operation on October 16, 2006 with a capacity of 10 million passengers, are spread over a 182 thousand m2 area.
In 2009, ESB served 6,085,126 passengers, 4,987,983 of which were domestic passengers. It ranked 5th in terms of total passenger traffic, 2nd in terms of domestic traffic and 7th in terms of international traffic among airports in Turkey.
Esenboğa International Airport was awarded as the best airport in Europe by ACI Europe (Airport Council International) and the award presented to airport officials on 17 June 2009 in Manchester. The award is given in 4 categories every year and Esenboğa was in 5–10 million per annum category. It is the first time an ACI award was granted to a Turkish Airport. According to ACI-Europe, “As with number of the top candidates in this category, the airport excels in all the keys areas of operations, however the judges singled it out for its work in the area of environmental innovation, securing an incredible 25% energy savings stemming from its recycling of exhaust gases to power its air conditioning plants.”
Balıkhisar Mh. Esenboğa Havaalanı Girişi, 06970 Akyurt/Ankara,
Telephone: +90 312 590 4000
ADANA Adana Şakirpaşa Airport
Official webpage: http://adana.dhmi.gov.tr/havaalanlari/default.aspx?hv=7
Adana Airport or Adana Şakirpaşa Airport (Turkish: Adana Şakirpaşa Havalimanı) (IATA: ADA, ICAO: LTAF) is an airport located in the city of Adana in the Adana Province of Turkey. Adana Airport was opened to service as a civil-military airport in 1937. It started to be used as a civil airport in 1956. It is 3.5 km away from the city center.
DHMİ Adana Aerodrome Directorate
Phone : 0322 435 03 80
Fax : 0322 435 91 26
E-mail : email@example.com
GETTING AROUND TURKEY
Major cities are served by airlines as well, with reasonable prices, beating the bus travel experience especially over longer distances. Tickets can be conveniently bought at the Istanbul domestic terminal and local ticket offices of Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and Atlasjet among others . Many of the large cities have daily connections to the traffic hubs Ankara and Istanbul, others will have flights on specific days only. Upon arrival at regional airports there will often be a connecting Havaş bus to the city centre, which is much, much cheaper than taking a taxi. They may wait for half an hour, but will be available after the arrival of major flights. In some spots a whole fleet of minibusses will be waiting for an important flight, and then they will head out for cities in the region. For instance, flying to Agri in the East a connecting minibus will head for Dogubeyazit within twenty,thirty minutes or so, so you don’t have to travel into Agri first, then wait for a Dogubeyazit bus. Do ask for such easy connections upon arrival!
Turkey has a very good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. There are now a few firms providing luxury buses with 1st class seats and service. Standard buses, however, have seats narrower than those of economy class on airplanes. Buses are often crowded, but smoking is strictly prohibited.
Bus travel is convenient in Turkey. Go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination departing within half an hour, or a couple of hours at the most. Buses are staffed by drivers and a number of assistants. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every two and a half hours or so at well-stocked road restaurants. The further east you travel, the less frequent buses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometers away. Only the smallest towns do not have a bus straight to Istanbul or Izmir at least once every two days.
Finding the right bus quickly does require some help and thus some trust, but be careful. Scammers will be waiting for you, and some may assist you in buying a ticket to a bus that won’t depart in the next two hours. Sometimes there simply is no other bus, but on other occasions you will be sitting there while other buses with the same destination start well ahead. If you have some time to spare: check the departure (and arrival) times of other companies, that may save you time overall. Still, if you indicate you really want to leave NOW (use phrases like “hemen” or “shimdy”, or “adjelem var” – I am in a hurry ), people will realize you are in hurry, and off you go on the next bus departing for your destination.
Don’t be surprised if halfway to some strange and far-off destination you are asked out of the bus (your luggage will often be already standing next to it) and transferred to another. The other bus will “buy” you, and will bring you to the destination. This may even happen for ‘direct’ or ‘non-stop’ tickets.
Sometimes long-haul bus lines will leave you stranded on some ring-road around a city, rather than bringing you to the center. That can be annoying. Inquire ahead (and hope they don’t lie). On the other hand, many companies will have “servis aracı” or shuttle services to the center, when the Otogar is on the periphery of a city, as they nowadays often are. In some cities these service vehicles are used by many companies combined, and a fleet of them, to different parts of the metropolis, will be waiting. The company may also choose to combine the passengers of multiple buses; meaning that you may have to wait until another bus or two arrives before departing. Keep your ticket ready as proof you were on a bus (though most of these services are run on good faith). In some cities (including Ankara, excluding Istanbul), the municipality have prohibited the use of service buses due to their effect on traffic. In that case, you might have to take a public bus or metro to get to your destination. One should probably avoid using taxis (at least departing from the Otogar) since they usually tend to abuse their monopolistic position by refusing to go to closer destinations, behaving rudely towards the passenger, charging on the night tariff, etc. If you have to take a taxi, it is usually suggested that you do it from outside the bus terminal.
Offering considerably cheap, but slower travel compared with the bus, TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railways) operate passenger trains all over the country. However, as Turkey has fewer than 11,000 km of rail network in the total, many cities and tourist spots are out of rail coverage.
Istanbul–Ankara and Istanbul–Edirne lines are the only lines that are electrified, so the rest of the lines are serviced by diesel trains. The services from Istanbul to the east change their locomotives at Ankara station, and services to the south change their locomotives at Enveriye station, the remote one of two stations in Eskişehir (located about two-thirds distance to Ankara from Istanbul). No steam locomotives run on Turkish railways regularly, except occasional ceremonies. Istanbul–Ankara rail line is the busiest and the most ridden one. There are several daily trains on this line, and a ride takes between 6 and a half to more than 10 hours, depending on the train one takes and the delays, which are quite frequent.
High speed train (yüksek hızlı tren, usually shortened to YHT) between Ankara and Eskişehir, (a city lying about 240 km west of Ankara and is off the usual tourist trail in the country, with seven departures back and forth every day.) and between Ankara and Konya is available. An extension to Istanbul for Ankara and Eskişehir line is completed in August 2014. Since August 8th 2014, the fast train service is available between Ankara and Istanbul(Pendik). It is possible to take the fast train from Ankara, and then transfer to the bus provided by TCDD in the Eskişehir station, heading for Bursa. Recent rail track renovations all over the country and the subsequent phase outs of many passenger trains mean that there is a less number of destinations you can get to by rail from Istanbul directly compared with a couple of years ago. The major cities with a direct train service from Istanbul are Edirne (from Sirkeci station on the European side, not Haydarpaşa), Eskişehir, Konya, Adana, Kayseri (where Cappadocia is a few hours bus ride away), Diyarbakır, Erzurum (a few minutes away from Palandöken ski centre), Kars, and Tatvan on the shore of Lake Van. Ankara has services from/to a somewhat wider number of destinations, while Izmir, other than trains from/to Ankara (via Eskişehir) and Bandırma (on the coast of Marmara), is only served by a number of regional trains operating across Aegean Turkey.
Rather than a spider web-like system, usually linear and quite disconnected nature of Turkish railway network means that, if you have a motivation (such as being on budget, or holding a pass such as Inter Rail) for tripping around the country solely by rail, you should prepare yourself for long de-tours and waits on the stations between trains. Getting from Istanbul to Izmir, two of Turkey’s largest cities, only by trains, for example, involves either a long de-tour to Eskişehir and then switching to another train bound for Izmir there, or taking a fast ferry across the Sea of Marmara to Bandırma and then take the train heading for Izmir there (the latter of which is actually faster than taking a bus to Izmir, although would not certainly be cheaper. TCDD offers combined tickets for this boat+train trip, which are a few liras cheaper than what you would normally pay if you would have bought the tickets seperately).
1st and 2nd class tickets are available across the country, while some trains are consisted of only 1st class cars. 1st class usually means a pullman car (which has large leg-rooms between the seats, and most of which has air-conditioners nowadays), and 2nd class usually means compartment having 6 or far worse 8 seats. 8-seated compartments are not widespread, still ask before in order to avoid having a ticket for one. Also, 2nd class tickets do not have seat numbers written on them, so you should rush into the train to find a suitable empty seat.
Many trains have couchettes (Turkish: kuşetli) and sleeping cars (yataklı vagon), however even some of the night trains lack one, so ask before choosing your departure. All cars have lavatories, although they may not be always so clean or have toilet paper.
Smoking in any part of any public transport, including trains, has been banned since July 2009 in Turkey, but neither the conductors/security guards nor other passengers do not seem to be concerned about this ban on the longest haul trains heading to/from Eastern Turkey, at least on the 2nd class cars.
A reservation is recommended during summer, on Fridays and Sundays, and before domestic religious feasts, when a one-week break is common and trains get really crowded.
Bosphorus Bridge, a part of the Turkish highway system, connecting Europe and Asia
Like all of its neighbours (except Cyprus off the southern coast of Turkey), driving is on the right side of the road in Turkey. Though it is legal to drive a vehicle with driver positioned on the right (which were designed for countries driving on the left) it is not very comfortable and is risky indeed (the driver cannot see the coming traffic and so on…). It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood for drivers is 0.05 grams per litre (g/1000 ml), that is roughly equal to two cups (a cup=500 ml) of beer or two glasses (a wine glass=330 ml) of wine. The use of seat belts both at the front and back line is obligatory, but, although failing to use one carries a penalty, this is not always adhered to by locals, including the drivers themselves. Turkish signboards are almost identical to the ones used in Europe, and differences are often insignificant. The place names written on green background lead to motorways (which you should pay a toll, unless it is a ring road around or within a city); on blue background means other highways; on white background means rural roads (or a road inside a city under the responsibility of city councils); and on brown background indicates the road leads to a historical place, an antique city, a place of tourist interest or a city out of Turkey (these signboards used to be on yellow background till a few years ago, so still there is a chance of unreplaced yellow signboards existing here and there). Also keep in mind that these signboards are not always standardized; for instance, some of the blue ones may be leading into the rural roads.
Nowadays most intercity highways avoid city centres by circling around them. If you’d like to drive into the centre for shopping, dining, and the like, follow the signposts saying Şehir Merkezi, which are usually on white background, and nowadays accompanied by no further translations though you can still spot some old signs saying “Centrum” besides Şehir Merkezi. City centres typically have two or more entrances/exits from the ringroads that surround them. As Turkey uses the metric system, all distances on the signboards are in kilometers, unless otherwise stated (such as meters, but never in miles).
Renting a car
You may rent a car to get around Turkey from an international or local car rental agent. If you are traveling by plane you may find car rental desks in arrival terminals of all airports such as IST Ataturk Airport, Istanbul.
The minibus (or Minibüs as called in Istanbul) is a small bus (sometimes car) that will ride near-fixed routes. The ride may be from the periphery of a major city to the centre or within a city, but may also take three to four hours from one city to the next, when the route is not commercial for large busses. They sometimes make a detour to bring some old folks home or collect some extra heavy luggage. You will find them in cities as well as in inter-city traffic. All during their journey people will get in and out (shout “Inecek var” – “someone to get off” – to have it stop if you’re in). The driver tends to be named “kaptan” (captain), and some behave accordingly. The fare is collected all through the ride. In some by a specially appointed passenger who will get a reduction, in others by a steward, who may get off halfway down the journey, to pick up a dolmuş of the same company heading back, and mostly by the driver himself. If the driver collects himself, people hand money on from the back rows to the front, getting change back by the same route. On some stretches tickets are sold in advance, and things can get complicated if some of the passengers bought a ticket and others just sat inside waiting – for maybe half an hour – but without a ticket.
The concept of dolmuş in Istanbul is somehow different than the rest of Turkey. The vehicles are different, they take max. 7 sitting passengersand non standing. they do not tend to take passengers along the way, they depart immediately when they are full, and many of them operate 24 hours a day. The name derives from “dolmak”, the verb for “to fill”, as they used not to start the journey without a decent number of passengers. They usually leave when they are full, but sometimes start at fixed hours, whatever the number.
Fast ferry, also called “sea-bus”
Fast ferries (hızlı feribot) are fast (50-60km/hour) catamaran-type ferryboats that connect for instance Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea. They can cut travel time dramatically. Again for instance leaving from the Yenikapı jetty in Istanbul (just a bit southwest of the Blue Mosque) you can be at the Bursa otogar in two hours, with less than an hour for the actual boat ride to Yalova. Similar services are operated to connect several parts of Istanbul with the Asian side, or places farther up the Bosporus. And this type of fast ferry is increasingly seen all over the country wherever there is enough water.
There are also ferry connections between Istanbul and Izmir and between Istanbul and Trabzon in the eastern Black Sea region, ships operating on the latter line also stop at all of the significant cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast. However both of these lines are unfortunately operating only in summer months.
All inhabited Turkish islands have at least one daily cruise to the nearest mainland city or town during summer. But as winter conditions at the seas can go harsh, the frequency of voyages drop significantly due to the bad weather.
Perhaps one of the best cruising grounds in the world, Turkey offers thousands of years of history, culture and civilization set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. The coastline is a mixture of wide gulfs, peaceful coves, shady beaches, uninhabited islands, small villages and bustling towns. Many of these locations are still only accessible by boat. Rare in the Mediterranean, one can still find some seclusion on a private charter in Turkey. In fact, Turkey offers more coastline than any other Mediterranean country. The best way to see Turkey is from your own private yacht on your own schedule. Turkey offers some of the most exquisite yachts in the world known as gulets.
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