Transportation in Turkey

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Host Nation Adviser
Question:  Mehmet, I have a travelers book about Turkey. I read and understand that there are a lot of beautiful and unique places throughout Turkey. After spotting these places, I found out that some of them are close to major cities and some are far from major cities.

My question is; how can I go to these places, especially to the ones not close to the major cities? What kind of transportation can I use?

Response:  You can easily fly from Adana to most of the major cities in Turkey on one of several airlines that fly here.

In total, six airlines fly between the major cities of Turkey now. Since almost all the airlines are headquartered in Istanbul, most domestic flights have a connection there.

As in the U.S., new private sector airlines have brought competition and better prices to domestic flights. Also, we have more options when it comes to date and time of your flight.

More than 90 percent of passenger transportation is done by buses in Turkey. The buses running between cities are quite comfortable, reliable and all are equipped with air conditioning.

There are many bus companies and the competition among them is very great, reflecting on the quality of service and prices.

For instance, the cost between Adana and Istanbul is about $35 one way. Buses are not allowed to exceed 90 kilometers (55 miles) per hour and are strictly controlled by traffic policemen.

Every city and town, big or small, has a central bus station. Once you go to that station, you can easily get to any city or town in Turkey, directly or with connections at other city bus stations. Smoking is not allowed on buses, even on long trips. They stop and give a 20-30 minute rest about every three hours, depending on the time of day you have your breakfast, lunch or dinner and use the rest rooms at the restaurants and/or facilities at the bus stop.

All bus companies serve beverages, cold water, fruit juice, soda, hot tea or coffee and some small snacks, free of charge.

A bus ride from Adana to Ankara takes about six to seven hours and to Istanbul or Izmir 12 to13 hours.

In order to speed up your travel time, taking the train is another option in Turkey. Railroad transportation hasn't been able to compete with buses and airplanes for the last few decades in Turkey. In fact railroad transportation has been neglected and has become a secondary mode of transportation.

In recent years the Turkish government has made some plans to modernize the railroads. As part of those efforts, fast trains run between Ankara and Istanbul.

Although, it takes about 12 hours to go to Ankara by train on a sleeper car, it is a unique experience. The restaurant car is next to the sleeper car and serves typical Turkish food and drinks.

The train staff is very kind and will prepare your bed at any time. If you take the sleeper car to Ankara, it departs at 7:30 in the evening and arrives in Ankara the next morning.

Since you sleep on the train, you will be fresh to tour Ankara all day long. The same evening you can take the train back to Adana and arrive the following morning. That way you don't have to make reservations or pay for hotel since you will be sleeping on the train for two nights.

Transportation between small and nearby towns is mostly done by smaller buses and vans.

Traveling within cities is mostly done by dolmuses, a unique system to Turkey. I will write about that system in another future Ask Mehmet article.