Driving around Turkey...a good idea?

Old Apr 6th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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Driving around Turkey...a good idea?

DH and I are entertaining the idea of a Turkey vacation for probably about this time next year (April, possibly May) and I have a question. We would probably base ourselves in two places; Istanbul and perhaps the Ephesus area (we are both into ancient history). I am trying to decide how easy it is to get from Istanbul to Ephesus. We don't really want to do a tour, as we prefer to travel on our own. How is driving in Turkey? If we wanted to drive from Istanbul to Ephesus is there a place outside of Istanbul where we could bus or train and then pick up the car? I'm assuming that driving in Istanbul itself would be a bad idea, and DH follows a general rule of not driving in major European cities after our London debacle a few years ago. How is the train system? We would eventually want a car for the Ephesus area, but is it possible to travel from Istanbul to Ephesus, or somewhere in the vicinity, by train? We aren't usually bus people, although it's certainly an option that we are open to exploring if needed.

I'm in the very beginning exploration phase so I haven't done a lot of research other than flipping through a few guidebooks at our local Borders, but I would love to hear some first hand experiences. Turkey has been high on my "must visit" list for several years now, and I'm really hoping to get there next year.

tcreath is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2008, 06:00 PM
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We have explored just about all sections of Turkey and found the highways to be excellent. There are fine bus/truck stops with good food and toilets.

I would avoid driving at night, however, because a lot of the country is open range. Animals -- cattle, sheep, and goats -- tend to roam about and onto the roads.

I am not sure what you would encounter in eastern and southeastern Turkey today -- we ran into military road blocks and checkpoints when we were in those sectors a few years ago. These checkpoints included inspection of our papers. To go near Mt. Ararat and to Ani required special permits which we obtained from the police and military in Kars.

In the western areas around Istanbul, the shores of the Sea of Marmara, down to Ephesus and on to Izmir, and beyond the roads are just fine. From Adana there is a modern superhighway extending south.

There is absolutely no reason to drive a car in the Istanbul area. Public transportation is most convenient, by land or by sea. Try to include a boat excursion out to the Princes Islands. The dock is alongside the Galata Bridge on the Sultanahmet side.

I've never used Turkish railways, but would be surprised if they were not very good. I know an excellent network of bus lines serves the country; very reasonable in cost.

If I were going to explore Turkey, I would see about renting a car out of, say, Izmir and returning it elsewhere, if possible. People we met everywhere in Turkey were most helpful and obliging.
USNR is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2008, 06:55 PM
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I would highly recommend flying Istanbul-Izmir, then picking up a car at Izmir Airport for the drive to Ephesus. The flight is a little over an hour. The roads from Izmir to Ephesus are very good, mostly- if not all- major highway.
Weadles is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2008, 08:32 PM
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I agree with Weadles. We considered driving from Istanbul down to Kusadasi, but there just isn't an easy way to get there. We flew from IST to Izmir and picked up a car there. Quite easy. We drove to Kusadasi for a a few days and then drove down to Bodrum. Roads are well marked, in good condition, and various food stops along the way (including Starbucks!).
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Old Apr 6th, 2008, 10:25 PM
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If you are both into ancient history and wish to enjoy one of the most scenic routes during its best season in April and May, I would recommend a different option for you as there are 3 different places which will not be missed if you dare to spend one extra night in Çanakkale. These three sites are Gallipoli, Troy and Pergamum.

There is no need to hire a car in Istanbul as it will be a pain in the neck as far as parking around historic places are concerned. In some cases you pay more for parking (if you are lucky to find) than paying for a taxi.

Before leaving Istanbul,however, I would rent a car and drive to Canakkale via Tekirdag, Kešan, Gelibolu on the first day. I would visit Gallipoli before crossing Dardanelles to Canakkale. The next morning I would visit Troy and then keep on driving to Pergamum.I would have lunch in Assos (Behramkale)and after visiting Pergamum (Acropol+Asklepion)in the afternoon, keep on driving to Selcuk (Ephesus) for the night.

Enjoy driving.
Old Apr 7th, 2008, 02:17 AM
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Here are few other suggestions:
Driving in Turkey except in Istanbul if day time generally speaking is fine and fun especially if you do not mind the gasoline prices.....

You could pick a car from Airport and avoiding city traffic you can continue as Anatolian Cruser suggests.

I personally would not drive in Istanbul either. Better to be driven either by private services or taxis.

Alternatively: you can fly to Canakkale, and go further with including Troy and Pergamon and few other sites on the way.

If you are into history especially when in Ephesus arranging a private tour would make a difference to your experience and additional Priene, Miletus and Didyma for historical sightseeing experience.

Train and bus is not option for this direction for using time efficiently.

Happy travelling,

propertravel is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2008, 06:12 AM
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Thank you all so much for your helpful replies. You've given me a lot of great suggestions, not only for travel options but also for places that I need to look up. I know I want to visit Istanbul but we are pretty open otherwise. I'll be doing lots of research and will come back with more questions, I'm sure.

Thanks again!
tcreath is offline  
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