Turkey has a well-developed infrastructure and highways link most of the major cities, although road maintenance standards can drop in rural areas. Vehicles are driven on the right-hand side of the road. In the more popular tourist areas, some road signs are in English.
To drive a car in Turkey, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid licence. Motorbike licences can be issued from the age of 17. Foreign visitors may drive on a licence issued outside Turkey for up to 90 days and foreign nationals living in Turkey may use a valid foreign licence as long as it is accompanied by a notarised translation. The exception to both these rules is where a licence does not carry photographic ID – in these cases you will need an International Driving Licence.
Turkey has some fairly strong driving laws. Drivers must carry and be able to present their driving licence, vehicle registration document and insurance documentation at all times. Every vehicle must also carry two warning triangles, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.
Taxis are recognisable by their distinctive yellow liveries and are readily available in Turkish cities. They are equipped with a meter and fares are relatively inexpensive, but it pays to check the price up front and keep a close eye on the meter.
Private and public bus services serve most areas of Turkey well and the large numbers of competing companies keep prices down. Municipal services can be very oversubscribed and slow, but intercity coach services are well regarded and most companies run modern vehicles with amenities like air-conditioning and wifi connections.
A dolmuş is a type of shared minibus that crosses the idea of a taxi with that of a bus, carrying multiple passengers to multiple destinations. Dolmuşes generally start when they are full and when prices and routes are fixed, but the advantage is that you can ask the driver to stop anywhere. However, the name translates as ‘stuffed’, and true to that name dolmuşes do tend to get rather overcrowded!
The railways of Turkey are owned and operated by Turkish State Railways. Although the network is extensive, travelling around the country by train is generally considered slower than using the roads. However, train tickets are cheaper than most bus services, and with various high-speed rail systems being developed, the railways look set to become increasingly important to the Turkish transport network.
Trams and underground rail
Light railway systems have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in twenty-first century Turkey, and most major cities in the country have some kind of tram or underground system to help ferry commuters to work and relieve the pressure on urban roads.
As a relatively large country, domestic air travel is important for both passenger and freight transport. The Turkish aviation industry has developed rapidly in recent years and flights operate between several commercial airports, with healthy competition meaning reasonable prices can be found for many destinations. The major international hub is Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, which is also home to national carrier Turkish Airlines.
Other ways to get around
Turkey’s extensive coastlines make ferries and sea buses a popular form of domestic and international travel. In Istanbul, companies like IDO and Turyol run regular services between a number of urban stops. Domestic and international ferry routes are also available around the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas and on Black Sea routes.