Stretching from the Aegean Sea to the Caucasus Mountains, Turkey covers an area bigger than the size of Texas. Fortunately, it’s well-connected by domestic flights and buses, although less so by rail. 

With generally good highways and varied landscapes ranging from sea shores to summits, Turkey is prime road-trip territory. Larger cities have metro and tram systems, while even the smallest villages are generally served by at least one daily dolmuş (shared taxi) or minibus. 

Here’s our guide to the best ways to get around in Turkey.


Nearly 50 cities in Turkey have active domestic or international airports, though the smallest might have as few as one daily flight, typically connecting with one of Istanbul’s two airports or with the capital city of Ankara. Domestic tickets are generally cheap unless you’re trying to travel during one of the major Turkish holidays. And you can fly from one end of the country to the other in just under two hours.

Domestic flights are operated by national carrier Turkish Airlines, along with its subsidiaries AnadoluJet and Sun Express, and by low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines.

The transport company Havaş offers comfortable bus transfers into nearby cities and towns from 19 airports. Other places are served by local buses and minibuses as well as taxis. Other than Antalya and Izmir, most cities do not have rail systems connecting to their airports.

Passengers on the Metrobus in Istanbul, Turkey
Buses take travelers between cities all across Turkey © ymphotos / Shutterstock

Bus and dolmuş

At any hour of the day or night, buses of all sizes and standards are criss-crossing Turkey, supported by a vast network of 24-hour rest stops, some of which could pass for small shopping malls. Most long-haul buses stop at these every few hours so passengers can smoke, eat, pray, go to the bathroom, and shop for local food products and souvenirs.

Larger bus companies like Kamil Koç, Pamukkale and Varan operate coaches between major cities with reclining seats, snack service and sometimes even seat-back entertainment systems and wi-fi. Journey times can be long, and ticket prices aren’t always that competitive with flight fares, but it’s a very local way to travel.

To reach smaller towns and villages, you’ll probably have to transfer to a dolmuş or minibus at the nearest otogar (bus station). A dolmuş is most often a minibus, though sometimes a van or sedan, that sets off only once it is full of passengers (dolmuş means “filled” in Turkish), which can mean long wait times in little-traveled areas. Dolmuşes run on a set route, but passengers have to tell the driver where they want to get off. The vehicles usually have a sign in the window indicating their destination, and in busy cities you might see a tout calling out the routes of the next departing dolmuş. In many places, dolmuş routes are being converted to minibus ones, with scheduled departures and set stops.

Tip for taking long-distance buses in Turkey: When bus stations are located on a city’s outskirts, large companies will usually offer a minibus or van servis (service) from the town center that’s included in the ticket price.

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An extensive and mostly well-maintained highway system and a wealth of scenic small villages and interesting, off-the-beaten-track sights make road-tripping a rewarding way to travel in Turkey. Car rental with insurance from a major international company like Avis, Budget or Enterprise usually costs between $50 to $70 per day. Both manual and automatic transmission cars are typically available. For travel into more remote, rugged places like the mountainous Black Sea region, renting a 4WD vehicle is strongly recommended.

Drivers in Turkey can be aggressive and don’t always follow the rules of the road, so keep your wits about you and expect the unexpected. Parking and traffic in Istanbul are often abysmal, so it may be worth paying the higher rate to rent at the airport and start your journey from there, rather than the city center. 

Tip for renting a car in Turkey: Rental cars should be equipped with an electronic device for recording highway and bridge tolls, and the cost will be added onto your total bill after you return the vehicle.


Train travel is generally limited and slow in Turkey, though the options are improving. One major exception to this is the busy high-speed line connecting Istanbul, Eskişehir and Ankara. Be sure to buy tickets well in advance for this route, and for the popular overnight trip on the Doğu Ekspresi (Eastern Express), a leisurely and Instagram-friendly journey between Ankara and the border city of Kars. All trains are operated by Turkish State Railways, including local services around Izmir and trains to Konya and Adana. 

Ferry on the water at sunset in the Bosphorus in Turkey
Ferries cross the Bosphorus in Istanbul © Engin Korkmaz / 500px


Despite being bordered by four seas, Turkey doesn’t have many options for getting around by boat. Ferries from Istanbul travel across the Marmara Sea to Yalova (home to the hot springs of Termal) and Mudanya (near Bursa). A ferry also runs between Bodrum and Datça, two popular vacation destinations on the country’s southwest coast. 


Taxis are available almost everywhere in Turkey, from big cities to small towns. In Istanbul, they have a poor reputation for surliness and attempting to scam passengers, particularly tourists. Using the local ride-hailing app BiTaksi (which is also available in Ankara) or Uber (which only offers rides in standard yellow and turquoise cabs because of outcry by taxi drivers) can provide more accountability, as can having your hotel call a taxi rather than finding one on the street. Such problems are encountered much less elsewhere.

Public transportation in cities in Turkey

Turkey’s largest cities – Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Bursa – all have some kind of metro or light rail system, as do Antalya, Konya and Gaziantep, among a handful of others. Smaller cities are generally well-served by bus and dolmuş or minibus, though the lack of route maps and signage can make this a tricky way to get around for visitors. The smallest towns and villages might have only infrequent minibus service. 

Mountain bikers exploring routes in Turkey's beautiful area of Cappadocia
You'll need to be well-prepared, but cycling has its unique rewards in Turkey © VichoT / Getty Images


Turkey is not a particularly bike-friendly place, with limited infrastructure and little driver awareness of sharing the road, but bike touring in the Turkish countryside is rewarding for experienced and well-prepared cyclists. Several marked trekking routes, including the Evliya Çelebi Way in western Turkey and the Hittite Trail east of Ankara, are also accessible by cyclists as well as long-distance walkers.

Accessible transportation in Turkey

Newer airports, trains, metros, trams, buses and ferries in Turkey might have some features to make them more accessible to travelers with disabilities, but these can be inconsistently applied. In crowded cities, unexpected obstacles can make getting around tricky even for travelers without mobility challenges.

Click here to download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide.

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