Taking a road trip in Turkey is always a good idea. We loved our experiences and have written this guide to help you navigate Turkey by car.
What better way to see passing scenery and stop off to experience local cuisine and traditions than to drive at your own pace? Sure, you’re passing by and not staying in one particular place, but you don’t need to base yourself somewhere for days to say you’ve experienced it.
Türkiye is a fantastic choice for a road trip. Turkey is far bigger than most people expect, and there are around 8000 km (5000 miles) of coastline to explore; that’s not even touching the interior and the beautiful countryside and mountains.
If you want to explore to your heart’s content, Turkey is the ideal spot.
Of course, you need to know a bit of information before you go on a road trip in Türkiye, and you also need to know the best road trip routes in Turkey that you can take. Below, we’ve covered all that and more.
Things To Know Before Taking A Road Trip In Türkiye
Turkey’s roads are relatively easy to navigate, especially between large towns and cities. The major highways and freeways are all well-signposted, and the quality of the roads are all excellent.
However, there are some tolls you need to know about, especially if you’re heading up to Istanbul. These are paid by a specific system that all hire cars in Türkiye will already have set up for the hire car. This HGS or OGS onboard unit will log payment and deduct it from your debit or credit card.
With our car hire in Turkey, we discovered the charges just 48 hours after returning the car. The toll fees were deducted from the initial downpayment we made on the credit card (mandatory), and the rest of the funds were refunded to us automatically.
OGS & HGS
- OGS: A slow-speed automatic toll system in which a transponder pays the toll as you drive through a toll gate at slower speeds
- HGS: The high-speed system allows you to pass through the toll area at highway speeds
Toll Fees And Your Own Vehicle
If you’re driving your car in Tukey and don’t have this system on board, YOU HAVE TO REGISTER FOR ONE, as there are no toll booths in Turkey – they have all been removed. The fines for not paying the toll can be huge.
You can stop at the first PTT branch or Shell Petrol Station you see in Turkey and give them a photocopy of your auto registration and passport, pay a fee to be enrolled in the HGS system and receive an HGS registration sticker or card.
The HGS system uses these to identify you, so make sure they are displayed on your front windshield. You will also be asked to provide an initial sum of Turkish Lira to be added to get you started.
Warning: You cannot pay for Turkish toll roads on any website. It must be paid at a PTT branch or Shell station. Any websites or blogs claiming to credit your HGS account are fake, and you will lose your money.
Is Driving In Tukey Hard
It’s not difficult to drive in Turkey, although you must be cautious and take your time in and around cities. Some people tend to go somewhat erratically and fast, especially in Istanbul!
The traffic in Türkiye’s largest city is also insane, and, in all honesty, it’s just not worth attempting to drive in Istanbul. The public transport system is fantastic and will save you a world of stress.
We found driving in Denizli, Pamukkale, Selcuk, and Izmir to be problem-free and found trying to find parking to be the only downside.
How Difficult Is It To Rent A Car In Turkey
Renting a car in Turkey is straightforward, and you will find all the major car rental companies at international airports. Some will ask you to show your flight ticket when you hire a car, and you will be asked to give your credit card details to secure the booking.
You will need to show a valid driver’s license and your passport. Costs vary from company to company, but you can easily shop around online and find a good deal. You can also pick your car up from one city and drop it off in another if you book with a large rental company. Remember that you must drop the car off with a full fuel tank.
We were asked to leave €300 as a security deposit on the credit card to cover the toll roads and any possible damage. The remaining funds were refunded to us 48 hours after returning the car.
Best Road Trips In Türkiye
The beauty of taking a road trip in Turkey is that you can be as fast or leisurely as you like. But, of course, we suggest you take your time and immerse yourself in everything you can see and taste.
Here are a few Turkey road trip ideas you might like to consider. Remember, they can be for three days, five days, seven days, or even more, if you choose. There’s plenty of scope for layovers on all these road trip suggestions! It’s up to you to select your stop-offs and how long you want to stay in a place to explore them.
Road Trip From Istanbul To Izmir – 880km (545 miles)
There is a lot to see here. Of course, if you drive straight through, it will only take you a matter of hours – around 5 hours in general, and there are some toll roads along the way. However, there are plenty of things to see, and you should take your time and let this part of your Türkiye road trip be around 3-5 days.
Canakkale is a definite must-stop along the way, and although you’ll need to take a slight detour from Istanbul (to the west), it should only take you an hour out of your way. This is where you can see the horse from the Troy film starring Eric Bana and Brad Pitt, but it’s also where the famous battle occurred.
As you head down the country, you can stop in Bursa, the ski resort of Uludag, Baliksehir, and Tekirdag, which has some wonderful wineries to check out. Make a stop in Bergama and Ayvalik before heading down to Izmir. Once there, finish your trip with a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus.
Dalaman To Antalya Road Trip (Lycian Coast) – 337km (209 miles)
This is a short road trip, but you can take your time and really enjoy the stunning coastal views. Many people walk this route, part of the Lycian Way, but driving is just as fun if you want to save your feet!
The road that runs between Patara and Antalya is lovely, with a winding route that takes you right to the edge of soaring cliffs. You can stop at many beautiful beaches along the way and make Olu Deniz one of your stops – the Blue Lagoon is famous worldwide, and this is a top spot on your Türkiye road trip for parasailing.
Be sure to visit Gocek and check out the glittering harbor of expensive yachts before moving on to Fethiye and its beautiful beaches and chilled-out vibe. Kayakoy is another famous site, a ghost village that once belonged to the Ancient Greeks and is now totally abandoned – nobody knows why.
The ancient former capital of the Lycian civilization is a must-visit – Xanthos, Letoon, and Pinra. Kas has some of the most beautiful beaches before heading to stunning Olympia and ending up in Antalya, a fantastic city with beaches, food, and nightlife.
Road Trip From Ankara To Konya – 692km (430 miles)
Ankara is Turkey’s capital city and is a beautiful spot to begin your new road trip. Make sure you visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations before heading to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. You should then prioritize Hattusa, an old capital of the Hittite Kingdom.
Then, head to Cappadocia and make sure you spend at least a couple of days here – you could even have a ride in a hot air balloon! There are some great hotels in Goreme, and you can also stay in a cave hotel.
Once you arrive in Konya, spend some time exploring history, but also make sure you try as much local cuisine as possible.
You should 100% head to traditional ocakbasi restaurants and seafood spots to enjoy some of the finest Turkish food you’ll ever taste.
Trabzon To Kars Road Trip – 640km (397 miles)
This is a beautiful road trip with fantastic scenery, but it is one that should only be attempted by those who feel comfortable driving in Türkiye. The roads are mountainous and can be hazardous during the winter time. Despite that, you will be rewarded with rugged landscapes and unique photo opportunities.
Trabzon is your starting point; be sure to soak up all the culture and cuisine before you leave. Then head to Sumela Monastery, a 4th-century monastery high in the mountains.
Your next stop is Erzurum, which is an excellent spot for winter sports, before heading over to Kars, with its fantastic architecture. Make sure you spend some time in Ani, which used to be a part of Armenia and has plenty of old architecture to check out.
Road Trip Istanbul To Samsun – 1516km (941 miles)
Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. This is undoubtedly a long road trip, and you should take your time to soak up the stunning scenery of the Black Sea coastline. However, remember that during the winter months, in particular, it can rain quite a lot along this part of the country, and it indeed snows – that only makes for even better photographs!
Be sure to stop at Lake Sapanca and the small villages of Mudurnu and Goynuk. You’ll be able to check out old Ottoman architecture, and it’s a great spot to stay overnight or for a day or two if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet.
It would be best to make time for stops in Yenice Forest and Lake Abant, perfect for countryside chills, and explore Amasra and its old castle. Sinop is an excellent stop with fantastic food before checking out Tokat and then moving on to the Black Sea coastal resort of Samsun.
You now have your road trip in Turkey guide in hand; tell us which stops you will make on your Turkish road trip.