- Turkey has unfortunately had a rocky time lately which has impacted their tourism heavily. The truth of the matter is that all the main tourist resorts are as safe as anywhere else to visit. Whilst the decline in tourism is bad news for the Turks it’s great news for travellers because there are some real bargains to be found.
- Turkey has some incredible sights and hiring a car will enable you to take them all in with ease. From breath takingly beautiful waterfalls to historic Greek and Roman ruins Turkey has something for everyone.
- To really make the most out of your road-trip round Turkey make sure you plan ahead, there is so much to see being organised is key. If you’re travelling over the summer then we highly recommend a car with air conditioning as it gets very hot. You’ll also need to hire car seats (unless you bring your own) for any children under 36kg.
Rules of The Road
- To rent a car in Turkey you must be at least 21 years old and have held your license for a year. Some cars will have a young driver premium for anyone under 25 and have a maximum driver age of 70. It’s worth double checking the requirements on your chosen car to avoid disappointment on arrival
- You are not allowed to use your phone while driving however you can use a hands-free set.
- By law you must carry two warning triangles and a first aid kit in your car, check that these are present when you sign for your car.
- Children under twelve are not allowed in the front passenger seat.
- The speed limits on Turkish roads are 31mph (50kph) in built up areas, 56mph (90kph) and 74mph (120kph) on the motorway. The use of speed cameras is commonplace to make sure you stick to the speed limits.
- You must always carry your license and rental documents with you in the car, if you are stopped and can’t present them then there is a hefty fine to pay.
- There is no metered parking in Turkey. Parking officials monitor the streets and collect fees for on-street parking. Most cities have garages and public parking lots.
Car Hire in Turkish Airports
Car hire in all the international airports of Turkey is easy, the three main airports are Istanbul Attaturk, Dalaman and Antalya. Avis, Budget, Hertz and Europcar are found in all the large airports and will usually have an office at your resort. There are several smaller local firms offering cheap deals however be careful to do your research properly as they may not operate to the same standards as the larger international firms. Turkish drivers are not renowned for obeying the rules of the road and the use of the horn is epidemic, if you are a nervous driver avoid driving in rush hour or at night as street lighting is patchy at best outside of the town centres.
Guide to Turkey
The main airport in Turkey airport is known as Atatürk International Airport. It serves the areas of Istanbul in Turkey it lies 24 km west of the city centre and was opened back in 1924. Turkish is the main language of the country, but you will find that most people in the tourist areas will speak English to a high level. The main currency used is the Turkish Lira however US dollars and Euros are widely accepted too.
At one point or another Turkey has been under various rules including the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine empires so its no surprise that Turkey has a rich cultural heritage. From the ancient port city of Ephesus to the soaring Byzantine dome of Aya Sofya in Istanbul, Turkey has more than its fair share of world-famous ruins and monuments. Whatever it is you’re looking for Turkey has it in abundance. From the incredible beaches to hilltop ruins there is something around every corner that will captivate you and keep you coming back time and time again.
Although capital status eludes it Istanbul is very much the beating heart of Turkey. Bustling bazaars, buzzing nightclubs and ultra-modern hammams sit comfortably alongside Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman palaces and mosques. Istanbul really is a place like no other. For those looking for a more laid-back pace of life the beaches of Olu Deniz and Izmir are a sun worshipers paradise. The capital city is Ankara and although not as popular with tourists as some of the other cities its well worth a visit if for no other reason than to gain insight into a different side of Turkish culture.
Places to Visit in Turkey
No trip to Turkey would be compete without a visit to Istanbul, there is so much to see here that you’ll need more than a few days to take it all in. One of the main highlights for us is the Grand Bazaar. Over 500 years old but still one of the largest covered bazaars in the world. Its 60 streets contain no less than 5000 shops, 60 restaurants, 18 fountains, 12 mosques, and even a school. The bazaar is very famous for its carpets, leather, ceramics, souvenirs and jewellery, you’ll need to get your haggling head on to get the best deals here. Other highlights of city include the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and Topkapi Palace.
If you’re headed to the coast then you’ll be hard pressed to match the beaches at Olu Deniz. It’s known for the blue lagoon of Ölüdeniz Tabiat Parkı and the wide, white Belcekız Beach. The Lycian Way is a long-distance marked footpath starting in Ölüdeniz and winding its way to Geyikbayırı almost 540km away. To the south there is Butterfly Valley a beautiful nature reserve with a secluded bay.
Bodrum, Gumbet and Bitez are side by side so if you want to combine life on the beach with the allure of street after street of market stalls and shops then head to the South-West of Turkey. Gumbet is the lively more commercial and typical holiday resort with clubs, bars , hotels , restaurants while the quieter (but just as beautiful) Bitez offers a more laid back beach life. Bodrum is a working city not just a tourist destination so offers a real feel of Turkish life as well as the usual tourist spots.
Ephesus is the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean region, and one of Turkey’s top sights. Excavations here have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. It really is one of the best sites to gain an insight into the Roman era outside of Italy.
Pumakkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish and one look at the stepped travertine pools and you’ll understand why. It’s also the site of the incredibly well-preserved ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. You can bathe, as the Romans once did, in a picturesque pool filled with warm, mineral rich waters and swim amongst submerged Roman columns. With its unique blend of natural and man-made pools Pumakkale attracts over 2 million tourists a year making it the single most visited attraction in Turkey.
Although Turkey is famed for its history it has its eyes very much fixed forward when it comes to preservation and no better example of this can be found than Turtle beach. Just south of the town of Dalyan you’ll find Turtle beach where over half the worlds population of green sea turtle come to nest every year. There are also several turtle hospitals and rehabilitation centres that you can visit.
No matter where you stay in Turkey one thing you can be assured of is a warm welcome and some delicious food. From charcoal smoked kebaps to pide made in tiny little shops on almost every corner food in Turkey is a way of life. They are also big fans of sticky sweets so make sure you try out some baklava.
Getting to and From Turkey
There are numerous airports serving Turkey which are easily reached from most European airports. Internal flights are also relatively inexpensive so if you don’t fancy the ten-hour drive from Istanbul to Antalya then you get hop on a plane for around £20. If you’d rather travel by train the connection between Turkey and European countries is provided by Bosphorus Express and runs daily. There are direct sleeper trains from Greece, Bulgaria and Romania into Istanbul run by the Turkish State Railways. You can also travel from London or Paris to Istanbul by train.
FAQ’s about Car Hire in Turkey
Which car hire companies are available in Turkey?
Most of the popular companies are available for you to book in many of Turkeys airports, such as Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National and Sixt. There are also lots of smaller local companies offering cheap deals.
How much does it cost to hire a car in Turkey?
Rates vary on average from £8-£35 a day depending on the season and the type of car you want to hire. Book well in advance to secure a good deal and opt for smaller more compact car to keep costs down.
Which side of the road do you drive on in Turkey?
You will drive on the right-hand side of the road in Turkey and overtake on the left.
Are there toll roads in Turkey?
Turkey has a modern motorway system which has recently been converted to a High-Speed Toll System called HGS. All rental cars are fitted with an electronic device which will automatically pay the toll and you will be charged by the rental company when you return the car.
Is there anything else I should know?
Turkey has invested a lot of money in its road networks in recent years so driving conditions around the main towns and cities are great. If you’re planning on going off the beaten path be a little more careful especially at night. Some of the mountain roads don’t have safety barriers and are unlit which makes traversing them a little more challenging.
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