Picture driving on a smooth road with the wind blowing your hair, surrounded by the azure sea on one side and steep mountains on the other. Can you think of a more picturesque journey? Welcome to driving in Turkey! Sometimes!
Turkey – the land of ‘Eastern Romance’ dotted with magnificent monuments, stunning landscapes, and the heart-warming hospitality of its people. This cultural hotspot offers an irresistible blend of awe-inspiring sights. From the enchanting fairy chimneys of Cappadocia carved by centuries of wind erosion to the breathtaking expanse of Istanbul’s skyline, you’ll be pleasantly surprised wherever you look.
It sounds like an ideal road trip, doesn’t it? Don’t get so jumpy just yet. Driving in Turkey as a tourist isn’t necessarily going to be like driving in your home country. You’ll have to deal with Turkish road rules and reckless drivers that can often put travellers in a tricky spot.
You can still rent a car and drive in Türkiye; you’ll just want to be aware of the local road rules and what to expect from Turkish roads and traffic conditions before hitting the road.
Why Driving in Turkey is a Good Idea
Turkey has a decently well-developed transportation system. You can get around the country without renting a car from trains, shared taxis, mini buses, and domestic flights.
Then why rent one?
Well, who doesn’t appreciate much travel freedom and flexibility? You can venture into small towns and countryside areas that are off-limits to public transport. You can take breaks whenever you want, drive for as long as you’re comfortable, and stop over to take as many Insta-worthy shots of the captivating views as you like.
Moreover, you’ll be able to pack in as much sightseeing as possible within a limited time frame. Also, let’s not forget that sometimes renting a car in Turkey is cheaper than public transport, especially when there are several people in your travelling group.
We recommend comparing car rental prices in Türkiye using DiscoverCars.com
Restrictions and Barriers to Renting a Car in Turkey
We know that Turkey’s road conditions, stunning views, and relatively cheaper rentals make it an ideal destination for a road trip. But is it all that merry? Is renting a car in Turkey easy?
Like all other countries in the world, Turkey also has some restrictions on renting a car.
We’ve listed some important ones for you so you don’t mess up your plans.
The age limit to rent a car in Turkey is 21. Some rental companies also require you to pay a Young Driver Fee along with the car rental if you’re younger than 23, while some have set the age limit for driving a car in Turkey to a minimum of 25 years. Certain vehicles may also have an additional age limit. There’s no way out of this. You’ll have to abide by it.
Most rental companies require you to have a year-long valid driver’s license. You may also need an International Driver’s Permit and driver’s license in some parts of Turkey. Be sure to carry the right documents when renting a car in Turkey. These include your passport, credit card, and driver’s license. Take your booking voucher along too.
No Vehicle Inspection
This one’s a bummer and one of the top reasons travellers get scammed. Unfortunately, some car rentals don’t allow you to inspect the car before renting it. This way, you won’t be able to note any pre-existing damages on the rental agreement. So, be very alert and ask for an inspection before signing your name on the dotted line. If you aren’t allowed to do so, click pictures of the car pre-driving and share them with the rental company. Don’t take the car until you get a confirmation from them.
Sadly, not letting a traveller inspect a vehicle or asking them to do so in the dark isn’t the only scam you may encounter. You can be:
- Charged for damages that you didn’t cause
- Asked to pay extra charges without any explanation
- Sent a wrong vehicle model
Sometimes, the official paperwork might show fuel levels are “full.” But in reality, the tank may not be full. So, check all these details before hopping on your ride and driving off to explore Turkey.
If you want your driving experience in Turkey to be perfect, go through all the legal matters in advance. Also, always research the area you’re visiting and look up the best routes to get there. Besides, have a good backup plan in place. For instance, carry a map, know your route well, and don’t forget to have copies of all the important documents with you wherever you go.
Most importantly, just don’t rent a car in Turkey blindly. Look for reputable rental companies and always check reviews before signing up.
Tips for Driving in Turkey
Those were the restrictions. Let’s move forward to learn some helpful tips for driving in Turkey.
Always Stick to the Driving Rules in Turkey
No one fancies a speed ticket or a fine for driving in the wrong lane at their Turkish souvenir. So, you must be well aware of Turkish road rules before pressing the pedal. Also, pay attention to the speed limits and traffic signals in Turkey.
- If you’re bringing your car, you must be 18 or older and have your driver’s license.
- You must be 21 to rent and drive in Turkey as a tourist.
- Watch for the speed limits. They may be different everywhere. We’ll give you a breakdown below.
- Don’t stop right at the line of the junction. You won’t be able to see the traffic lights, and soon your ears will be ringing with honks.
- Seat belts are a must for everyone in the car.
- Avoid using your mobile phone unless you have a car hands-free kit.
Road Signs in Turkey
In Turkey, road signs are similar to the international standard, using familiar symbols and signage. However, using a translation app for translating words may be helpful.
Drunk Driving is a No Go
Turkey has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drunk driving. Turkish police are very strict about it. Your blood alcohol content can never be above zero. So, if you decide to gulp down a pint before driving, make sure you have someone sober to take the wheel.
Know the Side of the Road to Drive
In Turkey, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the left.
Don’t Take the Narrow Old Town Lanes
The congested lanes in the old town aren’t as smooth as Turkey’s motorways. Avoid these narrow lanes if you don’t want a nasty pothole or a bumpy ride.
Sometimes a Roundabout Isn’t a Roundabout
Some Turkish roundabouts are tricky, and you may find yourself lost if you don’t know your way. You might come across a big circle in the middle of the road that appears as a roundabout. But it’s just that – a big circle.
It’s always better to lock the car windows and doors while driving in Turkey. Pay attention to your surroundings, especially if you’re going off-road.
Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle when you park it on the street. It is especially true if you’re driving in Istanbul because the city is crowded and busy.
Speed Limits for Driving in Turkey
There’s no uniformity in speed signs throughout Turkey. Sometimes you’ll come across micro speed limits ranging from 30 km/h to 50 km/h for even the main roads. You must look out for these signs and slow down your car when you see them. Other times, you’ll see the speed limit turning 90 km/h or more.
The safest way to ace Turkish driving is to stick to the following speed limits:
- 120 km/h for motorways and highways
- 90 km/h for double-lane roads
- 50 km/h for built-up areas
Alternates to Self-Driving in Turkey
You don’t necessarily have to drive to enjoy the beautiful landscape of Turkey. You can also rent a car with a driver or take the bus, train, or ferry.
Let us break down the other transport options for you:
Turkey’s bus network is extensive and covers almost all the cities. Tickets are available at kiosks, airports, and travel agencies. You can also ask your hotel to contact a reputed bus company to reserve seats.
We use and recommend 12go.asia for finding the best value bus tickets for Turkey online, along with timetable information and the fastest alternate routes your could try
Turkey’s high-speed trains link up major cities like Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir. Tickets can be bought online and at train stations. It’s better to purchase your tickets at least two days in advance. Remember that you’ll have to pick up your tickets from where you booked them.
Ferry services run between Istanbul and Bursa, Yalova, and a few other cities. Tickets can be purchased from ferry terminals or online. Regardless of your choice, check the ferry timetable before you board. The plus point is obtaining a same-day round-trip ticket from Istanbul.
Turkey has several domestic airports, making hopping between cities and regions easy. Domestic flights are relatively affordable and save you time if you’re covering long distances, though the cost can add up for a family when you need to multiply this by several airline tickets.
Apps and websites like BlaBlaCar connect drivers and passengers for shared rides. It’s a cost-effective option to travel between cities and offers an opportunity to meet friendly locals or fellow travellers.
Another option is to look at online services such as GetTransfer, where private drivers can bid on providing your transfer services with the appropriately sized vehicle. It’s a good way of getting a competitive quote – try it here > Get Transfer Quotes For Turkey
More Tips For Planning a Turkey Family Road Trip
If you’re at the planning stage of a Turkey family vacation, you may also want to check out next:
- The best times to visit Turkey – when to plan your Turkey vacation for optimal weather and fewer crowds
- What to Wear in Turkey – your complete guide to the dress code in Turkey along with our advice and what you should be packing for the seasons
- Start your journey in the capital; fabulously culturally rich and interesting, we share all the best things to do in Istanbul with kids , plus where to stay for the best city break
- Heading next to the coast, these are our favourite beach towns in Turkey
- Or for a unique experience try the famous hot springs in Turkey
- Winter in Turkey can still be a fabulous time to visit; we share our guides to Istanbul in Winter, Cappadocia with kids in winter, and where you’ll find the best ski resort towns in Turkey
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