Whilst making my plan for Turkey (a very last minute plan at that), I really wasn’t sure about public transport. I couldn’t find much decent information online, and with travel companies offering bus-booking services, it made me feel that travelling independently in Turkey must be tricky.
However, that is absolutely not the case. For those like myself who enjoy the independence of using public transport, this guide should make it really easy to get around beautiful Turkey!
Overall, I found everything super straight forward on all modes of transport. I felt safe, confident and was overwhelmed with the Turks’ friendliness. Buses ended up being my favourite but check my guide below for an overview of each type of transport!
Key essential transport language in Turkey
- Otogar – Bus Station
- Otobüs – Bus
- Dolmuş – Local minibuses that run on set routes
- Tren istasyonu – Train Station
- Tren – Station (pretty simple really!)
- Kaç para? – How much?
- Taksi – Taxi
- Bilet gişesi – Ticket Office
Both buses had phone chargers (that worked), provided pillows and reclining seats, air con and best of all, waiter service!!
There are many bus services in Turkey, all of which sell their tickets in the bus station ticket halls. I did some quick research and landed on the Pamukkale bus company for my journey from Bodrum to Ephesus. I was very impressed with the service, the comfortable bus, the safe driving and the unlimited drinks and snacks! Yes, really!
The second bus company I used (from Denizli to Fethiye) was Anadolu. I was even more impressed (although I believe the two companies are part of the same umbrella company). The seats were spacious, had a really good recline, had TVs(!) offering mostly Turkish TV shows, films, games, music and the news. Oh and charging points again.
The service was excellent – check the waiter below!
Both buses I booked by turning up at the bus station. For the Bodrum bus, I turned up a few hours ahead as the town is really close, and then returned later. The staff didn’t speak much English but we got by fine, with a printed ticket for that evening and a reserved seat.
For the Anadolu bus, I knew I was travelling on a public holiday so I turned up the day before to be on the safe side and purchase a ticket. It turns out though that it’s pretty easy to buy tickets when you turn up.
Alternatively, you can purchase them on online but the websites are mostly in Turkish and a little tricky to navigate.
I was quite excited to experience my first Turkish train. As you may know, I love trains anyway but had no previous idea of what to expect and my decision to take one was very last minute.
I took a train from Selçuk to Denizi and was really impressed. Again it was clean, not crowded and had a charging point! (England really needs to take note here!)
I turned up hours ahead again to buy tickets but I was informed that the ticket hall doesn’t open until just before the train leaves. So I headed back to my hotel’s pool and then returned just before the scheduled departure time. Buying a ticket was easy and straight forward but the train was pretty late.
When it did turn up, I expected a scrap for a seat but it wasn’t hard to get a window seat at all. The train stopped regularly and there was a ticket inspector onboard, so I wouldn’t ever recommend getting on without a ticket.
I think there were toilets, but I didn’t use them.
The dolmuş (pronounced dolmush) is the local minibus/taxi service. They’re incredible easy to jump on and work in a very orderly way. Fares are super cheap and making getting from A to B in towns really easy. They also leave in the same stations as the larger longer distance buses – so nice and easy to transfer between them.
Turkey is blessed with one of the best national carriers I have experienced – Turkish Airlines. They have have a very extensive budget airline called Pegasus. Honestly both are great and I found flying around the country very easy and straight forward and best of all, a really time-saver!
Fares were surprisingly good and sometimes there wasn’t a lot in it between the two except if it’s going to Istanbul, Pegasus more frequently flew to Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, which is an hour or so out of the city. Generally, flying into Ataturk is a little easier and it’s a more pleasant airport in my opinion.
Turkish Airlines seats are comfortable and the planes are new and modern. Best of all (and despite most internal flights being just 1 hour long), many of the planes have TVs for each seat as well as delicious food and drinks! Winner! More airlines need to take a leaf from Turkish Airlines’ book!
That’s my guide to public transport in Turkey. I hope that makes it less daunting as it really is straight forward and safe! It opened up the complete country to me and I loved not having to rely (and pay up) for a tour!
I hope you find this guide informative and useful! Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further advice! 🙂
If you’re considering a longer Turkey adventure, you might find my itinerary here useful, as well as my guides to Bodrum, Pamukkale, Ephesus, sailing the famous Turquoise Coast, Istanbul and Cappadocia here.
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