Getting to Turkey by air
Turkey is approximately 4 hours journey by air from the UK making it a great choice for a refreshing city break or for a leisurely summer holiday. Unless you are travelling as part of a package holiday most flights will be to or via Istanbul, the country’s largest city and the gateway to the country and rest of the world, though there are some direct flights from the UK to other Turkish cities, particularly during the summer months when both scheduled and charter flights operate direct services.
Getting to Turkey is now very easy as there are many airliners which fly out to Turkey. These are: Turkish Airlines (www.thy.com), British Airways (www.ba.com), Pegasus Airlines (www.flypgs.com/en), Atlas Jet www.atlastjet.com and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) all operate scheduled services from the UK to Istanbul, landing at either Ataturk International Airport on the European side of the city or at the new and smaller Sabiha Gökcen Airport on the Asian shore. Most flights depart from London airports; however, Turkish Airlines also have direct flights from Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin.
In terms of charter flights which, in the main, operate from May to October and serve the Med and Aegean areas of Izmir, Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya: Jet2.com flies from East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle; Aegean Flights from most UK airports; and Thomas Cook offer a wide range of regional departure points throughout the UK.
In Istanbul, both Ataturk International and Sabiha Gokcen airports are modern and comfortable. Ataturk is the main hub, serving cities across the world, a large and contemporary airport boasting a large number of shops, cafes and restaurants. Sabiha Gokcen is smaller in scale and very user-friendly due to its speediness and lack of queues. Reaching the city from both airports is easy with the good-value bus service Havas, with coaches leaving regularly for Taksim and the Asian side. Taksim is the transport hub of Istanbul and from there you can jump in a taxi or take the metro or a bus to your final destination. The signature yellow taxis are also always on stand-by as an alternative, though a more costly alternative journey into town. Taxis all have taxi meters with a standard rate across the whole country, with a night rate applicable between midnight and 6am. Flying to other cities Flights are available from the UK direct to many other cities in Turkey, with regular flights to Antalya, Bodrum, and Dalaman, airports close to popular holiday resorts, but in most other instances you will need to transfer via Istanbul. Other main airports in Turkey include Izmir and Ankara, which are popular with business travellers in particular – Ankara is Turkey’s capital city and Izmir is a popular destination for Conference and Incentive Meetings. See Getting Around Turkey for travel between cities once you are within Turkey itself.
Airlines flying to and within Turkey
Getting to Turkey by ferry
There are many Mediterranean cruise holidays that take in Bodrum, Istanbul, Izmir and Kusadasi as part of their itinerary. Regular ferries also offer services between the Italian ports of Brindisi and Ancona and the Turkish town of Cesme on the Aegean coast (www.marmaralines.com), with other services running between the Greek Islands and the western Turkish coast ports of Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye, though generally between spring and autumn only. For Rhodes to Marmaris see www.marmarisferry.com - and for Samos to Kusadasi, www.meandertravel.com. Ferry timetables are available on www.feribot.net. There are also regular services to and from North Cyprus during the summer months from Alanya, Antalya and Anamur services to Girne (Kyrenia) (www.fergun.net).
Getting to Turkey by coach
If you want to travel to Turkey by coach there are regular services from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and Holland (www.eurolines.com) with journeys in the region of days rather than hours. Coaches arrive into Esenler Coach Station in the northwest of Istanbul from where you can hail a taxi into town or take the metro to Aksaray which connects with the tram serving Sultanahmet, Karakoy and Kabatas.
By Train There are direct sleeper trains from Greece, Bulgaria and Romania into Istanbul run by the Turkish State Railway (www.tcdd.gov.tr). There are also services that run from Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy and Switzerland which will involve changes of connection and popular with ‘inter-railers’, (www.interrailnet.com). For the adventurous and for those with three days to spare it is possible to travel from London to Istanbul boarding no less than four trains, for more details and for a variety of routes see www.seat61.com/Turkey.htm. The ultra-luxurious and pricey Venice Simplon Orient Express runs an annual trip to Istanbul every August (www.orient-expresstrains.com) taking six days; early booking is advised though as it sells out quickly. Trains from the west arrive at the historic Sirkeci station in Istanbul just a stone’s throw from Sultanahmet and a taxi ride from Taksim. There is also a modern and comfortable weekly train from Istanbul to Tehran, reintroduced in March 2001, called the Trans-Asia Express and a train from Istanbul to Syria, the Toros Express.
Getting to Turkey by car
It is possible to drive to Turkey via Bulgaria or Greece, or via Italy, with a ferry to Turkey (see By Ferry) and vehicles may be used for up to six months once in the country. At the border you will need to provide a valid passport, international driving license, vehicle licence, international green card (insurance card) and vehicle registration details. Do check if your insurance is valid for the Asian side of the country. If the vehicle belongs to someone else, a power of attorney will be required. Should you wish to extend the six-month period, applications can be made to the addresses below.
The Turkish Touring and Automobile Club (Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu)
1. Sanayi Sitesi Yani, 4.Levent, Istanbul
Tel (212) 282 81 40; Fax (212) 282 80
The General Directorate of Customs (Gümrükler Genel Müdürlügü)
Ulus – Ankara
Tel (312) 310 38 80, 310 38 18; Fax (312) 311 13 46
Getting to Turkey by private yacht
Upon arrival in Turkish waters, yachts must report to the nearest port of entry which are as follows: Istanbul, Iskenderun, Botas (Adana), Mersin, Tasucu, Anamur, Alanya, Antalya, Kemer, Finike, Kas, Fethiye, Marmaris, Datça, Bodrum, Güllük Didim, Kusadasi, Çesme, Izmir, Dikili, Ayvalik, Akçay, Çanakkale, Bandirma, Tekirdag, Zonguldak, Sinop, Samsun, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Hopa. Once details of the yacht, yachtsmen, intended route, passports, customs declarations and health clearance have been entered into a transit log, the boat will have permission to remain for two years. Upon leaving you will need to contact the harbour authority again. Turkey Chamber of Shipping