Driving a car in Turkey is not difficult if you are already an experienced driver. However, there are things in Turkey which are different. Before you rent or drive a car in Turkey, here are some suggestions and warnings.
Please consult the Lonely Planet Thorntree Forum for up-to-date advice from travellers who have personal experiences before you make up your mind to drive in Turkey.
In this posting is information about:
Driving in Turkey
Renting a Car
and some information about the Size of Turkey , a much larger country than many first-time visitors expect.
Driving in Turkey
For a few laughs about driving a car in Turkey, you might want to take a look at Mr. Johns (dated 1997) somewhat humorous account of the Rules of Driving in Turkey.
According to the online newspaper Today’s Zaman, there is a new traffic law which aims for harsher penalties:
- Drivers declining an alcohol test will be regarded as drunk drivers and receive penalties accordingly.
- Police will seize the licenses of drivers who reject the test as a base measure.
- The fine for drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 50 percent will rise one-and-a-half times.
- According to the current law, those who exceed the speed limit by 10 to 30 percent receive a TL 154 fine,
- Drivers exceeding the limit by more than 30 percent are fined TL 319.
Speed limits are 90 km or below on secondary roads and up to 120 is permitted on the high-speed roads (commonly called TEM). There may or may not be a sign for reduced speed limit going into a town or village, do be careful and slow down when passing through villages or towns.
Note that pedestrians do not have nor expect to have the right of way in Turkey. Also be aware that usually, which car reaches an intersection first will nearly always take the right-of-way regardless of whether they are to your right or left…
Small trucks and tractors or those pulling trailers may not have tail lights nor reflectors. It is not a good idea to drive far after dark if you are in a mountainous, seaside road or other unfamiliar terrain; if you do, drive slower and more cautious.
If some maniac (there will be plenty) comes up behind you at a high rate of speed, slow down and get close to or off the side of the road if space permits and let them pass. Drive at a leisurely pace and do not allow the speed “monsters” to push you into driving faster. Some will honk, others will wave and others will flash their lights or do all of these things, just let them pass as soon as it is safe and you will be just fine.
Watch out for police speed traps which use radar, there are many “fake” police car mockups along the road (true, no joke here) you may see a real police car parked immediately next to one of these mockups waiting for you to speed by. Traffic stops are usually routine checks for registration, insurance, or licence. Make sure you have all the rental car paperwork handy along with your passport and driver’s license. If you are pulled over in a routine road side stop you may get a fine if you are not buckled up or if a child is not in a proper child restraint seat.
Do not let these things deter you from driving if you feel you must. Just remember you are in a foreign country and keeping strictly within the limits of the law and driving defensively will help ensure a safe journey no matter how many “traffic monsters” are on the road.
Public transportation in Turkey is very reasonably priced, modern and comfortable. A family or group may find it more economical and less hassle to use public transport than to brave the hazards of renting and the peril of the road. If needed, a traveller can rent a car locally at their destination. Often small, economical scooters are available for rent as well as small off-road vehicles and cars.
Bus ticket agencies are in every city and nearly every town of any size. They are usually located in the bus station (otogar) and many of the agents speak English well enough for a tourist to purchase the appropriate tickets.
For long distances, there are large bus companies which run cross-country buses throughout Turkey. They are modern and very comfortable. Turkey Travel Planner tells you about the Top Bus Firms in Turkey. Turkish buses are most certainly not rattletraps with chickens and goats on board and the places they stop along the route are clean and the eateries range from adequate to very good.
Most of the cross-country buses have movies and music (usually Turkish), wi-fi, and all have attendants who serve tea and other refreshments while travelling. Some have toilets, some do not. Some bus company web sites show seating arrangements. Some buses have only three seats abreast with the aisle between while others have two on each side of the aisle. Single women are never given a seat next to a man by an agent unless the bus is full. The driver may ask a woman or man if they would please move so that a strange man and woman are not seated together.
For local transportation and short distances, nearly every Turkish city, town or village has a transportation system. These small buses are called a dolmuş (dole-moosh). A dolmuş driver will stop and pick up passengers along the road even if there is no bus stop unless they are filled. They have regularly scheduled runs and usually keep good schedules between towns and villages.
Cities and large towns have city buses, taxis, an inner-city dolmuş system and some have rail trams. It can be an interesting, but safe cultural experience to take public transportation in Turkey.
Driving a car in Turkey may cause you to have a price shock when you buy gasoline (which is called benzine in Turkey). Gasoline is the second most expensive in the world. Only Norway is more expensive than Turkey.
Another article says that Britain is the tenth most expensive place for petrol in the world and American motorists pay only half as much.
Last-minute tax hikes on gas, autos, alcohol draw criticism. The hikes were announced on Sept. 22 (2012) in the Official Gazette and accordingly the special consumption tax (SCT) was raised by 30 kuruş on gasoline…It was also increased from 37 percent to 40 percent for automobiles whose motors do not exceed 1,600 CC…The price for gasoline increased, from 4.37 liras to 4.73 liras after the hike.
Kurşunsuz (unleaded) 95 averages around 4.70 Turkish Lira (TL) (+/-) per liter in the Kaş/Antalya area. This is one of the most expensive but usually the most commonly used gasoline. This is the equivalent of:
- 9.96 USD per US gallon
- 7.50 GBP per UK gallon
- 1.97 Euros per liter
In the Kaş/Antalya area, Diesel (motorin) averages about 4.28 TL per liter.
This Petrol Ofisi web site can help you compare regional fuel prices in Turkey. Use the pull down menu next to “Görmek İstediğiniz İli Seçiniz” to find the location. Click the “Sorgula” button to see current prices.
To convert liters per km to miles per gallon (107 mpg-US = 2.20 L/100 km), you may find this Miles Per Gallon (U.S.) to Kilometer Per Liter Conversion Calculator useful.
Or perhaps this Mpg to Liters Per 100 K Conversion Calculator is more appropriate
because for Europeans, fuel consumption is measured in liters per 100 kilometers.
1 mile per gallon (mpg) = 0.425 kilometers per liter (km/l).
An economical car will get about 15 to 20 km per liter.
A Fiat Doblo Diesel is rated at between 50 and 60 mpg or between 21 and 26 km/l. If you were to drive 1500 kilometers and if diesel (motorin) costs 4.28 TL per liter at 22 km per liter, your fuel would cost a bit less than 300 TL (and quite a bit more if you have a gasoline motor car).
Renting a Car
As you can see, driving a car in Turkey can be expensive. Think of alternatives first before you decide. Depending upon how many of you there are you might wait until you arrive and rent a motorbike locally, they are more economical and can be more fun. Some people prefer to rent a Suzuki 4WD, they are very common here and it has a convertible feel and off-road capabilities. If you can rent a diesel or LPG car, do so because that will save you some money and diesel and LPG stations are on all the roads.
Some Rental Agencies Recommended on the TripAdvisor Kaş Forum:
(NOTE: Advisors on the Lonely Planet Thorntree Forum may recommend others)
http://www.metrocarrental.com/index.php (Dalaman Local)
Rental car prices in Turkey can be VERY expensive and there may be a very high extra fee if you do not return the car to where you picked it up.
Before you rent a vehicle, inquire about supplemental insurance, drop-off fees, and be certain you know what is covered with your rental. “Sigorta” is the standard insurance coverage given and this is equivalent to 3rd party liability, fire and theft. For an additional charge you can uprate this to “Kasko” which is equivalent to fully comprehensive insurance coverage. If you intend to do a lot of driving, Kasko is strongly suggested.
Check your rental agreement to see who has the right to drive the vehicle. Some agencies allow two drivers free, more drivers will usually have to pay extra.
It is very common for rental agencies to give you a nearly empty fuel tank which compels you into “guessing” how to bring it back almost empty again. Ask the agent if they top off the fuel tank or do they leave it empty. Ask if they will top it off before you start and then you will fill it again when you return. They probably will not…
Rental cars can be taken on internal ferries such as the ferry to Bandurma across the Marmara or crossing the Dardanelles, but not on international ones such as to the Greek Isles, nor can the car be taken out of Turkey by road.
If you need a child seat, bring your own, as the ones provided are frequently not of good quality.
Before accepting a car, walk around it with a camera, preferably on video mode, and record every small scratch and dent you see. Doing this with the agent looking helps discourage the company from making any false accusations upon your return. If you find any problems, scratches or dents, make sure the agent notes these in writing and that you have a copy with you at all times.
Size of Turkey
Turkey is a very large Euro-Asian country and many travellers underestimate how far between are their destinations. For example, take a look at this Google map from Atatürk Airport in Istanbul through Görme (Cappadoccia), Erzurum and on to Van. This route is over 1800 km and more than a 24 hour bus ride from Istanbul. Turkey Travel Planner(TTP) has an easy to follow bus route guide to help you get around Turkey. You may be able to buy a road map at book stores, tourist places, a rental car agency or at some gasoline (benzine) stations. You can use a Distance Calculator to plan your route and distances, or you can print Google Maps with road markers and routes. Please plan accordingly…