Exploring the vibrant landscapes and rich history of Turkey often calls for the flexibility and convenience that only a private vehicle can provide. Statistics show that a growing number of tourists and business travelers opt to rent a car, with industry reports highlighting a steady increase in vehicle rentals across the nation. This trend is hardly surprising, considering the allure of driving along the breathtaking coastline of the Aegean Sea or maneuvering through the bustling streets of Istanbul at one’s own pace. Renting a car in Turkey opens up a world of possibilities—a chance to venture beyond the well-trodden paths of public transport, delve into hidden gems scattered across the Anatolian plateau, and experience the country’s diverse cultural tapestry with the liberty of spontaneous detours and stops. However, for those unfamiliar with the local driving laws, rental processes, or geographic challenges, navigating through the options of car rental companies, insurance policies, and vehicle types can be as daunting as it is exciting.

Car rental in Turkey

Table of Contents

Why Rent a Car in Turkey?

Renting a car in Turkey opens the door to freedom and flexibility that simply can’t be matched by public transportation or tours. As someone who has traversed the crossroads of East and West, I can attest to the unparalleled sense of liberation that comes with driving through Turkey’s diverse landscapes. Not only does it allow you to explore at your own pace, but you can also venture to hidden gems that are off the beaten path, such as remote village ruins, secluded beaches, and scenic backroads that offer authentic glimpses into Turkish life. Furthermore, car rental can be surprisingly affordable and convenient, with numerous pick-up points from airports to city centers. Let’s delve deeper into the reasons and practical tips in the following subsections, where we’ll cover everything from choosing the right rental company to must-see driving routes.

What Size Rental Car: Big or Small?

When deciding on the size of a rental car for a trip in Turkey, various factors come into play. Having experienced both, I can guide you through some of the practical considerations that may influence your decision.

Reasons to Choose a Big Rental Car

  • Family or Group Travel: If you’re traveling with family or a group, a larger car is essential. More space means more comfort, especially on long drives through the beautiful Turkish countryside.
  • Luggage Capacity: A big car will accommodate luggage for several people without cramping your style. This is particularly important if you’re planning an extended trip or if you’re carrying specialized equipment for activities like skiing or camping.
  • Road Presence: Larger vehicles tend to command more respect on the road. In Turkey, where driving styles can be assertive, a bigger car might provide a psychological edge and a feeling of safety.
  • Long Distance Comfort: If your journey includes long distances, a larger vehicle usually provides a smoother ride, reducing travel fatigue.

Reasons to Opt for a Small Rental Car

  • Ease of Maneuverability: Turkish cities like Istanbul are known for their narrow streets and tight parking spaces. A smaller car makes it far easier to navigate and park in these congested urban areas.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Generally speaking, smaller cars consume less fuel, which can lead to significant savings, especially if you’re racking up a lot of miles exploring the various regions of Turkey.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: When renting a car, size often relates directly to cost. Not only are smaller cars usually cheaper to rent, but they often also have lower insurance premiums.
  • Eco-Friendliness: If you’re environmentally conscious, a smaller car will typically have a smaller carbon footprint, allowing you to explore Turkey’s natural wonders responsibly.

Understanding these factors and considering your trip’s specifics – from the number of passengers and the type of travel to the driving conditions you expect to encounter – will help you decide whether a big or small rental car is right for your Turkish adventure.

Picking up your Rental Car

During my travels across Turkey, I’ve had the opportunity to rent cars from various locations, ensuring a smooth and convenient transition from the airplane to the open road. Here are some of the major airports and cities where I’ve personally experienced car rental services:

Major Airports

  • Atatürk International Airport (Istanbul): As one of the busiest airports in Europe, Atatürk International Airport was my first encounter with car rentals in Turkey. The rental desks are conveniently located within the airport, just after the customs and baggage claim areas. Staff members are typically multilingual and offer a friendly welcome to travelers.
  • Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (Istanbul): On the Asian side of Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen International offers similar facilities for car rentals. With its strategic location offering access to both Istanbul and other provinces, it’s an excellent starting point for your journey.
  • Antalya Airport: Given that Antalya is a hot spot for tourists looking to explore the Turkish Riviera, renting a car here is a breeze. The rental agencies are available right inside the airport, so you can hit the road and head straight to the stunning beaches or historical sites as soon as you arrive.

Istanbul airport

Major Cities

  • Istanbul: The vibrant city of Istanbul has numerous car rental options throughout the city, but picking up a vehicle at the airport can save you precious time. This allows for an immediate dive into the city’s enthralling mix of history and modernity.
  • Ankara: The capital city of Turkey, Ankara, also has car rental facilities that are easily accessible. Whether you’re planning to delve into the rich history of the Anatolian civilisations or you’re here on business, your rental car will give you the mobility you require.
  • Izmir: Known for its ancient history and beautiful coastline, Izmir is another perfect location to rent a car upon arrival. With the rental desks just a short walk from the arrivals hall, it’s incredibly convenient.

Let me assure you that regardless of which airport or city you choose to rent your vehicle, you’ll find that the rental counters inside the airports are not only equipped with friendly staff but also provide all the necessary information and support to set you up for your Turkish adventure. Just remember to have all your documents ready, and you’ll be ready to explore Turkey at your own pace.

Insurance, Excesses and CDW

When renting a car in Turkey, understanding the legal requirements and options for rental car insurance, excesses, and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is critically important to ensure you are fully covered in case of any mishaps.

Legal Requirements for Car Insurance in Turkey

In Turkey, as in many countries, it is legally required for all vehicles to have a minimum level of third-party liability insurance. This is to ensure that there is coverage for any damage you may cause to other people or their property while driving. When renting a car, the basic insurance that comes as standard will typically cover this, but it is always a good idea to double-check your policy details. For additional information on Turkish legal requirements for vehicle insurance, I highly recommend visiting the Association of the Insurance and Reinsurance Companies of Turkey website.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

The Collision Damage Waiver, or CDW, is not a form of insurance, but rather a waiver that reduces your financial liability for damage to the rental vehicle. It often comes with an excess, which means you are responsible for the first portion of the damage up to a certain limit. CDW terms vary from one rental agency to another, so scrutinizing the terms and conditions before signing up is essential.

Understanding Excesses

“Excess” is the amount you are obliged to pay in the event of a claim. In Turkey, rental car excess amounts can be quite high, and thus many renters opt for additional excess waiver insurance (often referred to as Super Collision Damage Waiver or SCDW) to decrease their financial risk. It’s important to understand the excess amount stipulated in your rental agreement as this will be the maximum you could be charged in case of damage to the car.

Why Opt for Full Coverage?

Opting for full coverage can give you peace of mind. While it may increase your daily rental fee, it significantly reduces the risk of facing a substantial financial burden in case of an accident or theft. It is also worth considering extra coverage for wheels, tires, undercarriage, and glass, as these are often excluded from standard CDW policies. Remember to specifically ask your rental agency about these and ensure they are included if necessary.

Read the Small Print

Before you finalize your rental car agreement, it’s imperative to read the small print. Know exactly what you are and are not responsible for. Some insurance policies may exclude certain types of damage or have special conditions like not covering accidents that happen on unpaved roads. Ensure you are aware of any limitations or exclusions to avoid surprise charges. This level of attention to detail will not only prevent misunderstandings but will also ensure that your rental experience in Turkey is both enjoyable and stress-free.

Lastly, while online resources are incredibly helpful, consulting with the rental car company about your insurance options can also provide clarity. Always contact them directly for the most current information and advice tailored to your specific rental needs.

Renting Eligibility

In Turkey, the legal age to obtain a driver’s license is 18 years old. This allows young adults the freedom to hit the road and explore the vibrant cities and picturesque landscapes that the country offers. However, it’s important to note that while 18-year-olds can legally drive, renting a car usually requires the driver to be a bit older.

Age Requirements for Car Rental

Most car rental companies in Turkey have set their minimum age requirement for renting a vehicle at 21 years old. In some cases, this minimum age can be as high as 25, particularly for higher-end vehicle rentals. Beyond just age, there may be additional conditions to meet, such as having held your driver’s license for a minimum period, typically 1 or 2 years. It’s crucial to check with specific rental agencies for their exact requirements.

Furthermore, young drivers who are eligible but under the age of 25 are often subject to a ‘young driver fee.’ This surcharge is commonly practiced amongst car rental companies in many countries, not just Turkey, as a way to offset the insurance risks associated with younger, less experienced drivers.

If you’re planning a trip to Turkey and wish to rent a car, it’s essential to do your research ahead of time. You can find valuable information regarding legal driving laws and requirements on the Republic of Turkey’s Electronic Government Gateway, or for English speakers, resources such as the General Directorate of Highways may be useful. These pages can offer insights into the most current rules and guidelines concerning driving and car rental in Turkey. It’s also recommended to direct your inquiries to reputable rental car companies within Turkey, as they will have the most accurate and up-to-date eligibility requirements.

Always make sure to read the terms and conditions of your rental agreement carefully, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the rental company if you have any questions or concerns.

Documentation Needed to Rent a Car

When venturing to rent a car in Turkey, it is essential to be prepared with the necessary documentation to ensure a smooth transaction at the car rental desk. The following are the required documents that you will need to present:

Valid Driver’s License

First and foremost, you must present a driver’s license that is valid and recognized in Turkey. Your driver’s license must be carried at all times when driving. For drivers from many countries, your home country’s driver’s license will be sufficient. However, in cases where the license is not in the Latin alphabet (e.g., Arabic, Greek, Russian, or Chinese), you must obtain an international driver’s license.

International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

An International Driver’s Permit (IDP), sometimes referred to as an International Driving License, is a translation of your national driving license that allows you to drive a vehicle legally in Turkey while on a short-term visit. This document is necessary for residents of countries whose domestic driver’s licenses are not in English or do not contain Roman letters. Please note that the IDP must be accompanied by a valid driver’s license from your home country.


A passport is required as an additional form of identification and to verify your legal status in the country. Be sure that your passport has validity throughout the duration of the rental period.

Turkish passport

Credit Card

Most car rental companies will require a credit card under the driver’s name to place a hold for a security deposit. Ensure that your credit card has sufficient funds to cover the deposit and any additional charges that may arise.

If you are a foreign national, it is important to understand that depending on your country of residence, an International Driving Permit may be required for car rental in Turkey. In particular, if you are a resident of the United States, Canada, Australia, and many other non-EU countries, you will typically need to obtain an IDP. To find out if your country requires an IDP in Turkey, you should consult the local Turkish consulate or embassy, or check from reliable sources like the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), as they offer a list of countries where an IDP is recognized.

Remember, to avoid any inconvenience at the time of rental, make sure to gather all the necessary documentation beforehand, and double-check for any additional or specific requirements with the car rental company you select. For comprehensive information, consider looking at the General Directorate of Highways of Turkey which can provide guidance on driving regulations and documentation requirements within Turkey.

Where do I Rent a Car in Turkey?

At the Airport

Renting a car upon arrival at any of Turkey’s major airports, like Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Ankara Esenboğa Airport, or Antalya Airport, is incredibly convenient. You’ll often find offices of well-known international car rental companies such as Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and Sixt. These reputable brands usually have desks right in the arrival hall, making it easy to pick up a car immediately after landing. Additionally, local Turkish car rental companies like Garenta and Circular Car Hire also offer competitive rates and can provide more localized service options.

At the Train Station

In major cities where train travel is common, such as Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir, you can rent a car at or near the train station. Companies often have offices in close vicinity to the stations, offering the possibility to transition smoothly from train to car. Some, like Europcar, may also provide the convenience of dropping off the car at different locations.

In the City Centre

If you’re already settled in your accommodation and decide to rent a car, there are numerous rental offices throughout city centres. Here, both international and local rental services like Rentalcars.com and Rhino Car Hire have branches. They often offer competitive rates and the chance to inspect your vehicle before you drive, ensuring your rental experience is up to expectations.

Online Rental Before Travel

For many, renting a car online before beginning their journey is the most convenient option. It allows you to compare prices, car models, and rental terms from different companies through platforms like Kayak, Expedia, or Booking.com.


  • Access to a broader range of rental agencies, prices, and vehicle options.
  • Often cheaper rates due to online discounts.
  • Reduced waiting time upon arrival, as your car is pre-booked.
  • Opportunity to read reviews and assess car rental providers beforehand.


  • Less personal interaction, which means fewer opportunities to negotiate or ask detailed questions on the spot.
  • If plans change, you may encounter cancellation fees or non-refundable pre-payments.
  • You might have to rely on photographs and descriptions of the car, without seeing it in person first.

When selecting an online rental provider, consider using well-reviewed and established services like Auto Europe or Economy Car Rentals. They provide comprehensive coverage of different car rental companies and typically offer customer service to assist with your booking process.

Is Renting a Car in Turkey Safe?

Turkey boasts a diverse array of landscapes and, as such, offers a variety of driving experiences. Renting a car in Turkey can be a great way to see the country at your own pace. As with anywhere, there are certain considerations to bear in mind to ensure safety while on the road.

Road Conditions in Turkey

Overall, the road quality in Turkey is relatively good, especially on the highways and in major cities. The highways, such as the O-1/O-2 in Istanbul or the O-20 that branches out towards Ankara, are well-maintained and provide smooth and efficient travel between regions. These roads often have multiple lanes and are suited to handle high volumes of traffic.

As you venture into the countryside, the quality of roads can be more variable. Some rural areas have roads that are in less ideal condition, with bumps or potholes not being uncommon. Additionally, in mountainous areas, roads can be narrow, winding, and sometimes steep, calling for more cautious driving.

Hatay country roads

Driving in Turkish Cities

The experience of driving in Turkish cities can be daunting for those not used to heavy traffic or a more assertive driving culture. In metropolitan areas such as Istanbul and Ankara, traffic congestion is a regular occurrence, and navigating the bustling streets requires constant attention. Local drivers in the city centers are known for being aggressive and often push the limits of traffic rules, which can come as a surprise to visitors.

Driving in Small Villages and Rural Areas

Conversely, in smaller towns and villages, you may find that the pace of life slows down, and thus, the driving does too. These areas tend to have less traffic and more relaxed drivers. However, do be aware of different types of vehicles, such as tractors or animals on the road, which are not uncommon sights and could necessitate unexpected stops or detours.

Turkish Driving Culture

Driving habits in Turkey may differ from what some visitors are used to. Drivers in Turkey are known to be passionate, often using the horn liberally, and tailgating can occur, especially on highways. It’s also common for Turkish drivers to make sudden lane changes or maneuver without much warning. Seat belt use is mandatory by law, though adherence to this rule, especially in back seats, isn’t always observed strictly.

Is Renting a Car in Turkey Expensive?

Renting a car in Turkey can vary in cost depending on several factors such as the type of vehicle you choose, the rental company, the duration of the rental, and the time of year. Based on my own experiences traveling through the country, here are some insights into the expenses associated with renting a car in Turkey.

Car Rental Costs

The basic cost of renting a car in Turkey may range from as low as 150 to 300 Turkish Lira (TRY) per day for an economy car. This price can increase significantly for larger or luxury vehicles, sometimes costing upwards of 500 TRY per day. Rental rates may also fluctuate based on seasonal demand, with summer months usually being more expensive due to the influx of tourists. Additionally, if you’re looking to rent from a well-known international agency, you might find yourself paying a premium compared to local rental companies.

Toll Roads

Driving in Turkey involves the use of OGS or HGS tags to pay for toll roads automatically. The cost of tolls can add up, especially if you’re traveling long distances on the Otoyol, which is the motorway. For example, the toll for a journey from Istanbul to Ankara might cost around 25-35 TRY. Keep in mind that toll fees will vary depending on the exact route and distance travelled.

Istanbul toll road

Fuel Costs

Fuel is another significant expense to consider when renting a car. As of my last trip, the price of petrol was roughly between 7 and 12 TRY per liter. Diesel tends to be slightly cheaper than petrol. This means that for a car with a 50-liter tank, a full tank could cost between 350 to 600 TRY. Turkey’s fuel prices are relatively high compared to some other countries, so it’s important to factor this into your budget. The overall fuel cost will of course depend on your car’s fuel economy and the distance you plan to drive.

Each of these expenses contributes to the total cost of renting a car in Turkey. Depending on your travel itinerary, the convenience of having a private vehicle might outweigh the costs. However, it’s crucial to budget accordingly for each of these factors to ensure a smooth and financially manageable trip through Turkey.

Renting Automatic Cars in Turkey

When traveling to Turkey, one consideration you might face is the type of car to rent for exploring this diverse and beautiful country. For those who are not accustomed to manual transmission vehicles, renting an automatic gearbox car offers a level of convenience and comfort that can significantly enhance the travel experience.

Ease of Driving

Driving an automatic car means you’ll have one less thing to worry about on Turkey’s bustling roads. In cities like Istanbul or Ankara, traffic can be quite heavy and the roads may present unfamiliar challenges to international drivers. An automatic transmission allows you to navigate through traffic without having to manage gear changes, which can be a relief for those used to driving automatic back home.

Focus on the Scenery

Turkey offers some of the most stunning landscapes, from the otherworldly fairy chimneys of Cappadocia to the turquoise coasts of the Aegean and Mediterranean. Driving an automatic car enables you to focus more on these scenic views rather than on the gears. It’s particularly useful for those embarking on long road trips along the country’s magnificent coastline or through its rural heartlands.

Automatics for Novices and the Comfort-Oriented

First-time drivers in Turkey, as well as those who prioritize comfort over the engagement of a manual transmission, will find that automatic cars are an excellent option. They are particularly good for those who may be jet-lagged or unfamiliar with the local driving style and road rules. By removing the need to constantly engage the clutch and shift gears, drivers can concentrate more on the road and less on the mechanics of driving.

However, it’s important to note that automatic cars are less prevalent in the Turkey rental market compared to manual cars. This can mean a slimmer selection and higher demand for automatic vehicles, especially during peak tourist seasons. Therefore, if you are not used to driving stick, it is highly advisable to book your automatic rental car in advance to ensure availability.

Do I Need Air Conditioning

When visiting Turkey, one might wonder about the necessity of air conditioning in a rental car. Here are some pros and cons based on experiences in this vibrant country.


  • Comfort: Turkish summers can be sweltering, with temperatures often soaring above 30°C (86°F), particularly in coastal regions and cities like Antalya and İzmir. Having an air-conditioned vehicle provides a sanctuary from the heat, allowing for more comfortable travel.
  • Health Reasons: For individuals sensitive to heat, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, air conditioning isn’t just a luxury—it’s a health necessity.
  • Keeping Cool: If you plan to dress up for any occasion or meeting, air conditioning helps you arrive at your destination without the distress of sweat-stained clothes.
  • Protection from Insects: With windows up and the A/C on, you are less likely to let in flying insects that can be a nuisance or even a health hazard.


  • Cost: A vehicle with an air conditioning system may cost more to rent compared to one without. This expense can add up, especially during extended stays.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Running the A/C can put a strain on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. In a time when fuel prices can fluctuate, this might mean more frequent stops at the pump and higher travel costs.
  • Missing the Fresh Air: While air conditioning keeps you cool, it also means you might miss out on the fresh air and the aromatic scents of Turkish landscapes, especially in rural areas and when driving along the coast.
  • Mechanical Issues: Like any part of a car, air conditioning systems can malfunction. Dealing with repairs or maintenance can be a hassle, particularly if you don’t speak the local language fluently.

Turkey Driving Etiquette

Driving in Turkey can be an exhilarating experience for those unfamiliar with the local driving culture. The country offers an extensive network of well-maintained roads, including an impressive network of highways that bridge the gap between Europe and Asia. However, understanding the driving etiquette is vital for anyone navigating Turkish roads.

Understanding the Flow of Traffic

In Turkey, the flow of traffic can seem chaotic to an outsider. Turkish drivers are known for their assertive and spontaneous driving style. It’s not uncommon to witness quick lane changes and the liberal use of horns. The horn is an essential communication tool used to signal a variety of messages, from warning other drivers of one’s presence to expressing impatience. Despite the apparent disorder, there is an unwritten code of conduct that local drivers intuitively follow. As a foreign driver, it’s essential to remain vigilant and adaptable to this dynamic.

Right-of-Way and Traffic Signals

Traffic signals and signs are in place just like any other country, but the interpretation by local drivers can vary significantly. Being hesitant or overly cautious at intersections can lead to confusion. Generally, the right-of-way is given to those who take it. This means being assertive, yet cautious, is key. At roundabouts, for instance, entering traffic must wait for an opening but should do so with purpose to blend seamlessly with the circulating vehicles.

Parking and Street Side Maneuvers

Parking can be a challenge, especially in the bustling metropolis of Istanbul. Drivers often squeeze into the smallest of spots and park in ways that might seem unusual. Double-parking is not out of the ordinary and, in many cases, a path is left for the double-parked car’s escape. Being creative, patient, and respectful when parking is an unspoken rule often observed by Turkish drivers.

Understanding Local Customs

Specific local customs can influence driving etiquette. For example, in more rural or traditional areas, drivers may use hazards to thank another driver or as an indicator of intent. Flashing headlights might mean that a driver is about to overtake or that they are giving the go-ahead to another driver. Understanding and mirroring these small gestures can go a long way in ensuring a more harmonious journey through the unique Turkish roadscape.

Overall, driving in Turkey is about blending assertiveness with observance. It’s about watching, learning quickly, and adapting to the behavior of the local drivers, remembering that confidence on the road will help one navigate more effectively.

Fuel and Rest Stops

When you’re traveling through Turkey, ensuring you have the right fuel for your vehicle and knowing where to stop for a break can lead to a smooth journey. The gas stations in Turkey, commonly referred to as “Petrol Istasyonu”, offer a variety of fuel types to cater to different vehicles. Typically, you’ll find unleaded gasoline labeled as “benzin” and diesel as “motorin”. It’s essential to know that “benzin” comes in different octane ratings, usually 95 and 97, with the higher number generally being a premium option.

Understanding Your Rental Car’s Fuel Requirement

When you rent a car in Turkey, always double-check the type of fuel it requires. This is crucial because mistakenly filling a diesel car with gasoline or vice versa can lead to significant damage to the vehicle. To confirm the fuel type, you can usually find this information near the fuel cap, or within the rental paperwork. Additionally, the staff at the rental agency should be able to guide you on what your car needs.

Locating Fuel Stations

Finding a fuel station in Turkey is not a difficult task as they are conveniently located along highways, in cities, and even in rural areas. However, when you’re venturing into lesser-known parts of the country, it’s always wise to top off your tank when you can, as stations might become less frequent. Key highways such as the O-3/E80 running through Istanbul or the D750 that cuts across the country have several stations along the way.

Convenience and Services at Turkish Gas Stations

Many Turkish fuel stations are not just a place to fill up your tank. They often encompass a range of facilities including restrooms, small grocery stores, and sometimes a cafe or restaurant where you can grab a quick bite. For long journeys, these combined rest and fuel stops provide a comfortable setting for a short break. It’s also common for gas stations to accept various forms of payment, including credit cards, but having some Turkish Lira with you can be helpful in certain cases where digital payment systems might not be an option.

Antalya petrol station

Final Tips for Fueling Up in Turkey

Finally, it’s worth noting that fuel prices in Turkey can be comparatively higher than in many other countries, so budgeting accordingly for your trip is a good idea. While attendants usually operate the pumps and can assist with the refueling process, it’s polite to tip a small amount, especially if they clean your windshield or check your tires.


Parking in Turkey can vary greatly depending on the location and the time of day. In general, parking spaces in Turkish cities are in high demand, and finding a convenient spot can sometimes be a challenge. In terms of cost, parking tends to be relatively affordable, with prices ranging from a few Turkish Lira per hour to an all-day fee that often won’t break the bank. However, prices are subject to change based on the area’s popularity, local regulations, and time of the year.

Parking in Cities and Historic Towns

In the heart of cities and around historic towns in Turkey, parking is usually managed through municipal parking lots or designated areas. Many popular tourist spots have nearby parking facilities that charge by the hour. The closer you are to tourist attractions or city centers, the higher the parking fees tend to be. In some historic areas, traffic can be restricted to preserve the environment and ambience, which means parking options are more limited and may be positioned on the outskirts of the district.

Parking Outside the Town/City and Using Public Transport

For visitors willing to park a little further away from city centers or historic towns, there can be more cost-effective options. Larger, peripheral parking lots often offer lower rates and sometimes even shuttle services to central areas. Many people choose to park in these fringe areas and then use public transportation to get into the thick of action. This approach not only saves on parking fees but also alleviates the stress of driving and finding parking in congested areas.

On-Street Parking

On-street parking is common throughout Turkish cities; however, it is often regulated by local authorities and requires payment. Some areas utilize parking meters where you can pay on the spot, while others might have a ticket system where you purchase a parking ticket from nearby kiosks or shops to display on your dashboard. When using on-street parking, it’s important to be aware of the specific regulations and restrictions, as fines for illegal parking can be hefty. It’s worth noting that in tourist-heavy areas, on-street parking space can be scarce, particularly during peak travel seasons or on weekends.

Overall, while finding parking can sometimes be a bit of an adventure in itself, understanding the typical options available and local practices can make the experience less daunting. As with many aspects of travel, a little planning goes a long way when it comes to parking in Turkey.

Driving in Turkish Towns

Driving in Turkey can be an experience filled with both challenge and discovery, especially when navigating the country’s diverse towns. The streets in Turkish towns often blend a rich historical backdrop with the bustle of contemporary life, providing a unique environment for drivers from all over the world.

Navigating Narrow Lanes and Bustling Bazaars

In many older Turkish towns, you will find narrow winding lanes and streets that were designed long before the introduction of modern vehicles. These areas, while picturesque and full of character, can be quite tricky for driving. Motorists must be alert at all times and ready to yield to pedestrians, street vendors, and the occasional stray animal.

Narrow street in Istanbul

Local Driving Customs and Etiquette

Turkish drivers have their own set of informal road etiquette that can be surprising for those used to more regimented driving environments. It’s not uncommon to witness sudden lane changes or creative parking solutions. For a visitor, understanding and adapting to these local driving customs takes patience and a keen sense of awareness.

Advantage of Sat Nav and GPS

One of the greatest tools for any driver in Turkish towns is a reliable satellite navigation system. GPS technology can be a lifesaver in navigating the intricate web of streets. It not only helps in finding the most efficient routes to your destination but can also provide real-time traffic updates, which are indispensable in avoiding congestion during peak hours.

Sat nav systems can also help you discover hidden gems in Turkish towns. Whether it’s a historical site tucked away in an unfamiliar neighborhood or a recommended local eatery, modern navigation aids can enrich your travel experience significantly.

In the ever-changing landscapes of Turkish towns, having a sat nav or GPS with up-to-date maps is essential. Not only does it reduce travel time, but it also lowers the stress of driving in unfamiliar territory, allowing you to focus on the scenic views and unique character of each town you visit.

Lastly, many rental cars in Turkey come equipped with such technology, which emphasizes the advantages of its use. Integrating modern tools like a sat nav into your driving experience ensures that your travels through the charming Turkish towns are as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Drive on the Right

For drivers who are typically accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, the transition to driving on the right in Turkey requires a period of adjustment and heightened awareness. The most noticeable difference is the position within the lane. Driving on the right means you must recalibrate your spatial awareness to centre the vehicle within the correct lane; this is the opposite of what left-side drivers are used to.

Adjusting to a New Perspective

The driver’s seat being on the left side of the car means that your reference points for judging distances and positioning on the road will be reversed. This shift necessitates increased concentration, especially when making turns. Drivers must remember to bear right and look left first when entering roundabouts or intersections. It’s also worth noting that all the controls are flipped; for instance, the gear shift is to your right, and you’ll be shifting with your right hand if driving a manual vehicle.

Roundabout Rules

Roundabouts can often be a source of confusion for those who normally drive on the left. In Turkey, as in all right-driving countries, traffic moves counterclockwise around roundabouts. Drivers entering the roundabout must yield to the traffic already circulating. It’s crucial to remember that while in left-driving countries, you’d typically look right first to check for oncoming vehicles, in Turkey, you must look left and give way to the vehicles approaching from that direction.

Kutahya roundabout

Overtaking and Lane Discipline

Overtaking in Turkey is another task that requires caution. Overtaking on the right is strictly against traffic regulations unless the vehicle in front is turning left or if you are driving in a designated lane. Stay vigilant for signs indicating such lanes and always use your turn signals to indicate your intention to switch lanes. Lane discipline is essential for safe driving, and maintaining your lane while anticipating the actions of other drivers will help prevent accidents.

Intersections and Traffic Signals

At intersections, the priority is usually given to the vehicle coming from the right unless marked otherwise by signs or traffic lights. Understanding the right-of-way is crucial for navigating Turkish roads without incident. Traffic signals and signs are indispensable guides; their adherence ensures a smoother driving experience for everyone involved. It is essential to become familiar with Turkish traffic signals and signs to comprehend and follow local traffic laws correctly.

In conclusion, while driving in Turkey can initially feel daunting for those used to driving on the left, with some practice and attention to detail, it becomes manageable. Always stay alert, adhere to the local road rules, and take it slow as you adapt to this new driving environment. Remember to be patient with yourself as you learn, and eventually, driving on the right will become second nature.

Motorways in Turkey

Turkey’s extensive network of motorways (otoyollar) reflects its position as a crossroads of land and culture. These well-maintained arteries link the vast and diverse landscapes of the country, from bustling metropolises to serene coastal paths. The Turkish motorways are designed for ease of travel with multiple lanes in each direction, rest stops, service areas, and emergency assistance points distributed generously along the routes. On these roads, traffic flows smoothly, especially outside urban centers and major cities, and the signage is clear, often available in both Turkish and English, catering to international drivers.

Major Motorways

Several major motorways serve as the backbone of Turkish road transport, connecting key regions with efficiency and speed:

  • O-1 (Istanbul City Motorway): This route circles the metropolitan area of Istanbul, serving as an urban expressway.
  • O-2 (Istanbul Beltway): Encircling Istanbul, this motorway connects suburbs and facilitates movement without the need to enter the city center.
  • O-3 (Istanbul to Edirne): Also known as the Trans-European Motorway (TEM), it runs west from Istanbul to Edirne, at the European border with Greece and Bulgaria.
  • O-4 (Ankara to Samsun): Stretching from the country’s capital, Ankara, to the northern coastline city of Samsun, this motorway is a critical link to the Black Sea region.
  • O-5 (Ege Otoyolu): Also known as the Ege Motorway, it is a vital link connecting cities in the Aegean region.
  • O-6 (Ankara to Niğde): This motorway extends towards central Anatolia, connecting Ankara with Niğde and points further southeast.
  • O-7 (Kınalı to Savaştepe): Envisioned to run from the outskirts of Istanbul to Savaştepe, it currently operates partially in the Marmara region.

Driving Experience

Driving on Turkish motorways generally affords a pleasant experience. The roads are engineered for high-speed travel, and they are comparatively less crowded than those in Western European countries. Toll stations are scattered along these motorways, and with the implementation of the HGS (Fast Pass System) and OGS (Automatic Pass System), waiting times at toll booths have been significantly reduced. Drivers should be aware that speed limits are enforced and that Turkish driving culture can be assertive, so staying vigilant is advisable. The vast, often scenic drives also feature strategically located rest stops offering ample amenities, including petrol stations, restaurants, and convenience stores.

Istanbul traffic police

Navigation and Safety

Navigational ease is one of the hallmarks of Turkey’s motorway system. With an abundance of signage, drivers can follow routes confidently, helped by modern technology like GPS systems which are widely used in Turkey. Safety on Turkish motorways is taken seriously. Speed limits are usually set at 120 km/h for cars, with rigorous patrol by traffic police to ensure adherence to the rules. Motorways are continuously maintained and upgraded, contributing to overall driving safety.

Tolls in Turkey

Traversing Turkey by road is an experience full of scenic vistas, but it is important for motorists to be aware of the toll system in place. Turkey utilizes a combination of both toll bridges and highways to manage their traffic and infrastructure funding.

Navigating Through Toll Stations

Tolls in Turkey are mostly automated and operate with the HGS (Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi – Fast Pass System) or OGS (Otomatik Geçiş Sistemi – Automatic Pass System). As a driver, this means you won’t typically be stopping to pay tolls at booths; the process is convenient and helps in maintaining a steady flow of traffic. The KGS (Kartlı Geçiş Sistemi – Card Pass System) which used paper cards, has now been phased out and is no longer in use.

Toll Costs

The cost of tolls varies depending on the vehicle’s class and the distance traveled on the toll road. Generally, for a passenger car, tolls may range from a few Turkish Liras to over 15 Turkish Lira for longer distances or bridge crossings. Prices are slightly higher for larger vehicles.

Avoiding Toll Roads

While it is certainly possible to avoid using toll roads in Turkey, it might mean a compromise on travel time and potentially missing out on well-maintained roadways that toll fees support. Non-toll alternatives can be more crowded, less maintained, and less direct. However, they could offer more interaction with local culture and sights.

Preparation is key when driving in Turkey. Motorists should acquire an HGS tag or an OGS device in advance. Tags can be purchased at post offices, various bank branches, and some service stations around the country. Topping up the HGS balance can be done online, at kiosks, or via participating retail outlets.

For detailed information on the latest toll fees, how to get and top-up HGS or OGS transponders, drivers can visit the General Directorate of Highways and the Turkish Postal Service (PTT).

Motorists must be mindful that fines for passing through without sufficient balance can be hefty, so it’s best to ensure that your HGS or OGS has enough funds to cover the tolls for your journey.

Speed Limits in Turkey

In Turkey, speed limits are enforced to maintain safety on the roads and vary depending on the type of road and vehicle. Generally, the maximum speed limits are as follows:

  • Urban areas: 50 km/h (31 mph)
  • Two-lane roads: 90 km/h (56 mph)
  • Dual carriageways: 110 km/h (68 mph)
  • Motorways: 120 km/h (75 mph)

Adıyaman speed limits in Turkey

Understanding Speed Limit Signs

Speed limit signs in Turkey are circular with a red border and a white or blue background, displaying the maximum speed in black numbers. You’ll generally encounter these signs:

  • At the entrance of a town or city, indicating the start of a speed-restricted area.
  • At regular intervals on highways and motorways to remind you of the current speed limit.
  • Before and after road construction zones, where temporary speed limits usually apply.
  • Near schools and hospitals, where reduced speed limits are common for safety reasons.

To ensure you’re abiding by the speed limits, it’s important to keenly observe these signs as you travel. If you’re caught exceeding these limits, you can be subject to fines, and in serious cases, driving license points or suspensions.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking for the most current and official information on speed limits in Turkey, it’s best to consult the official websites of the Turkish Traffic Department or the Turkish Gendarmerie, depending on the area you are driving in. These resources can provide you with up-to-date speed limit regulations and any changes that might have been made recently.

Remember that speed limits are not only legal requirements but also safety measures to protect you and others on the road. Always adjust your speed to the conditions of the road, weather, and traffic, even if it means driving below the posted limit.

Speeding Fines in Turkey

Driving in Turkey can be an exhilarating experience, featuring a mix of modern highways and scenic routes. However, it’s important to be mindful of the set speed limits to ensure a safe and fine-free journey. Speeding fines in Turkey are calculated on a sliding scale, based on how much you exceed the limit. They generally start from 235 Turkish Lira (for speeds up to 10% over the limit) and can go significantly higher if you’re caught driving at excessive speeds.

Presence of Speed Cameras

Speed cameras are widely implemented across Turkish roads, particularly on intercity highways and in urban areas. These digital guardians of the road are very efficient at catching speeders, and the fines get promptly mailed to the registered address of the vehicle owner. Larger cities and busy highways are especially monitored, and it’s not uncommon to find multiple cameras set up along the same stretch of road.

Turkish speed camera warning sign

Police Speed Traps

In addition to speed cameras, Turkish traffic police are known to set up speed traps on less busy roads and at the outskirts of cities. They use radar guns to measure the speed of oncoming vehicles and will pull over any driver exceeding the limit. Always be vigilant, as these traps might not be marked with signs as they are in some other countries.

Other Considerations

It’s important to note that if you’re renting a car in Turkey, speeding fines might be handled by the rental agency, which could add additional administrative fees to the cost of the fine itself. Additionally, fines are typically cheaper when paid promptly—usually within 15 days from the date of the issue. Make sure to follow the traffic regulations not just to avoid fines, but to ensure a safe trip for yourself and other road users.

For the latest information on speeding fines and traffic regulations, be sure to visit the General Directorate of Security Traffic Services or the Turkish Gendarmerie, which can provide valuable resources for motorists in Turkey.

Drive Times in Turkey

Turkey is an expansive country that spans over two continents, offering a rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and historical sites. The country’s road infrastructure has seen significant improvements over the years, providing smoother travel experiences for visitors exploring by car. Here are some estimates on drive times between major cities and towns, as well as from these locations to notable tourist attractions:

Between Major Cities:

  • Istanbul to Ankara: approximately 5 hours
  • Ankara to Izmir: around 6 hours and 30 minutes
  • Izmir to Antalya: close to 7 hours
  • Bursa to Konya: about 5 hours
  • Adana to Gaziantep: approximately 3 hours

To Tourist Attractions:

  • Istanbul to Ephesus (near Selçuk): roughly 9 hours
  • Ankara to Cappadocia: about 4 hours and 30 minutes
  • Izmir to Pamukkale: around 3 hours
  • Antalya to Kaş: just over 3 hours
  • Trabzon to Sumela Monastery: approximately 1 hour

For up-to-date information and road conditions, you can check out the official website of the General Directorate of Highways in Turkey or consult with more localized authorities for specific routes.

Please note that these times are estimates and can be affected by traffic conditions, weather, and other factors. It’s always a good idea to plan your trip while considering potential delays. Additionally, one can use a map service like Google Maps to get real-time updates and more precise travel times based on current traffic conditions.

Car Seats for Children and Babies

When it comes to traveling with children, their safety is paramount, particularly on the road. In Turkey, the use of car seats for children and babies is not only a crucial safety practice but also mandated by law.

Child Car Seat Laws in Turkey

The Turkish government takes the safety of child passengers seriously, with regulations that require all children aged 12 and under to travel in an appropriate child restraint. The specific requirements are guided by height and weight rather than just age, in accordance with EU standards. Children shorter than 150 centimeters or weighing less than 36 kilograms must use a car seat or booster seat suitable for their size.

For informative guidelines, check the official website of the Republic of Turkey or consult with local traffic authorities for the most current regulations.

Categories for Child’s Age

Different age groups require types of car seats:

  • Infants and Toddlers: Rear-facing car seats are mandatory for very young children until they outgrow the seat’s height or weight limits.
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers: Upon outgrowing the rear-facing seat, children move to a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • School-Aged Children: After outgrowing their car seat, it’s recommended to use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly.
  • Older Children: Children who have outgrown a booster seat and are taller than 150 cm can use the car’s seat belt, but it’s essential to ensure that it fits them adequately.

Renting Car Seats vs Bringing Your Own

Traveling parents have the option to rent a car seat or to bring their own when visiting Turkey. Renting a car seat can be convenient as it saves you from carrying extra luggage, and rental companies offer a range of seats that comply with Turkish law. However, it’s vital to ensure that the rented car seat is in good condition and that it’s the correct size and design for your child.

On the other hand, bringing your own car seat ensures that you are familiar with its operation and its history, particularly in terms of any previous accidents or issues. Although this may be more cumbersome when traveling, it can offer peace of mind knowing your child is in a seat that meets your home country’s safety standards and that they’re comfortable in it.

In terms of cost, rental fees can add up, especially for a long trip, and there might be restrictions or additional costs if you’re planning to travel between different locations. It is advisable to compare the costs of car seat rental with any additional airline fees for checking in a personal car seat.

Always remember to book your car seat in advance when renting a vehicle, as availability can be limited, especially during peak travel seasons in Turkey. Ensure that you are provided with instructions on how to properly install the car seat if it is not a service provided by the rental company directly.

For reliable rentals or purchases within Turkey, you can refer to established companies such as Rentalcars.com, which often offer child seats as an additional option for your vehicle rental.

Ensuring the safety of your children while driving in Turkey is straightforward with the right information and preparation. Whether you choose to rent a car seat or bring your own, make sure that it fits your child and adheres to the safety standards prescribed by law.


Turkey is a country with a variety of beautiful landscapes, historic landmarks, and unique urban centers. However, when it comes to traffic, it can be somewhat of a challenge, especially for those not accustomed to Turkish driving conditions. Navigating the streets and highways of Turkey requires patience, attention, and caution.

Driving in the Cities

The metropolitan areas, like Istanbul and Ankara, are notorious for their heavy traffic congestion, particularly during rush hours. Cities can be a thrilling, albeit hectic, melting pot of buses, mini-buses (dolmuş), motorcycles, and cars, often seemingly swirling around in a choreographed state of organized chaos. Road conditions are generally good, but traffic rules can sometimes seem more like guidelines, with aggressive overtaking and sudden lane changes being quite common. It’s essential to maintain a high level of awareness and be prepared for the unexpected. If you’re not confident about driving in these conditions, public transportation or taxis can offer a less stressful alternative.

Ankara city driving

Navigating Smaller Towns and Villages

In sharp contrast to the cities, driving through the towns and villages of Turkey can be a delightful experience. Traffic here tends to be much lighter, and the pace of life is slower. However, drivers should be aware of local practices like double-parking, minimal use of turning indicators, and sometimes oblivious pedestrians. Rural roads connecting villages might also not be as well-maintained as major highways, so extra caution is needed when driving on these roads. It’s also not uncommon to have unexpected encounters with farm animals or tractors on the road, necessitating extra vigilance.

Regardless of where you are in Turkey, some traffic regulations should be consistently observed. Seatbelts are compulsory and children must be in appropriate car seats. The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited unless you have a hands-free system. Furthermore, driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense, with strict blood-alcohol limits enforced.

For the most reliable and current traffic information, consult websites like the General Directorate of Highways for up-to-date road conditions and the Turkish National Police for traffic regulations. These resources can provide invaluable guidance for both planning your journey and staying safe on the roads in Turkey.

Ultimately, driving in Turkey can be an adventure in and of itself. The key is to remain cautious, attentive, and adaptive to the local driving culture. With the right mindset and preparation, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the Turkish roads, whether you’re weaving through bustling city traffic or enjoying the scenic tranquility of the countryside.

Top tips for renting a car in Turkey

Renting a car in Turkey can be a fantastic way to see the country at your own pace. Here are my top five tips to help you navigate the car rental process and enjoy a hassle-free journey.

  1. Understand Local Traffic Laws

    Before you start your driving adventure in Turkey, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws. Remember, in Turkey, you drive on the right-hand side of the road. Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers, and the use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited unless you have a hands-free system. The General Directorate of Highways has comprehensive resources on Turkish traffic regulations accessible from their official website.

  2. Choose the Right Vehicle

    Consider the nature of your trip – are you going to explore bustling cities, coastal roads, or perhaps mountainous terrain? Make sure to select a vehicle that suits the environment. For city touring, a compact car might be easier to maneuver and park, while for rural areas, an SUV could be more comfortable and reliable.

  3. Get Insured

    Insurance is crucial when renting a car. Rentals typically come with a standard package, but it may be worthwhile to purchase additional coverage for peace of mind. Understand what the insurance covers and what it doesn’t before you sign the rental agreement. The Turkish Association of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies provides more detailed information on their website.

  4. Inspect the Rental Car

    Upon receiving your rental car, perform a thorough check for any existing damage, and make sure all issues are documented in the rental agreement to avoid any responsibility for pre-existing damage. Taking photos or a video with your smartphone can provide additional documentation.

  5. Be Prepared for Navigation

    While many rental cars come equipped with GPS, it’s not uncommon for some areas, especially remote regions, to have spotty coverage. Having a reliable map or an offline navigation app on your smartphone can save you a lot of trouble. Additionally, familiarize yourself with some Turkish road signs and phrases, as this can be quite helpful.