Bus travel is the easiest, most popular way to travel in Turkey, often the cheapest, and usually comfortable. The luxurious Starliner coaches pictured above are manufactured in Turkey.
The buses, operated by hundreds of companies large and small, are modern and comfortable, with air conditioning, entertainment (movies, audio books, TV, computer games), a steward to bring you snacks and drinks, and even free Wifi Internet connections on some buses (and more in the bus terminals).
Turkish buses are not usually equipped with onboard toilets, so use the facilities in the terminal before your board, and at the mola (rest stops) about every 2 to 2-1/2 hours along the way. Drinks, snacks and meals are avilable at the stops, and smokers light up (no smoking is allowed on public buses).
Fares & Tickets
Departures are frequent, and fares are low to moderate. There’s even service to Greece, Bulgaria and other Balkan countries, and Europe.
An example: Buses depart on the 450-km (280-mile) 6- or 7-hour journey between Istanbul and Ankara about every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, for TL40 to TL80 one-way.
Most fares are quite reasonable. Often, buses are so frequent you needn’t reserve in advance except around holidays.
Here’s how to buy bus tickets in Turkey.
Routes & Bus Companies
Here are routes, fares and travel times from Istanbul to other cities. Here are the major bus companies, some of which have websites with schedules and fares. (Sorry, I don’t have any more information than this.)
Buses run everywhere, even cross-country (Istanbul to Artvin: 1352 km, 840 miles, 24 hours), although bus trips of more than 8 or 10 hours are tedious. It’s better to break a long trip into shorter trips; to take a plane; or to take a trainwith couchettes or sleeping cars. Here’s a comparison of costs, times and comfort.
In general, the luggage you entrust to the bus companyfor shipment in the baggage compartments is safe, but in May 2015 I heard of one incident where the suitcases of numerous travelers on a major bus company’s coach was rifled and valuables stolen. This may have been an isolated incident, but in any case it’s good to observe the rule that all of your valuables should be carried with you personally, and carefully protected, when you are on any public transport.
—by Tom Brosnahan
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