Istanbul‘s mammoth Main Bus Terminal(Coach Station), 10 km (6 miles) northwest of Sultanahmet Square in the district of Bayrampaşa, near the district of Esenler(map), serves all of Turkey, plus Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans, central Europe and even the Middle East.
Formerly known as the Büyük Otogar or Esenler Otogar, it was renamed the 15 Temmuz Demokrasi Otogar (also called the 15 Temmuz Şehirler Otogar) in memory of those who died during the abortive coup attempt of 15 July 2016.
(If you’re starting your trip from the center of Istanbul and heading east into Asian Turkey, you may want to consider departing from the Harem Otogar on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus instead. More…)
(If you’re going to the Balkans, Armenia, Georgia or Iran, consider the Emniyet Garajı.)
With 168 ticket offices and gates, its own Metro station, shops, restaurants, hotel, police station, clinic and mosque, the BüyükOtogar is virtually a town in itself. You can catch a bus to Berlin or Baghdad, though you’re more likely to be looking for one to Edirne, Ephesus, Gallipoli or Cappadocia.
Hundreds of companies run thousands of buses, mostly big, comfortable and new, day and night. Dozens of companies connect Istanbul and Ankara, with a bus leaving at least every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. More on bus travel in Turkey…
See my chart of Buses from Istanbul to Other Cities.
Here are Turkey’s major bus companies.
Buying Bus Tickets
Some major bus companies have ticket offices in or near major tourist areas such as Sirkeci, Laleli and Taksim. Ask at your hotel for the nearest one.
Except at holiday times, when many buses may be fully booked in advance, you can usually just show up at the Büyük Otogar 30 to 60 minutes before you want to depart and catch the next coach to your destination in less than an hour.
Otogar: Local Transport
|A good book to read on the plane or bus…|
To travel between the Otogar and Taksim Square, the most direct way is via IETT city bus 83-O (Otogar-Taksim), which runs every 20 to 25 minutes from 06:30 am to 21:30 (9:30 pm). The trip takes about one hour. You must buy a jeton before boarding the bus.
—by Tom Brosnahan
|Major Bus Routes|