Istanbul's mammoth Main
Bus Terminal (Coach Station, Büyük
Otogar, Esenler Otogar) serves
all of Turkey, plus Greece,
and the Balkans, central
Europe and even the Middle East.
This Great Istanbul
Bus Terminal (Büyük
Istanbul Otogarı), as
it's formally named, is 10 km (6
miles) northwest of Sultanahmet
Square in the district of Bayrampaşa,
near the district of Esenler (map).
(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
ticket offices and gates, its
own Metro station,
shops, restaurants, hotel, police
station, clinic and mosque, the Büyük Otogar 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.
Here's how to buy bus tickets in Turkey.
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
You can travel between the Büyük
Otogar and Sultanahmet and Sirkeci via Metro and tram (map). More...
You can also get there from Istanbul's Atatürk
International Airport (map)
by Metro and Marmaray. More...
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
am to 21:30 (9:30 pm). The trip takes
about one hour. You must buy a jeton before boarding the bus.
Or you can take the M1 Metro line to Yenikapı, then change there for the M2 Metro line toward Hacıosman, and get out at Taksim.
—by Tom Brosnahan