Varan Turizm, at offices 15 and 16 of Istanbul‘s Büyük Otogar, is perhaps Turkey’s best bus company, with the best-maintained vehicles (see photo below to the right), most comfort and the highest level of professional service.
Varan has its own private bus terminals at Çağlayan (pronounced CHAH-lah-yahn), near Kağıthane on the European side, and at Ataşehir (AH-tah-sheh-heer) on the Asian side, from which its buses depart.
All Anatolia-bound Varan buses (ie, buses going anywhere except Edirne and Europe) originate on the European side, and stop at the Asian terminal to pick up additional passengers about 45 minutes later.
Free shuttle buses take Varan passengers to the Çağlayan (European) terminal from Taksim Square and the Büyük Otogar; and to the Ataşehir (Asian) terminal from Gülfen Hatun Mahallesi, Balaban Caddesi No. 25, Üsküdar, and Rıhtım Caddesi, Hacıonbaşılar İşhanı No. 32/1, Kadıköy. (Shuttles run from a number of other points, but if you’re staying near Sultanahmet none of these is convenient.)
If you’re staying near Sultanahmet, and if your seat on a particular Varan bus is reserved in advance (your hotel can help you do this), it may save you time to take a ferryfrom Eminönü to Üsküdar or Kadıköy and catch the Varan shuttle bus from there directly to the Ataşehir (Asian) terminal.
Some Varan terminals offer free Wifi—wireless Internet service.
Note that because Varan has its own private terminals, you can’t always go to the main bus terminal and expect to climb aboard a Varan bus. You may have to find out where the private Varan terminal is, and go there instead. Check this in advance of travel.
Varan runs buses from Istanbul to:
Çeşme (near Izmir)
Denizli (for Pamukkale)
Isparta (for Eğirdir)
Kemer (near Antalya)
Varan also operates several buses in cooperation with the IDO fast ferries from Istanbul to Bandırma. You sail on the ferry from Istanbul, and when you reach Bandırma, Varan buses are waiting to take you to Ayvalık, Bodrum and Marmaris.
Varan operates a once-a-week bus from Istanbul via Keşan, Iskeçe (Xanthi), Gümülcine (Komotini), Kavala, Selanik (Thessaloniki) and Larissa to Athens (Atina), Greece. More…
Another Varan route goes from Istanbul via Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the Austrian cities of Vienna (Viyana, Wien), Graz, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Bregenz. More…
By the way, in Turkish Varan means “The one that arrives,” which is always encouraging in a bus company.
Telephone the Varan Call Center at +90 (212) 444 8999; or at Istanbul‘s Büyük Otogar, tel +90 (212) 658 0270.
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Istanbul Bus Terminal (Otogar)