Northern Shore Route
Tip: if you arrange to pick up your hire car at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, you won't have to negotiate Istanbul's heavy traffic or confusing street patterns. You can just head west on the expressway following signs for Silivri, then for Tekirdağ, then Keşan, then Geliboluand Çanakkale. You can go from the Istanbul city center to Atatürk Airport quickly and cheaply by Metro. More...
Have a bite of lunch in Gelibolu—there are plenty of good restaurants right near the car ferry docks in the center of town. Don't take the ferry, but continue southward and tour the Gallipoli battlefields. After you've visited them, cross the Dardanelles (Çanakkale Boğazı) from Eceabat to Çanakkale by ferry.
Settle in at your Çanakkale hotel, then enjoy a good dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants overlooking the Dardanelles.
The next morning after breakfast, drive the 30 km (19 miles, about 30 minutes) south to Troy (Truva), and spend several hours touring the ruins. Return to Çanakkale, have lunch (or buy picnic supplies), and begin the drive back to Istanbul.
If you plan to take the southern shore route via Bandırmaand the fast car ferry, you may have time for a stop at Manyas bird sanctuary south of Bandırma (depending upon the time of your ferry's departure).
Southern Shore Route
Why pay to ship a car across the Sea of Marmara? Ask to take delivery of your rental car in Bursa or Bandırma on the south shore of the Sea of Marmara, then drive along the southern shore to Çanakkale. If for some reason you must take the car in Istanbul, ask to receive it at the Yenikapı Feribot Terminalı, on the Sea of Marmarashore just south of Aksaray Square, so you can catch a fast car ferry to Bandırma. You must have reservations for your car and its passengers. More...
From Bandırma, drive west to Çanakkale (190 km/118 miles, about 2.5 to 3 hours), then south to Troy (30 km/19 miles, about 30 minutes). Visit the archeological site, and return to Çanakkale for a good seaside dinner and overnight.
The next morning, cross the Dardanelles by car ferry to Eceabat. Allow an hour for the Dardanelles ferry crossing (average 30 minute waiting time, plus the 30-minute voyage). Ferries leave every hour on the hour(with a few late-night/early-morning exceptions. More...).
Tour the Gallipoli battlefields, have lunch in the town of Gelibolu, then head back toward Istanbul. You can return via the northern shore and return your rental car in Istanbul, or go back the way you came along the southern shore and return the car in Bandırma or Bursa, then take a ferry back to Istanbul.
If you go via the northern shore, you may want to arrange to drop your rental car at Atatürk Airport to save yourself the trafficky drive into the city. You can return to your hotel quickly and cheaply by Metro or taxi. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan