Doğu Ekspresi Train Ankara – Kars

Last Updated on December 18, 2023

Eastern Express (Doğu Ekspresi) is a sleeper train that runs between Ankara-Kars, averaging 80 km per hour and completing its journey in 26 hours! It is a slow and long journey across Eastern Anatolia. While it is not a fast train journey with today's new high speed trains, it is one of the most popular train routes in Turkey. Doğu Ekspresi is Turkey's most popular train travel route due to the stunning scenery in the eastern regions of the country. The train passes through snow-covered fields, majestic mountains, and charming small towns, making the journey a memorable experience. In addition to this, the nostalgic ambiance of the train adds to its appeal. Every winter, many tourists board the Dogu Express Train to witness its stunning landscape.

Even so, the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) added another train line named "Turistik Doğu Ekspresi" (Touristic Eastern Express), which runs the same route, to cater to the needs of travelers. However, despite this addition, it is still difficult to find tickets for both the Dogu Express Train and the Touristic Dogu Express Train. Nowadays, many travel agents exist solely to reserve tickets for those who wish to experience the Touristic Dogu Express at least once in their lifetime.

Wagon types of the Eastern Express Train Turkey

As previously mentioned, there are two types of train lines available on the Eastern Express route: the Eastern Express Train and the Touristic Eastern Train. Although both trains follow the same route (along Eastern Turkey) and leave from Ankara Train Station, they differ in terms of the types of wagons they offer and the total duration of the train journey. Let's take a closer look at the details.

Eastern Express Train

The Dogu Express Train travels a distance of 1310 km in just 26 hours. It is a night train, also known as a sleeper train, and the train hauls pullman carscouchette cars, and a dining car to accommodate its travelers. Before, Eastern Express Train also had sleeper wagons, but that was removed when Touristic Eastern Express was introduced. Now, people have to make do with sleeper Pullman cars that turn into beds (sleeper compartment). However, newer, more comfortable, and modern equipment has been put on this train in recent years so that the journey, though long, is far more comfortable than it was a decade ago.

The eastbound train leaves Ankara Train Station daily at 17:55 (5:55 pm) and arrives the following day in Kars at 20:27 (8:27 pm). The westbound train departs Kars at 08:00 am and arrives at Ankara Station the next day at 09:56 am.

Touristic Eastern Express Train

The Touristic Eastern Express is also a sleeper train, with 34.5 hours of train ride it offers to travelers. It only consists of sleeper wagons (sleeper cars) and a dining or restaurant wagon. Each wagon has rooms reserved for two people with two seats, and there is a fridge, sink, and table in each room. This is far more comfortable than the original Eastern Express Train. They also provide clean sheets, toilet paper, and all types of other things passengers might need on train travel.

While both trains follow the same route through Ankara to Kars: Ankara, Kayseri, Sivas, Divriği, Erzincan, Palandöken, Erzurum, Hasankale, Horasan, and Sarıkamış to Kars, the Touristic Eastern Express finishes the whole trip in 34.5 hours. This is almost 9 hours longer than the original run time of Eastern Express, which finishes the journey in 26 hours. But, why?

What is the Difference?

First of all, while they follow the same train route, the number of train stops is different. The Touristic Eastern Express stops at several major eastern Turkish cities, including Erzurum, Sivas, Divriği, and Erzincan, allowing travelers to explore each destination at their own pace. At each stop, there is ample time for exploration, with stops lasting around 3+ hours. In contrast, the Eastern Express Train only stops for a few minutes at each destination.

So, if you want to enjoy a slow train ride with lots of exploration and adventures, just choose the Touristic Dogu Express instead of the former. Also, keep in mind that this is among Turkey's slowest trains. You might want to consider a plane from Ankara (1.5 hours) or a bus (12 hours).

Please read this safety notice about sleeping car travel.

Experience the Eastern Express Train, Turkey

Both Eastern Express and Touristic Eastern Express Trains are great ways of traveling Eastern Turkey, with great scenery and major destinations to explore. It is a fun experience that one should experience at least once in life and can be compared to the legendary Orient Express of Europe.

If you ever get the chance, get your ticket in the winter when there is snow on the ground and enjoy the wonderful view of Anatolia under the snow!

by  Tom Brosnahan, updated by Can Turan

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