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Summary of Turkish Trains

Last Updated on August 29, 2023

The Turkish railway system is highly developed, connecting cities all around the country. Turkey has three main types of train routes with different goals, each serving a different purpose. 

What is a Typical Turkish Train Like

Turkish trains are categorized under two categories: Slower express trains and fast high-speed trains. Your experience can differ depending on the train type and the length of your journey. However, you can expect to see some common amenities in both train types, such as free Wi-Fi, luggage space, adjustable seats, air conditioners, and curtains.

Depending on the length of your journey, your train can have couchette cars and sleeping cars. Some trains may have a washbasin and mini-fridges inside each wagon. These long-trip trains may also include a restaurant/dining car for getting food and a restroom on board.

Turkey's rail network

Here are the different types of Turkish trains:

1. High-Speed Trains

Turkey's high-speed train lines (Yüksek Hızlı Trenler (YHT) are a wonder of modern engineering, reaching 250 km to 300 km per hour. These trains connect major cities within Turkey. 

The high-speed train routes include Istanbul, Eskişehir, Ankara, Konya, Eskişehir, and Karaman. Other lines, from Eskişehir to Izmir and Ankara to Sivas, are under construction.

2. Express Trains

Express trains are slower compared to high-speed trains. They connect other smaller and major cities within Turkey. Express Trains are categorized under two sub-sections: Mainline and regional trains.

Mainline Trains

These train routes generally connect Turkey's cities within the Aegean and Anatolian regions. The trip with main line trains will take longer than high-speed trains, so most trains will have couchette cars and sleeping cars.

The mainline train routes include Ankara, Izmir, Eskişehir, Van, Malatya, Denizli, Kars, Adana, Isparta, Konya, Kars, Samsun, and Sivas.

Regional Trains

Regional trains make fewer stops than traditional expresses, generally connecting nearby and smaller cities. As a result, the ticket prices will be lower, and it will be easier to find tickets. 

The major regional train routes include Adana - Mersin, Afyon - Eskişehir, Denizli -Söke, Kütahya - Eskişehir, etc.

3. International Trains

Only one daily train from Istanbul to Europe continues today: the Istanbul - Sofia Express. The whole journey takes around 10 hours and passes through Halkalı, Çerkezköy, Alpullu, Edirne, Kapıkule, Svilengrad, Dimitrovgrad, Plovdiv, Pazarcık, and lastly, Sofia stops.

Note that the train route also connects to Bucharest during the summer period.

Summary of Major Turkish Train Routes 

Turkey has many train routes connecting major cities. Let's have a look at the summary of each major Turkish train route: 

International Train Routes

Only one daily train from Istanbul to Europe, the Istanbul - Sofia Express. The journey takes around 10 hours, and the route has couchette cars and sleeping cars.

Mainline Train Routes

İzmir Mavi Tren

İzmir Mavi Tren is an overnight train between Ankara and İzmir (Basmane), hauling Pullman cars, sleeping cars, and a dining car


Konya Mavi Tren

Konya Mavi Tren is an overnight train between Konya and İzmir (Basmane), hauling Pullman cars, couchette cars, sleeping cars, and a dining car


4 Eylül Ekspresi

An overnight train between Ankara and Malatya hauling Pullman cars, sleeping cars, and a dining car. The whole journey takes around 14 hours. 


Ankara Ekspresi

An overnight train between Ankara and Istanbul, Halkalı hauling Pullman cars, sleeping cars, and a dining car. The whole journey takes around 8 hours. 


Göller Ekspresi

An overnight train between Isparta and İzmir(Basmane) hauling Pullman cars, sleeping cars, and a dining car. The whole journey takes around 9 hours. 


6 Eylül Ekspresi

The daily morning September 6th Express connects Balıkesir and İzmir (Basmane). The southbound morning train originates in Bandırma, departing before the arrival of the first-morning ferry from Istanbul. The train then stops in Balıkesir and continues via Soma and Manisa to İzmir (Basmane), arriving in the early afternoon. (Train-and-ferry used to be scheduled to connect İzmir and Istanbul, but this is no longer the case.)


17 Eylül Ekspresi

This daily September 17th Express evening train connects Balıkesir and İzmir (Basmane). The northbound afternoon train from İzmir (Basmane) continues past Balıkesir to Bandırma, arriving at 21:38 (9:38), after the last ferry to Istanbul has departed. (Train-and-ferry used to be scheduled to connect İzmir and Istanbul, but this is no longer the case.)


Doğu Ekspresi

The daily Eastern Express is an overnight train taking nearly 24 hours to travel from Ankara via Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, Elazığ, and Erzurum to Kars, hauling compartment cars, Pullman cars, couchette cars and sleeping cars, and a dining car.


Touristic Doğu Ekspresi

The Touristic Eastern Express is an overnight train that takes nearly 30 hours! 6 hours more than the daily Eastern Express. It travels from Ankara via Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, Elazığ, and Erzurum to Kars. The reason for 6 hours difference is that the train takes approximately 3-hour stops in Erzincan, Erzurum, Divriği, Sivas, and Ilic for tourists to experience these historical spots. Also, the Touristic Eastern Express only hauls sleeping cars and dining cars.


Ege Ekspresi

The daily Aegean Express connects İzmir (Basmane) and Eskişehir in about 10 hours, hauling Pullman cars.


Erciyes Ekspresi

The daily Aergeus Express connects Kayseri, near Cappadocia, with Adana, taking about 5-3/4 hours to make the run, hauling Pullman coaches.


Fırat Ekspresi

The daily Euphrates Express connects Adana with Elazığ on daytime runs taking under 10 hours, hauling Pullman cars


Güney Kurtalan Ekspresi

The Southern Kurtalan Express travels between Ankara, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Batman, and Kurtalan 5 days per week, taking about 22 hours to make the run, hauling compartment cars, Pullman cars, couchette cars, and sleeping cars.


Pamukkale Ekspresi

Connecting Denizli (near Pamukkale) with Eskişehir, the Pamukkale Express allows you to go via high-speed train from Istanbul, Ankara, or Konya to Eskişehir, then by Pamukkale Express to Denizli—or vice-versa. 


Toros Ekspresi

The Taurus Express rumbles through the Taurus mountain range, joining Adana and Konya, hauling compartments and Pullman cars.


Vangölü Ekspresi

The Lake Van Express connects Ankara with Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Elazığ, and Tatvan on the western shore of Lake Van taking about 24 hours, hauling compartments, Pullman, a couchette, dining and sleeping cars.


Samsun Sivas Ekspresi

Samsun Sivas Ekspresi connects Samsun with Sivas. The whole journey takes 8 hours to complete. 

Winter in Turkey

Regional Train Routes

Here are the shorter-distance regional trains (Bölgesel Tren) that you may find useful:

Istanbul - Thrace (Edirne)

Once traveled by the fabled Orient Express connecting Paris and Constantinople, this European route is now better served by bus. There is one daily express train, the Istanbul - Sofia Express, between Istanbul and Europe (via Sofia and Bucharest) which you can use to travel between Istanbul (Halkalı) and Edirne. 

There used to be one slow (4 hours) local train between Istanbul (Halkalı), Edirne, and Kapıkule (the Turkish-Bulgarian border post). However, this is not the case anymore.


İzmir - Airport - Selçuk (Ephesus) - Denizli

These regional trains from İzmir's Basmane Gar make it easy and inexpensive to travel between İzmir, Adnan Menderes Airport, Selçuk (for Ephesus, Şirince and Kuşadası), Aydın (for Tralles), Nazilli (for Aphrodisias) and Denizli (for Pamukkale, Hierapolis, and Laodicea).


İzmir - Manisa - Alaşehir - Uşak

These trains run daily from İzmir's Basmane Gar to Manisa (Magnesia), Sart (Sardis), Alaşehir (ancient Philadelphia) and the carpet-making center of Uşak, but—as usual—they take much longer than the bus.


Mersin - Tarsus - Adana - İskenderun Trains

Frequent trains—about 24 per day—run along the eastern Mediterranean coast between these important historical, commercial cities, taking about an hour for the run between Mersin and Adana; a little over two hours between Adana and İskenderun.

High-Speed Train Routes

Here are the high-speed train routes in Turkey:

Ankara-Istanbul YHT

This high-speed train runs the distance between Ankara and Istanbul within 5 hours, passing through Eryaman, Polatlı, Eskişehir, Bozüyük, Bilecik, Arifiye, İzmit, Gebze, Pendik, Bostancı, Söğütlüçeşme, Bakırköy, and Halkalı.


 Ankara-Eskişehir YHT

This high-speed train runs the distance between Ankara and Eskişehir within 1.5 hours. 


Konya-Ankara YHT

This high-speed train runs the distance between Ankara and Konya within 2 hours. 


Ankara-Karaman YHT

This high-speed train runs between Ankara and Karaman within 3 hours, passing through Halkalı, Bakırköy, Söğütlüçeşme, Bostancı, Pendik, Gebze, İzmit, Arifiye, Bilecik, Bozüyük, Eskişehir, Selçuklu and Konya.


Istanbul-Konya YHT

This high-speed train runs between Istanbul and Konya within 5 hours, passing through Eryaman, Polatlı, Selçuklu, Konya, and Çumra.


Istanbul-Karaman YHT

This high-speed train runs between Istanbul and Karaman within 6 hours, passing through Söğütlüçeşme, Bostancı, Pendik, Gebze, İzmit, Arifiye, Bilecik, Bozüyük, Eskişehir, Selçuklu, Konya, Çumra and Karaman.


Eskişehir-İstanbul

This high-speed train runs between Istanbul and Eskişehir within 3 hours, passing through Bozüyük, Bilecik, Arifiye, İzmit, Gebze, Pendik, Bostancı, and Söğütlüçeşme.

Experience the Turkish Railway Today!

The Turkish railway system connects most cities within Turkey together. Moreover, the whole trip is pleasant, assured by many amenities onboard and amazing Turkish engineering.

Regardless of your transportation choice in Turkey, remember to enjoy your trip!

—by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Can Turan

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