Turkish high-speed train
 

Turkey's new YHT high-speed train, linking Ankara, Konya, Eskişehir and (from July 2014) the outskirts of Istanbul...

An excellent way to get around Turkey!

Guidebooks tell you that Turkey has a good bus network and that 'buses are faster than trains', but do you really want to spend 12 hours in a bus?  When you can travel on an inexpensive air-conditioned train, with a bed in cosy private sleeper, a restaurant car for meals & room to move, through fantastic scenery unspoilt by roadside development?  Travellers who take the train rave about their experience.

Turkey's best trains are now modern & air-conditioned.  Savvy travellers will use a train for long distances (for example, Ankara to Konya, Izmir or Kars) then a short bus trip to reach places off the rail network, for example the South coast resorts or Cappadocia.

Much of the network was built by the Germans, and the joke goes that they were paid by the mile, hence the twisting nature of Turkish rail lines.  But the first section of a high-speed line from Istanbul to Ankara opened in 2009, and high-speed trains will start linking Istanbul with Ankara in 3h40 from July 2014...

  How to buy tickets      What are Turkish trains like?       Useful country information.

Train routes, schedules & fares...

  Istanbul - Ankara

 

  Ankara - Istanbul

  Istanbul - Bursa - Ankara

 

  Ankara - Izmir

  Istanbul - Konya - Adana

 

  Ankara - Konya, Karaman, Alanya, Antalya

  Istanbul - Denizli (Pamukkale)

 

  Ankara - Adana

  Istanbul - Gorëme (Cappadocia)

 

  Ankara - Erzurum, Kars, Eastern Turkey

  Istanbul - Izmir

 

  Izmir - Selçuk (Ephesus, Kusadasi) - Denizli (Pamukkale)

  Istanbul - Edirne

 

  Izmir - Konya

  Istanbul - Erzurum, Kars, Eastern Turkey

 

  Izmir - Ankara

  Buses to Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya

 

  Izmir - Istanbul

  Trains to Iskenderun & to Mersin & Tarsus

 

  Sivas-Samsun

International travel...

  Istanbul to/from Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Munich, Paris & London

  Istanbul to/from Sofia, Belgrade, Zagreb, Munich, Paris & London

  Turkey, to or from:  Greece  Cyprus   Syria   Iran   Georgia   Armenia   Azerbaijan   Iraq   Ukraine

Interactive map:  Click a route for train times & fares...

Istanbul & Ankara to Cappadocia What are Turkish mainline trains like? What are YHT trains ike? Ankara to Adana train service Istanbul-Bursa-Eskisehir-Ankara Sivas-Samsun regional train Train service to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan Trains service to & within Syria Ankara - Eastern Turkey train service Locals trains Adana-Iskenderun Local trains Adana-Tarsus-Mersin Bus & ferry to Cyprus Istanbul-Konya-Adana Ankara-Konya-Karaman YHT trains Bus connections to south coast resorts Bus services to south coast resorts Local trains Izmir-Ephesus-Pamukkale Ankara-Izmir train service Istanbul-Izmir Ferry+train service Istanbul-Eskisehir-Ankara YHT trains Istanbul to/from Sofia, Bucharest, Paris, London

MAJOR ENGINEERING WORK... 

Istanbul Haydarpasa station closed to mainline trains...

Major railway rebuilding work in connection with the new Bosporus Rail Tunnel project & Istanbul-Ankara high-speed line project means that Istanbul's historic Haydarpasa station is now closed, except for a few suburban trains.  Though it's still worth a visit!  The classic Istanbul - Eskisehir-Ankara line has also closed.

Istanbul-Ankara high-speed trains starting 26 July 2014!  The new high-speed line is now complete as far as the outskirts of Istanbul, and trains will start running from Istanbul to Ankara from 26 July 2014, see the timetable below.  The new trains will in fact leave from a suburban station called Pendik, some 25km east of Istanbul.  Pendik to Ankara takes just 3h40, beating a 6-hour journey by bus. 

In a year or two's time when work on the suburban lines is complete, high-speed trains will run to and from central Istanbul once more using the new Bosphorus rail tunnel serving a new station in central Istanbul on the European side of the Bosphorus.

Unaffected routes:  Trains are STILL RUNNING between Ankara & Izmir, Ankara & Eskisehir, Ankara & Kayseri/Kars/Erzurum/Eastern Turkey, Ankara & Adana, Ankara & Konya, also between Bandirma & Izmir in connection with the Istanbul-Bandirma ferry.


Useful country information

Train operator:  

TCDD (Türkiye Cumhuryeti Devlet Demiryollan), www.tcdd.gov.tr

How to buy tickets online

To check any European train time: http://bahn.hafas.de

 

 

Time zone:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

+90

Currency:

£1 = 3.5 Turkish Lira  $1 = 2.2 TL.  Currency converter

Tourist information:   

www.turizm.gov.tr      www.turkeytravelplanner.com      Best guidebooks

Hotels:

Find hotels in Turkey.  Hotel reviews: www.tripadvisor.com  

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelbookers.com

Visas:

UK & EU citizens need a Turkish tourist visa, which you can buy at any frontier. 

Alternatively, Turkey now has a new e-visa system, buy online at www.evisa.gov.tr.

Page last updated:

9 December 2014


How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets at the station...

  Tur-ISTA travel agency

Turista Travel in Istanbul can arrange your train tickets by email.

  Haydarpasa Station in Istanbul, for trains to Ankara, Konya Denizli & eastern Turkey.  Photo courtesy of Stuart Baker

Haydarpasa station, seen from the deck of a Bosphorus ferry.  Note the fire-damaged roof!  Haydarpasa is now likely to be redeveloped as the terminal for high-speed trains to Ankara & Konya.

   

It's easy to buy tickets at the station when you get to Turkey.  Most major stations have a computerised ticketing & reservation system, so can book any journey in Turkey.  It's not usually difficult to get seats or berths on the day of travel or a day or two before, although sleepers can sometimes get fully-booked.  Alternatively, you can buy tickets in advance either online or via a TCDD-authorised agency as shown below.  Stations accept Turkish lira cash, and may now accept credit cards.  Booking for Turkish domestic trains opens 30 days before departure for some trains, 15 days ahead for others.  The high-speed trains open 10 days before travel.

How to buy tickets online:  Click here...

You can easily buy tickets online.  The Turkish Railways (TCDD) website www.tcdd.gov.tr has an online booking facility, completely revamped in early 2014 and available in English (mostly!), see the advice on how to use it below.

It will book most long distance trains within Turkey (but not international trains), including seats, couchettes & sleepers.  You print out your reservation details and pick up the tickets at the station in Turkey.  It's quirky, but works beautifully and happily accepts non-Turkish credit cards even though most Turkish bus booking websites don't.  Online reservations for Turkish trains open 30 days before departure for some trains, 15 days ahead for others, and 10 days ahead for YHT high-speed trains, you won't see any trains if you look too far ahead.

How to buy tickets using a local travel agency...

If buying tickets online proves difficult, you can buy Turkish train tickets in advance by emailing or calling one of these authorised travel agencies in Istanbul:

Turista Travel, Divan Yolu Caddesi No. 16/B, 34410 Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey. Telephone +90 (212) 527 7085 or 513 7119.  Fax +90 (212) 519 3792.  E-mail erdemir@tur-ista.com.  I can personally recommend their service.  They are near the Sultanahmet tram stop, a short way from the Blue Mosque.

Backpackers Travel, Yeni Akbiyik Caddesi No. 30, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, telephone +90 (212) 638 63 43, fax +90 212 638 39 22, website www.backpackerstravel.net.

Turista gets good reports and I've used them myself, I yet to receive any reports about Backpackers Travel, but they are a well-known agency.  If you book with one of these agencies, you may need to pick up your tickets at their offices in Istanbul.  They can't book International trains from Turkey in their capacity as official TCDD agents, but they may be willing to buy tickets for international trains on your behalf as a private transaction, for a booking fee.

Haydarpaşa station...

Trains for Asian destinations used to leave from the historic Haydarpaşa Station (pictured above right), a ferry ride across the Bosphorus from Sirkeci Station where the European trains arrive.  Haydarpaşa station was built in 1908, a gift from the German Kaiser to the Ottoman Sultan, and named after one of the Sultan's generals.  It was closed to long-distance trains in February 2012 when engineering work started to rebuild the rail approaches to Istanbul in connection with both the new high-speed line to Ankara and the new Bosphorus rail tunnel.  It only handles a few remaining suburban trains, indeed even they may now be stopped.  However, the latest welcome news is that TCDD want to redevelop the station as the terminal for the new high-speed trains to Ankara and Konya when these finally get extended into central Istanbul.  In the meantime, the station is still worth a visit, trains or no trains.  Map of Istanbul showing Haydarpaşa & Sirkeci stations.

How to check Turkish train information online...

You can check train times & fares at the Turkish Railways (TCDD) website, www.tcdd.gov.tr.  However, you'll usually find that the Turkish version is more up to date than the English version, or indeed that there simply isn't the same info on the English version.  So leave it in Turkish, and use Google's Chrome browser with its built-in automatic translation.  At www.tcdd.gov.tr in the top red bar, click 'anahat trenleri' for mainline trains, 'bölgesel trenleri' for regional trains, 'Ortadogu yönlü trenleri' for international trains to the Middle East or 'Avrupa trenleri' for international trains to Europe.  There are no trains to Antalya, Marmaris, Bodrum, Alanya, nor to Gorëme in Cappadocia, so use a combination of train+bus to reach these places as shown here.

To check current live online train times, prices & availability, go to www.tcdd.gov.tr and click 'English' top right.  Now click 'Online Ticket Sales Reservation' top right.  A new page appears, click 'TCDD Information Screen'.  A new window appears.  Click 'Seat Information' to check availability, click 'Price Information' for fares, click 'Train Information' for train times.  To buy tickets, read the advice here first...

What are Turkish trains like?

High-speed trains...

Welcome to Yuksek Hizli Tren (YHT), the new face of Turkish train travel...

A pleasure to ride on, and as good as anything in Western Europe, brand-new 250 km/h high-speed trains are now operating on the Istanbul to Ankara, Ankara-Konya & Eskisehir-Konya routes.  Known as YHT, Yüksek Hızlı Treni, they feature comfortable seats in Economy and Business classes.  YHT high-speed trains will start running from Istanbul (in fact, from a suburban station called Pendik, 25km east of Istanbul) to Ankara from 26 July 2014.

 

A YHT train at Ankara...

 

Economy (2nd) class seats on the YHT...

 

Business (1st) class seats on a YHT...

 

Cafe-bar, complete with bar stools...

Conventional trains...

Turkey's conventional trains are also a pleasant surprise.  Cheap, spacious, and mostly now composed of modern air-conditioned TVS2000 coaches like the ones shown below, which are as good as any regular train in western Europe.  TVS2000 trains run from Ankara to Izmir, Adana, Erzurum, Kars & Eastern Turkey, vastly superior to a cramped bus.  They have several types of accommodation to choose from:

TVS2000 Pullman seats cars...

Turkish Railways' air-conditioned TVS2000 cars are modern, clean & carpeted.  The reclining Pullman seats (below right) are more spacious & comfortable than any cramped bus seat, and the coaches ride on smooth air suspension.

A modern TVS2000 train at Istanbul Haydarpasa   Reclining Pullman seats on a modern Turkish train

TVS2000 restaurant cars...

Restaurant cars are available on a number of trains, serving inexpensive meals, Turkish wine & beer.  There's a sample menu on www.tcdd.gov.tr if you use the Turkish version and Google Chrome's inbuilt translation.  A set breakfast menu costs TL 9 (£4 or $6), soup TL 3.50, a main course of schnitzel or steak costs TL 10-15, beer TL 7.  Eating in these elegant restaurant cars on proper china beats balancing food on your knees on a bus, any day...

Inside a TVS2000 restaurant car   Trains in Turkey:  A TVS2000 restaurant car

Below, a typical starter and main course served in a Turkish restaurant car.  Photo courtesy of Railbookers.com

Starter in a Turkish restaurant car   Main course in a Turkish restaurant car

TVS2000 sleeping-cars...

Most overnight trains in Turkey now use modern air-conditioned TVS2000 sleeping-cars.  Sleeper compartments have beds and a washbasin, soap and towels provided, and even a small fridge containing complimentary mineral water, soft drinks and snacks.  There's even a shower at the end of the corridor.  Compartments convert from a bedroom at night to a private sitting room with armchairs and small table for the daytime part of a journey.  Trains with TVS2000 sleeping-cars include the night trains from Ankara to Izmir, the Cukurova Express from Ankara to Adana, and the trains from Ankara to Erzurum, Kars, Diyarbakir & Tatvan.  Travelling in these sleepers is a great way to travel that saves on hotel bills, too.

  TVS2000 sleeper in night mode, Istanbul-Ankara, Istanbul-Denizli, & Izmir-Ankara night trains.  Courtesy of Shigeki Murao

A TVS2000 sleeping-car at the rear of the Ankara to Adana night train...

 

A cosy 2-berth sleeper...

TVS2000 Sleeping-car corridor, Istanbul-Ankara, Istanbul-Denizli, & Izmir-Ankara night trains   TVS2000 sleeping-car in day mode, Istanbul-Ankara, Istanbul-Denizli, & Izmir-Ankara night trains.  

Above left, the corridor...  Above centre and right, the same 2-bed sleeper in daytime mode with seats folded out and beds folded away...  Interior photos courtesy of Shigeki MuraoMore sleeper photos.

TVS2000 couchette cars...

Couchettes are basic padded bunks, with 4 bunks per compartment.  Couchettes convert to ordinary seating compartments for the daytime part of a journey.  On some trains, couchettes are provided without bedding, but on other trains there are 'covered couchettes' (örtülü kuşet), with sheet, blanket and pillow supplied.  Most overnight trains such as the Ankara-Izmir, Ankara-Adana, Arifiye/Eskisehir-Konya-Adana and Ankara-Eastern Turkey trains now have modern air-conditioned TVS2000 couchette cars like the one below.

The Istanbul to Tehran train   Couchette compartment aboard the Istanbul to Tehran train

TVS2000 air-conditioned 4-berth couchettes, shown in daytime position with the berths folded against the wall.

For more information, the train travel section of www.turkeytravelplanner.com is highly recommended.

Sponsored links...

 


Istanbul to Ankara

Istanbul - Ankara high-speed trains started on 26 July 2014...

The first section of the Istanbul-Ankara high-speed line opened in March 2009, when air-conditioned 250 km/h high-speed YHT trains (= Yüksek Hızlı Treni in Turkish) started running between Eskişehir with Ankara, see the photos & video above.  The rest of the high-speed line is now finished as far as the outskirts of Istanbul and on 26 July 2014 high-speed YHT trains started running between Ankara and a suburban station called Pendik, 25km east of Istanbul, see location map here (the timetable was tweaked from 8 August).  By 2015 trains will start running all the way to/from the European side of Istanbul via the new Bosphorus rail tunnel, taking just 3 hours.  Alternatively, you might consider taking a ferry from Istanbul to Bursa, then a bus/train combo to Ankara as shown in the section below.

 Istanbul ► Ankara from 8 August 2014

 Notes:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Istanbul Pendik depart

-

06:15

07:30

-

10:45

-

13:30

16:30

-

-

19:20

 Izmit

-

|

08:16

-

11:32

-

14:16

17:16

-

-

|

 Eskişehir

06:30

08:47

10:06

10:55

13:23

14:50

16:05

19:05

19:30

21:00

21:52

 Ankara arrive

07:53

10:02

11:23

12:18

14:44

16:13

17:21

20:22

20:53

22:23

23:07

 Ankara ► Istanbul from 8 August July 2014

Notes:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Ankara depart

06:00

06:30

08:45

09:00

11:30

13:00

14:40

16:45

17:40

19:00

21:20

 Eskişehir

07:20

07:53

10:07

10:23

12:56

14:23

16:01

18:08

19:02

20:20

22:43

 Izmit

|

-

11:51

-

14:40

-

17:45

-

20:47

|

-

 Istanbul Pendik arrive: 

09:45

-

12:33

-

15:28

-

18:27

-

21:29

22:44

-

Pendik is a suburban station 25km east of central Istanbul being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs, see location map here.  To reach Pendik, take a ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadıköy then metro line M4 to the end of the line at Kartal.  Then take a taxi or city bus 251 the last 6km to Pendik station.  You should allow at least 2 hours to get from the European side of Istanbul to Pendik.

YHT = Yüksek Hızlı Tren = new 250 km/h high-speed train.  YHT trains have a brief ticket and X-ray baggage check on the platform, so arrive for boarding 15 minutes before departure.

Ankara station is in central Ankara, see location map, unlike the main bus terminal which is 2-3 miles outside the city or the airport 15-20 miles outside.

How to buy tickets   Istanbul to Ankara on the high-speed line is 533km or 331 miles.

 Fares

 

Economy class

Business class

 Istanbul to Ankara: 

TL 70

TL 98

 Istanbul to Eskişehir: 

TL 45

TL 63

 Ankara to Eskişehir: 

TL 25

TL 35

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

All these fares are one-way per person.  Return tickets cost 20% less than two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.  You can check train times and fares at www.tcdd.gov.tr, which now has some English pages.  Also see www.turkeytravelplanner.com.  Buy your ticket at the ticket office in Istanbul or use one of the travel agencies in Istanbul recommended above.

Economy class seats on a Turkish YHT high-speed train   A high-speed YHT train at Ankara station

The new face of Turkish train travel:  Above left, Eskişehir station.  Above right, a YHT about to leave Eskişehir.  See more photos & video above.


Istanbul to Bursa to Ankara

Istanbul to Ankara via Bursa...

Until direct Istanbul-Ankara trains resume in (it's hoped) early 2014, a pleasant way to travel between Istanbul and Ankara is to take the regular fast passenger ferry across the Sea of Marmara to Bursa, then the special bus from Bursa to Eskişehir which runs in connection with most 250 km/h high-speed train departures to Ankara.  This is not much slower than taking a direct bus from Istanbul to Ankara, given that the YHT trains arrive at Ankara station in the heart of Ankara, not a bus station 2 miles out of town.  This route is also scenic, taking you up the lush green slopes of Mount Uludag (the Olympus of Bithynia) and it avoids the traffic congestion that can badly delay buses on the main Istanbul-Ankara route.

Step 1: Istanbul to Bursa by fast ferry...

Fast passenger ferries sail from Istanbul's Kabataş ferry terminal just southeast of Taksim Square to Bursa's Mudanya ferry terminal, 29km north of Bursa city.  On a typical weekday, you'll find ferry departures like the ones shown below, but they vary by day of the week and time of year, so check sailing times for your date of travel at https://budo.burulas.com.tr.  Note that previous operator www.idobus.com.tr has now thrown in the towel to competitor Budo and will no longer run on this route in 2014.

Alternatively, there are a couple of daily fast ferries to Bursa from Istanbul's Yenikapi ferry terminal in the south of the city, and these also carry vehicles.  Departures from Istanbul are at 07:30 (daily except Sundays), 17:30 (daily) and 20:30 (Fri & Sun only).  Journey time 1 hour 30 minutes.  Departures from Bursa are at 07:30 (daily except Sundays), 18:00 (daily), 20:30 (Fri & Sun only).  See www.ido.com.tr to check ferry times and fares from Yenikapi to Bursa.

Economy class seats on a Turkish YHT high-speed train  

These are IDO fast ferries at Bursa's IDO ferry terminal ferry terminal. Budo's ferries will be similar.

Step 2:  Bursa to Ankara by bus & high-speed train combo...

A bus company called Kamil Koc runs buses from Bursa bus station (otogar) to Eskişehir railway station specifically to connect with YHT high-speed train departures to Ankara.  The bus arrives right outside the station entrance at Eskişehir 15 minutes before the train leaves.  Just make sure you board the bus to Eskişehir station (Gar TCDD), not a similar bus to Eskişehir Otogar.

 Bursa Eskişehir Ankara

 

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

 Bursa Otogar depart by bus

05:00

06:15

08:30

10:00

12:15

13:35

15:30

16:30

18:15

 Eskişehir station arrive by bus 

07:30

08:45

10:45

12:30

14:45

15:50

18:00

18:45

20:45

 

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Eskişehir station depart by train

08:47

10:06

10:55

13:23

14:50

16:05

19:05

19:05

21:00

 Ankara arrive by train

10:02

11:23

12:18

14:44

16:13

17:21

20:22

20:22

22:23

 Ankara Eskişehir Bursa

Notes:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Ankara depart by train

06:30

-

09:00

-

13:00

14:40

16:45

17:40

19:00

 Eskişehir station arrive by train

07:53

-

10:23

-

14:23

16:01

18:08

19:02

20:20

 

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

 Eskişehir station depart by bus

08:30

09:50

10:45

12:45

14:30

16:45

18:15

19:45

21:00

 Bursa Otogar arrive by bus

10:45

12:05

13:00

15:00

16:45

19:00

20:30

22:00

23:15

A high-speed YHT train at Ankara station   A high-speed YHT train at Ankara station

Bursa-Ankara bus-train combo!  A Kamil Koc bus takes you from Bursa Otogar to Eskişehir TCDD railway station to connect with the YHT to Ankara.    Above left, a YHT gets a wash at Ankara.  Above right, the Kamil Koc bus waiting outside Eskisehir station.


Istanbul to Konya & Adana

In 2009, YHT high-speed trains started running over the newly-opened Eskişehir-Konya high-speed line.  With the opening of the Istanbul-Eskişehir high-speed line from 26 July 2014, you can now travel from Istanbul to Konya with one easy change of train at Eskişehir.  Direct Istanbul-Konya YHT trains are planned, details will be posted here when known.  See the trains in the timetable below marked YHT

Two daily trains then connect Konya with Adana over the curvaceous and very scenic classic line, see the trains marked Toros and Mavi in the timetable below.

 Istanbul ► Konya ► Adana

 

 Adana ► Konya ► Istanbul

 Every day:

Mavi

YHT

Toros

YHT

YHT

 Every day:

YHT

YHT

Toros

YHT

Mavi

 Istanbul Pendik depart:

-

-

-

10:45

-

 Adana depart:

-

-

07:01

-

15:45

 Eskişehir arrive:

-

-

-

13:23

-

 Karaman depart:

-

-

12:18

-

20:40

 Eskişehir depart:

-

08:15

 -

-

16:20

 Konya arrive:

-

-

13:39

-

22:17

 Konya arrive:

-

09:54

-

-

17:59

 Konya depart:

10:20

-

-

18:20

-

 Konya depart:

06:30

-

15:00

-

-

 Eskişehir arrive:

12:02

-

 -

20:02

-

 Karaman arrive:

08:02

-

16:24

-

-

 Eskişehir depart:

-

12:56

-

-

-

 Adana arrive:

13:00

-

21:30

-

-

 Istanbul Pendik arrive:

-

15:28

-

-

-

YHT = Yüksek Hızlı Tren, new 250 km/h high-speed train.  YHT trains have a brief ticket and X-ray baggage check on the platform, so arrive for boarding 15 minutes before departure.  These trains use the new high-speed line.

Mavi = Içanadolou Mavi Tren:  TVS2000 pullman reclining seats & a TVS2000 restaurant car.  Booking for this train opens 10 days before departure.  This train uses the classic line.  Update:  From Dec 2014 until at least April 2015 will not run, while Konya-Karaman track is upgraded.

Toros = Toros Express, runs every day, TVS2000 pullman reclining seats cars & normal compartment cars.  Booking opens 30 days ahead.  This train uses the classic line.  Update:  From Dec 2014 until at least April 2015 will only run Karaman-Adana while track upgraded.

Pendik is a suburban station 25km east of central Istanbul being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs, see location map here.  To reach Pendik, take a ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadıköy then metro line M4 to the end of the line at Kartal.  Then take a taxi or city bus 251 the last 6km to Pendik station.  You should allow at least 2 hours to get from European side of Istanbul to Pendik.

Alternative route between Istanbul & Adana:  You can take a train from Istanbul to Ankara (see here for times & prices) then take the overnight Cukurova Mavi train from Ankara to Adana (or vice versa).  Update:  From Dec 2014 until at least April 2015, you should definitely use this alternative route between Istanbul & Adana, as the Konya-Karaman line is closed for track upgrade to allow its use by YHT high-speed trains.

How to buy tickets    Map of Istanbul showing location of Haydarpaşa station   Connections to Tarsus & Mersin   Connections to Iskenderun

 Fares by YHT

 

Economy class

Business class

 Istanbul-Eskişehir

TL 45

TL 63

 Eskişehir-Konya

TL 35

TL 45

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

 Fares by classic train

 

Reclining

pullman seat

Couchette

in 4-berth

Sleeper -

sharing 2-bed room

Sleeper -

single-bed room

 Eskişehir-Adana

TL 44

  -

TL 84

TL 110

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

All fares one-way per person.  Return tickets cost 20% less than the cost of two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.  You can check times and fares at www.tcdd.gov.tr.

Scenery from the train from Istanbul to Adana.

The snow-capped Taurus Mountains, seen from the Içanadolou Mavi Tren from Konya to Adana.  Photo courtesy of Conor Meleady.


Istanbul to Denizli (for Pamukkale)

The old overnight Pamukkale Express from Istanbul to Denizli has been cancelled for several years now due to the construction work explained above and will probably never resume.  However, the line from Izmir to Denizli has now reopened for local trains, so a comfortable and civilised alternative is as follows:


Istanbul to Gorëme (Cappadocia)

Cappadocia is an incredible land of strange rock formations and cave dwellings that should not be missed.  It's a nightmare 12+ hour bus journey all the way from Istanbul, but you can easily let the train take the strain for much of the way.

Option 1:  Take a comfortable high-speed YHT train from Istanbul to Ankara as shown in the timetable above.  Then take the metro from Ankara station to the long-distance bus terminal, located a couple of miles out of the city centre (allow an hour for this).  Buses run from Ankara to Nevsehir & Gorëme in Cappadocia every couple of hours throughout the day, taking 4 hours 30 minutes to Nevsehir and 5 hours to Gorëme, fare 30 TL (£13 or $21).  You can simply buy a bus ticket at the bus station, as Turkish bus booking websites don't accept non-Turkish credit cards.  For bus times try www.nevsehirlilerseyahat.com.tr.

Option 2:  Take a comfortable high-speed YHT train from Istanbul to Ankara as shown in the timetable above.  Then take a classic train from Ankara to Kayseri as shown in the timetable below.  Kayseri is only 70 km from Gorëme, so this is the shortest bus journey (maybe 1.5 hours) though a longer overall trip.


Istanbul to Izmir

Istanbul to Izmir overnight by YHT & sleeper train...

With the start of high-speed YHT trains between Istanbul and Eskisehir you can once again take an evening train from Istanbul (or rather, currently, Pendik some 25km east of central Istanbul) to Eskisehir and pick up the air-conditioned sleeper train to Izmir with private 1 & 2 berth sleepers and restaurant car.  It's a very affordable, time-effective and comfortable way to make this journey, if you don't mind the trek from central Istanbul to Pendik by ferry, metro & taxi, at least until they finish work on the high-speed line all the way into central istanbul.

 Istanbul ► Izmir

 

 

 

 Izmir ► Istanbul

Every day:

YHT

Every day: 

Sleeper

 Istanbul Pendik depart

19:20

 Izmir Alsancak station depart

18:30

 Eskisehir arrive

21:52

 Eskisehir arrive

05:34

 Change trains...

Sleeper

 Change trains...

YHT

 Eskisehir depart

22:25

 Eskisehir depart

07:20

 Izmir Alsancak arrive

09:31

 Istanbul Pendik arrive

09:45

Pendik is a suburban station 25km east of central Istanbul being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs high-speed trains to Eskisehir & Ankara, see location map here.  To reach Pendik, take a ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadıköy then metro line M4 to the end of the line at Kartal.  Then take a taxi or city bus 251 the last 6km to Pendik station.  You should allow at least 2 hours to get from the European side of Istanbul to Pendik.

YHT = Yüksek Hızlı Tren = new 250 km/h high-speed train.  YHT trains have a brief ticket and X-ray baggage check on the platform, so arrive for boarding 15 minutes before departure.

Sleeper = Izmir Mavi Tren.  TVS2000 sleeping-cars (1 & 2-bed compartments), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats &TVS2000 restaurant car.  Runs via Afyon.

How much does it cost? 

 How much does it cost?

 

Economy

seat

Business

 seat

Pullman seat

Bed in 2-berth

sleeper

Single-bed

 sleeper

 Istanbul to Eskişehir by YHT

TL 45

TL 63

-

-

-

 Eskişehir to Izmir by sleeper train

-

-

TL 34

TL 88

TL 113

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.

How to buy tickets:  If you buy online, you will need to buy Pendik to Eskisehir and Eskisehir to Alsancak as two separate tickets.  You should use Pendik under 'P' for Istanbul and Alsancak under 'A' for Izmir, Turkish Railways use the station names not the city names in their system.

Istanbul to Izmir by ferry & train across the Sea of Marmara...

An enjoyable way from Istanbul to Izmir is to sail across the Sea of Marmara to Bandirma by fast ferry, then take the air-conditioned 6 Eylül Express or 17 Eylül Express from Bandirma to Izmir.  Much nicer than 9 hours stuck in a bus!

 Istanbul ► Izmir  by ferry & train

 

 Izmir ► Istanbul  by train & ferry

 By SeaCat fast ferry...

Daily

Fridays

Daily

 By air-conditioned train...

Daily >

Daily

 Istanbul Yenikapi ferry depart:

07:00

12:30

18:30

 Izmir Alsancak station depart

08:20

14:15

 Bandirma arrive:

09:00

14:30

  20:30*

 Balikesir depart:

12:36

18:25

 By air-conditioned train

 Bandirma arrive:

14:16

 20:05*

 Bandirma depart:

15:55

15:55

  07:00*

 By SeaCat fast ferry...

 Balikesir arrive:

17:43

17:43

08:49

 Bandirma depart:

18:30

  07:30**

 Izmir Alsancak station arrive

22:29

22:29

13:16

 Istanbul Yenikapi ferry terminal arrive:

20:30

  09:30**

Always check your ferry times at www.ido.com.tr as times vary on certain dates and you may find better (or different) ferry connections on some days or dates.  45 minutes is sufficient to connect between train & ferry at Bandirma.

You should check train times less than 30 days before departure at www.tcdd.gov.tr as the Turkish Railways have a habit of changing the train service on this route from time to time, sometimes running only one train not two, and I am no longer going to keep up with every change here!

* An overnight stop is necessary at Bandirma.  There are several good mid-range hotels close to the station and port.

** The Bandirma to Istanbul ferry sails at 07:30 on Mondays-Fridays, 09:30 on Saturdays, 15:30 on Sundays, crossing time 2 hours.

About the journey:  The ferry is a fast SeaCat run by the IDO ferry company, see www.ido.com.tr to check ferry times & prices.  The ferry terminal in Istanbul is called Yenikapi, see map of Istanbul showing location of Yenikapi ferry terminal.  There's a 30 minute minimum check-in for the ferry.  At Bandirma, the ferry arrives a stone's throw from the railway station, you can easily walk off the ferry and round onto the train.  The morning train is the 6 Eylül Express, the afternoon train is the 17 Eylül Express, both trains have modern air-conditioned TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, usually with a refreshment trolley, though I recommend bringing your own picnic and perhaps a beer or two for the journey.  Since 2010 the train arrives/departs Izmir Alsancak station, not Izmir Basmane.

How much does it cost?  (1) Istanbul Yenikapi to Bandirma by fast ferry costs TL 39.  (2) Bandirma to Izmir by train in a pullman seat is TL 22.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.

How to buy tickets:  Buy the ferry ticket in person at the ferry terminal or online up to 30 days in advance at www.ido.com.tr, remembering that Yenikapi is the starting point in Istanbul.  Buy the train ticket at the station when you get to Bandirma, or perhaps buy at Istanbul's Sirkeci station before you leave, or try booking online as shown here, a little quirky but works beautifully when you get the hang of it!

Traveller's report:  Ryan White reports. "I went Istanbul to Izmir & back with the ferry+train and it was great.  The train and ferry were both very comfortable and on time.  One way Izmir to Istanbul or visa versa was about 30 TL ($20 dollars).

For onward travel from Izmir to Selçuk (Ephesus) and Denizli (Pamukkale) see this section.

  The station bell at Izmir Alsancak

The air-conditioned train to Izmir, waiting to leave Bandirma, where the ferry from Istanbul arrives...  Photo above courtesy of Rob Hadley, photo above right courtesy of Malte Furhrmann.

 

The station bell at Izmir Alsancak, with the train to Bandirma in the background.

Istanbul to Izmir by direct ferry...

There used to be a cruise ferry from Istanbul to Izmir, run by Deniz Lines, but this no longer runs.


Istanbul to Edirne

Until a year or two ago, two trains a day linked Istanbul's Sirkeci station with the historic city of Edirne, once known as Adrianople.  One was the overnight international train en route to/from Sofia and Bucharest, the other a regional train between Istanbul and Edirne.  However, at present major engineering is affecting the line westwards from Istanbul.  The international sleeper train is replaced by a bus between Istanbul and the Bulgarian border at Kapikule, as shown on the London to Turkey page, the regional train still runs, but only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as shown below.  However, if it fits your itinerary. it's better than any cramped bus.

 Istanbul ► Edirne

  

 

 Edirne ► Istanbul

 Days of running:

Fri, Sat, Sun

 Days of running:

Fri, Sat, Sun

 Istanbul Sirkeci station depart

15:20

 Edirne depart

07:20

 Edirne arrive

20:48

 Istanbul Sirkeci station arrive

13:02

This train currently only runs on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays.  It's a regional train with 1st and 2nd class seats.  Quite a comfortable train with modernised coaches with seats in 6-seater compartments.  Fares are not known, but will be very cheap by western standards.  No pre-booking necessary or possible, just turn up and buy a ticket at the station.


Ankara to Izmir 

Modern trains link Ankara with Izmir overnight, with comfortable sleepers, see the TVS2000 sleeper photos.

 Ankara ► Izmir

 

 

 

 Izmir ► Ankara

Every day:

Karesi

Mavi

Every day: 

Karesi

Mavi

 Ankara depart

-

18:20

 Izmir Alsancak station depart

-

18:30

 Izmir Alsancak station arrive

-

09:31

 Ankara arrive

-

09:53

Mavi = Izmir Mavi Tren.  TVS2000 sleeping-cars (1 & 2-bed compartments), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats &TVS2000 restaurant car.  Runs via Afyon.

Karesi = Karesi Express.  1st & 2nd class seats, TVS2000 couchettes (4-bunk), restaurant car.  Runs via Balikesir.  Appears to be temporarily suspended, only running part of the way at present.

You can check times and fares at www.tcdd.gov.tr - some pages are now in English, but www.turkeytravelplanner.com will help you understand the Turkish parts.  Since 2010 the trains use Izmir's Alsancak station, they no longer use Basmane.

How to buy tickets

 Fares

Air-con reclining

pullman seat

Air-con couchette

in 4-berth

Air-con sleeper -

sharing 2-bed sleeper

Air-con sleeper -

single-bed sleeper

TL 38

TL 50

TL 91

TL 116

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

All fares one-way per person.  Return tickets cost 20% less than the cost of two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.


Ankara to Konya, Karaman, Alanya, Antalya

A new high-speed line linking Ankara with Konya opened in August 2011.  250 km/h (156 mph) high-speed trains with economy and business class air-conditioned seating and a cafe-bar car now link these cities in just 1 hour 40 minutes, see the photos & video above.  Previously, you could only travel between these cities via a roundabout route that took over 10 hours.  The service may be further increased to an hourly service as traffic builds up, and there may be further cuts to journey time too.  The journey from Ankara to Konya is around 309 km (193 miles), including 212 km of new high-speed line.  The Turkish term for high-speed train is YHT or Yüksek Hızlı Tren.

Important update:  From Dec 2014 until at least April 2015 buses are temporarily replacing trains between Konya & Karaman while the track is upgraded to take direct YHT high-speed trains...

 Ankara ► Konya, Karaman, Alanya, Antalya

Daily:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Ankara depart by YHT train

06:45

09:20

11:15

13:45

15:40

18:10

20:45

 Konya arrive by YHT train

08:23

11:01

12:53

15:26

17:18

19:51

22:23

 Karaman arrive by train

(09:47)

(12:28)

(14:19)

(17:10)

(19:03)

-

(23:49)

 Alanya arrive by bus

(13:30)

-

(18:00)

|

|

-

|

 Antalya arrive by bus

-

-

-

(20:30)

(00:00)

-

(04:00)

 Antalya, Alanya, Karaman, Konya ► Ankara

Daily:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Antalya depart by bus

-

-

-

-

(10:30)

-

(14:30)

 Alanya depart by bus

-

-

-

(07:30)

|

-

(15:30)

 Karaman depart by train

-

(07:03)

(09:50)

(11:40)

(14:20)

(16:22)

(19:10)

 Konya  depart by YHT train

06:40

09:00

11:25

13:35

16:00

18:00

21:00

 Ankara arrive by YHT train

08:16

10:39

12:59

15:14

17:34

19:39

22:34

The Karaman train connection:  To/from Karaman, you must change trains at Konya, that's why the times shown above are in brackets.  The change takes just a few minutes, onto a special train designed to connect with the high-speed service.

The Antalya & Alanya bus connection:  Turkish Railways have teamed up with the Özkaymak bus company to offer a seamless train+bus combo service from Ankara to Alanya & Antalya.  You take a YHT high-speed train between Ankara & Konya, a bus is waiting outside the station when you arrive at Konya to take you to Alanya or Antalya, as shown above.  Times at Alanya/Antakya are shown in brackets to indicate that this is a connection, not a direct train to or from Ankara!  The bus route is very scenic, over some green and untouched parts of the Taurus mountains.  Turkish Railways claim this YHT/bus combo saves 2 hours over a direct bus to or from Ankara, and it's a lot more comfortable.

The Adana connection:  See the section below.

 Fares

 

Business class

Economy class

 Ankara to Konya  

TL 35

TL 25

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

All fares one-way per person.  Return tickets cost 20% less than the cost of two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.

How to buy tickets - booking for YHT trains opens 10 days before departure.

 

New YHT high-speed trains:  Turkish Railways use the same type of train on the new Ankara-Konya route as the Ankara-Eskisehir line.  Above left, a YHT train at Ankara.  Above right, Business class seats.  See more photos & video above.


Ankara to Adana

There's no better way to travel between Ankara and Adana than by train.  Choose between a time-effective and very civilised overnight sleeper service, or a new daytime high-speed option with a change of train in Konya, which will show you the spectacular Taurus mountains.

 Ankara ► Adana

 

 

 

 Adana ► Ankara

 Daily:

YHT/Toros

Cukurova

 Daily:

Toros/YHT

Cukurova

 Ankara depart:

11:15

20:05

 Adana   depart:

07:05

19:30

 Konya arrive

12:53

|

 Konya arrive

13:39

|

 Konya depart

15:00

|

 Konya depart

16:00

|

 Adana  arrive:

21:30

07:25

 Ankara  arrive

17:34

07:35

YHT/Toros = By excellent YHT high-speed train between Ankara & Konya with business class and economy class seats, change trains at Konya, by Toros Express with pullman seats between Konya & Adana.  Superb scenery through the Taurus mountains.

Cukurova = By Cukurova Mavi Tren direct between Ankara and Adana, with modern air-conditioned sleeping-car with 1 & 2-bed compartments, 4-berth couchettes, reclining pullman seats and a restaurant car.  These are all ultra-modern, fully-air-conditioned, soundproofed and smooth-riding TVS2000 cars, see the TVS2000 sleeper photos, TVS2000 couchette photos, TVS2000 pullman seat photos, TVS2000 restaurant car photos

How to buy tickets.   Connection to Tarsus & Mersin   Connection to Iskenderun.

 Fares by sleeper train...

Air-con reclining

pullman seat

Air-con couchette

in 4-berth

Air-con sleeper -

sharing 2-bed sleeper

Air-con sleeper -

single-bed sleeper

TL 26

TL 39

TL 91

TL 132

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

All fares one-way per person.  Return tickets cost 20% less than the cost of two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.

Fare by YHT/Toros:  Ankara to Konya costs TL 35 in Business class or TL 25 in Economy.  Konya to Adana costs TL 20.50.

 

The Cukurova Mavi Tren about to leave Ankara for Adana, with the sleeping-car (shown here) at the rear, couchette car and restaurant car next ahead...


Istanbul & Ankara - Eastern Turkey

It's a long way to eastern Turkey, but the trains have sleeping-cars, couchettes, and in many cases a restaurant car for a comfortable and wonderfully scenic journey, making the train far more comfortable, civilised and enjoyable than any cramped long-distance bus.  Most trains now use modern air-conditioned TVS2000 sleeping-cars and reclining seat cars.

 Istanbul & Ankara ► Eastern Turkey

High-speed train:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

-

 Istanbul Pendik

depart

13:30

13:30

06:15

06:15

-

 Ankara

arrive

17:21

17:21

10:02

10:02

-

Classic train:

4 Eylül Mavi Tren

Doğu Express

Güney Express

Van Gölü Express

Trans-Asia Express

Days of running:

Every day

Every day

Mon, Wed, Thur

Fri, Sat

Tuesdays &

Sundays

Wednesdays

 Ankara

depart

19:00  day 1

18:00  day 1

11:15  day 1

11:15  day 1

10:25  day 2

 Kayseri

arr/dep

01:36  day 1

00:48  day 2

18:27  day 1

18:27  day 1

17:33  day 2

 Sivas

arr/dep

05:12  day 2

04:14  day 2

22:10  day 1

22:10  day 1

21:42  day 2

 Erzurum

arr/dep

|

13:57  day 2

|

|

|

 Kars

arrive

|

18:29  day 2

|

|

|

 Malatya

arr/dep

09:25  day 2

 

02:47  day 2

02:47  day 2

|

 Diyarbakir

arr/dep

 

 

07:48  day 2

|

|

 Kurtalan

arrive

 

 

09:20  day 2

|

|

 Elazig

arr/dep

 

 

 

06:20  day 2

xx:xx  day 3

 Tatvan

arrive

 

 

 

14:37  day 2

11:32  day 3

As you can see from the timetable, you take a YHT high-speed train from Istanbul to Ankara, then the classic trains from Ankara eastwards.

* = for connection to/from Istanbul by high-speed train, see the Istanbul-Ankara section.

Pendik is a suburban station 25km east of central Istanbul being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs, see location map here.  To reach Pendik, take a ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadıköy then metro line M4 to the end of the line at Kartal.  Then take a taxi or city bus 251 the last 6km to Pendik station.  You should allow at least 2 hours from European side of Istanbul to Pendik.

YHT = Yüksek Hızlı Tren, new 250 km/h high-speed train.  YHT trains have a brief ticket and X-ray baggage check on the platform, so arrive for boarding 15 minutes before departure.  These trains use the new Istanbul-Ankara high-speed line.

4 Eylül Mavi Tren.  Runs daily.  TVS2000 4-berth couchette cars, TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, compartment seats, TVS2000 restaurant car.  No sleepers.

Doğu Express.  Runs daily, recommended train.  TVS2000 sleeping-car (1 & 2-bed rooms), TVS2000 couchettes (4-berth), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats + TVS2000 restaurant car for your meals.   See the traveller's report below.  U-Tube video of a ride from Istanbul to Kars on the Doğu ExpressSays one traveller: "Overnight on brilliant Dogu Express to Erzurum. A trip highlight with most of waking hours spent in restaurant car."

Güney Express.  Runs on certain days of the week as shown in the table above.  TVS2000 sleeping-car (1 & 2-bed rooms), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, ordinary seats.  No restaurant car, so take provisions and some beer or wine...

Van Gölü Express.  Runs on certain days of the week as shown in the table above.  TVS2000 sleeping-car (1 & 2-bed rooms), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, ordinary seats.

Trans-Asia Express.  Carries International passengers only.  Runs once a week only, on the day of the week shown in the table above.  Air-conditioned TVS2000 4-berth couchette cars & TVS2000 restaurant car Ankara-Tatvan-Tehran.  Reported to only carry international passengers.  See the London to Iran page.

 Eastern Turkey ► Ankara & Istanbul

Classic train:

4 Eylül Mavi Tren

Trans-Asia Express

Doğu Express

Güney Express

Van Gölü Express

Days of running:

Every day

Fridays

Every day

Mon, Wed,

Fri, Sat, Sun

Tuesday, Thursday

 Tatvan

depart

 

05:05  day 1

07:20 day 1

 Elazig

arr/dep

 

xx:xx  day 1

15:51  day 1

 Kurtalan

depart

 

|

09:30  day 1

|

 Diyarbakir

arr/dep

 

|

13:14  day 1

|

 Malatya

arr/dep

15:30  day 1

|

 

18:49  day 1

18:49  day 1

 Kars

depart

|

|

07:45  day 1

|

|

 Erzurum

arr/dep

|

|

12:26  day 1

|

|

 Sivas

arr/dep

19:47  day 1

22:02  day 1

22:07  day 1

23:35  day 1

23:35  day 1

 Kayseri

arr/dep

23:18  day 2

01:47  day 2

01:26  day 2

03:30  day 2

03:30  day 2

 Ankara

arrive

06:10  day 2

09:30  day 2

08:05  day 2

10:37  day 2

10:37  day 2

 High-speed train:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Ankara

depart

08:45

11:30

11:30

14:40

14:40

 Istanbul Pendik

arrive

12:33

15:28

15:28

18:27

18:27

You can check times and fares at www.tcdd.gov.tr.

How to buy tickets - booking for these Eastern Turkey trains opens 15 days before departure.

Istanbul to Ankara by YHT train costs TL 70 one-way in economy class or TL 98 in business class.

 Fares

 One-way per person

Reclining

pullman seat

Couchette

in 4-berth

Sleeping-car,

sharing 2-bed sleeper

Sleeping-car,

single-bed sleeper

 Ankara to Kars (Doğu Express)

TL 39

TL 52

TL 80

TL 95

 Ankara to Diyarbakir (Güney Express)

TL 29

TL 42

TL 69

TL 84

 Ankara to Tatvan (Van Gölü Express)

TL 33

TL 46

TL 73

TL 88

£1 = TL 3.5.  $1 = TL 2.2

Fares for other journeys will be broadly similar.  Return tickets cost 20% less than the cost of two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.

Taking the train to eastern Turkey:  Dogu express to Kars along the Euphrates river   Taking the train to eastern Turkey:  The Dogu Express alongside the Euphrates river

Great scenery on the train to Kars:  Two views from the Dogu Express, alongside the Euphrates river between Sivan & Erzurum.  Away from road development, you'll see great scenery from the comfort of your train.  It's the  inexpensive & relaxed alternative to airport stress or a nightmare journey in a cramped bus.   Photos courtesy of Conor Meleady.

Scenery from the train to Kars   More scenery from the Dogu Express to Kars

More scenery from the Dogu Express...  Photos courtesy of Maximilian Meyer.

An omelette in the dining-car on the Dogu Express   The Dogu Express at a station in Eastern Turkey

An omelette and tea in the dining car...  Efes beer is also sold.  Photos courtesy of Maximilian Meyer.

 

Civilised comfort on board the train:  A private 1 or 2 bed sleeper, in daytime mode with beds folded away.  Photo courtesy of Heather Williams.

 

Above:  The same compartment, looking towards the door to the corridor.  Photo courtesy of Heather Williams.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Matt Dwyer reports on a trip from Istanbul to Kars on the Dogu Express:  "We went directly to the Haydarpaşa train station to buy tickets. It was quite simple to tell the ticket guy the date, train, and "Yatakli Vagon" (sleeper) and he handed us our tickets.  We paid 53 TL one way, but that was with our teacher discount (I think any teacher or student can get that discount, he wasn't very strict about proof), but I expect a regular ticket would be about 70 TL (£29 or $50).  Our Yatakli Wagon was the last car on the train, behind the cafe car, had 10 cabins with two beds each. They were not full, but we did pick up several groups along the way, especially in Ankara. The porters were very helpful and nice, announcing meals, making beds, etc. Our cabin was not luxurious, but certainly comfortable with a working sink, soap and hand towels, lock on the door from the inside (all my female friends asked me about that!), clean linens, etc.  We felt no worries about leaving stuff in our cabin when we went to the cafe car.  There was a restaurant car, serving decent grub.  Beer on the train is expensive, I suggest people bring some along!  The toilet at the end of the car was clean for the first day, then started to get pretty grubby.  The scenery is spectacular, especially the second day as you go along the Euphrates and the mountains and gorges are striking."  This was written before the Dogu Express was equipped with modern air-conditioned TVS2000 sleeping-cars.


Izmir to Konya

 Izmir ► Konya

 

 

 

 Konya ► Izmir

 Daily...

Konya Mavi

 Daily...

Konya Mavi

 Izmir Alsancak depart:

20:40

 Konya depart:

20:40

 Afyon arr/dep

03:37

 Afyon arr/dep

00:18

 Konya arrive:

07:22

 Izmir Alsancak  arrive

07:28

Konya Mavi = Konya Mavi Tren, with modern air-conditioned sleeping-car with 1 & 2-bed compartments, 4-berth couchettes, reclining pullman seats and a restaurant car.  These are all modern, fully-air-conditioned, soundproofed and smooth-riding TVS2000 cars, see the TVS2000 sleeper photos, TVS2000 couchette photos, TVS2000 pullman seat photos, TVS2000 restaurant car photos.

How to buy tickets.

 Fares...

Air-con reclining

pullman seat

Air-con couchette

in 4-berth

Air-con sleeper -

sharing 2-bed sleeper

Air-con sleeper -

single-bed sleeper

TL 35 (£13 or $22)

TL 47 (£18 or $29)

TL 75 (£29 or $47)

TL 100 (£38 or $63)

All fares one-way per person from Izmir to Konya or vice versa.  Return tickets cost 20% less than the cost of two one-way fares.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.


Izmir - Ephesus - Pamukkale

The station for Ephesus is Selçuk, 78km by train from Izmir.  The ruins at Ephesus are walking distance from the modern town of Selçuk.  Denizli is the station for the magnificent natural springs at Pamukkale.  The railway to Denizli was closed for some time for major rebuilding work, but reopened in June 2011.

 Izmir  ► Selçuk (Ephesus) ► Denizli (Pamukkale)

 

Note:

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

 Izmir Basmane station

depart

07:45

09:00

11:25

13:30

15:40

16:30

18:15

19:10

 Selçuk for Ephesus

arr/dep

09:01

10:18

12:39

14:43

17:05

17:57

19:33

20:43

 Aydin

arr/dep

09:55

11:11

13:42

15:35

17:59

18:56

20:27

-

 Nazilli

arr/dep

10:43

11:58

14:31

16:31

18:49

19:45

21:14

-

 Denizli for Pamukkale

arrive

12:00

13:15

15:49

-

20:05

21:02

22:32

-

All trains have 1st & 2nd class seats, and are now operated by comfortable modern air-conditioned diesel trains.

Change in Aydin for buses to Bodrum, Marmaris, Datca. 

Selçuk is the closest station to the resort of Kusadasi, 21km away by local bus or taxi.

 Denizli (Pamukkale) ► Selçuk (Ephesus) ► Izmir

 

Note:

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

 Denizli for Pamukkale

depart

-

-

05:45

08:20

12:50

14:50

-

17:15

 Nazilli

arr/dep

-

05:40

07:04

09:45

14:09

16:11

17:35

18:47

 Aydin

arr/dep

-

06:26

07:55

10:32

14:57

16:57

18:30

19:40

 Selçuk for Ephesus

arr/dep

06:49

07:22

09:00

11:28

15:53

17:58

19:32

20:44

 Izmir Basmane station

arrive

08:20

08:39

10:22

12:39

17:08

19:09

20:53

22:03

You can check times at www.tcdd.gov.tr, leave it in Turkish and use Google Chrome browser with inbuilt translation.  Look for 'Regional trains' at the top.  No pre-booking required, just turn up and buy a ticket.

How much does it cost?  2013 prices:  Izmir to Selçuk costs TL 5.75 (£2.20 or $3.60), Izmir to Denizli TL 20.25 (£8 or $13), Denizli to Selcuk costs TL 14.50 (£6 or $9).  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the adult fare.

To double-check current train times in case of any recent changes, go to the Turkish Railways website www.tcdd.gov.tr.   The information you need is not shown in the English version of their site, so you must leave it in Turkish, ideally using Google's Chrome browser with automatic translation.  Select 'Bölgesel Trenler' (= regional trains) in the red bar at the top.  Click the '>>' arrows against the route you are interested in.  A timetable will appear.

To reach the ruins at Ephesus, alight at Selçuk, turn left outside the station and walk up the road running parallel with the train tracks.  The otogar (bus station) is about 500 metres on the left with dolmuses (minibuses) leaving every 20 minutes or so to take travellers up to the nearby ruins.

Izmir-Selcuk-Denizli train

Modern air-conditioned local trains now operate the Izmir-Selçuk-Denizli line.  Photo courtesy of Niklas Angermair

Inside the train from Izmir to Ephesus (Selcuk) & Pamukkale (Denizli)   Selcuk station, for Ephesus

he train's smart interior...  Photo courtesy of Nick ward

 

Selçuk station, for Ephesus...  Photo courtesy of Nick ward

Scenery from the Izmir to Ephesus train

Landscape between Izmir & Selçuk (for Ephesus).  Photo courtesy of Stefan Smith.


Adana to Tarsus & Mersin

Adana ► Yenice, Tarsus, Mersin

Local trains leave Adana daily at 06:00, 06:20, 06:30, 06:46, 07:38, 08:05, 08:20, 09:01, 09:32, 10:03, 11:00, 11:15, 12:00, 12:20, 13:30, 14:20, 15:10, 16:00, 16:30, 17:10, 17:36, 18:13, 18:53, 19:10, 20:15, 21:15, 22:15, 23:15.

Journey time Adana to Mersin 45-66 minutes, Adana to Tarsus 28-39 minutes, Adana to Yenice 17-26 minutes.

Mersin, Tarsus, Yenice ► Adana

Local trains leave Mersin daily at 06:00, 06:37, 06:55, 07:30, 08:00, 08:20, 09:00, 09:30, 10:30, 11:00, 12:00, 12:30, 13:30, 14:20, 15:00, 15:15, 16:10, 16:30, 17:05, 17:20, 17:50, 18:10, 18:40, 19:10, 20:05, 20:50, 21:33, 22:34.

All these trains call at Tarsus & Yenice.  Journey time from Mersin to Adana 45 to 68 minutes.

The trains between Adana and Mersin are now believed to be modern air-conditioned diesel units like the one shown in the Izmir to Selçuk & Denizli section aboveFeedback would be appreciated...

To double-check current train times, go to the Turkish Railways website www.tcdd.gov.tr.   The information you need is not shown in the English version of their site, so you must leave it in Turkish, ideally using Google's Chrome browser with automatic translation.  Select 'Bölgesel Trenler' (= regional trains) in the red bar at the top.  Click the '>>' arrows against the route you are interested in.  A timetable will appear.

Connections from Istanbul & Ankara...

For train connections from Ankara to Adana, see the Ankara-Adana section above.

For train connections from Istanbul to Adana, see the Istanbul-Adana section above.


Adana to Iskenderun

Adana ► Iskenderun

A local train leaves Adana daily at 19:00 arriving Iskenderun at 21:15.

Iskenderun ► Adana

A local train leaves Iskenderun daily at 07:15 arriving Adana at 09:32.

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Fare not known, but will be very cheap.  Buy tickets at the station, no reservation necessary.  The train consists of a diesel locomotive and several older carriages, with opening windows, 2nd class only, although modern trains may now have been introduced - feedback would be appreciated...

To double-check current train times, go to the Turkish Railways website www.tcdd.gov.tr.   The information you need is not shown in the English version of their site, so you must leave it in Turkish, ideally using Google's Chrome browser with automatic translation.  Select 'Bölgesel Trenler' (= regional trains) in the red bar at the top.  Click the '>>' arrows against the route you are interested in.  A timetable will appear.

Connections from Istanbul & Ankara...

For train connections from Ankara to Adana, see the Ankara-Adana section above.

For train connections from Istanbul to Adana, see the Istanbul-Adana section above.


Sivas to Samsun

Sivas ► Samsun

A regional express train leaves Sivas daily at 08:50, arriving Amasya at 14:16 and Samsun at 17:24.

Samsun ► Sivas

A regional express train leaves Samsun daily at 08:20 and Amasya at 11:32, arriving Sivas at 17:04.

Fares (2013 prices):  Sivas-Samsun: TL 23.25, Sivas-Amasya: TL 15.50, Amasya-Samsun: TL 7.75.

To double-check current train times, go to the Turkish Railways website www.tcdd.gov.tr.   The information you need is not shown in the English version of their site, so you must leave it in Turkish, ideally using Google's Chrome browser with automatic translation.  Select 'Bölgesel Trenler' (= regional trains) in the red bar at the top.  Click the '>>' arrows against the route you are interested in.  A timetable will appear.

Connections from Ankara...

For connections from Ankara to Sivas, see the Ankara-Eastern Turkey section above.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Stefan Smith reports:  "We used this service as part of a relaxed way to travel from the delightful little town of Amasya, nestled in the depths of a gorge in the Black Sea mountains, back to Ankara. First, we took the 11:32 train from Amasya to Sivas, a leisurely journey through some very pretty unspoiled mountain scenery and lush valleys, arriving at Sivas bang on time at a few minutes past 17:00. We then spent a nice evening in Sivas (the centre of which is a 20-minute walk from the train station), visiting its remarkable Seljuk remains, and having glasses of apple tea in the beautiful courtyards of former madrasas. Then, around midnight, we boarded the Dogu Ekspresi, en route from Kars, to Ankara, arriving around 10:00 the next morning. Much more relaxing than the 7-hour Ankara-Amasya bus journey we had endured a couple of days earlier!"

Scenery from the train from Sivas to Amasya.  Photo courtesy of Stefan Smith.


Buses to Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya

Istanbul ► Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya...

There are direct buses from Istanbul to Antalya, Marmaris and the Mediterranean coast, but this is a nightmarishly long bus journey, especially if done overnight slumped in a cramped bus seat.  Here's how to travel in civilised style with a minimum of time spent in a cramped bus...

For Bodrum or Marmaris, first travel from Istanbul to Izmir by ferry & train as shown here.  It's a relaxing and enjoyable journey.  Then take a local train from Izmir to Aydin railway station as shown here.  Now take a bus from Aydin bus station to Bodrum or Marmaris.  Aydin to Bodrum takes 2 hours 40 minutes and costs around TL 30.  Aydin to Marmaris costs about TL28 and takes 2 hours 20 minutes.  There's a range of buses daily, try www.pamukkale.com.tr.

For Fethiye, first travel from Istanbul to Izmir as shown here.  Then take a train from Izmir to Denizli railway station as shown here.  Then take a bus from Denizli bus station to Fethiye.  There are several buses daily, the bus costs around TL25 and takes 3 hours 45 minutes.  Try www.pamukkale.com.tr but there are other bus companies. 

For Antalya, travel by bus from Istanbul to Arifiye (the bus station is Adapazari/Sakarya) or Istanbul to Eskişehir, then the comfortable overnight Içanadolou Mavi Tren from Arifiye or Eskisehir to Konya as shown above with sleeping-cars, then a bus from Konya to Antalya.  Konya to Antalya takes about 5½ hours, fare around TL 45.  Try www.kontur.com.tr for bus times & fares.

Buy bus tickets at the bus station, as most Turkish bus websites will not accept non-Turkish credit cards.  There are so many buses and companies, it's usually fairly easy to get a seat on the next bus.

Ankara  ► Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya...

For Bodrum or Marmaris, first travel from Ankara to Izmir by overnight sleeper train as shown here.  It's a civilised and enjoyable journey in your own cosy private sleeper with a restaurant car for dinner and breakfast.  Then take a local train from Izmir to Aydin railway station as shown here.  Now take a bus from Aydin bus station to Bodrum or Marmaris.  Aydin to Bodrum takes 2 hours 40 minutes and costs around TL 30.  Aydin to Marmaris costs about TL28 and takes 2 hours 20 minutes.  There's a range of buses daily, try www.pamukkale.com.tr.

For Fethiye or Antalya, travel by YHT high-speed train from Ankara central station to Konya as shown here, then take a bus from Konya bus station to Antalya or Fethiye.  Konya to Antalya takes about 5½ hours, fare around TL 45.  Try www.kontur.com.tr for bus times & fares.


 


Turkey - Greece

Istanbul to Thessaloniki & Athens by train...

Unfortunately, in its dire financial state the Greek government cancelled all international trains to or from Greece in February 2011.  So there are now no trains between Istanbul or anywhere in Europe and Thessaloniki or Athens.  Greece is now cut off from the rest of Europe, other than by bus or ferry.  You could take the overnight train from Istanbul to Sofia (departs 22:00, arrives 05:10, 6-berth couchettes, €29, buy tickets at the station, see more information here), then a daily bus to Thessaloniki (departs Sofia bus station 10:30, arrives Thessaloniki 16:30), then a fast and scenic train from Thessaloniki to Athens (4½-5 hours, a range of departures daily, from €9, see the Greek railways website www.trainose.gr).

Southern or western Turkey to Athens by ferry...

There are no direct ferries between mainland Greece & Turkey, but you can take a ferry between southern/western Turkey  & several Greek islands, then a domestic Greek ferry between those islands & Piraeus (the port of Athens).

Step 1, take a ferry from southern Turkey to either Kos, Lesvos, Samos or Rhodes:

  • Ferries between Marmaris & Rhodes sail several times a week.   See www.marmarisferry.com or rhodes.marmarisinfo.com for details, although you may find it easier to check and book at www.ferriesingreece.com.  Journey time 1 hour by catamaran, 2 hours by car ferry.

  • Ferries between Kusadasi & Samos sail once or twice daily (08:30 & 17:00) between early April & late October.  See www.meandertravel.com/ferrytosamos/ for details.  Journey time 1 hour 15 minutes minutes, fare around €30 (€50 open return).

  • Ferries between Ayvalik (a few hours north of Izmir by bus) & Lesvos (Mytilini) sail daily Monday-Saturday, crossing 1 hour 10 minutes, fare €30. 

  • A hydrofoil sails every day between Bodrum & Kos, fare €28, crossing 1 hour, Bodrum depart 09:30, Kos depart 15:30, see www.bodrumexpresslines.com.

  • You may or may not need to overnight on the island, depending on schedules, but always allow several hours for connections at least.

Step 2: Take a ferry from Kos, Lesvos, Samos or Rhodes to Piraeus.  Piraeus is the port of Athens, 25 minutes from central Athens by metro.  The port on Lesvos is called Mytilini.


Turkey to/from the rest of Europe

Istanbul Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Paris, London:  See the London to Turkey page

A daily overnight train links Istanbul with Bucharest, with connections for all of Europe, see the London to Turkey page (via Bucharest section) for details.

Istanbul Sofia, Belgrade, Zagreb, Munich, Paris, London:  See the London to Turkey page

A daily overnight train links Istanbul with Sofia with connections for all of Europe, see the London to Turkey page (via Belgrade section) for details.


Other international services...

Istanbul Aleppo (Syria), Damascus, Amman (Jordan), Petra, Cairo (Egypt)

Until the recent conflict in Syria, there was a daily train & bus option from Istanbul to Syria.  You took the daily air-conditioned sleeper train through great scenery from Istanbul to Adana (see above) then a bus to Aleppo in Syria.  Then a 100mph air-conditioned train from Aleppo to Damascus.  From Damascus you could catch regular daily buses to Amman in Jordan (a 4-5 hour journey), with onward buses & ferries to Petra, Aqaba & Egypt.  See the London to Syria, London to Jordan & Egypt pages for information about each stage of the journey.  You might be inspired by a blog about travel from the UK to Egypt this way, www.unplaned.com.  Of course, for obvious reasons the Foreign Office currently advises against all travel to Syria.  I hope the situation is resolved soon.

Istanbul / Ankara Tehran (Iran):  See the Iran page.

A weekly express train, the 'Trans-Asia Express', with modern air-conditioned sleeping-berths and restaurant car, runs from Istanbul & Ankara to Tabriz & Tehran in Iran.  See the London to Iran page for full details.

Istanbul / Ankara Tbilisi (Georgia)See the Caucasus page.

You can travel by air-conditioned sleeper train across Turkey through great scenery, then bus to the Georgian border, then train to Tbilisi.  See the Caucasus page for details.

Istanbul Yerevan (Armenia):  See the Caucasus page.

The Turkish/Armenian border is currently closed, and there is no train service between Turkey and Armenia.  However, you can easily travel from Turkey to Armenia by first travelling from Istanbul or Ankara to Tbilisi in Georgia), then travelling from Tbilisi to Yerevan in Armenia by direct overnight train.  See the Caucasus page for details.

Istanbul Baku (Azerbaijan):  See the Caucasus page.

You can travel by air-conditioned sleeper train across Turkey through great scenery, then by bus to the Georgian border, then train to Tbilisi, then by overnight train from Tbilisi to Baku.  See the Caucasus page for details.

Istanbul & Gaziantep ► Mosul & Baghdad (Iraq)

In February 2010, a new weekly train started between Gaziantep in south eastern Turkey and Mosul in northern Iraq, restoring train service between Turkey and Iraq.  The train leaves Gaziantep on Thursdays at 21:00 arriving Mosul at 14:00 on Friday some 18 hours later.  Westbound, it leaves Mosul at 12:00 on Tuesdays, arriving Gaziantep at 05:40 next morning (Wednesday).  The fare 25 euros plus 5 euros if you want a berth in a 4-berth couchette car.  The train cuts through a short section of Syria, so a Syrian transit visa is required.  Check security and visa information for Iraq before even thinking of travelling there, and Mosul has particular security issues.  Unfortunately, train service from anywhere else in Turkey to Gaziantep is still suspended due to long-term engineering work, so even though a Gaziantep-Iraq train has been restored, Istanbul-Gaziantep trains haven't been, so you still can't get to Iraq from Europe without a bus ride somewhere along the line!  Latest update April 2010: Gaziantep-Mosul train now discontinued, permanently!

Istanbul Odessa (Ukraine) by ferry...

A weekly passenger ship and twice-weekly truck ferry link Istanbul with Odessa in Ukraine across the Black Sea, taking about 36 hours.  For details see the Ukraine page, ferry section.  For onwards train times to Kiev and Moscow, see www.poezda.net.

Turkey Cyprus

A daily fast ferry and regular conventional ferry link Taşucu in southern Turkey with Girne (Kyrenia) in northern Cyprus, just north of Nicosia.  See www.fergun.net for ferry times, fares and booking.  For train connections from Istanbul to Taşucu via Karaman, see the Cyprus page.


Thomas Cook Timetables

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe/Maps--Atlases/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


How to book Turkish train tickets online

The Turkish Railways website has a good online booking facility, revamped in 2014 and available in English.  The system will book most long distance domestic trains within Turkey, including seats, couchettes and sleepers.

 

1.  At www.tcdd.gov.tr, leave it in Turkish and click 'Bilet Satış Rezervasyon'...

Turkish Railways (TCDD) website

 

2.  On the next page, click the UK flag for English...

Turkish Railways (TCDD) online ticket sales

To buy tickets online in English...

To check train times in Turkish...

Go to the www.tcdd.gov.tr home page.  The Turkish version is often more up to date than the English version.  In the top red bar, click 'anahat trenleri' for mainline trains, 'bölgesel trenleri' for regional trains, 'Ortadogu yönlü trenleri' for international trains to the Middle East or 'Avrupa trenleri' for international trains to Europe.

Feedback from travellers who have used this system is always welcome.


Recommended guidebooks

Lonely Planet Turkey - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Middle East - click to buy onlineTo get the most out of your trip, you'll need a good guidebook - I'd recommend the Lonely Planets guides as about the best out there. 

Buy Lonely Planet Turkey online

Buy Lonely Planet Middle East online

The Middle East guidebook is less detailed, but covers Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Israel and other countries as well as Turkey.

 

 


Hotels & accommodation in Istanbul & Turkey

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Personal recommendations in Istanbul...

Without a doubt, the famous and historic Pera Palas Hotel, where Agatha Christie, Mustafa Kemal Attaturk and even King George V have stayed, is the most interesting place to stay, see the section below.  It wasn't that expensive, by grand hotel standards, although prices have risen after its recent complete refurbishment.  The nearby Grand Hotel de Londres offers similar affordable grandeur, www.londrahotel.net, just 35 euros for a basic single, 50 euros for a double, more for a renovated room.  It's apparently a favourite with archaeologists working in Turkey!  Alternatively, the Yasmak Sultan is a good choice.  For a good cheap hotel in the Sultanahmet travellers' area, try the Park Hotel.  If you are on a tight budget and want a backpacker hostel room or dorm bed at a rock-bottom price, see www.hostelbookers.com.

Other hotel sites worth a look...

Backpacker hostels...

If you're on a tight budget, don't forget the hostels.  For a dorm bed or an ultra-cheap private room in backpacker hostels in most European cities use www.hostelbookers.com.


Travel insurance

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


Back to home page