This page explains how to travel by train from Istanbul to other key European cities, and how to buy the cheapest tickets.  Click here to buy tickets starting in another city.

I want to travel by train from Istanbul to...

  Ankara   Izmir   Sofia   Bucharest
  Belgrade   Budapest   Vienna   Munich
  Paris   Brussels   Amsterdam   London
  Tabriz   Tehran   Tbilisi   Yerevan

Before you buy your tickets...

I recommend taking a moment to read these important tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, such as "Do I need to book in advance or can I just turn up & buy at the station?", "How far ahead can I book?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just go online & buy a €35 point-to-point ticket?".

Answering your questions about European train travel...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to InterRail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...



Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir & other destinations in Turkey...

See the train travel in Turkey page...


Istanbul to Sofia...
A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Sofia to Istanbul train   The Turkish couchette car on the Sofia to Istanbul train

The Istanbul to Sofia couchette car...


Istanbul to Veliko Taranovo & Bucharest...
Bucharest-Istanbul sleeper, daytime mode with beds folded away   Bucharest-Istanbul sleeper, beds folded out   The Bucharest-Istanbul sleeping-car at Giurgiu.

A sitting room by day, with sofa & table.

 

A bedroom at night...  Set up here as a 2-berth, with top berth unused.

 

 

The Bucharest-Istanbul sleeping-car (vagon de dormit), at Giurgiu on the Romanian border...

Panorama photo inside a sleeper compartment


Istanbul to Budapest, Vienna, Munich, Paris, London...

See the London to Turkey page for train times & prices in either eastbound or westbound directions between all these cities.

You first catch the sleeper train from Istanbul Sirkeci to either Sofia or Bucharest, then change there for onward trains, see the London to Turkey page.

If you are currently outside Turkey, see the How to buy tickets section on that page.  If you are already in Istanbul, see this section on buying tickets to European destinations at Istanbul Sirkeci station.


Istanbul to Brussels & Amsterdam...

See the London to Turkey page and follow the advice for travel from Istanbul as far as Vienna, using the route via Bucharest.  Then take the Vienna to Cologne EuroNight sleeper train, and change in Cologne for an ICE to Brussels or Amsterdam, see the Vienna to Cologne, Brussels & Amsterdam by EuroNight sleeper train page.


Istanbul to Athens & Greece...

There is no longer any Istanbul-Thessaloniki train, since 2011.  However, you can travel from Istanbul to Sofia by overnight train (currently with some engineering work bustitution) as explained above, spend the morning in Sofia, then take the daily afternoon train from Sofia to Thessaloniki as explained here.  Stay overnight in Thessaloniki, then take a scenic 5 hour train ride to Athens.  Alternatively, you can travel from southern Turkey to Rhodes and then mainland Greece by ferry, see the Train travel in Turkey page


Istanbul to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan...

See the train travel to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan page...


Istanbul to Tehran & Iran...

See the train travel to Iran page...


Find hotels in Istanbul & other European countries

 

◄◄ 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.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get 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 (up to a limit) and belongings.  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're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get 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.

 


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