Turkish high-speed train
 

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

A great way to get around Turkey!

Guidebooks tell you that Turkey has a good bus network, 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 or comfy Pullman seat with room to move, through fantastic scenery unspoilt by roadside development?  Travellers who take the train rave about their experience.  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.

However, high-speed rail is here.  The first section of high-speed line opened in 2009, and excellent high-speed trains now link Istanbul with Ankara in 4h15, Istanbul with Konya in 4h40, Ankara with Konya in 1h44.  That beats a bus, any day...

Savvy travellers will use a train for long distances, for example, Istanbul to Ankara or Konya, Ankara to Izmir or Kars.  Then use a short bus trip to reach places off the rail network, for example the South coast resorts or Cappadocia.

  How to buy tickets   

  What are Turkish trains like?    

  Important update:  Major engineering work

  Useful country information.

Train routes, schedules & fares...

  Istanbul - Ankara

 

  Ankara - Istanbul

  Istanbul - Bursa - Ankara

 

  Ankara - Izmir

  Istanbul - Konya - Adana & Antalya

    Ankara - Denizli (Pamukkale)

  Istanbul - Denizli (Pamukkale)

 

  Ankara - Konya, Karaman, Alanya, Antalya

  Istanbul - Gorëme (Cappadocia)

 

  Ankara - Adana

  Istanbul - Izmir

 

  Ankara - Erzurum, Kars, Eastern Turkey

  Istanbul - Edirne - Kapikule

    Ankara - Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye

  Istanbul - Erzurum, Kars, Eastern Turkey

 

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

  Istanbul - Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye

 

  Izmir - Konya

  Sivas-Samsun  

  Izmir - Ankara

  Trains to Iskenderun & to Mersin & Tarsus

 

  Izmir - Istanbul

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 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

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Useful country information

Train operator:  

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

How to buy tickets online

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

 

Time zone:

GMT+3.  No longer any daylight saving time, as of 2016.

Dialling code:

+90

Currency:

£1 = ?? Turkish Lira  $1 = ?? 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.hostelworld.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:

15 July 2019


How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets at the station...

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. 

Tip:  If you're over 60, ask for a senior ticket (yaşlı bilet) to get 20% off (50% if you are over 65).  If you're under 26 ask for a youth ticket (genç bilet) to get 20% off.

How to buy tickets online:  Click here...

You can buy tickets online at the Turkish Railways (TCDD) website www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, available in English (mostly!), see the advice on how to use it below.

It will book most high-speed & 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 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:

Amber Travel, see www.ambertravel.com/buy-turkish-train-tickets-in-turkey.  They'll take bookings even before reservations open and make the booking as soon as it opens.  They take payment via credit card or PayPal and email you the tickets.

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.

I have yet to receive any reports about Backpackers or Amber Travel, but they are both well-known agencies.  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.

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

Haydarpaşa station, seen from the deck of a Bosphorus ferry.  Note the fire-damaged roof!  Haydarpasa is being redeveloped as the terminal for high-speed trains to Ankara & Konya at some point.

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.  However, welcome news is that TCDD ultimately want to redevelop the station as the terminal for the high-speed trains to Ankara and Konya.  In the meantime, the station is still worth a visit, trains or no trains.  Map of Istanbul showing Haydarpaşa & Sirkeci stations.

How to check train times & fares online...

You can check train times & fares at the Turkish Railways (TCDD) website, www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.  Click English top right, then PASSENGER then Trains, then the type of train that interests you for a written summary of the main trains, prices and on-board accommodation:  High speed, mainline, regional, suburban or international.  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 train times, prices & availability using TCDD's online journey planner, go to www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr and click English top right.  Now click PASSENGER then Ticket Sales Points then Eybis, which is the name of their online sales system.  Now click English again, top right!  Before buying tickets, read the advice here...

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What are Turkish trains like?

High-speed trains...

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

A pleasure to ride on and as good as anything in Western Europe, 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 currently come in two varieties, the original type designed by Spanish company CAF and the newer type designed by German company Siemens.  Both types feature comfortable seats in Economy and Business classes.  YHT high-speed trains started running from Istanbul (initially from a suburban station called Pendik, 25km east of Istanbul) to Ankara on 26 July 2014, extended to Söğütlüçeşme in central Istanbul from March 2019.

 

A YHT train of the type designed by CAF.

 

Economy (2nd) class seats on a CAF-built YHT...

 

Business (1st) class seats on a CAF-designed YHT...

 

Cafe-bar on a CAF-designed YHT...

YHT of the Siemens Velaro type, at Ankara   1st class seats on a YHT of the Siemens Velaro type

A YHT train of the type built by Siemens, at Ankara...

 

Business class seats.  Photos courtesy Daniel Brvnišťan.

2nd class seats on a YHT of the Siemens Velaro type   The bar on a YHT of the Siemens Velaro type

Economy class seats.  Photos courtesy Daniel Brvnišťan.

 

The bar - there is also a restaurant area.

 

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.  Although TCDD discontinued all its restaurant cars in January 2016, a new catering contract was let and the restaurant cars returned in mid-2016, though sadly with only cold food and drinks, no alcohol and no hot meals.  Feedback appreciated.

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

TVS2000 sleeping-cars...

Turkish overnight trains 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 Istanbul, 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.  Compartments are private:  If you book 1 person, the price is for a whole single bed compartment.  If you book 2 people, the price is shown for each person sharing a 2-berth.

2-bed sleeper in night mode   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, Ankara-Kars, Izmir-Ankara night trains   TVS2000 sleeping-car in day mode, Istanbul-Ankara, Istanbul-Denizli, & Izmir-Ankara night trains.   Turkish sleeping-car compartment

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 Murao.

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.  TCDD used to offer couchettes without bedding on certain routes, but these days all couchettes are örtülü kuşet (covered couchette), with sheet, blanket and pillow provided.  Most overnight trains such as the Eskisehir-Izmir, Ankara-Adana, Arifiye/Eskisehir-Konya-Adana and Ankara-Eastern Turkey trains now have modern air-conditioned TVS2000 couchette cars like the one below.

Turkish couchette car   4-berth couchette compartment

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.

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Istanbul to Ankara

Istanbul - Ankara high-speed trains...

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 & Ankara, see the photos & video above.  In July 2014 high-speed YHT trains started running between Ankara and Pendik, a suburban station 25km east of Istanbul, and now from March 2019 trains are extended to Söğütlüçeşme in central Istanbul on the eastern side of the Bosphorus, just one mile southeast of the old Haydarpasa station.  Two trains per day are extend through the Marmaray Tunnel under the Bosphorus to/from Bakırköy and Halkali on the suburban network on the western side of Istanbul, although from a visitor's point of view these don't call at Istanbul Sirkeci or anywhere conveniently central on the western side of the Bosphorus.

 Istanbul ► Ankara

 Notes:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

Sleeper

 Halkali depart

-

-

06:00

-

-

08:30

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

22:00

 Bakırköy depart

-

-

06:15

-

-

08:45

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

22:14

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme depart

-

-

06:47

07:10

-

09:17

-

11:45

13:30

-

15:30

-

17:15

17:50

22:43

 Izmit

-

-

08:10

08:33

-

10:38

-

13:11

14:53

-

16:56

-

18:41

19:17

00:40

 Eskişehir

06:35

08:35

09:55

10:16

11:15

12:23

12:50

14:50

16:38

17:30

18:38

20:00

20:26

21:02

03:49

 Ankara arrive

08:05

10:05

11:24

11:42

12:49

13:52

14:20

16:16

18:07

19:00

20:04

21:30

21:55

22:31

07:00

 Ankara ► Istanbul

Notes:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

Sleeper

 Ankara depart

06:00

06:20

08:05

09:05

09:40

10:45

12:00

12:35

15:20

15:00

17:00

17:45

19:10

20:35

22:00

 Eskişehir

07:31

07:47

09:33

10:32

11:11

12:12

13:28

14:06

16:47

16:28

18:31

19:12

20:38

22:02

01:08

 Izmit

09:13

-

11:10

-

12:53

-

15:06

15:48

-

18:04

20:13

-

22:15

-

04:16

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme arrive: 

10:35

-

12:29

-

14:15

-

16:22

17:13

-

19:30

21:38

-

23:35

-

05:38

 Bakırköy arrive: 

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

19:58

22:06

-

-

-

06:20

 Halkali arrive: 

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

20:12

22:27

-

-

-

06:44

Söğütlüçeşme is a suburban station just 2km (1.2 miles) east of the old Haydarpasa station being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs as from 13 March 2019, see station location map.

To reach Sögütlüçesme from central Istanbul, take a Marmaray suburban train from Istanbul Sirkeci station through the Bosphorus rail tunnel 3 stops to Söğütlüçeşme.  These run every 8 minutes, journey time 11 minutes, fare around TL 3 (€0.50).  Alternatively, you can take a ferry across the Bosphorus and walk.  Ultimately, it's hoped that high-speed trains will be extended to a refurbished Haydarpaşa station. 

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 = ANKARA EXPRESS sleeper train, with TVS2000 sleeping-cars (1 & 2 bed compartments with washbasin) and TVS2000 reclining pullman seats.  Starts running from 5 July 2019, reinstated after an absence of some years.

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.

Check times for your date of travel at https://ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.

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

 Fares

 

YHT

Economy

class

YHT

Business

class

Ankara Express sleeper train

Pullman

seat

in a 2-bed

sleeper

in a single

sleeper

 Istanbul to Ankara: 

TL 71

TL 103

TL 65

TL 189

TL 265

 Istanbul to Eskişehir: 

TL 46

TL 67

TL 41

-

-

 Ankara to Eskişehir: 

TL 31

TL 45

TL 29

-

-

£1 = TL 7.  $1 = TL 5.7 approx.

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

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.

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Istanbul to Bursa to Ankara

Istanbul to Ankara via Bursa...

Until direct trains resume from Istanbul Haydarpasa perhaps in 2017, 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).

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

Fast passenger ferries sail from Istanbul's Eminönü ferry terminal near Sirkeci station 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 budo.burulas.com.tr.

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   On board the fast ferry from Istanbul to Bursa

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

 Bursa Otogar depart by bus

07:30

08:30

10:05

12:05

13:55

14:55

17:15

18:20

 Eskişehir station arrive by bus

09:45

10:45

12:20

14:20

16:10

17:10

19:30

20:35

For trains Eskişehir -Ankara, see the Istanbul-Eskişehir -Ankara timetable above.  Only a few minutes is needed to connect between bus & train.

 (Ankara ►) Eskişehir Bursa

 

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

Bus

 Eskişehir station depart by bus

08:00

09:45

11:20

13:35

16:40

18:40

19:25

20:45

 Bursa Otogar arrive by bus

10:15

12:00

13:35

15:50

18:55

20:55

21:40

23:00

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 outside Eskisehir station.

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Istanbul to Konya, Adana, Antalya

YHT high-speed trains now link Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme station (2km or 1.2 miles southeast of the old Haydarpasa station) with Konya in just 4h40.

A comfortable express train called the Toros Express connects Konya with Adana over the curvaceous and very scenic classic line.

Connecting buses run between Konya and Antalya & Alanya in connection with the YHT trains, a much better way travel than by bus all the way from Istanbul.

 Istanbul ► Konya ► Adana, Alanya, Antalya

 Every day:

YHT

Bus

Toros

YHT

Bus

YHT

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme depart:

07:32

-

-

12:45

-

18:50

 Eskişehir depart:

10:43

-

 -

16:02

-

21:58

 Konya arrive:

12:25

-

-

17:44

-

23:40

 Konya depart:

-

13:30

15:30

-

18:00

-

 Adana arrive:

-

|

21:17

-

|

-

 Alanya arrive by bus

 

|

-

 

22:30

-

 Antalya arrive by bus

-

17:45

-

-

-

-

 Antalya, Alanya, Adana ► Konya ► Istanbul

 Every day:

Bus

YHT

Bus

YHT

Toros

Bus

Bus

YHT

 Antalya depart by bus:

01:00

-

07:00

-

-

-

13:00

-

 Alanya depart by bus:

|

-

|

-

-

10:00

|

-

 Adana depart:

|

-

|

-

07:45

|

|

-

 Konya arrive:

06:15

-

12:00

-

13:48

15:00

18:00

-

 Konya depart:

-

06:55

-

13:05

-

-

-

18:25

 Eskişehir arrive:

-

08:41

-

14:50

 -

-

-

20:11

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme arrive:

-

11:42

-

17:49

-

-

-

23:17

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.

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.  Work on the line has now been completed.

Bus = connecting air-conditioned coach, laid on specifically to connect with YHT train. In Konya, the bus leaves from outside the station.

Söğütlüçeşme is a suburban station just 2km (1.2 miles) east of the old Haydarpasa station being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs as from 13 March 2019, see station location map.

To reach Sögütlüçesme from central Istanbul, take a Marmaray suburban train from Istanbul Sirkeci station through the Bosphorus rail tunnel 3 stops to Söğütlüçeşme.  These run every 8 minutes, journey time 11 minutes, fare around TL 3 (€0.50).  Alternatively, you can take a ferry across the Bosphorus and walk.  Ultimately, it's hoped that high-speed trains will be extended to a refurbished Haydarpaşa station. 

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).

Check times for your date of travel at https://ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.

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

 How much does it cost?

 

Economy class

Business class

Pullman seat

 Istanbul - Konya by YHT

TL 86

TL 125

-

 Eskişehir - Konya by YHT

TL 40

TL 58

-

 Konya - Adana by Toros Express

-

-

TL 21

£1 = TL 7.  $1 = TL 5.7 approx.

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

Scenery from the train from Istanbul to Adana.

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

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Istanbul to Denizli for Pamukkale

The Pamukkale Express is back!  The smart way to reach Pamukkale...

The old overnight Pamukkale Express from Istanbul to Denizli was cancelled several years ago due to work on the new Istanbul-Ankara high-speed line.  But from January 2015, it's back!  In its current form you take a modern high-speed YHT train from Istanbul to Eskişehir and change onto the Pamukkale Express, a modern air-conditioned day train direct to Denizli, the town next to the Pamukkale springs.  It's the safe, comfortable, fun and time-effective way to travel, avoiding flights or nightmare long bus rides.  Note:  When they first restarted the Pamukkale Express in January 2015 it was as a sleeper train, but as from April 2015 it becomes a daytime train.  Take a good book and be prepared for great scenery!  Note that the Pamukkale Express is retimed again from July 2016, and an overnight stop is now necessary in Eskisehir in the westwards direction, as you can see from the timetable.  By all means take a later train from Eskisehir to Istanbul, see the complete timetable above.

 Istanbul ► Denizli (Pamukkale)

 

 Denizli (Pamukkale) ► Istanbul

 Every day:

YHT

 Every day:

Pam. Exp

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme depart:

06:47

 Denizli depart:

07:50

 Eskişehir arrive:

09:55

 Eskişehir arrive:

16:14

 Every day:

Pam. Exp

 Every day:

YHT

 Eskişehir depart:

1025

 Eskişehir depart:

18:31

 Denizli arrive:

18:51

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme arrive:

21:38

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.

Pam. Exp = Pamukkale Express.  TVS2000 reclining pullman seats with refreshment trolley.

Söğütlüçeşme is a suburban station just 2km (1.2 miles) east of the old Haydarpasa station being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs as from 13 March 2019, see station location map

To reach Sögütlüçesme from central Istanbul, take a Marmaray suburban train from Istanbul Sirkeci station through the Bosphorus rail tunnel 3 stops to Söğütlüçeşme.  These run every 8 minutes, journey time 11 minutes, fare around TL 3 (€0.50).  Alternatively, you can take a ferry across the Bosphorus and walk.  Ultimately, it's hoped that high-speed trains will be extended to a refurbished Haydarpaşa station. 

How much does it cost?

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

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Istanbul to Gorëme (Cappadocia)

Istanbul to the strange land of 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.

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Istanbul to Izmir

Option 1, 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 to Eskisehir and pick up the air-conditioned sleeper train to Izmir with private 1 & 2 berth sleepers.  It's a very affordable, time-effective and comfortable way to make this journey.

 Istanbul ► Izmir

 

 

 

 Izmir ► Istanbul

Every day:

YHT

Every day: 

Sleeper

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme depart

17:50

 Izmir Basmane depart

18:05

 Eskisehir arrive

21:02

 Eskisehir arrive

05:27

 Change trains...

Sleeper

 Change trains...

YHT

 Eskisehir depart

22:06

 Eskisehir depart

07:31

 Izmir Basmane arrive

09:36

 Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme arrive

10:35

Söğütlüçeşme is a suburban station just 2km (1.2 miles) east of the old Haydarpasa station being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs as from 13 March 2019, see station location map

To reach Sögütlüçesme from central Istanbul, take a Marmaray suburban train from Istanbul Sirkeci station through the Bosphorus rail tunnel 3 stops to Söğütlüçeşme.  These run every 8 minutes, journey time 11 minutes, fare around TL 3 (€0.50).  Alternatively, you can take a ferry across the Bosphorus and walk.  Ultimately, it's hoped that high-speed trains will be extended to a refurbished Haydarpaşa station. 

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 TrenTVS2000 sleeping-cars (1 & 2-bed compartments) & TVS2000 reclining pullman seats.

 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 46

TL 67

-

-

-

 Eskişehir to Izmir by sleeper train

-

-

TL 39

TL 90

TL 143

£1 = TL 7.  $1 = TL 5.7 approx.

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice below!

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

Option 2, Istanbul to Izmir by ferry across the Sea of Marmara then train...

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.

If you choose to stay overnight in Bandirma, you'll find the inexpensive but comfortable Panderma Port Hotel and Sahil Otel a stone's throw from the station & ferry terminal with good reviews.

 Istanbul ► Izmir  by ferry & train

 

 Izmir ► Istanbul  by train & ferry

 By IDO seacat fast ferry...

Daily

Daily

 By air-conditioned train...

Daily

Daily 

 Istanbul Yenikapi ferry terminal depart

12:30

19:15

 Izmir Basmane depart by train

08:30

14:00

 Bandirma ferry arrive by ferry

15:00

21:45

 Balikesir arr/dep

12:59

18:42

 By air-conditioned train

Daily

Daily

 Bandirma arrive by train

14:51

20:37

 Bandirma depart by train

16:00

07:35

 By IDO seacat fast ferry...

Daily

Daily

 Balikesir arr/dep

17:56

09:31

 Bandirma depart by ferry

15:30

07:45

 Izmir Basmane arrive by train

22:39

14:14

 Istanbul Yenikapi ferry terminal arrive:

18:30

09:45

Important, ferry connections vary by date:  Ferry times vary significantly from day to day and season to season so check ferry times for your dates at www.ido.com.tr.  30 minutes is plenty to connect between ferry & train at Bandirma.  You should check train times less than 30 days before departure at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr or ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.

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 6 Eylül Express & 17 Eylül Express have modern air-conditioned TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, usually with a refreshment trolley, though I recommend bringing your own picnic for the journey.

How much does it cost? 

(1) Istanbul Yenikapi to Bandirma by fast ferry costs from TL 40.  (2) Bandirma to Izmir by train in a pullman seat costs TL 24.  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.  They ask for a phone number, to make it work you'll need to use a Turkish-format number, for example the phone number of your hotel.

Buy the train ticket at the station when you get to Bandirma, or at Istanbul's Sirkeci station before you leave, or book online as shown here, a little quirky but works beautifully when you get the hang of it.

Traveller's reports...

Traveller 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). 

Traveller Patrick Curtis reports:  "I took the 08:30 ferry from Yenikapi arriving Bandirma around 11:00 with the Izmir train scheduled to leave at 14:30.  I passed a pleasant few hours relaxing in Bandirma.  Just out of the ferry terminal towards the mosque you will find plenty of eateries including the Big Yellow Taxi Beer & Burger Hall.  Up past that on the street is a Simit bakery selling nice sandwiches and spicy sausage rolls.

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 at Bandirma...  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.

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Istanbul to Edirne & Kapikule

The international sleeper train from Istanbul to Sofia & Bucharest takes this route and is shown on the International trains from Istanbul page.  But a domestic train is now also running between Halkali, a suburban station 25km west of Istanbul Sirkeci, and Edirne and Kapikule as shown below.  It has very comfortable air-conditioned TVS2000 cars.  You can reach Halkali by local city buses or taxi.

 Istanbul ► Edirne & Kapikule

  

 

 Kapikule & Edirne ► Istanbul

 Days of running:

Daily

Daily

 Days of running:

Daily

Daily

 Istanbul Halkali station depart

08:30

18:00

 Uzunköprü (Greek border) depart

-

15:40

 Cerkezköy arrive

10:03

19:34

 Kapikule (Bulgarian border) depart

07:25

|

 Edirne arrive

|

21:53

 Edirne depart

07:43

|

 Kapikule (Bulgarian border) arrive

|

22:09

 Cerkezköy depart

10:04

17:45

 Uzunköprü (Greek border) arrive

12:01

-

 Istanbul Halkali station arrive

11:31

19:14

The fare from Halkali to Edirne or Kapikule is believed to be around TL 27.

The trains have one class of seating only, no catering car.

Halkali is a suburban station 25km west of Istanbul Sirkeci station. 

To reach Halkali from central Istanbul, take a Marmaray suburban train from Sirkeci station (the new Marmaray platforms underground).  These run every 15 minutes, journey time 49 minutes, fare around TL 3.25 (€0.60).

Regular seats   The Halkali-Edirne-Kapikule train, at Halkali

The comfortable Halkali - Edirne - Kapikule train.  Photos courtesy of Ivor & Ines Morgan.

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Ankara to Izmir 

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

 Ankara ► Izmir

 

 

 

 Izmir ► Ankara

Every day:

Mavi

Every day: 

Mavi

 Ankara depart

19:00

 Izmir Basmane station depart

18:05

 Eskisehir arrive

21:58

 Eskisehir arrive

05:27

 Eskisehir depart

22:06

 Eskisehir depart

05:35

 Izmir Basmane arrive

09:36

 Ankara arrive

08:37

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

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.  By changing at Eskisehir, it's possible to have a later departure from Ankara westbound and an earlier arrival in Ankara eastbound.

You can check times and fares at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr or ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr

In 2010 the train switched to Izmir's Alsancak station, but since 2017 they've been using Basmane again.  The Izmir Mavi was truncated for several years to run Eskisehir-Izmir with a YHT high-speed connection to/from Ankara, but as from 15 November 2018 it once again runs all the way Ankara-Izmir.

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 52

-

TL 97

TL 155

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

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Ankara to Denizli for Pamukkale

The Pamukkale Express, the smart way to reach Pamukkale...

It's cheap, easy and comfortable to travel between Ankara and Denizli, for the famous springs at Pamukkale.  You take a high-speed YHT train from Ankara's main station to Eskisehir then the Pamukkale Express to Denizli.

 Ankara ► Denizli (Pamukkale)

 

 Denizli (Pamukkale) ► Ankara

 Every day:

YHT

 Every day:

Pam. Exp

 Ankara depart:

08:05

 Denizli depart:

07:50

 Eskişehir arrive:

09:33

 Eskişehir arrive:

16:14

 Every day:

Pam. Exp

 Every day:

YHT

 Eskişehir depart:

10:25

 Eskişehir depart:

17:30

 Denizli arrive:

18:51

 Ankara arrive:

19:00

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.

Pam. Exp = Pamukkale Express.  TVS2000 reclining pullman seats with refreshment trolley.

How much does it cost?

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

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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 Ankara & Konya in 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 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.

In Konya, air-conditioned buses connect for Karaman, Alanya & Antalya as shown below.  This YHT/bus combo is much better than a log bus journey all the way from Ankara.

 Ankara ► Konya, Karaman, Alanya, Antalya

Daily:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Ankara depart by YHT train

06:40

08:25

11:40

13:15

16:30

18:05

21:15

 Konya arrive by YHT train

08:28

10:13

13:24

15:05

18:14

19:53

23:03

 Karaman arrive by bus (t=by train)

(10:38t)

(12:10)

(15:15)

|

(18:48t)

(21:55)

|

 Alanya arrive by bus

(13:30)

-

|

|

|

(01:00)

|

 Antalya arrive by bus

-

-

(17:45)

(20:45)

-

-

(04:30)

 Antalya, Alanya, Karaman, Konya ► Ankara

Daily:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Antalya depart by bus

(23:59)

-

-

(08:30)

-

(13:00)

(15:00)

 Alanya depart by bus

(23:59)

-

-

|

(10:00)

(14:00)

(15:30)

 Karaman depart by bus (t=by train)

|

(07:35t)

(08:40)

(11:00)

(13:45)

(14:40t)

(18:25)

 Konya  depart by YHT train

06:00

09:10

10:45

14:05

15:40

18:50

20:25

 Ankara arrive by YHT train

07:47

10:59

12:32

15:48

17:27

20:33

22:12

The Karaman train connection:  To/from Karaman, you must change trains at Konya usually onto a bus but sometimes onto a train, that's why the times shown above are in brackets.  The change takes just a few minutes, onto a bus or local train laid on to connect with the high-speed service.  The connections by train are marked with a 't'.

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

 

Economy class

Business class

 Ankara to Konya  

TL 31

TL 45

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

YHT train at Ankara   Second class train seats

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, Second class seats.  See more photos & video above.

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Ankara to Adana

There's no better way to travel between Ankara and Adana than by train.  Take a high-speed YHT train to Konya and change for a journey over the spectacular Taurus mountains to Adana aboard the Toros Express.

 Ankara ► Adana

 

 

 

 Adana ► Ankara

 Daily:

YHT

 Daily:

Toros Exp

 Ankara depart:

13:15

 Adana   depart:

07:45

 Konya YHT arrive

15:05

 Konya arrive

13:48

 Change trains:

Toros Exp

 Change trains:

YHT

 Konya depart

15:30

 Konya YHT depart

15:40

 Adana  arrive:

21:17

 Ankara  arrive

17:27

YHT =  by excellent YHT high-speed train between Ankara & Konya with business class and economy class seats.

Toros = by Toros Express with pullman seats between Konya & Adana.  Superb scenery through the Taurus mountains.

I have shown sensible connections here, which allow for delay.

Cukurova = The Ankara-Adana sleeper train is temporarily cancelled due to long-term engineering work since 2016.

Check times for your date of travel at ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.

 Fares

 

Economy class

Business class

Pullman seat

 Ankara - Konya by YHT

TL 31

TL 45

-

 Konya - Adana by Toros Express

-

-

TL 21

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

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

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

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Istanbul & Ankara - Eastern Turkey

It's a long way to eastern Turkey, but the trains have sleeping-cars and couchettes 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.  For the weekly onward train to Iran, see the London to Iran page.  For onward connections to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, see the Caucasus page.

 Istanbul & Ankara ► Eastern Turkey

High-speed train:

YHT

YHT

YHT*

YHT*

 Istanbul S.csme

depart

11:45

09:17

17:50

17:50

 Ankara

arrive

16:16

13:52

22:31

22:31

Classic train:

Doğu Express

Turistik Doğu Express

Güney Express

Van Gölü Express

Days of running:

Every day

Mon, Wed, Fri

Mon, Wed, Thur

Fri, Sat

Tuesdays &

Sundays

 Ankara

depart

18:00  day 1

16:55 day 1

11:00  day 1

11:00  day 1

 Kayseri

arr/dep

00:24  day 2

23:12 day 2

17:50  day 1

17:50  day 1

 Sivas

arr/dep

04:00  day 2

|

21:25  day 1

21:25  day 1

 Erzurum

arr/dep

14:17  day 2

17:33 day 2

|

|

 Kars

arrive

18:13  day 2

23:58 day 2

|

|

 Malatya

arr/dep

   

01:54  day 2

01:54  day 2

 Diyarbakir

arr/dep

   

07:13  day 2

|

 Kurtalan

arrive

   

10:35  day 2

|

 Elazig

arr/dep

   

 

04:24  day 2

 Tatvan

arrive

   

 

11:16  day 2

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.

Check times for your date of travel at https://ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.

* = Travel from Istanbul to Ankara the previous day, see the Istanbul-Ankara section.

Istanbul S.csme  = Istanbul Söğütlüçeşme, a suburban station just 2km (1.2 miles) east of the old Haydarpasa station being used as the temporary terminal for YHTs as from 13 March 2019, see station location map

To reach Sögütlüçesme from central Istanbul, take a Marmaray suburban train from Istanbul Sirkeci station through the Bosphorus rail tunnel 3 stops to Söğütlüçeşme.  These run every 8 minutes, journey time 11 minutes, fare around TL 3 (€0.50).  Alternatively, you can take a ferry across the Bosphorus and walk.  Ultimately, it's hoped that high-speed trains will be extended to a refurbished Haydarpaşa station. 

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.  Temporarily suspended.  TVS2000 4-berth couchette cars, TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, & compartment seats.  No sleepers.

Doğu Express.  Runs daily with TVS2000 couchette car (4-berth compartments) & TVS2000 reclining pullman seats.  This is the original Doğu Express, which became so popular after various newspaper articles about the spectacular journey that it was often fully-booked as soon as booking opened.  In response to this, TCDD have created the all-sleeping-car Turistik Doğu Express (see below) and from 29 May 2019 replaced the sleeping-cars on this original daily Doğu Express with a couchette car.  But the scenery is the same whichever train you choose, and the couchettes are comfortable.  See YouTube video of a ride from Istanbul to Kars on the (original, pre-May 20-19) Doğu Express, also see the traveller's report below.  Says one traveller (pre-2019): "Overnight on brilliant Dogu Express to Erzurum. A trip highlight."

Turistik Doğu Express.  Runs 3 times a week from 29 May 2019 onwards: TVS2000 sleeping-cars (1 & 2-bed rooms) & TVS2000 restaurant car This train is a new service starting 29 May 2019, created by TCDD Turkish Railways in response to the popularity of the original Doğu Express.  It is all-sleeping-car with restaurant car, and stops briefly at several locations for off-train excursions.  See YouTube video of a ride from Istanbul to Kars on the (original, pre-May 20-19) Doğu Express, also see the traveller's report below.  Says one traveller: (of the original pre-2019 train) "Overnight on brilliant Dogu Express to Erzurum. A trip highlight."

Güney Express.  Runs on certain days of the week as shown in the table above.  TVS2000 sleeping-car (1 & 2-bed rooms), TVS2000 couchette car (4-berth compartments), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, ordinary seats.  Take your own provisions...

Van Gölü Express.  Runs on certain days of the week as shown in the table above.  TVS2000 sleeping-car (1 & 2-bed rooms), TVS2000 couchette car (4-berth compartments), TVS2000 reclining pullman seats, ordinary seats.

For onward trains to Iran, see the London to Iran page.

 Eastern Turkey ► Ankara & Istanbul

Classic train:

Turistik Doğu Express

Doğu Express

Güney Express

Van Gölü Express

Days of running:

Wed, Fri, Sun

Every day

Mon, Wed,

Fri, Sat, Sun

Tuesday, Thursday

 Tatvan

depart

 

07:15 day 1

 Elazig

arr/dep

 

14:01  day 1

 Kurtalan

depart

 

08:00  day 1

|

 Diyarbakir

arr/dep

 

11:11  day 1

|

 Malatya

arr/dep

 

 

16:45  day 1

16:45  day 1

 Kars

depart

23:55 day 1

08:00  day 1

|

|

 Erzurum

arr/dep

03:59 day 2

11:59  day 1

|

|

 Sivas

arr/dep

|

22:06  day 1

20:52  day 1

20:52  day 1

 Kayseri

arr/dep

22:25 day 2

01:38  day 2

00:29  day 2

00:29  day 2

 Ankara

arrive

05:15 day 3

08:22  day 2

07:22  day 2

07:22  day 2

 High-speed train:

YHT

YHT

YHT

YHT

 Ankara

depart

09:40

12:00

09:40

09:40

 Istanbul S.csme

arrive

14:15

16:22

14:15

14:15

Check times for your date of travel at https://ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.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, Turistik Dogu Express)

TL 48

TL 48

TL 250

TL 400

 Ankara to Diyarbakir (Güney Express)

TL 42

TL 42

TL 114

TL 183

 Ankara to Tatvan (Van Gölü Express)

TL 48

TL 48

TL 118

TL 188

All these fares are one-way per person, fares for other journeys will be broadly similar.  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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

What are the sleeping-cars like?

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

On board the sleeper.  This is a sleeper compartment with seats folded out and beds folded away...  Courtesy of Shigeki MuraoMore sleeper photos.

What's the journey like?

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...  Photos courtesy of Maximilian Meyer.

The Dogu Express in eastern Turkey

Breathtaking - the Dogu Express in eastern Turkey.  Courtesy of Matthew Woodward, read his blog about the journey here.

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 (£19 or $30).  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.  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.

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Izmir to Konya

 Izmir ► Konya

 

 

 

 Konya ► Izmir

 Daily...

Konya Mavi

 Daily...

Konya Mavi

 Izmir Basmane depart:

20:10

 Konya depart:

19:30

 Afyon arr/dep

04:15

 Afyon arr/dep

23:21

 Konya arrive:

08:00

 Izmir Basmane  arrive

07:02

Konya Mavi = Konya Mavi Tren, with modern air-conditioned TVS200 sleeping-car with 1 & 2-bed compartments & TVS2000 reclining pullman seats.  These are all modern, fully-air-conditioned, soundproofed and smooth-riding TVS2000 cars.

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 44

-

TL 93

TL 148

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 pay the youth (genç) fare. 

Youths under 26 get 20% off (genç).  Seniors 60-64 get 20% off (yaş 60-64), over 65s get 50% off (yaş 65).

You can check train times & fares and book online at www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but see the advice belowHow to buy tickets.

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Izmir - Ephesus - Pamukkale

Regular regional trains link Izmir Basmane station with Selçuk, the station for Ephesus, Çamlık, the station for the resort of Kusadsi, and Denizli for the magnificent natural springs at Pamukkale, no reservations required, simply buy a ticket at the station and hop on.  Izmir to Selçuk is 78 km by train, the ruins at Ephesus are 3.8 km from the modern town of Selçuk, it can be walked or you can take a dolmus (local minibus).  For the Istanbul to Denizli Pamukkale Express overnight train, see above.

 Izmir  ► Selçuk (Ephesus) ► Denizli (Pamukkale)

 

Note:

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

 Izmir Basmane station

depart

07:42

08:53

11:30

13:41

15:30

16:41

17:54

19:30

 Selçuk for Ephesus

arr/dep

09:09

10:17

12:53

15:03

16:55

18:05

19:20

20:56

 Çamlık for Kusadasi

arr/dep

09:22

10:30

13:06

15:16

17:08

18:18

19:36

21:09

 Aydin

arr/dep

10:13

11:27

13:56

16:05

18:04

19:09

20:33

-

 Nazilli

arr/dep

11:05

12:22

14:45

16:59

18:59

19:58

21:21

-

 Denizli for Pamukkale

arrive

12:27

13:48

16:09

-

20:19

21:18

22:41

-

The trains have 2nd class seats only, and are now operated by comfortable modern air-conditioned diesel trains.

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

Additional IZBAN metro trains Izmir-Selçuk:  Electric suburban trains operated by IZBAN (www.izban.com.tr) now operate roughly every 75 minutes between Izmir Alsancak station and Selçuk in addition to the diesel regional trains run by TCDD shown here.  Currently a change of train is necessary at Tepeköy when using these suburban trains.  Suburban service will increase further when more project work is completed.  You can check Alsancak-Tepeköy and Tepeköy-Selçuk train times at www.izban.com.tr.  Fare around 11.80 TL.

Çamlık is the closest station to the resort of Kusadasi, 12 km (17 minutes) away by local minibus or taxi.

 Denizli (Pamukkale) ► Selçuk (Ephesus) ► Izmir

 

Note:

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

 Denizli for Pamukkale

depart

-

04:20

05:50

08:25

12:45

14:35

-

17:30

 Nazilli

arr/dep

-

05:45

07:15

09:51

14:11

16:00

17:50

19:00

 Aydin

arr/dep

-

06:34

08:05

10:43

15:01

16:54

18:47

19:52

 Çamlık for Kusadasi

arr/dep

06:36

07:23

08:54

11:33

15:53

17:44

19:35

20:41

 Selçuk for Ephesus

arr/dep

06:50

07:36

09:08

11:46

16:06

17:57

19:48

20:55

 Izmir Basmane station

arrive

08:12

09:02

10:33

13:09

17:30

19:21

21:09

22:21

To check current times, go to www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr & switch it to English top right.  Click Passenger and then Trains, then click EYBIS under Regional train.  In the list of timetables, you want Basmane-Denizli, also Basmane-Nazilli & Basmane-Soke as all of these include Izmir - Selçuk trains.

How much does it cost?  Izmir to Selçuk costs around TL 7.5, Izmir to Denizli TL 22, Denizli to Selçuk TL 16.  Children under 8 go free, children 8-11 travel for half the adult fare, children 12 & over must pay the youth fare.  Seniors over 60 20% off, over 65 50% off.  Youths under 26 get 20% off.

How to buy tickets...  These are just regional trains so you do not need to book in advance and cannot book online, just turn up, buy a ticket at the ticket office and hop on, it's as simple as that.  Tickets cannot sell out.

To reach the ruins at Ephesus, get off the train at Selçuk, It's a pleasant 47 minute 3.8 km walk from the station to the ruins out of town and to the Kusadasi road, click here for walking route map.  Alternatively, 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 (on the hour, 20 past & 40 past the hour) bound for Kusadasi.  These dolmuses will drop you at the top of the road to Ephesus, an easy 1km walk to the ruins so ignore any taxi drivers touting for business here. Dolmus fare TL 3 from Selçuk to Ephesus road, TL 7 from Selçuk to Kusadasi.   Feedback appreciated!

At Camlik, the station for Kusadasi, there is a large open-air railway museum with many Turkish steam locomotives and one of Ataturk's private carriages complete with marble bath.

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.

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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 check current train times, go to the Turkish Railways website www.tcddtasimacilik.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.

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Adana to Iskenderun

Adana ► Iskenderun

Local trains leave Adana daily at 09:30 (arriving Iskenderun at11:37 ) and at 18:58 arriving Iskenderun at 21:03.  The train consists of a diesel locomotive and several modern air-conditioned carriages, 2nd class only.

Iskenderun ► Adana

Local train leave Iskenderun daily at 07:15 (arriving Adana at 09:24) and 17:13 (arriving Adana at 20:32).

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Adana to Iskenderun costs just TL 11.25 for the 138km.  Buy tickets at the station or even on board the train, no reservation necessary. 

To double-check current train times, go to the Turkish Railways website www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr.   Change it to English top right, click Passenger & select trains then click EYBIS under Regional.

Connections from Istanbul & Ankara...

For train connections between Adana & Ankara, see the Ankara-Adana section above.

For train connections between Adana & Istanbul, see the Istanbul-Adana section above.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Magnus Larsson reports:  "On the minute the train departed from Iskenderun at 07.15 and made its way slowly through the outskirts of town. The Mediterranean sea became visible through the windows at times during the journey. The train was pretty full of passengers but with 2+1 seats there were generous space for all of us. The air-conditioning kept temperature in the wagons at a pleasant level all the time, even though the sun was shining strong when we arrived Mersin on schedule at 10.40. I bought tickets from the ticket counter at Iskenderun station but it is also possible to buy tickets on board."

Train from Iskenderun to Adana   Inside the train from Iskenderun to Adana

The Iskenderun-Adana train...  Photo courtesy of Magnus Larsson

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Sivas to Samsun

Sivas ► Samsun

The line is closed for several years for a complete rebuild as from September 2015. 

Samsun ► Sivas

The line is closed for several years for a complete rebuild as from September 2015. 

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.

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Buses to Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye

Istanbul ► Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye...

OK, so 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 bus...

For Bodrum or Marmaris, first travel from Istanbul to Izmir by ferry & train or by YHT & sleeper train as shown above.  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 Denizli 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.

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...

For Bodrum or Marmaris, first travel from Ankara to Izmir by YHT train and overnight sleeper as shown here.  It's a civilised and enjoyable journey in your own cosy private sleeper.  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, travel by YHT high-speed train from Ankara to Konya station as shown above, then take a bus from Konya bus station to Fethiye.  Try www.kontur.com.tr for bus times & fares.

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Turkey - Greece

Istanbul to Thessaloniki & Athens by train...

There are no direct trains from Istanbul to Greece, but you can take the overnight train from Istanbul to Sofia, see the international trains from Istanbul page, then take the afternoon train from Sofia to Thessaloniki, see the international trains from Sofia page.  Just buy tickets for these at the station, they cannot be booked online.  Trains run regularly from Thessaloniki to Athens taking 5h or so, see 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:

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.

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Turkey to/from the rest of Europe

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

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

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Other international services...

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

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

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

Istanbul Yerevan (Armenia):  See the Caucasus page.

Istanbul Baku (Azerbaijan):  See the Caucasus page.

Istanbul & Gaziantep ► Mosul & Baghdad (Iraq)

Istanbul Odessa (Ukraine) by ferry...

Turkey Cyprus

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European Rail Timetable & Map

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 set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous 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-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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How to book 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.  Go to ebilet.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr 

Turkish Railways (TCDD) website

 

2.  On the next page, click Online Ticket Sales Reservation...

Turkish Railways (TCDD) online ticket sales

Buy tickets online in English...

To check train times in Turkish...

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Recommended guidebooks

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

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk

Lonely Planet Turkey - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Middle East - click to buy online

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Hotels in Istanbul & Turkey

    

Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

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

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

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.hostelworld.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.hostelworld.com.

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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, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        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.

Get a spare credit card, designed for 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!

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.

 


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