If you’re considering it as a new home or perhaps as somewhere to invest in property, have you given any thought to getting around in Turkey?
Of course, if you’re thinking about residency, then buying a car may seem the obvious solution. However, it’s not necessarily the right one for everyone. Nervous drivers in particular may not relish the thought of learning new rules of the road.
But it’s not the only solution either. Public transport in Turkey is both cheap and usually pretty frequent so we thought a guide to your options could be useful, particularly if you’re a relatively new arrival.
Pronounced “doll-mush”, these minibuses flit between neighbourhoods, towns and villages offering passengers cheap and easy transport. The vehicles are usually clean, equipped with air conditioning and run frequently. However, they can still be pretty crowded, with standing room only at peak times.
If you’re new to using them, payment can be made with pre-paid “Kent cards” or cash. Bear in mind the seats beside the driver are also available for use. Elsewhere on board, etiquette obliges younger passengers to surrender their seats to their elders. Everyone is also expected to show similar respect for pregnant women or anyone with a disability.
Some drivers will allow smaller pets to travel with you but it is down to the individual. There is room for larger items of shopping, pushchairs and prams in a luggage compartment at the back of the vehicle. However, if the minibus is already almost fully loaded, the driver may decide to sail past and leave you hanging for the next one.
Spelt differently but pronounced the same as the English, a taxi is a convenient option – particularly at peak times when you know the dolmuş is probably going to be full.
As a rule, cabs are usually clean, modern and well-maintained. Roomy people-carriers are a popular option – or perhaps a large saloon.
If you climb into a cab run by a reputable firm and driven by a courteous and considerate driver, we’d strongly recommend you keep a card. Indeed, there are plenty of examples we know of when, over time, a good one has become almost a member of the family.
However, beware. Sadly, there are less scrupulous drivers out there with an eye on the main chance. That could mean overcharging relative newcomers unfamiliar with the value of the Turkish lira. They may try to complete a run without using their meter. The driver may choose a very long and tortuous route to your destination. They may take inordinate risks to complete the run as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately there are reports of some drivers becoming aggressive or dumping passengers when challenged. To avoid any unpleasantness, our advice would be to always state your destination and request a definitive price before climbing in.
Turkey’s topography and the fact the Ottoman Empire largely side-stepped the industrial revolution means the country isn’t blessed with as many railways as many of its European neighbours.
They do exist of course. Indeed, some of the world’s most scenic routes pass through Turkey. Not least are the famous Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul and the Eastern Express which covers the 1,300kms from Ankara to Kars on the Armenian border.
However, the nation’s mountainous terrain means there are no rail links to the Mediterranean coast in the south-west or long sections of the Black Sea coast to the north.
If you opt for trains, particularly if you’re travelling a long distance, remember Turkey is a big country. As a result, your journey may take more than one day. Many of the express trains are equipped with sleeper cars offering considerable comfort – but a trip across the country can still feel like a very long way.
In cities including Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Bursa, Metro services are also available to supplement the dolmuş.
Instagram-friendly trams also run in Istanbul. Eskişehir, Konya, Antalya, Kayseri, Gaziantep, Samsun and Kocaeli also boast light railways for commuters. Payments can be made by travel card or by tokens purchased at booths or vending machines.
Just like “taksi”, the spelling may look different but “koç” in Turkish is pronounced almost the same as “coach”. And, if you’re familiar with National Express, then a bus journey in Turkey is going to feel pretty similar.
There is a considerable choice between companies offering intercity services. As a result, prices are often competitive. Long-distance travel is therefore relatively cheap – as long as you don’t mind if it takes a while.
A trip from the Mediterranean region of Muğla to Istanbul for example is mostly an overnight affair lasting around 10 hours. If you’re heading to destinations east, then it could take more than a day.
But each journey feels like a little adventure, with stop offs along the way. Many of the coaches are equipped with on-board facilities, including IT and wifi access and refreshments. Some even have seat-back entertainment systems or drop-down screens. Legroom is also more capacious than that offered on your average budget airline with much of the booking procedures also now available online.
As Turkey is a large country, flying is actually cheap and relatively simple. A Turkish Airlines ticket from Dalaman on the Mediterranean coast to Istanbul for example will set you back less than £40 for a journey which takes around an hour (correct at the time of writing).
However, it can get a little more expensive and take a little longer if your destination is not a hub. Dalaman to Trabzon on the Black Sea coast, for example, involves a stop-over in Istanbul and can cost between £50 and £70 depending on the day and time of travel.
Obviously, a plane is much quicker than a coach or train. Another advantage is that award-winning national carrier Turkish Airlines includes baggage and a meal in the price of the flight. There are therefore no unexpected extras.
Other budget airlines are also available but operate on a similar basis to their European counterparts. Our personal experience is that Turkish Airlines may cost more but tend to be more reliable. Budget rivals are generally cheaper but can be more prone to delays and cancellations so, as they say, you pays your money and makes your choice.
How can we help?
If you’re considering Turkey for your retirement or a fresh start and would like more information on buying property, why not drop us a line of give us a call? We can also help with the administration and logistics or relocation.
Alternatively, feel free to browse our blog for previous posts you may find useful. If you’d like to check out our full portfolio, you can find details of properties currently on our books right here. You can also keep up to date with our Facebook page here.