Travelling to Turkey by car - long way but perfect roads

Quite often we are asked if it is possible to do the trip to Turkey by car. For sure it is possible. But think about the distance you need to cover. More then 3.000 kilometres to the centre of Europe. Quite a lot.

I remember the long queues of cars of turkish workers leaving Central Europe for holiday at home in Turkey during the summer. A long and dangerous trip with heavy loaded cars, lot of accidents on the way and long lasting breaks at the different borders. For sure, if there is time enough lot of interesting places are on the way. In between the road network is much better, nicely signed and comfortable. Just be careful when driving through the night on less used roads, especially in Turkey. It might happen that a truck appears without any lights. Or some animals are using the road as well.
There are couple of possibilities for solutions in between: You may use your car until Villach in Austria and load it into the train over there. Train is nearly going until Istanbul where you can pick it again. As an alternative you can go to Ancona or Brindisi in Italy and take the ferry to Cesme or Istanbul. Another possibility is the ferry from Italy to Greece (Patras or Korfu), then by car to Gelibolu and again by ferry to Lapseki.
Your automobil club will offer lot of information and work on a route which fits to your interests.

The road system

The road system of most parts of Turkey is fairly well developed with helpful signs along the major roads which are usually in a good general condition. Whenever possible you should try to reach your destination during daylight because in agricultural areas you will quite often come across tractors without any lights or cattle just walking along the road. Even bicycles and motor-cycle riders quite often travel on main roads without any lights.

Traffic regulations

The speed limit for cars is fixed at 90 km/h on all the roads and is limited to 50 km/h in populated villages and towns. Cars using trailers are allowed to do 80 km/h and 40km/h inside the towns. Motorcycles are allowed to travel up to 70 km/h.

Alcohol is completely forbidden while driving. Penalties for ignoring this are severe. Most of the other traffic regulations are similar to European laws.

The right of way

This is similar to most of Europe, always right before left, but be careful, most Turkish drivers use their own regulation which says "the more powerful has the right of way". In cases like this the more intelligent driver should stay behind.
At traffic lights in the bigger villages and cities lot of Turkish drivers like to race the red light but you should stay calm and wait.

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Descriptions on traffic signs and their meaning

bozuk satih = Damaged Stretch of Road
dikkat = Caution / Attention
kaygan yol = Dirty, Slippery Road
park yapilmaz = Parking Forbidden
tamirat = Road Construction
inşaat = Construction
yavaş = Slowly
hastane = Hospital
viraj = Turn
keskin viraj = Sharp Turn
şehir merkezi = City Centre
kavşak = Intersection
dur = Stop

Warning triangle

Even though there is a law that says that everybody needs to have a double warning triangle and to use it, lot of car drivers, and especially lorry drivers, if they have problems with their vehicle, use a small heap of stones or some posts from along the street as their warning triangle. Fair enough. The problem is that quite often they forget to take it away after their problem is solved! Obstacles like that need a very quick reaction from other drivers. The warning triangles stipulated by law must be positioned to the front and the back of your car.

Breakdown service

For details of breakdown services as well as lots more information, you should contact the touring and automobile clubs - TTOK (Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu).

The addresses of the main offices are: www.turing.org.tr
E-mail : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Address : 1. Oto Sanayi Sitesi yanı, 4. Levent - İstanbul
Tel : +90 212 282 81 40 - 41 - 42 - 43
Fax : +90 212 282 80 42

Repair shops

You will find repair shops for all the common makes of car in nearly every town. In comparison to other goods, cars are very expensive in Turkey. Although the mechanics are usually good, spare parts are usually rare and need to be ordered from Izmir or Istanbul. As a tip you should check your car over completely before starting your journey.

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