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Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Los Angeles
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Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Our family of four is planning a two-week trip to Turkey in June. We are planning on flying between Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the Lycian Coast, and will likely be using private transfers and guides for most of our trip. But we were thinking of taking a couple of days to travel ourselves from the Gocek area to Ephesus before returning by air to Istanbul and back to the US. Can anyone advise us as to whether we can or should rent a private car for a couple of days and attempt to make the drive by ourselves instead of using public transportation?

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Turkey
Turkey
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Gocek
Gocek
Mugla Province, Turkey
Woking, United...
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1. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Of course this is just my personal opinion but I would say No Don't Do It !! The drivers in Turkey are crazy - don't stop at red lights - go round roundabouts the wrong way sometimes - overtake from the inside lane. I drove here only once in 8 years and never again. I thought I would have a heart attack every 5 or 10 minutes! And you are used to big wide American highways. Turkey's roads are often full of huge pot holes that you cannot even see in the dark - even on some of the major roads. The dolmus (bus) system here is FANTASTIC and very cheap indeed and stops for coffee breaks along the way - enjoy the scenery and your holiday and don't drive -

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Turkey
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2. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

What a very negative view of driving in turkey.Whilst I agree that the dolmus are very good and we use them extensivly,I would not if the roads were that bad.After all From that description how safe would it be? We have driven in Turkey & it was lovely to get of the beaten track & enjoy where the trips don,t take you.The only hairy time we had was running out of road at the top of a mountain & being completly lost. finding an isolated little shop and having a drink with the owner,and using our limited Turkish soon put us back on track.Such fun.

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Turkey
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Chester, United...
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3. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Also loved the cardboard & markerpen signs stuck on sticks by villagers to help the lost tourists.

Edited: 24 February 2011, 21:35
istanbul
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4. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

We drive a great deal in Turkey and so do a large number of posters on these forums.

Dolmuses run short distances, between major towns and related villages, and are basically for commuting.

The buses you would take for the longer distances are quite comfortable but not too frequent and can only be taken from the main city terminals usually, which means some wasted time.

I recommend flying the long hauls and either DIY with rental car for the Lycian Way or Guide/Driver with minivan.

You may enjoy the following trip report on the Lycian way:

fodors.com/community/fodorite-lounge/fumblin…

the roads are in very good shape, usually better paved than many American highways I have driven. The signage is adequate, although there are no route numbers.

You do have to be on the lookout for other drivers who do not respect lanes and rights of way, but it is not as bad as angela surrey makes it look. I think driving on the wrong side of the road would make it look worse than it actually is. at least that is how i feel every time i drive in England.

Do not rent an underpowered Fiat or a flimsy Kia. Renaults are usually fine and so are the Fords. Petrol is very expensive, so a diesel will be cheaper to run but more difficult to find with an automatic transmission.

The route from Gocek to Ephesus is quite easy with some very scenic stops on the way. I recommend that you extend your trip somewhat and take a left to Yatagan and Milas after Mugla. This is a much more scenic route. It will also give you a chance to visit Herakleia (Kapikiri Village) on the shore of lake Bafa, which i very strongly recommend, between Milas and Kusadasi.

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Turkey
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Gocek
Gocek
Mugla Province, Turkey
Milas
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Mugla Province, Turkey
Mugla Province
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Turkish Aegean Coast, Turkey
Kusadasi
Kusadasi
Aydin Province, Turkey
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5. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Afraid I have to agree with AngelaSurrey. I've never driven in Turkey myself, but have been there often enough to have promised myself NEVER to do so.

Much as I love the Turkish people, there is no doubt that behind the wheel of a car, they are a menace to themselves and everyone else.

And, yes, the roads themselves are a hazard. I'll always remember being in a taxi hurtling round a blind bend, with the driver fully turned round screaming insults at a vehicle behind us, while I saw directly ahead of us that some builders had helpfully left a pile of bricks directly in the road with no warning whatsoever. My advice - don't even think about it!

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6. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Come on, ladies! I have been driving alone in Turkey several times and did not limit myself to main roads or tourist areas only. And I come from a place with very safe and scarce traffic and am middle aged and not too brave woman used to automatic transmission and a 4x4. Never had a problem in Turkey. Just keep your eyes open, check the map time to time and enjoy the freedom!

Whenever I had to interact with Turkish traffic officers and the people in gas stations they were extremely helpful and friendly.

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7. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

According to the statistics you're half as likely to have a fatal accident in Turkey as you are in California. So, you'll be safer in Turkey than you are at home - by a long shot!

My advice is to go for it - allows you so much more freedom to stop and have a look around. And I second that idea to stop at Kapikiri on Lake Bafa - lovely place.

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8. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

I've driven every time I have stayed in Turkey. I actually look forward to driving there, as there is a lack of traffic and driving is a pleasure, as it used to be in the UK.

The roads are good, other drivers standards vary, but on the whole most are as good as anywhere else. You do get the odd 'nutter', but keep your wits about you and pay attention to the road and you will be fine. You also have the added benefit of naturally driving on the same side of the road as the locals!

Having a car at your disposal just makes everything so much quicker and easier, and you can get off the beaten track and explore places that you cannot get to on public transport.

Only other point are you used to a manual gear change, as most hire cars will have this. You can get automatics but they are not so readily available, so I would book early if this were to be your choice.

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9. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

Hi Los Angeles!

We enjoyed renting a car and driving ourselves in Turkey. We liked it so much that we're returning later this year, for a trip in which we'll drive from İstanbul to Ankara to Cappodocia and then along the Aegean coast to Smyrna (İzmir), where we drop off the car for the flight home.

Here's an article I wrote for an asker with a question similar to yours. I've edited it for you. I hope it helps.

David

capetien10@gmail.com

We liked the drive along the Mediterranean coast from İzmir (Smyrna in the Bible) to Antalya. Particularly interesting is Demre, the home of Santa Claus! Really! Brooklyn [the original asker was from Brooklyn] can boast of being the birthplace of Sandy Koufax, but Demre's real-life favorite son is Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas as he was known before he moved on to the North Pole. There's a big statue of Santa in the main square, and unlike those you see in malls, this one does not get taken down every January!

Demre also boasts its own huge Greek theater, but then so do a lot of towns in Turkey. You'll see Ephesus as part of your visit to the Smyrna region. Ephesus alone has two Greek theaters!

Or you could go inland to Pamukkale, Cotton Cliffs in Turkish. The cliffs are impressive and worth a visit. Also, go into the Greek ruins of Hieropolis to swim in the naturally heated mineral pool, into which have fallen ancient Greek columns for you to swim or clamber over.

In Antalya, don't stay at the pricy international hotels down on the beach. Rather, find one of the smaller hotels in the heart of the old town of Antalya. We liked it a lot there, what the higgledy-piggledy heart of an old Turkish town should look like. You won't find the same in Smyrna or even İstanbul.

We drove for two weeks all over western Turkey, and enjoyed it immensely. I've read tales here that say you can't drive in İstanbul ... but I did it. So did my wife!

İstanbul has big city congestion, of course. (So does New York, and we find driving in Manhattan more difficult than İstanbul.) Taxi drivers dart and zip, much like any other metropolis. But the region has a modern freeway system around it. Millions of ordinary Turks drive there. You can too.

We drove from İstanbul to Smyrna, by way of the one-time imperial capital of Nicaea (İznik in modern Turkish; it's the place where the Nicene Creed was composed) and then on to Antalya and back to İstanbul. We enjoyed the drive. It's great to have the freedom to go where you wish and stop when you'd like. We enjoy the privacy and comfort of not having to be stuck in bus seats.

To find our way, we bought a copy of the Koy Koy Atlas, the best I've seen, with all the roads you might want to drive at a scale similar to atlases you find in western Europe.

Q - We might want to rent a car in Turkey. Can we drive in Turkey?

A - We did. Although some writers here warn against maniacal drivers, we found that you can drive safely in Turkey if you drive defensively, always exercising care. And I do not mean that the way the cops seem to, as a buzz-phrase. On the road in Turkey, you will always have to allow for the other guy.

Q - Do I need an International Driving Permit?

A - No. We found that our official state-issued Drivers' License with embossed picture ID plus a credit card and passport are all anybody asked of us. This included the police.

Q - Tell us about the worst hazards.

A - Turkish drivers like to run red lights. It's common. This is very dangerous for you, although not for the reason that you might initially think.

Your first reaction might be, if I go on green I might get creamed by someone running the red light. But if you drive defensively and always look both ways after the light turns green, this is unlikely to be a problem for you.

The real danger is that you might get rear-ended. Suppose you approach a traffic light at cruising speed and it turns yellow. You might decide to stop. What, though, do you suppose is going through the mind of the guy coming behind? He sees the yellow too. Noting your speed, he figures that you're intending to run the light and he wants to do the same. He accelerates as you brake!

My advice is that at yellow and red lights you stop as gradually as you safely can. Make sure you leave reaction time for the idiot behind. Run the red light if you find you can't easily stop. (Everybody else does, after all.) Save hard braking for actual emergencies.

This problem is compounded by Turkey's ill-considered traffic light sequence. You and I are used to a five-second yellow light, followed by the red. In Turkey, however, the yellow is only about one second long! Literally, one second. The stop-sequence starts with flashing green for about seven seconds, followed by a one-second yellow, then the red.

The flashing green is too long, giving people a false sense that there's lots of time to keep going. The yellow, intended as a final warning to stop now, is too short for drivers to react. Before you know it, the light has changed red. Mercifully, there is another one-second delay before the opposing red turns green.

When you see flashing green, begin gradually to stop. Force speedsters behind to slow down. Then, by the time the light goes yellow, everyone behind should have gotten the message: the Turkish custom notwithstanding, you actually intend to stop on this red!

Q - What are the fifteen most important driving words in Turkish?

A - "Don't drive fast around kids! Don't drive fast around kids! Don't drive fast around kids!"

At home, of course, one would hardly need to remind you of this. But lots of Turkish motorists drive excessively fast in built-up areas. Major highways often go right through the center of smaller towns. There are plenty of speed limit signs, but since the cops rarely enforce them, drivers pay no attention.

The streets of Turkish small towns are filled with people milling about, kids, loose animals, and vehicles entering from the side of the road. You could easily cope if you slowed down to 30 mph, as you normally would in Canada or the US.

The danger to you is that your natural instinct will be to drive the same speed as the other cars. You might be tempted to clip along as Turkish motorists do, oblivious to the hazards.

Resist the temptation. Slow down in built-up areas, even if others want you to go faster.

Q - Who has priority in the Chicken Lane?

A - Along many highways, there is one lane in each direction and a passing lane in the middle. We call it the Chicken Lane because, when drivers from both directions try to use it at the same time, it's like they're playing chicken.

In theory, the cars that are going uphill have priority, much as on three-lane highways at home. There are signs and painted arrows to reinforce the rule. Unfortunately, some Turkish motorists cheat, and there are those who even abuse the Chicken Lane on blind crests and corners.

Be very wary that somebody may abuse the Chicken Lane. You'll notice some cautious drivers who won't use it even when they have the theoretical right of way, unless they have lots of clear visibility.

Q - Why is night driving so dangerous?

A - Except on the freeway (for example, the İstanbul-Ankara Autogar and the freeway system around metro Smyrna) and in well-lighted cities, night driving conceals hair-raising hazards.

For instance, all the hazards of children, animals, and vehicles pulling in from the side of the road are magnified when you have trouble seeing them due to darkness. Potholes and speed bumps can more easily catch you by surprise at night.

Q - Should I stop for pedestrians?

A - No, except in an emergency.

In Turkey, the car has the de facto right-of-way and all surviving pedestrians know this. Do not pull up short in traffic to let a waiting pedestrian cross. You're courting a rear-ender if you do. Naturally, this custom must always give way to the overriding commandment: Never hit anybody!

Q - How do you read the road signs?

A - Signs in Turkey follow the European convention of pictograms. You should not have any trouble understanding them. Directional and distance signs contain the names of Turkish places. The Turkish language uses the Roman alphabet.

You'll find your biggest difficulty with signs conveying written information in Turkish. Good luck! Having said that, we managed to get by most of the time. It's challenging, and may inspire you to learn a bit more Turkish.

Here's a sign that you should learn. "Sehir Merkezi." It means "Town Center." When you drive into Smyrna on the freeway, Sehir Merkezi is where you are headed.

Happy travels, and let me know if I can help further!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

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10. Re: Renting a Car and Driving in Turkey??

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