Updated april 11, 2022

Your Guide to Traveling Around Turkey with a Rental Car

Aleksandrs Buraks
Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com

Why should you rent a car in Turkey?

Turkey is a large, diverse, and fascinating country, but only small parts of it have so far been discovered by foreign travelers. Tourists know of the imperial charm of Istanbul, idyllic beaches of Antalya, and moonlike landscapes of Cappadocia, but, admittedly, not much else. Thankfully, Turkey is an increasingly accessible destination, and if you are respectful of the local culture and mindful of certain caveats, you can visit both the main tourist attractions as well as off-the-beaten-path destinations, having a great time traveling between them in your own ride. Use this guide to make the most of your Turkish adventure.
TOP TIPS:
  • A large and diverse country, Turkey is more than just Istanbul and Antalya. Do your research before getting off the beaten tourist path — but do get off it if you can!
  • The best way to save money on your rental car is by picking it up and dropping it off at the airport.
  • One-way rentals are a good possibility to see more than just one place in the country, but will usually also be more pricey.
  • Look for a rental car company that offers not just a good price, but also has a good rating and favorable rental conditions.
  • Although most people associate Turkey with the beach, the country is also home to some fascinating mountains and nature preserves that are increasingly easier to explore
  • Although sometimes exaggerated, the conflict in the southeast of the country is not to be taken lightly. Do your own research in advance and avoid any unsafe areas!

Your Guide to Traveling Around Turkey with a Rental Car

By Aleksandrs Buraks | Updated April 11, 2022
TOP TIPS:
  • A large and diverse country, Turkey is more than just Istanbul and Antalya. Do your research before getting off the beaten tourist path — but do get off it if you can!
  • The best way to save money on your rental car is by picking it up and dropping it off at the airport.
  • One-way rentals are a good possibility to see more than just one place in the country, but will usually also be more pricey.
  • Look for a rental car company that offers not just a good price, but also has a good rating and favorable rental conditions.
  • Although most people associate Turkey with the beach, the country is also home to some fascinating mountains and nature preserves that are increasingly easier to explore
  • Although sometimes exaggerated, the conflict in the southeast of the country is not to be taken lightly. Do your own research in advance and avoid any unsafe areas

Why should you rent a car in Turkey?

Turkey is a large, diverse, and fascinating country, but only small parts of it have so far been discovered by foreign travelers. Tourists know of the imperial charm of Istanbul, idyllic beaches of Antalya, and moonlike landscapes of Cappadocia, but, admittedly, not much else. Thankfully, Turkey is an increasingly accessible destination, and if you are respectful of the local culture and mindful of certain caveats, you can visit both the main tourist attractions as well as off-the-beaten-path destinations, having a great time traveling between them in your own ride. Use this guide to make the most of your Turkish adventure.

When should you visit Turkey?

Istanbul is the largest city and the number one tourist destination in Turkey. While it can be tempting to visit from June to August, temperatures get extremely high and this is also the time when the city has the largest amount of tourists. Visiting in late springtime or early autumn can be much more rewarding. Istanbul is also a fascinating city to visit in wintertime — all the architecture and history are still there and the prices are lower — although temperatures drop quite considerably from December to February.

Antalya, Bodrum, and the rest of the Turkish Agean and Mediterranean coasts are popular tourist destinations from April all the way to early-November. Like Istanbul, the southern coast gets the largest number of visitors in the summer months and this is also the time when most Turks go on a vacation.

The famous region of Cappadocia is best visited in either late spring or early autumn. Located quite far inland, the region gets extremely hot in summer and quite cold and wet in winter.

Where should you pick up a car in Turkey?

Most visitors to Turkey choose to pick up a rental car right at the airport. There are more than 20 international airports in Turkey, and at each one of them, you'll find at least a few car rental companies.

The largest airport in Turkey, Istanbul Airport, is also the youngest in the country — it replaced Istanbul Ataturk Airport in 2019. The airport, a large hub for Turkish Airlines and with flights by tens of other airlines, offers flights to and from all of the populated continents of the world. Other large Turkish airports include Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Antalya Airport, Ankara Esenboğa Airport, and others.

Compared to the rest of Europe, Turkey has much fewer flight options provided by low-cost airlines. Still, some low-cost carriers like the local Pegasus Airlines, as well as Eurowings, Lauda, and Jet2.com, fly to and from Turkey.

In addition to airports, it is also possible to pick up or drop off a rental car at other locations like international hotels and offices in the center of cities. This is useful if you plan to spend some time in say Istanbul first but are wary about driving in the big city.

You could use a shuttle to get from the airport to the city and then when you're ready to explore the rest of Turkey, get a rental car. If you plan to do this, we highly recommend using ShuttleFare.com to find the perfect car or van to take you from the airport to your hotel. Keep in mind that Istanbul Airport is quite far from the city center, so you probably want to make sure you have a comfortable ride.

Many car rental companies in Turkey offer the option of a one-way rental. A small extra fee is usually charged for this service, but it gives you the flexibility of not being required to return to your point of entry. It is popular among travelers to pick up a car in Istanbul and drop it off in Izmir or Ankara or to travel between Antalya and Bodrum.

Most car rental providers in Turkey do not permit international one-way rentals.

Now that you know where to pick up your rental car, check out our prices for the dates you plan to travel!

How easy is it to travel around Turkey independently?

Turkey is an increasingly easy place to explore on your own - the quality of its main highways is good, its tourism infrastructure is improving, and more and more things like accommodation and tours can be booked online. Nonetheless, a fair few challenges and caveats remain, and it is good to be mindful of them.

Turkey is a large and diverse country. Western Turkey, as well as most of the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, is very accessible — a foreign tourist shouldn't experience many issues driving on their own from Istanbul to Izmir or even all the way down to Antalya. However, the rural parts of the country are more of a challenge to explore as there's not an industry catering to tourists, and while people are generally very kind and hospitable, communication can be problematic (see the language section). Hotels and even gas stations are few and far between, so getting an up-to-date GPS system for your rental car is a must if you plan to explore — ask your rental car provider about the availability of it.

Some parts of Southeastern Turkey can be downright dangerous to travel to due to the ongoing conflict there — see the safety section for more information.

It is also important not to underestimate the size of Turkey — more than twice as large as Germany, Turkey is a huge country, and distances can be overwhelming. Expect a five to six-hour drive between Istanbul and Ankara, eight hours between Istanbul and Antalya, and seven hours between Antalya and Cappadocia.

How safe is it to travel around Turkey by car?

Turkey is a safe country overall and most foreign travelers visit it without facing any significant risks. However, there are a number of things to keep in mind to stay on the safe side.

The Turkish border with Syria is dangerous to travel to and should be avoided due to the ongoing military conflict there. The Turkish border with Iraq is less tumultuous, but should also be avoided for all non-essential travel because of sporadic violence and attacks carried out by the Islamic State on the other side of the border.

Large parts of Southeastern Turkey are also unstable and experience sporadic conflict between the Turkish army and militants. While the cities of Gaziantep and Adana are relatively safe, the city of Diyarbakir has experienced fighting in its streets and is not considered safe to travel to. If you intend to travel to Southeastern Turkey, check the latest security update and consult your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassy of your country in Turkey.

In Southeastern Turkey, and sometimes elsewhere in the country, you might encounter security checkpoints of the Turkish army. Do not feel threatened as they are there for your safety, but do follow their advice regarding the security situation in the region.

While the border area between Turkey and Armenia is not especially dangerous, the border between the two countries is closed.

Turkey has a fairly large share of reckless drivers and road accidents are, statistically, by far the largest risk to a traveler in the country. Use common sense and be extra cautious when driving in areas with inadequate lighting and mountainous areas after dark.

Turkish police are overall trustworthy and you should not hesitate to contact them if you're in trouble. The police number in Turkey is 155. There are English-speaking tourist police units in Istanbul and a couple of other large cities. In rural areas, you likely should contact the military police — their number is 156.

More than 95% of the inhabitants of Turkey are Muslims. While the country is fairly secular, especially if compared to its Middle Eastern neighbors, you should always stay respectful of local customs and religious matters. It's also probably a bad idea to discuss the current government, the animosity between the Turks and the Kurds, or the ongoing conflict in Syria.

What languages are spoken in Turkey?

The official and by far the most widespread language of Turkey is Turkish. Turks are intensely proud of their language and culture, and learning at least a few phrases will be both helpful and will leave a good impression.

Kurdish, the mother tongue of about 10% of Turkey's inhabitants, is quite widespread and is the main language in some parts of Turkey, especially the southeast. Arabic, Zazaki, and some other minority languages also have a significant presence in different parts of the country.

Knowledge of English in Turkey, while growing, remains quite low. Young urbanites and people working in the tourist industry often speak English to varying degrees, but outside the big cities and tourist regions, especially in the rural parts of the country, you can be hard-pressed to find someone with even rudimentary knowledge of the language.

There's a very large Turkish diaspora in Germany and some people who have returned to Turkey speak German. About three percent of the inhabitants of Turkey also speak French — they can mainly be found in the three largest cities in Turkey.
Three underrated travel destinations in Turkey that you can reach by car:
Lake Van. Located at an altitude of 1,640 m (5,380 ft), Lake Van (a salt lake) is one of the most picturesque places in Turkey. Surrounded by ancient fortresses, monasteries, and the ruins of some of the first civilizations that ever existed, the area's history can match its nature. Although Lake Van is located deep in Eastern Turkey, this area is known as peaceful and safe to travel to. It's not easy to get to — the lake is about a four-hour drive from Erzurum and about eight hours from Trabzon — but visiting it would be an adventure to remember.

Edirne. Only about three percent of Turkey's territory is located in Europe, but that doesn't mean this part of the country is poor when it comes to attractions. The chief one among them is the city of Edirne. Located near the modern borders with Bulgaria and Greece, the city was inhabited by Romans who called it Hadrianopolis. Later, it even served as the capital of the Ottoman Empire before losing that title to Istanbul. Home to impressive mosques, churches, and the Grand Synagogue, the city has interesting museums and is also the hub of oil wrestling, a popular Turkish folk sport. Better yet, Edirne is only about a three-hour drive from Istanbul.

Konya. A large inland city in the western part of the country, Konya is one of the holiest sites of Sufism. The tomb of Rumi, the most famous prophet of that mystical branch of Islam, is located in the city. The traditions of Sufism survive in Konya to this day — chiefly in the ceremony of whirling dervishes that takes place at the Mevlana Cultural Centre every Saturday evening. Konya is also famous for its medieval Islamic architecture. The city is conveniently located near other popular tourist destinations in Turkey — it is about a three-hour drive from Ankara, four hours from either Antalya, Cappadocia or Adana, and seven hours from either Izmir or Istanbul.
What are the best places to rent a car in Turkey?
Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, is also an absolute hegemon when it comes to attracting foreign visitors. Straddling two continents, the former capital of two empires boasts hundreds of famous landmarks - we can mention Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, and the Mosaic Museum, but that will only be scratching the surface of what this city has to offer.

As amazing as Istanbul is, other Turkish cities are also increasingly popular travel destinations. The capital, Ankara, is a political center, but also a place of ancient history. On the western coast, Izmir is known for its free spirit and spectacular setting between the mountains and the sea. And Konya, known for its beautiful and highly distinct Seljuk architecture, is where the mystical Sufi traditions survive to this day.
With a coastline length of over 8,300 km (5,160 miles), it is little wonder that Turkey is also a highly popular beach destination. Most of the famous resorts are located along the country's Mediterranean coastline in the south, with hotspots like Antalya and Bodrum attracting hundreds of thousands of sun-lovers every year. Crucially, both these cities are known not only for their scenic shorelines but also for their equally impressive history, as exemplified by the Archaeology Museum of Antalya.
Most of the inland Turkey is mountainous, with some peaks reaching very impressive heights. While the tourist infrastructure is still catching up with the natural scenery, the Turkish mountains can already be enjoyed in places like the moonlike Cappadocia in the center of the country, as well as protected areas and clifftop monasteries around Trabzon and in the rest of the country's northeast.
What about filling up in Turkey?
Finding a gas station is not an issue around Istanbul, other large cities, or tourist resort areas, but can be more challenging in the rest of the country. While there are obviously gas stations all across the country, you won't find the information about most of them on the internet, so getting off the beaten path takes some advanced planning (and having some cash on you is useful as most, but not all, stations will accept credit cards). This applies especially to Eastern Turkey, but also anywhere else away from the main cities.

While many people speak English (and other languages; read more about that above) in the main cities and tourist areas, the same is not true for elsewhere in the country, so learning some basic Turkish phrases and words for numbers can only be useful.
How expensive is gas in Turkey?
As of April 2022, the average gas price in Turkey is 19.89 TRY per liter (or €1.34, or $1.22). Although like elsewhere in the world, Turkey has been affected by the global gas hike of 2022, prices in Turkey remain noticeably lower than in most European countries.
How much does a rental car in Turkey cost?
Different destinations in Turkey will have different rental car price dynamics - as a general rule, it's cheaper to visit during the colder time of the year, but many other factors such as the proximity of the trip to a major holiday, the length of the trip, and the type of vehicle will influence the price. Overall, prices are lower than in Western European countries and comparable to prices in popular tourist destinations like Greece and Portugal.

In Istanbul, the average price for daily rent is €20 or $22 in May, but €44 or $48 in July. In Antalya, there's a massive hike during the winter holidays (with the average price of €76 or $84 in December), but the price is only €33 in July. Keep in mind that these are all average prices and it's possible to find significantly cheaper deals based on factors like the type of vehicle and length of the trip.
Which car rental supplier is best for you? Are the rental conditions important?
Price is obviously a huge factor when choosing a rental car, but it shouldn't be your only concern — often, for a couple of euros more, you can find a much better overall deal. Instead, try to look for a company that offers both a good price and has a good rating from previous travelers.

Also, make sure you are familiar with the rental conditions! Different rental car suppliers will have different conditions. The rental conditions can influence the final price of the car and are important to be aware of in general.

You can find the rental conditions when searching for a rental car on our website.
What else should you keep in mind when renting a car?
Some of the most important things when picking up a rental car is knowing your rental car supplier's fuel and mileage policies along with its driver requirements.

Mileage policy :
A rental supplier's mileage policy is the maximum permitted distance that you are allowed to travel per day (or sometimes per week) with your rental car. Once you exceed the permitted distance, you will be required to pay an extra fee for every additional kilometer you drive. There might also be the maximum permitted mileage for the whole of the rental period.

Different rental car suppliers have different mileage rules. It's important to know about them before booking your car, especially if you plan to drive a lot or travel long distances during your trip.

You can find the supplier's mileage policy in their rental conditions:
Fuel policy:
Different car rental companies have different policies when it comes to fuel. Some of the most popular ones are:
Full-to-full
You are given a car with a full tank of fuel and are expected to also return it with a full tank which means that you need to fill up the tank right before dropping off the car.
Same-to-same
You are given a car with a certain amount of fuel and are expected to return the car with the same amount.
Full-to-empty
You pay in advance for a full tank of fuel when picking up a car and are allowed to return the car with an empty tank; in these cases, you may or may not be compensated if you return a car with some fuel left in the tank.
Driver requirements:
Different rental car companies will have different requirements for drivers. These may include:
The minimum and maximum age of the driver
A potential young or senior driver extra fee for drivers under or over a certain age (e.g. 25 or 65 years old)
Driving experience (e.g., at least two years)
A credit card in the name of the main driver
An international driver's license (might not apply to driver's licenses that are in Latin alphabet)
The same as with mileage and fuel policies, the driver requirements of each car rental supplier be found on their rental conditions page.

Check our comprehensive FAQ section to learn more about mileage, fuel, and driver requirements, as well as other important questions.
How can I choose the right insurance for my rental car?
Choosing the right insurance is very important as it will protect you in case anything goes wrong during your rental period. If you have your own personal insurance, it may or may not cover your rental car — you should ask your insurance carrier to find out.

We strongly recommend you choose our own Full Coverage. Not only does it come at a reasonable price and covers most potential scenarios, but it will also give you clarity and peace of mind as you will have 24/7 support from our team for any issue that you might have.

Check the Insurance section of our FAQ to learn more about choosing the right insurance and everything related to it.
What type of rental car is the cheapest in Turkey?
Unlike in much of the rest of the world, medium-sized cars are actually cheaper in Turkey than small cars - on average, the former come for € 30 per day while the latter cost € 41 per day. The cheapest category in Turkey is, in fact, station wagons, costing, on average, just € 29 per day. The price of large cars is € 57.
Which is the best car rental company in Turkey?
Customer Rating - 8.5
Customer Rating - 8.5
Customer Rating - 8.4
Customer Rating - 8.4
What is the process of picking up and dropping off a rental car like?
To pick up a rental car, you'll need to have your booking confirmation voucher, passport, driver's license, a credit card on the main driver's name, and all the other necessary documents.

When making the reservation, you will see your rental car's pickup location, of which there are many types. Since most travelers tend to pick up their rental cars at the airport, we'll mainly focus on the pickup locations in or near the airport. These are the most popular pickup location types:

  • Meet & Greet. With this type of pickup location, you'll be met by an employee of the car rental company in the arrivals hall of the airport which you normally enter right after leaving the baggage claim area. The employee will usually have a printed sign with your name on it. The employee will take you to the company's office to proceed with signing the rental contract and collecting the car's keys.
  • In the terminal. In this case, you will have to find your rental car company's desk yourself. The desk will be usually located in the arrivals hall. Once you've found the desk, you can present your documents and continue with the pickup procedure. Do keep in mind that you might have to wait in line.
  • Shuttle bus. In certain cases, the car rental company's desk might be located outside the airport's terminal. Sometimes you can reach it on foot, but in most cases, you need to take a shuttle bus. For this, you'll need to find the shuttle bus stop inside the airport, the location of which will be given to you when making the booking. Sometimes, the shuttle bus is shared by multiple car rental companies while others have their own shuttle service just for them. Look for the name and the logo of your rental company to make sure you take the right shuttle bus.
  • Delivery service. This type of pick-up is similar to Meet & Greet but takes even less time to complete as you won't need to go to the car provider's office to sign the agreement.
  • Car rental center. This means that your car rental company shares its location with other companies. The car rental center is located in the arrivals hall, in another part of the terminal, or in a separate building next to the terminal.
  • Outside terminal. This pick-up location means that your car rental company has an individual desk located outside the airport's terminal, but within the larger airport complex, that can usually be reached on foot

At the pickup location: After the car rental company checks your documents and make sure you have enough deposit on your credit card, you will receive the car's keys and be taken to the rental car which will usually be parked in a nearby parking lot.

Inspect the car: Upon picking up the car, you will have to sign a document called the check-out form. If your rental car has any scratches or other types of damage, they should be listed on the form. Inspect the car carefully — if it has any scratches or other issues that are not listed, make sure to point them out to the employee before signing the check-out form. The form will also list the mileage and the amount of fuel the car has at the pickup time.

Take photos: It is generally a very good idea to take photos of the car before picking it up, preferably from multiple angles and including the inside of the car with the odometer showing the previous mileage on the car and of the amount of fuel in the tank (read more about fuel on our Fuel Policy section above). The photos should have a timestamp to show the date and time when they were taken; most pictures taken with mobile and digital cameras have them.

Find out the drop-off location: Before leaving with the car, make sure you find out the exact drop-off location and the directions to get there. While it will often be the same as the pickup location, it might also be in a completely different part of the airport (this is especially the case with the larger airports that have multiple terminals).

Returning the car: When dropping off the car at the end of your trip, carefully check the vehicle in the presence of an employee of the rental company. If any new scratches or damages are found, the company employee should point them out in your presence. If there are none, the car's check-in form should state that the car has been returned in the same condition. The same applies to the cleanliness of the car (if you return a car that is not clean, the company might later charge an extra cleaning fee). Make sure to check the car's trunk and the glove compartment to avoid leaving any personal belongings in the vehicle.
Can I add extras for the rental car when booking?
You might also want to add some extras for your rental car such as a GPS system, a child's seat, second-driver permission (if you're traveling with a friend or a family member who can and wants to drive). If you plan to drive in the Alps or Pyrenees, snow chains might be useful or even necessary during winter. Be sure to search for them in advance and add them before making the booking. Not every rental car supplier will have all of these extras available. Adding extras will influence the final price of a car and different car rental companies offer them for different prices.
What are the traffic rules in Turkey?
Turkey drives on the right-hand side of the road.
Proof of insurance and the car's documentation need to be in it whenever you're driving.
When driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
The use of the mobile phone while driving is only permitted with a hands-free system that has a loudspeaker and a fixed microphone.
All travelers from outside the European Union are required to show an International Driving Permit. Not having one can lead to the rental company refusing to provide you a car and the loss of any payment made.
The nationwide emergency number, just like in most other European countries, is 112.


What are the speed limits in Turkey?
Are there speed cameras in Turkey?
There are a number of speed cameras in Turkey. While some are fixed, the location of many others is frequently changed, so any map that claims to have the location of them all should be taken with a grain of salt.

If you are given a fine for speeding, it will be sent to your rental car company which might add an additional fee for administering the fine.
What are the drunk driving laws in Turkey?
The drunk driving limits are 0.05% for experienced drivers and, notably, 0.00% for novice drivers. The tolerance for drunk driving is low and can lead to large fines or even imprisonment or deportation, especially if coupled with speeding.
Are there toll roads in Turkey?
Driving on most national motorways, as well as some bridges and tunnels, requires a toll payment.

Most Turkish toll roads only permit an electronic, contactless payment from an electronic toll-payment transponder that's inside a car, or via an electronic chip-sticker (or a vignette) that's on a car. This means that you can pay with neither cash nor credit card for most toll roads (there are only a handful across the country that permit this).

All rental cars have to be equipped either with a toll-payment transponder or with a toll-payment sticker. Some rental car providers might charge an extra fee for this service. Do contact your rental car provided in advance to find out more, and make sure to check the rental conditions in advance.

The toll roads in Turkey are divided into HGS, the High-Speed Passage System (Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi in Turkish) and OGS (Otomatik Geçiş Sistemi in Turkish). On HGS roads, you can pass through the toll area at a higher speed. On OGS roads, you need to slow down as you go through a toll gate and the toll payment is registered through the electronic transponder that's in a car. The exact amount you'll have to pay will depend on the specific road you drive on and on the distance of your travels.

Find out more about the toll roads in Turkey on the European toll road website.

Aleksandrs Buraks

Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com
Aleksandrs has over 10 years of experience in marketing with a focus on creating stellar content that provides topical insights using data. Having taken five road trips across Europe and one in the U.S., he is passionate about traveling by car. His favorite countries to visit are Denmark and Thailand. You can find him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.

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