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LAND

If you are planning to travel overland oh, you will be spoiled for choice since turkey has land borders with eight countries.Bear in mind, however, that Turkey’s relationships with most of its neighbours tend to be tense which can affect the availability of visas and when and where you can cross. Always check with the relevant embassy for the most up-to-date information before leaving home. 

 

Border crossing 

Crossing land borders by bus and train is fairly straightforward, but expect delays of between one and three hours. You'll usually have to get off the bus or train and endure a paperwork and baggage check of all travelers on both sides of the border. This is a relatively quick process if you are on bus but naturally takes a longer when there is a trainload of passengers. Before you ditch the idea of trains, however be aware that delays can be caused by the long line of trucks and cars banked up at some borders -especially at the Reyhanlı-Bab al Hawa border between Turkey and Syria- not the number of fellow passengers. 

Crossing the border with your own vehicle should be fairly straightforward. No special documents are required to import a car for up to 6 months is up. If you overstay your permit,you may have to pay customs duty equal to the full retail value of the car! If you want to leave your car in Turkey and return to collect it later, the car must be put under a customs seal, which is a tedious process.

For more on each country's border crossing,see the relevant country headings following.

Armenia

 

The Turkish - Armenian borders was closed to travelers. You cannot travel overland between the two countries but you can fly.The situation could always change so it is work checking (the Russian embassy handles Armenian diplomatic interests in Turkey).

It's least three buses weekly depart from Trabzon otogar heading for Yeravan.

Azerbaijan (Nakhichevan)

 

At least 2 daily buses depart from Trabzon's otogar heading for Tbilisi, where you can change for a bus to Baku.

You can also cross from Turkey to the Azerbaijani enclave Nakhichevan via the remote Borualan-Sadarak border post,east of Iğdır. From there you will need to fly across Armenian occupied Nagorno-Karabakh to reach the rest of Azerbaijan and Baku.

 

Bulgaria & Eastern Europe

 

It's fairly easy to get to Istanbul by direct train or bus from many points in Europe via Bulgaria. There are 3 border crossings between Bulgaria and Turkey. The main border crossing is the busy Kapitan-Andreevo /Kapıkule 18 km west of Edirne on the E5. The closest town on the Bulgarian side is Svilengrad, some 10 km from the border. You have to hitch a lift or hire a taxi rather than walk between the Greek-Turkish border posts. Picture art foreign exchange facilities restaurants and  accommodation are available at this crossing which is open 24 hours daily. There is a second newly opened crossing at Lesovo-Hamzabeyli, some 25 km north of Edirne; it's a quieter option during the busy summer months than Kapitan-Andreevo/Kapıkule, but takes a little longer to get to and there's no public transport. The third crossing is at Malko Tarnovo- Kırkkale, some 70 km northeast of Edirne and 92 km south of Burgas.

BUS

There are several departures daily to Sofia and the coastal cities of Varna and Burgas in Bulgaria from Istanbul's otogar - at least 6 companies offer services. There are also daily departures to Skopje,Tetovo and Gostivar in Macedonia and to Constanta and Bucharest in Romania. 

 

TRAIN

The Bosphorus Express leaves Istanbul and runs to Bucharest, from where you can travel onwards by train to Chişinãu (Moldova) and Budapest (Hungary). You can also catch the Bosphorus Express as far as Dimitrovgrad (Bulgaria) from where you can travel onwards to Sofia (Bulgaria) and on to Belgrade+Serbia).

Essentially the Bosphorus Express leaves Istanbul with a line of carriages. There are separate carriages for passengers heading to Budapest, to Sofia and Belgrade and to Chişinãu. The carriages are switched to local trains at either Bucharest or Dimitrovgrad, depending on where you are heading. Confused? Don't worry; bookings are simply from A to B though there will be some delay as carriages are transferred.

You will need to take your own food and drinks is there are no restaurants cars on these trains. Note also that the Turkey-Bulgaria border crossing is in the early hours of the morning and you need to leave the train to get your passport stamped -the holdup takes about 2 hours. We've heard stories of harassment, especially of women, at the border, so lone women may be best taking an alternative route. Traveling in the sleeper cars is always the safest and most comfortable option.

Georgia

The main border crossing is it Sarp on the Black Sea coast, between Hopa (Turkey) and Batumi ( Georgia). You can also cross inland at the Türkgözü border crossing near Posof, north of Kars (Turkey) and southwest of Akhaltsikhe (Georgia). The Sarp border crossing is open 24 hours a day; Türkgözü is open from 08:00 am to 08:00 pm, though in winter you might want to double-check it is open at all.

From Istanbul otogar the journey takes around 26 hours it's at least two daily buses depart from Trabzon's otogar heading for Tbilisi

If you are heating to the Türkgözü  border from the Turkish side a convenience starting point is Kars.0 You need to get to Posof first, then hire a taxi or mini bus to take you to the border post (16 km, 20€). From the border, hire another taxi to take you to the Georgian town of Akhaltsikhe (€15; 2 hours), from where regular buses to Tbilisi (which can take up to seven hours)

 

Greece & Western Europe

 

An alternative to getting to Turkey from Europe is to make your way to Alexandroupolis in Greece and cross at Kipi-Ipsala, 43 km northeast of Alexandroupolis, or Kastanies - Pazarkule 139 km northeast, near the Turkish city of Edirne. Both borders are open 24 hours.

To cross at Kipi-Ipsala take a bus service from Alexandroupolis to the Greek border point of Kipi, then hitch to the border. From there you can get a taxi (€8,50) to the bus station in Ipsala and an onward bus to Istanbul.

If you are crossing from Turkey into Greece, do so as soon after 9 a.m. as possible in order to catch one of the few trains or buses from Kastanies south to Alexandroupolis,where there are better connections. Alternatively, take a bus from Edirne to Kesan, then to Ipsala and cross to Kipi.

 

BUS

Bus services to Istanbul run only from Germany, Italy, Austria and Greece so if you are traveling from other European cities you'd need to catch a connecting bus.

Sample one-way fares to Istanbul are: Frankfurt €130 (45 hours), Munich €110 (42 hours), Vienna €105 (36 hours), and Athens €68 (20 hours).

 

CAR & MOTORCYCLE

The E80 highway makes its way through the Balkans to Edirne and Istanbul, then on to Ankara. Using the car ferries from Italy and Greece can shorten driving time from Western Europe but at a price

From Alexandroupolis in Greece, the main road goes to the most convenient crossing (Kipi-Ipsala) then to Kesan, and east to Istanbul or south to Gallipoli, Canakkale and the Aegean.

 

TRAIN

From Western European cities (apart from those in Greece) you will come via Eastern Europe;

the best option traveling between Greece and Turkey is the overnight train between Thessaloniki and Istanbul called the Filia -Dostluk Express. The journey takes 12 to 14 hours, including an hour or two's delay at the borders and accommodation is in comfy, air conditions sleeper cars. God-value-one way rates are €48 for 2nd-class between Istanbul and Thessaloniki; or €68 for 2nd-class if you take your connecting Greek Intercity train to/from Athens. 

You can buy tickets at the train stations but not online. For more information see the websites of Turkish State Railways (TCDD);( www.tcdd.gov.tr ) or the Hellenic Railways Organisation (www.ose.gr ).

 

Iran

Stream to border crossings between Iran and Turkey, the busier Gurbulak-Bazargan, near Dogubayazit (Turkey) and Sahabat (Iran); and the Esendere-Sero border crossing, southeast of Van (Turkey), Gurbulak-Bazargan is open 24 hours. Esendere-Sero is open from 8 am until midnight but double check in winter as the border might be closed. Travelers are increasingly using this second crossing into Iran, which has the added bonus of taking you through the breathtaking scenery of for Southeastern Anatolia. And to make things easy, there is a direct bus running between Van (Turkey) and Orumiyeh (Iran) 

 

BUS

There are regular buses from Istanbul and Ankara to Tabriz and Tehran. From Istanbul otogar, with daily departures (€55, 35hours). From Ankara, daily from the Asti bus terminal.

You may also want to consider taking a dolmus from Dogubayazit 35km east to the border at Gurbulak, for about €2, and then walking across the border. The cruise sink might take up to an hour. From Bazargan there are onward buses to Tabriz; from Sero there are buses to Orumiyeh. You can catch buses to Iran from Van.

 

TRAIN

The Trans-Asya Ekspresi runs between Tehran and Istanbul, traveling via Tabriz, Van and Tatvan. Expect a comfortable journey on connecting Turkish and Iranian trains, a ferry ride across Lake Van, and no showers.

There is a weekly train service between Tehran (Iran) and Damascus, running through the Turkish cities of Van and Malatya.

 

Iraq

Although we obviously don't suggest that traveling to wider Iraq he's it's all advisable, a handful of hardy Travelers have been traveling into Northern Iraq via the Habur- Ibrahim al-Khalil border post. It's near Cizre and Silopi, on the Turkish side; Zakho us the closest town to the border on Iraqi side. There's no town or village at the border crossing and you can't walk across it. A taxi from Silopi to Zakho costs around €20, from Cizre to Zakho US$30.

 

Syria

There are eight borders posts between Syria and Turkey but the border at Reyhanli- Bab Al Hawa is by far the most convenient, and therefore the busiest. Daily buses link Antakya in Turkey with the Syrian cities of Aleppo (Halab; €3,four hours, 105km) and Damascus (Sam; €5,50, 8 hrs, 465 km). Also close to Antakya Eastern borders post at Yayladagi. Other popular cruising to Syria include via Kilis, 65 km south of Gaziantep, the Akcakale border,54 km south of Sanliurfa and Nusaybin-Qamishle border 75 km east of Mardin.

It is possible to buy bus tickets didact from Istanbul to Aleppo or Damascus.

The very comfortable Toros Express train runs between Istanbul and Aleppo (and not all the way to Damascus is it says in the official time tables). Bring your own food and drinks as there is no restaurant car. Several comfortable trains link Aleppo and Damascus daily.

There is a weekly train service between Tehran (Iran) and Damascus running through the Turkish cities of Van and Malatya. See www.tcdd.gov.tr for more information.