Discover Turkey by train - a patchwork of cultures combined with a tradition of hospitality. With your Eurail pass, explore the diversity of Istanbul, experience one of the many action-packed outdoor adventures in Cappadocia or relax on the pristine beaches of Antalya. Turkey is a box of goodies for any travel enthusiast.
Turkey by train
Train types in Turkey
The Eurail Global Pass and the Eurail Select Pass are valid on all trains operated by TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railways).
On the website of the Turkish State Railways you can find useful information about:
The Istanbul – Ankara rail line is the most popular connection. There are several daily trains on this line. Since July 2014, the two cities are connected by a high-speed train, allowing you to make the journey in less than 4 hours.
Other major cities or tourist spots that can be reached by rail from Istanbul directly are Edirne, Eskisehir, Denizli (near Pamukkale), Konya, Adana, Kayseri, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Kars, and Tatvan on the shore of Lake Van.
How to get there
Due to the building of a new high-speed line there are no trains between Istanbul and the Bulgarian border. There's a replacement bus connecting Kapikule (bordering station) with Istanbul. Eurail passes are valid for this journey. Read more about this bus connection.
From Istanbul there is an international connection to Iran (Trans-Asya Ekspresi).
Reservations are not compulsory on national trains in Turkey. For long-distance trains reservations are possible. You can make free reservations locally at Turkish train stations up to 15 days in advance.
Bikes are allowed, but check locally if a special ticket is required.
Süper Ekspresler (intercity trains)
Mavi Trenler and Ekspresler (interregional trains)
Bölgesel Ekspresler (interregional express trains), Ray Otobüsü ve Mototrenler and Normal Yolcu Trenleri (regional trains)
Banliyö Treni (commuter trains)
Places to visit in Turkey
Ephesus should be your first stop if you’re in search of ancient Roman remains – along with Pompeii it’s the best-preserved ancient settlement in the Mediterranean. Although just one column of the Temple of Artemis remains (this Seventh Wonder was destroyed in 401 BC) there are plenty of great excavated splendours to see, including the Library of Celsus and the Odeon amphitheatre. For more recent historical beauty head to mythical Amasya, with its enchanting Ottoman houses and impressive offering of mosques.
To reach Esphesus take the train to Selçuk and from there take a mini-bus from the main bus station to the site. Amasya is a 15-minute walk from the main train station.
Far-out land formations
Buried in the heart of this huge country is Turkey’s splendid treasure: Cappadocia. An amalgamation of weird and intricate landforms – deep canyons, fairy chimney rock formations, as well as the highest peak Uçhisar and the ancient ruins of Mount Golgoli. Göreme – a small town and one of the only remaining Cappadocian settlements is a good base from which to explore this fascinating place. Pamukkale – a terrace of hot spring in the Denizli Province – is another absolute must-see . Take a dip in the mineral-rich 35°C waters, while marvelling at nature’s unique work.
To reach Göreme in Cappadocia take the train to Kayseri and from there take a bus. To reach the Pamukkale take the train to Denizli and from there take a bus.
Istanbul: Magnificent monumental city
Visit Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul and you’ll be blown away by sense-sparking monuments in every direction. Sultan Ahmet’s Ottoman Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most epic structures. The interior of this six minaret mosque is emblazoned with over 20,000 exquisite blue tiles. Another must is to test your haggling mastery at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – one of the oldest and largest of its type. It houses over 4,000 shops, offering jewellery, pottery, spice and carpet – you’re guaranteed to find whatever weird and wonderful souvenirs you could imagine.
The Blue Mosque is a 20-minute walk from Istanbul’s Sirkeci Garı train station and the Grand Bazaar is a 15-minute walk from there.
Sports for every taste
For adrenaline-fueled fun hit Kaş – a pretty little fishing town, where you’re invited to try out mountain biking and paragliding. And for marine-lovers indulge in Turkey’s most breathtaking scuba-diving within sapphire waters. During snowy climes hit one of Turkey’s top ski resorts. Uludaǧ – just 1.5 hours from Istanbul is popular with locals and tourists alike. The resort has beginner slopes to giant slaloms, plus great facilities and a very lively night scene. In summer, this national park offers good hiking and camping opportunities.
To reach Kaş take the train to Denizli and then connect to a bus. From Istanbul it takes about 1,5 hours to reach Uludaǧ by bus.
Tempting Turkish riviera
Alanya on the Turkish Riviera is a beach resort city that has it all: a Mediterranean climate, historical attractions, natural sights and frisky nightlife. During the day visit Alanya’s magnificent castle dating back to 1226, followed by some beach action at the pristine Ulaş beach. By night Alanya is one of the most happening places in Turkey. The area around the harbour is where the most spirited bars and clubs can be found. Be warned, you may find it hard to leave this all-encompassing Mediterranean jewel.
Take the train to Karaman and then connect to a bus to Alanya.
Benefits in Turkey
Ferry Lake Van
Cross Turkey's biggest lake
With a Eurail pass valid in Turkey, you get a free ferry crossing on the following route (no reservation necessary):
Tatvan – Van (Tuesdays and Fridays only)
More about Turkey
Population: 75.6 million
Currency: Turkish lira (TRY)
Dialing code: +90