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Doğu Express - The Ankara To Kars Train • Turkey's For Life
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Guidebooks tell you that Turkey has a good bus network and that 'buses are faster than trains', but do you really want to spend 12 hours in a bus?
When you can travel on an inexpensive air-conditioned train, with a bed in cosy private sleeper or comfy Pullman seat with room to move, through fantastic scenery unspoilt by roadside development? Travellers who take the train rave about their experience. Savvy travellers will use a train for long distances for example, Ankara to Konya, Izmir or Kars then a short bus trip to reach places off the rail network, for example the South coast resorts or Cappadocia.
Much of the network was built by the Germans, and the joke goes that they were paid by the mile, hence the twisting nature of Turkish rail lines. But the first section of a high-speed line from Istanbul to Ankara opened in , and high-speed trains started linking Istanbul with Ankara in 3h40 in July , with Istanbul-Konya trains added in December that year How to buy tickets.
What are Turkish trains like? Istanbul - Bursa - Ankara. Istanbul - Denizli Pamukkale. Ankara - Konya, Karaman, Alanya, Antalya. Istanbul - Erzurum, Kars, Eastern Turkey. Izmir - Istanbul International travel Turkey, to or from: Though it's still worth a visit! The classic Istanbul - Eskisehir-Ankara line has also closed.
Istanbul-Ankara high-speed trains started in July The new high-speed line is currently complete as far as the outskirts of Istanbul, and trains started running from Istanbul to Ankara on 26 July , see the timetable below.
The new trains in fact leave from a suburban station called Pendik, some 25km east of Istanbul. Pendik to Ankara takes 3h40, beating a 6-hour journey by bus. Istanbul-Konya high-speed trains started in December In a year or two's time when work on the suburban lines is complete, high-speed trains will run to and from central Istanbul once more using the new Bosphorus rail tunnel serving a new station in central Istanbul on the European side of the Bosphorus.
Ankara station part-closed for 18 months from July Ankara station will partially close for reconstruction for 18 months from 10 July until at least December More details at https: No longer any daylight saving time, as of Currency converter Tourist information: Find hotels in Turkey.
Alternatively, Turkey now has a new e-visa system, buy online at www. It's easy to buy tickets at the station when you get to Turkey. It's not usually difficult to get seats or berths on the day of travel or a day or two before, although sleepers can sometimes get fully-booked.
Alternatively, you can buy tickets in advance either online or via a TCDD-authorised agency as shown below. Stations accept Turkish lira cash, and may now accept credit cards. Booking for Turkish domestic trains opens 30 days before departure for some trains, 15 days ahead for others. The high-speed trains open 10 days before travel.
You can easily buy tickets online. You print out your reservation details and pick up the tickets at the station in Turkey. It's quirky, but works beautifully and happily accepts non-Turkish credit cards even though most Turkish bus booking websites don't. Online reservations for Turkish trains open 30 days before departure for some trains, 15 days ahead for others, and 10 days ahead for YHT high-speed trains, you won't see any trains if you look too far ahead.
If buying tickets online proves difficult, you can buy Turkish train tickets in advance by emailing or calling one of these authorised travel agencies in Istanbul:. Amber Travel , see www. They'll take bookings even before reservations open and make the booking as soon as it opens. They take payment via credit card or PayPal and email you the tickets. I have yet to receive any reports about Backpackers or Amber Travel, but they are both well-known agencies. They can't book International trains from Turkey in their capacity as official TCDD agents, but they may be willing to buy tickets for international trains on your behalf as a private transaction, for a booking fee.
Note the fire-damaged roof! It was closed to long-distance trains in February when engineering work started to rebuild the rail approaches to Istanbul in connection with both the new high-speed line to Ankara and the new Bosphorus rail tunnel.
It only handles a few remaining suburban trains, indeed even they may now be stopped. However, the latest welcome news is that TCDD want to redevelop the station as the terminal for the new high-speed trains to Ankara and Konya when these finally get extended into central Istanbul, probably by late In the meantime, the station is still worth a visit, trains or no trains. High speed, mainline, regional, suburban or international.
Now click English again, top right! Before buying tickets, read the advice here Back to top What are Turkish trains like? YHT high-speed trains started running from Istanbul in fact, from a suburban station called Pendik, 25km east of Istanbul to Ankara on 26 July Since May , the type of YHT shown below has been joined by a second type built in Germany by Siemens, with similar facilities. A YHT train at Ankara Economy 2nd class seats on the YHT Business 1st class seats on a YHT Cafe-bar, complete with bar stools Turkey's conventional trains are also a pleasant surprise.
Cheap, spacious, and mostly now composed of modern air-conditioned TVS coaches like the ones shown below, which are as good as any regular train in western Europe. They have several types of accommodation to choose from:. Sleeping-cars yatakli wagon in Turkish. Shared 4-bunk air-conditioned compartments. Restaurant cars are available on a number of trains. Although TCDD discontinued all its restaurant cars in January , a new catering contract was let and the restaurant cars returned in mid, though sadly with only cold food and drinks, no alcohol and no hot meals.
Most overnight trains in Turkey now use modern air-conditioned TVS sleeping-cars. Sleeper compartments have beds and a washbasin, soap and towels provided, and even a small fridge containing complimentary mineral water, soft drinks and snacks. There's even a shower at the end of the corridor. Compartments convert from a bedroom at night to a private sitting room with armchairs and small table for the daytime part of a journey.
Travelling in these sleepers is a great way to travel that saves on hotel bills, too. A cosy 2-berth sleeper Above left, the corridor Above centre and right, the same 2-bed sleeper in daytime mode with seats folded out and beds folded away Interior photos courtesy of Shigeki Murao.
Couchettes are basic padded bunks, with 4 bunks per compartment. Couchettes convert to ordinary seating compartments for the daytime part of a journey. TVS air-conditioned 4-berth couchettes , shown in daytime position with the berths folded against the wall. For more information, the train travel section of www. The rest of the high-speed line is now finished as far as the outskirts of Istanbul and on 26 July high-speed YHT trains started running between Ankara and a suburban station called Pendik, 25km east of Istanbul, see location map here the timetable was tweaked from 8 August.
It's then a minute 1. You should allow at least 2 hours in total to get from the European side of Istanbul to Pendik. The Istanbul Metro website is www. YHT trains have a brief ticket and X-ray baggage check on the platform, so arrive for boarding 15 minutes before departure.
Ankara station is in central Ankara, see location map , unlike the main bus terminal which is miles outside the city or the airport miles outside. Check times for your date of travel at https: All these fares are one-way per person. The new face of Turkish train travel: This is not much slower than taking a direct bus from Istanbul to Ankara, given that the YHT trains arrive at Ankara station in the heart of Ankara, not a bus station 2 miles out of town. This route is also scenic, taking you up the lush green slopes of Mount Uludag the Olympus of Bithynia.
On a typical weekday, you'll find ferry departures like the ones shown below, but they vary by day of the week and time of year, so check sailing times for your date of travel at budo. Istanbul to Bursa on a typical weekday: