Travelling by bus in Turkey: short guide for beginners

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Bus is the most convenient way to travel all around Turkey but there is some special details usually not known by foreign tourists. After reading of this article you be able to get to any Turkish city by this type of transport and order tickets even you are abroad. Travelling by bus in Turkey is easy.

Washing of the Güney Akdeniz Seyahat bus on the road from Mersin to Alanya
Washing of the Güney Akdeniz Seyahat bus on the road from Mersin to Alanya

Common information about travelling by bus in Turkey

  • Common Turkish name for any big bus station is “Otogar”.
  • Mostly in big cities in Turkey intercity bus station (Şehirler Arası Otobüs Terminali) is located far from the city center. But many bus companies provide special service buses for free from office.
  • Sometimes if you need a bus for a short distance like to nearby town you should go to the old bus station. It is usually located not far from city center and has name like “İlçe Otogar”. If you cannot find it using Google Maps you should ask locals.
  • There is a huge international bus terminal in Ankara with name Astı which has three levels and more than one hundred perrons. You can easily get there by subway.
  • Some companies like Metro or VIVA operate all over Turkey and even abroad. Other are related to specific regions like Özlem Cizre Nuh or Vangölü Turizm.
  • Every 4-5 hours intercity bus has a special stop for 15-30 min to wash. It can also make stops during namaz prayer.
Huge Astı bus terminal in Ankara
Huge Astı bus terminal in Ankara

About buses

  • There are three types of the Turkish intercity buses: big (2+1 and 2+2), medium (usually 2+2) and mini-buses (2+1) like “dolmuş”. Second two types are not for a long distance.
  • The most comfortable are big buses with scheme 2+1.
  • Many buses are equipped with personal multimedia centers with TV, movies, music and USB to charge phone or other gadgets, mounted in the back of the seats in front.
Many buses are equipped with personal multimedia centers, mounted in the back of the seats in front
Personal multimedia center in the bus of “Pamukkale Turizm” company.
  • Some of buses have wireless internet access point but signal quality usually is far from perfect.
  • Some of buses have 220V 50 Hz power supply socket so you can charge not only mobile phone but laptop also.
  • If the bus has a toilet in most of cases it’s closed. Maybe it’s connected with religion.
  • Drinks are usually served during the trip like tea, instant coffee, juices, Coca-Cola, lemonade etc.
  • A lot of buses have special fridge with cool water.
Fridge with water in the bus
Fridge with cool water in the bus

Ordering tickets in office

There are two types of bus ticket offices in Turkey: special for one company and common for several companies. You can pay for tickets by cash and bank card but sometimes terminal in office can accept only local Turkish cards. In last case you can order tickets online.

When you are coming to any big bus station in Turkey the special staff will ask you loudly like “Where are you going, Sir?! Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya?!” This is an eastern style of trade. However you should not accept the first offer. You should check time and price for several companies with the same direction.

Gaziantep Otogarı
Gaziantep Otogarı

How to buy bus ticket online in Turkey

There are a lot of sites in Turkey which sell bus tickets online but most of them are not useful for foreigners. For example you should enter T.C. Kimlik Number (Turkish Identification Number) or site accepts only Turkish bank cards. If you are foreign tourist you can use them only for checking tickets availability.

Full list of services for VIVA
Full list of services for VIVA

I can recommend this two online services for non-Turkish residents:

  • biletall.com (supports English, Germany, Russian and Turkish languages, also you can buy not only bus tickets but also airplane, ferry and train, but sometimes it has problems with foreign credit cards) Now its impossible to buy tickets for foreigners at this site but it has good interface to plan your bus trip.
  • valiz.com (supports Turkish language only but accepts any foreign VISA or MasterCard).
  • obilet.com (also Turkish-only but no problem for buying tickets for foreigner).
Examples of online bus tickets SMS notification
Examples of online bus tickets SMS notification (biletall.com).

The only thing you need for buying tickets online at this sites is a local Turkish mobile phone number. There are also some details you should know:

  • Not all of Turkish bus companies are selling tickets through Internet. If you don’t see available ticket online you can go to office.
  • After you have bought a ticket you will get PNR – special reservation number. You can cancel your reservation online using it but not later than one hour before departure.
  • You cannot cancel online ticket in office but you can change departure time. Also you can print your ticket there if you need.
  • If you are traveling with Turkish citizens you can buy bus tickets for them using foreign card.
  • You can order online two seats nearby only for the same sex. If you are traveling a couple you need to buy tickets in office.
You can buy tickets two seats nearby only for the same sex
You can order online two seats nearby only for the same sex

Have a good trip by bus in Turkey! İyi yolculuklar otobüsle!

Have a good trip by bus in Turkey!

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