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Arriving in Turkey via Land, Sea, and Air

A transcontinental nation located between Asia and Europe; Turkey has been a preferred tourism destination for travelers across the world. There are many ways to reach the country by land, sea and air. 

Traveling by Air   

International airports are the main entry points to any country including Turkey. There are as many as 35 international airports in Turkey. 

To make the journey enjoyable, it is important to choose a port of entry that is best suited for you. The experience at the immigration counter can make or mar the entire vacation experience. Read on to know what to expect in some of the prominent airports in Turkey.  

Istanbul Airport (IATA code IST) 

Acclaimed as one of the busiest airports in Europe, Istanbul airport welcomed over 37 million travelers in 2021 alone. 

Sprawled over 7,600 hectares, the airport is known for the luxurious experiences it offers to the passengers. 

The airport is located north of central Istanbul near the Black Sea and is close to 500 km from Ankara, the capital of Turkey.   

At present, two terminals are operational in the airport for both domestic and international travelers. It also has many amenities like cafes, restaurants and shopping avenues.   

Commuting to the nearest city is comparatively easy as there are many shuttle services. Apart from these, passengers can also make use of the service of car rental companies operating from the airport.   

How can I spend My Layover?  

Istanbul Airport is located far from the nearest city. For shorter layovers of less than eight hours, it is advised not to step out. Transiting passengers can make use of the many duty-free shopping avenues inside the airport.   

In most scenarios, transiting foreigners need an e-Visa to get out of an airport. 

If they have more than eight hours to spare between the flights, they can explore the famous minarets and museums of Beyoglu which is about 45 minutes' drive from the airport. 

There are many bus and taxi services to the city. 

The eVisa can take up to 48 hours so be sure to apply for it early.  

Sabiha Gokcen Airport/ Pendik/Istanbul Airport (IATA code SAW) 

There are two airports in Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen Airport is a much smaller airport than Istanbul Airport. 

Located in the Pendik area at the Asian side of Turkey, the airport has only one terminal serving both domestic and international passengers.

It is equally far from the nearest city. However, like in Istanbul airport, many shuttle and rental car services operate from here.    

Ankara Airport (IATA code ESB) 

Located in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, the airport is elected one of the environment-friendly airports in Europe.

Ranked as the fourth busiest airport in Turkey, it has so far served over 15 million passengers.   

Commuting to the city center, which is about 25 km away, is mainly via shuttle buses and rental car services.   

The airport has two terminals. The largest of them is dedicated to domestic and international flights and the second one serves private and business flights.

Spread over 50 hectares, the airport offers many luxury shopping avenues, restaurants and cafes. It is disabled-friendly and has many facilities like conference rooms, post offices, premium lounges and paid wi-fi.   

Izmir Airport (IATA code ADB)  

Izmir Airport is located in Izmir, one of the fastest growing cities of Turkey and is about 18 km from the nearest city. 

The airport has an international terminal, a cargo terminal, a domestic terminal and a general aviation terminal for private jets and boutique business flights.    

The international terminal is built to accommodate over five million tourists in a year and has facilities like duty free shops, restaurants and cafes. 

It is linked to the Izmir metro and Izmir subway. 

Bus shuttle and rental car services are also available. The city has many heritage tourism destinations and tranquil beaches. The local cuisine is also worth trying. 

Adana Airport (IATA code ADA)  

Located in Adana, this international airport is one of the smallest and oldest airports in Turkey.

Domestic and international terminals are separated from each other. The airport has facilities limited to a few duty-free shops, cafes, restaurants and paid wi-fi.   

Dalaman Airport (IATA code DLM) 

Located in southwest Turkey, Dalaman Airport has a capacity to serve over 10 million passengers every year. 

There are two terminals – an international terminal and a domestic terminal. The international terminal mainly caters to chartered tourist flights. 

It is ideal for holidaymakers who wish to spend their vacation in picturesque Marmaris and Fethiye.   

It is elected as one of the most beautiful airports in the world and has many luxury amenities including a shopping center.  The airport is well connected to the city center via bus services and taxis.   

Milas-Bodrum Airport (IATA code BJV) 

Situated between Milas and Bodrum, this is one of the most favorite among tourists. 

It has a capacity to serve about five million passengers and has two terminals. 

While one of them serves foreign tourists, the other is for domestic travelers. 

Tourism is the major commercial activity in these two cities, known for their magnificent beaches and adventurous safaris. 

Entering Turkey in a Train 

Turkey is connected to most parts of Europe and Asia via train. The Turkey government state railway runs high-speed trains across all major cities in the country and an interrail Turkey pass is an affordable way of exploring Turkey and its major cities including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.   

The high-speed passenger trains operate on Istanbul-Eskisehir-Ankara, Ankara-Konya and Eskisehir-Konya routes.   

International travelers can book train tickets or an interrail train pass in advance through a travel agency in Turkey or at the kiosks in railway stations. 

It is recommended for long-distance journeys between Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Antalya or for traveling in high-speed trains. 

Travelers can also get the digital version of this pass on their mobile phones. 

Passengers under 28 years of age can get a youth interrail pass at a discounted price.   

The Iconic Istanbul-Sofia Express. This is a daily train that connects Istanbul and Sofia in Bulgaria.  

Istanbul to Veliko Tarnovo & Bucharest, Istanbul to Brussels & Amsterdam, Istanbul to Athens & Greece and Istanbul to London via Paris are the other international train services from Istanbul Sirkeci railway station, one of the most connected railway stations in the world.   

Apart from them, Turkey railway has many long-distance passenger and freight train services to Asian countries like Iran and Pakistan.    

International tourists can take a global interrail pass to travel aboard these trains.   

Note that to enter Turkey by train, all foreigners must have an eVisa or a short-time tourist visa. Citizens of a few nations like Germany can enter Turkey with their passport and ID card.   

Major Railway Stations in Turkey   

  • Adana is one of the busiest train stations in the country. There are above 50 services per day connecting different parts of Turkey
  • Izmir Basmane too has over 50 services a day
  • Ankara station hosts high speed trains running to and from Eskisehir, Konya and Istanbul.  
  • Istanbul station: Many high speed and express trains call at this station.

Entering Turkey by Road

Turkey shares land borders with eight countries. However, foreigners can enter Turkey only from five of them as the Turkish borders with Armenia, Syria and Iraq are no longer open   

Visitors need to present correct identification and travel documents to cross Turkish land borders.  

The documents needed to enter Turkey by road are as follows: 

  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • A valid Turkish visa
  • An internationally-accepted driver’s license
  • Travel and vehicle insurance acceptable in Turkey
  • Information about vehicle registration/license

Coming from Greece  

There are two land ports between Greece and Turkey:  

  • Kastanies–Pazarkule
  • Kipi–Ipsala

Entering from Bulgaria  

There are three land ports  

  • Kapitan Andreevo–Kapıkule
  • Lesovo–Hamzabeyli
  • Malko Tǎrnovo–Aziziye 

Traveling from Georgia  

Foreigners can cross borders at  

  • Sarp
  • Turkoglu
  • Aktas

Entering from Iran  

There are two land ports. However, only one of them is open to visitors.  

  • Bazargan-Gürbulak 

Entering Turkey by Water  

Thanks to its long coastline, Turkey has a thriving ferry system. It is one of the most popular modes of transport among both domestic and international travelers. 

Apart from the ferry routes in between Istanbul and other major cities in Turkey, the country also has sea bus and ferry lines connecting Greece and other European countries.   

In regards to documentation and visa needed to enter Turkey via a cruise, it is allowed to enter and remain in Turkey up to 72 hours without a visa if the traveler arrives in a cruise. Make sure to travel with a valid passport.

The major sea ports of entry in Turkey are as follows:  

  • Akcay
  • Alamia
  • Anamur
  • Antalya
  • Avalika
  • Bandirma
  • Bodrum
  • Adana
  • Pacta
  • Fethiye
  • Finke
  • Hopa
  • Istanbul
  • Izmir
  • Marmaris
  • Ordu
  • Rize

Explore Turkey  

Choose the mode of transport that suits you and explore the sun-kissed beaches, glorious ruins and breathtaking architecture. Make memories in Turkey. 
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