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Where to drive in Turkey


From its majestic mountain ranges to vast deserts, its coastline to its countryside, Turkey is a country ideally suited to road trips. The highway network here is well-maintained and comprehensive with clear signage. Plus, the country is home to numerous small airports, meaning drivers have the option of a one-way route or a round trip. So where should you drive? While there are dozens of excellent choices, these are the routes we recommend.

Istanbul to Ephesus

With the majority of flights touching down in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city is a must-see on any itinerary. This dynamic metropolis straddles both Europe and Asia and its fusion of east-meets-west culture makes it one of the world’s most intoxicating destinations. Spend a few days taking in sights including the chaotic Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sofia.

When you’re ready for a change, head south on the Otoyol-5 highway towards the port city of Ephesus and watch as the scenery shifts from city sprawl to soothing countryside. The drive will take between -7 hours but there’s plenty to see en route. Don’t miss the tiny, ancient mountain village of Sirince which is widely considered to be one of the mosy beautiful spots in the whole country.

UNESCO-listed Ephesus was the most important city in the Roman Empire after Rome and its ancient remains reflect centuries of history. Of particular significance are the Library of Celsus, originally built in 125AD and reconstructed in recent times; an amphitheatre believed to be the largest in the ancient world and the Temple of Hadrian, which dates from the 2nd Century.

The Aegean Coastline

Offering the chance to take a dip in the sea whenever you stop, Turkey’s stunning southwestern coastline makes the perfect summertime road trip. Featuring pretty villages, ancient ruins and breathtaking beaches, the so-called ‘Turkish Riviera’ runs from Alanya at the east end to Cesme in the West, taking in cities such as Antalya, Izmir, Marmaris and Bodrum. Take your time and enjoy activities from golf to hiking to sailing. Or just kick back on the white sand beaches and watch the Aegean sparkle in the sun.

Antalya to Cappadocia

After soaking up the sights of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, head north from Antalya towards the magical region of Cappadocia in central Turkey. Renowned for the tall, natural rock formations known as ‘fairy chimneys’ Cappadocia’s otherworldly landscape is one you will never forget. Hot air ballooning is one of the most popular tourist activities here, but you will also want to allow time to visit some of the eerie underground cities constructed to protect residents from invasion. One of the best known is Derinkuyu, the deepest underground city in Turkey at 197ft below ground. The multi-level city was equipped with everything inhabitants could need including wine cellars, stables and chapels as well as connections to other underground cities.

Antalya to Fethiye

Another great road trip is the 118-mile scenic route from Antalya to Fethiye, which takes in forests, beaches and large expanses of the Mediterranean. Stop off in Cirali, a village in the Kemer district of Antalya that’s walking distance from the ancient ruins of Olympos, Kas, Turkey’s best scuba diving location, and the ruin city of Phaselis where you can explore the historical sights or relax on beautiful beaches.

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