We're leaving in a week for Turkey. My husband and I are planning to fly from Istanbul into Izmir, then pick up our reserved rental car there and drive to Kusadasi, then on to Parmakale, Antalya, Konya, Ihlarra Valley, and Cappedocia (Uchisar). We would then turn in the car at the Nevesehir airport and fly back to Istanbul. I've recently heard some comments about it being best to avoid driving a car in Turkey. We really like the flexibility that the car provides. Does anyone have any experience driving in Turkey that they could share? Is this really doable (in an enjoyable way) or are we just being crazy and should stick to the bus system? Thanks.
'Does anyone have any experience driving in Turkey . . . '
Many thousand of miles over many years.
Zzzzzzz. End of meaningful report.
I highly recommend getting a car. It will give you lots of flexibility to see really interesting less touristed sites. I think it is most useful in Cappadocia. It is not difficult to drive, except in large cities - avoid driving in large cities if at all possible. If you have a decent map you'll be fine - one that shows the entire country on one map should be sufficient. Signage is pretty good, just be sure to note the towns/cities between your destinations so you can follow the signs. Some things to consider:
Most cars are manual transmission. Be sure to request an automatic if that's important to you.
There are some toll roads between Izmir and Selcuk/Kusadasi. Do a bit of research on these in advance. You will need to request a toll card in advance from your rental company. This site has some pretty good advice for driving and toll roads: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/Car/pay_toll.html and http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Aegean/Izmir/transport/adb_efes_drive.html
Figure out how much gas your car holds (in liters). You may be asked how much you want and may need to pay in advance after you pull into the station.
You itinerary has a fair amount of driving in it. Three to maybe six hours between each leg (the leg to Konya being the longest). Be sure to factor in drive times so you aren't over committed on your travel days.
Pick up a copy of the Lonely Planet guidebook for Turkey. It has some information on just about every town or location you might pass by. It'll be useful to help identify secondary tourist sites, places to eat, etc. while you're on the road.
Have a great trip.
While I have only taken buses and trains in Turkey, I have been confidently able to recommend to other clients that driving in Turkey was similar to driving in most of Europe, and those clients did enjoy their driving.
Thank you all for your input. My momentary lack of confidence has evaporated and we are proceeding with our car rental. Rob, your links were very helpful and that information will be going with us, as well. In the past, we have rented cars in both Italy (Tuscany) and France (Normandy and Provence), and aside from a few "VERY EXCITING" moments, we did fine.
Hi Lynn - I did the same as you are planning to do. Fly to Izmir and then rented a car, drove around the area, and returned the car at the Izmir airport. As long as you can drive a stick shift you will have no problem. I might drive a stick once a year at most....but it comes back very quickly. Driving a car was very easy.....easier than driving a car here in the US in an unfamiliar city. No issues what so ever. Didn't even have a GPS. I used Payless car rental agency at the airport. One odd thing though....they gave us the car with an empty gas tank.....and you return it empty. Of course you can't return it empty so they make money on the additional gas in the tank. There is a gas station to your right just as you exit the airport.....you need to fill up there....they will tell you this as you get ready to leave. I loved driving in Turkey and having the freedom of stopping when and where I want.