Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, and it has a rich and deep history that you can spend months exploring as a tourist. One of the best ways to do so is to take a road trip across the country and pay as much time, at least site, as you want.
In order to drive as a foreigner, you’ll need to have an international driver’s license and a national permit as well. You’ll also need a photo ID to both drive and rent a vehicle in Turkey.
Thrace and North Aegean
This long road trip is best suited for those who want to experience the local cuisine and wines. Both are amazing, and the journey is worth your time. The drive will be about 550 miles starting from Istanbul and ending in Izmir.
This part of the country is also rich in history since that’s where the battle of Troy is believed to take place. It’s also where the famous WW1 battle of Gallipoli was won. Don’t forget to stop overnight at one of the many wineries along the way.
The Lycian Coast
This road trip is about 330 miles long, and it starts in Dalaman and ends in Antalya. It’s somewhat shorter than other trips on our list, but it’s perfect for enjoying the beautiful coastline for which Turkey is so well known. Stop at the harbor city of Gocek for your first break and enjoy the local cuisine based on seafood.
As you keep moving east, you should make a stop at Kas, which is probably the most beautiful city on this path. Chances are you’ll stick around since the coastline is so pristine and calming.
A Trip Through Historic Anatolia
A drive from Ankara to Konya is about 700 miles long, and you need to spend a week or so on it so that you can stop at all the important historic sites on the way. Start with the Museum in Ankara dedicated to the civilizations of the region. A mausoleum to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is also in Ankara.
Goreme and Urgup are good places to stop along the way to Konya since they are known for fantastic food and wines. Konya is home to many Seljuk-era relics and an essential city in the history of Suni Muslims.
This 500 miles long road trip starts in Gaziantep, and it goes in a circle so that you enjoy the whole southern region and end up where you started in the first place. The city is known for its kebabs and baklavas that you need to try to believe. It’s also an ancient city with Roman ruins.
Sanlufa is the next city to stop at as you move east. It’s also filled with Roman ruins and the remains of Syrian monasteries that are much older than Turkey itself. Diyarbakir is the most prominent Kurdish city in the region.
Mountains to the East
Eastern mountains are a must-see if you’re in Turkey and you enjoy being outdoors and spending time in nature. It’s about 400 miles if you start in Trabzon and end the trip in Kars. The landscapes are beautiful and harsh, and the journey is a bit raggedy. It’s on this road that you get to learn the Greek heritage of the region.
Baksi Museum is also a stop you should make since it covers the art of the region ranging from ancient to the most modern. Kars, at the end of your trip, was a Russian city, and it’s noticeable in its aesthetic.
The Three Peninsulas
A trip from Bodrum to Dalaman is about 400 miles long as well, and it’s nothing but beautiful seaside all the way through. The overall vibe is relaxed and slow, as you might expect from the Turkish coastline.
Some of the most beautiful beaches can be found along this route. If you’re visiting Turkey to enjoy its coastline and all that it entails – this is the road to take. Dalyan, a riverfront city, is probably best known for its pristine beaches and beautiful views.
Phrygia and the Lakes
This trip can start from Istanbul, but many decide to start at Eskisehir and take a train that stops there, moving all the way to Antalya. It’s about 350 miles of driving through the ancient civilization of Phrygia. Eskisehir is also known for its great museum dedicated to modern art.
Lake District is located down south, and it’s a perfect place for hiking and watersports, including fishing. Antalya itself has some fantastic beaches, so it’s the best way to end your trip and get some rest and relaxation after a busy schedule.
Western Black Sea
This is the longest route on our list, and you can cut it short at some point if it’s a bit too much driving for you – it’s about 950 miles, starting from Istanbul and ending in Samsun. This route allows you to enjoy both the rugged parts of the coastline and the lush green ones.
It’s best to make stops at lakes in Alabang and Yenice. The forest that surrounds them is beautiful and peaceful, and the lakes are great for swimming and kayaking. Amasra is a coastal resort with ancient history, and it’s located along the way, therefore making an excellent stop to learn a bit about the region and get some rest.
It’s Not a Country for One Trip
As you may have noticed from the extent of our list, Turkey isn’t a country you can truly visit and experience in a single trip. It’s best not to try and rush your way through the itinerary you’ve agreed to.
Instead, use the fact that you can stop or move on whenever you want and enjoy the area you’re visiting with as much depth as you can. It does mean you’ll need to come back at some point, but that’s what’s so great about Turkey – every trip will be a different experience.