Turkey is a fascinating place to visit and renting a car in Turkey is one of the best ways to see as much of the country as possible. A fascinating mix of modern and ancient, where East meets West, it is home to iconic sights including the whimsical Cappadocia landscape, the ancient ruins of Ephesus and Troy and the beautiful turquoise coastline. We highly recommend renting a car in Turkey to have the freedom to explore the country at your own pace and discover everything it has to offer. We found driving safe and easy and we highly recommend renting a car in Turkey. Here are our tips for renting a car in Turkey to help you on your journey!
Tips for Renting a Car in Turkey
Overall, we found driving in Turkey to be very safe. During our three week Turkey itinerary, we encountered good roads and a mostly good standard of driving. We felt very safe at all times.
1 | Why Rent a Car in Turkey
Turkey is a huge country and there are iconic sights located all across the country. Renting a car in Turkey is one of the best ways to explore. It can be time-consuming to get around by public transport and many visitors have to join tour groups. We loved having a rental car to explore Turkey. It allowed us to travel at our own pace, visit off the beaten track sights and generally make the most of our time in Turkey.
2| Booking your rental car
Renting a car in Turkey can be relatively cheap. It’s always worth booking your rental car in advance as availability is usually better. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. We’ve always found them to have a great selection of cars at very competitive prices. – check prices now!
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in almost 50 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. Book your car now with RentalCars.com, where you will find competitive prices on rental cars.
Renting a car in Turkey tip: The biggest benefit of having a rental car in Turkey is that you can visit the off the beaten track sights and stay in hotels from the crowds. This also allows you to save money as generally hotels in urban areas are more expensive as tourists can’t travel too far from them without a car.
3 | Renting Eligibility
Most rental companies require drivers to be 21 and to have held their license for at least one year. Some companies impose a surcharge for renters aged under 25.
4 | International Driving Permit (IDP)
We always travel with an International Driving Permit although we were not asked if we had one at the time of rental or while we were driving through the country. As far as we understand, an IDP is only required when a driving license uses a non-Roman alphabet
5 | Picking up your rental car
The majority of the rental car depots are located a short distance from the airport in Istanbul. Simply check-in at your rental car company desk at the airport and they’ll direct you to the bus to pick up your car! We rented with Avis, through RentalCars.com, and one of their drivers dropped us over to the car.
Renting a car in Turkey tip: we travelled through Western Turkey. If you are planning to visit the south east of the country, check for travel advice before travelling. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir and all but essential travel to other parts of the south-east.
6 | Drive on the right-hand side of the road
Driving is on the right-hand side of the road in Turkey, similar to the USA.
7 | Speed Limits
In Turkey, the general speed limits are 50km/h for urban areas, 90km/h for rural areas and 120km/h for motorways. Other speed limits are marked by road signs along the route. Speeding is closely monitored by the Turkish police who use radar guns. Fines are issued to the rental company in the event that you are caught speeding. You might see some cardboard cutouts of police cars along your journey: these are intended to act as deterrents to speeding and reckless driving.
Renting a car in Turkey tip: these speed limits apply as at the time of publishing this article. Be sure to double check the speed limits when you travel.
8 | Road signs
Road signs are predominately in Turkish but the place names are easily translatable. There were frequent signs approaching major turns and big towns.
9 | Sim card
We recommend purchasing a SIM card with data when you arrive in Turkey. We found having mobile data invaluable and it was extremely useful in the rental car. Having a local sim card and data allowance meant that we could research places to visit and use it for navigating the route as we drove.
We picked our sim cards up when we arrived at Istanbul airport.
10 | Car Parking
Parking your rental car is relatively straightforward in Turkey and we didn’t encounter any issues.
Every hotel we stayed in had dedicated parking available. The only exception to this is in Istanbul where you will need to check with your hotel about parking – there is usually a charge for it.
There is ample parking at the major tourist attractions and the car parks felt quite safe. Sometimes, there was a small charge of 5 or 10 Lira.
Cities and Larger Towns
in cities, we used private car parks with parking attendants. We parked and left the car and paid the attendant on our return. Some car parks require leaving your keys and having the attendant park.
Renting a car in Turkey tip: The usual rule applies though: don’t leave anything in your car that you can’t afford to lose! We tried to avoid leaving our car when we had all our luggage in it.
11 | Drive times
The drive times were mostly accurate based on Google Maps predictions.
Renting a car in Turkey tip: On longer journeys make sure to allow time for stops and tourist sites.
12 | Road quality
The Turkish roads were generally in good condition, especially in the busier areas. There are some great highways on the main routes. The coastal roads are quite winding, as one would expect!
Renting a car in Turkey tip: We came across a few road closures but it was in quieter spots like Hattusa, a relatively remote UNESCO between Safranbolu and Cappadocia.
13 | Driving Style
We found driving in Turkey easier than we expected. There were times when we experienced some erratic driving and unexpected undertaking but, overall, it was a good experience.
Renting a car in Turkey tip: It’s important to check every angle before pulling out or overtaking in case someone tries to creates a new lane!
14 | Traffic
We’d recommend avoiding driving in the major cities as the traffic tends to be very heavy and parking quite limited. Driving in the cities isn’t particularly stressful but it does require a lot of patience to brave the traffic jams!
Renting a car in Turkey tip: We finished our trip in Istanbul and the traffic was insane on our way into the city! We parked our car at the hotel and didn’t move it again until we were en route to the airport!
15 | Insurance
Full insurance is relatively cheap in Turkey. We decided to pay the additional amount to the car hire for full coverage. In the end, we returned the car with some minor knocks and scrapes so it was worth it for the peace of mind. You can usually purchase the full insurance coverage when you reserve your car on Rentalcars.com so it avoids having to organise when you pick up your car.
16 | Fuel
Rent a diesel car if you can as petrol is relatively expensive. There are lots of modern garages and most accept credit cards. Attendants will put fuel in the car.
When you purchase fuel you will receive two receipts: one is for presenting to the forecourt attendant before you drive off to prove you have paid for your fuel.
17 | Navigation
Google Maps worked well and the app navigated us well during our time in Turkey. There was no Street View when we visited but we managed fine without it. For peace of mind it is worth having an offline GPS app on your phone in case you run out of cell signal
18 | Tolls
There are some toll roads on the highways and bridges. Many of these now require an automatic HGS (High-Speed Toll System) token or sticker and do not accept cash or credit card. Check at the time of rental if your car is equipped with the automatic toll token. If not, have the rental company provide one for the duration of your rental.
19 | Car Seats for babies and children
We traveled with our 5-month-old and brought our own car seat. The rules state that children under 150cm and weighing less than 35kg must use an appropriate child restraint.
Children under 10 can not sit n the front seat.
20 | Driving outside Turkey
Most rental companies only allow the rental car to be driven within Turkey.