Turkish DelightTrain Route in Turkey
Turkey is often considered a hot spot for families heading abroad for beach holidays, but there is a deep and interesting history in many of the cities throughout.
A bit of a melting pot of cultures, but all the buildings show their Ottoman history with intricate detailing and designs. Each city that you visit on this Turkey Itinerary will show a different and ever-evolving side to Turkey.
Price Range: $$
Recommended Days: 10 Days
Riding Hours: Approx. 34 hrs
Distance: 1,689 km
Istanbul: Turkish Delight
Having been the land where conquering armies of ancient times tended to ransack the city, it has grown from the ashes like a phoenix. Thanks to the Byzantines and Ottomans, the land of Istanbul was adorned with churches, palaces, and also mosaics.
Although known for some beautiful monuments, there is a lot more to this city than meets the eye. The locals have created a vibrant and inclusive community that melds tradition and modernity. Follow the locals in their favorite hangouts, such as the tea gardens, Turkish taverns, and restaurants for a truly delightful visit.
Some of Istanbul’s most celebrated historical sites are in the Sultanahmet Square, like the Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and also the Blue Mosque. Throughout the square are vendors who sell typical Turkish snacks that are must-haves.
If you want to get to know a bit more of the trendy side of Istanbul, then all you have to do is head into the labyrinth of streets in the up-and-coming neighborhoods. Explore the Teşvikiye neighborhood settled behind the Teşvikiye Mosque. Here you will have the chance to sip on third-wave coffee in a local favorite hotspot. Or if you want to see work from local artists and photographers, head over to the Milli Reasürans Art Gallery.
Istanbul Halkali/Bostanci → Ankara Train Station | Duration: 5:30-5:58h | Transfers: 0-1
There are two options to get to Ankara. The first option is to take a direct train from Istanbul Halkali to Ankara train station which takes 5:30h and is runs twice daily. The second option is to take a local city train / metro from where you are staying to Istanbul Bostanci and then transfer to a train which heads to Ankara seven times throughout the day and only takes (4:30h). You can buy the long-haul tickets at the the Istanbul Bostanci or Istanbul Halkali train stations, and the metro tickets can be bought the day if you choose the second option.
Ankara: The ‘Other’ City
Vivacious Ankara may be youthful in beat but also has some history to offer. Our second stop on our Turkey itinerary is often considered to be the ‘other’ city to Istanbul due to its lack of showy Ottoman palaces; however, this dynamic city is sure to entertain! A vibrant street life, a booming restaurant scene, and plenty of sidewalk cafes are not all that this city is about. It also boasts two incredible monuments, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and also the Anit Kabir, a tribute to modern Turkey’s founder.
As one of the main highlights of the city, you shouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Which houses a large collection of Anatolian archaeology exhibits which start from the Paleolithic era all the way to the present day.
If on your way into the city you missed seeing the ferris wheel at Gençlik Park, then fear not as you can visit this spectacular spot when you stop. It is 69 acres of greenery and water features but in addition also boasts a swimming pool, amusement park, open-air theater, and even two miniature trains. There will be something for everyone to enjoy.
Ankara Train Station→ Antalya Bus Station | Duration: 7:32 h | Transfers: 1
There is no direct train connection but you can take a train from Ankara to Konya. This train connection is available five times throughout the day and is 1:50h long. In Konya, you will need to switch to a bus, which is right outside the station, and it services the route to Antalya throughout the day. Book each leg of this separately, (Ankara to Konya, and Konya to Antalya) on 12GO.
Antalya: Mediterranean Beauty
Right on the Gulf of Antalya, it is the largest city on Turkey’s western Mediterranean coastline. It is classically beautiful but also incredibly modern. The old-city district of Kaleiçi has been well preserved and offers atmospheric accommodation in restored Ottoman houses through the beautifully winding lanes. This old city then wraps around the Roman-era harbor with its clifftop views and mountain silhouettes. Plus don’t forget to relax on one of the beaches, and maybe explore one of Turkey’s finest museums.
Kaleiçi is set against seaside cliffs and an ancient marina, it is considered to be the city’s romantic old quarter and houses some incredible dining options as well as nightlife in the city. Many of the cobblestone streets lead you to restored Ottoman mansions that have converted into restaurants, performance venues, and even boutique hotels. You can either sleep amongst history or just enjoy a romantic sunset stroll.
If you want a bit of a nighttime experience, then within the walls of Kaleiçi is an electric nightlife. Head to Atöyle for a refined vibe that also doubles as a music studio and holds a variety of events from record listening parties to mulled wine tastings.
Antalya Bus Station → İzmir Train Station | Duration: 8:47 h | Transfers: 1
There is no direct train route to Izmir, however, the cities are easily connected by a bus and a train journey. Get on the bus at the Antalya Bus station and head to Denizli (this is around a 3-hour journey). Buses leave every couple of hours and tickets can be bought at the bus station or ahead of time on 12GO. There you will walk across the street to the train station and go to Izmir by train (4:55 h). These tickets can be bought at the trains station or online on the official Turkish Railways (TCDD) website. Make sure to double-check the bus and train timetables before you depart.
Izmir: Pearl of the Aegean
A liberal and deeply cultured city in Turkey, it is surrounded by the azure-blue Bay of Izmir and has a fascinating heritage. There are many compelling attractions to this city, such as fascinating bazaars, museums of art and history as well as a laid back local lifestyle.
Stroll down Kordon, Izmir’s famous promenade that goes up and down the Aegean coast. You can look out over the water, check out the famous clock tower in Konak Square and also stop by one of the bars, cafes, or restaurants along the promenade.
Considered to be one of the most stunning ruins in the city is the Agora. Wrecked by an earthquake, this network of stone structures was rebuilt by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. You can wander through the ancient colonnades, vaulted chambers, basilica, and cisterns in this open-air museum. Another well-known city for ruins is Ephesus. Situated close to Izmir take a tour to visit the oldest and best-preserved history in the area.
Izmir Basmane → Bursa Bus Station | Duration: 7:47 h | Transfers: 1
To get to Bursa, you will need to take a train from Izmir Basmane train station to Balıkesir (4:07h). Buy the train ticket at the train station. These operate twice a day you will need to make sure to get on the early morning train. From there you will need to walk across the street to the bus stop where there are buses operating every couple of hours by MetroTurizm. From there you will need to take a bus to Bursa (2:40h). This ticket can be bought directly at the bus station or ahead of time from MetroTurizm.
Bursa: The Modern Ottoman City
The modern city has been built around mosques, mausoleums, and other beautiful creations from the first Ottoman capital. Although a rather built-up city, there is an abundance of parks that keep tranquility to the city. You can explore the markets, or even take a trip up the peaks for a ski break during the right season, and warm you up by heading to Çekirge’s thermal hammams.
One of the city’s most serene places to wander is the Muradiye complex which houses the Sultan Murat II Mosque. For the history buffs, you should definitely explore the Yeşil Cami. It is named after the green hues of its interior tiles, and the structure is bedecked with intricately carved marble and delicate calligraphy. It really represents the Ottoman history of the city.
If you came to the city hoping to hop on the slopes, then you need to hit Uludağ, which is Turkey’s most famous for its mountain and ski resorts. So don’t be afraid to get kitted out and head to the slopes.
Bursa Bus Station → Istanbul Sirkeci | Duration: 3:00 h | Transfers: 1
To finish up this trip around Turkey, you will need to take a bus from Bursa bus station to Gezbe. Buy this bus ticket from the bus stop or online at 12GO. In Gebze there are regular trains every 15-30 minutes into the city. Make sure to get a ticket to the station closest to your accomodation. This train does not only go to Istanbul Sirkeci, but also to Halkali, and Bostanci. Buy the train ticket at the train station.
*Disclaimer: Due to the fluidity of transportation schedules, the information seen on RailwayHero may not be up to date at the time of readíng. Always double-check with the operator for the latest information.