Traveling with a car rental in Turkey is one of the best ways to explore the country to its fullest potential and extend your visit to the untouched corners of this stunning Anatolian paradise. In this guide, we dish out everything you’ll want to know about renting a car in Turkey.
Turkey has served as a gateway between the East and West for centuries. With rich cultural history and a variety of bucket list destinations like Cappadocia, Istanbul, and Pamukkale, getting a car rental in Turkey is the best way to make the most of your trip and jam-pack your itinerary with some of the top sights around this adventurous place.
Before you set out exploring some of the best things to do, there are a handful of things you’ll want to know about renting a car in Turkey to save you time and money.
I didn’t know much about Turkey when I first visited, but after traveling to the iconic turquoise coast, roaming around ornate mosques, and eating my weight in mezze (Turkey’s version of tapas), it easily became one of my favorite destinations. In fact, I enjoy it so much I’ve returned 5 times to continue exploring all the places to visit in Turkey!
There are a handful of things I wish I would have known before getting a rental car in Turkey, so I’ve put together this complete guide with everything you need to know. This way you’ll be much more prepared than I was!
We’re breaking down the exact cost of a rental car in Turkey, answering some of your most frequently asked questions, plus sharing our top tips to save you money and headaches.
Why rent a car in Turkey?
If you’re on the fence about getting a rental car in Turkey, here’s the top things to consider and the reasons we think renting a car is the best idea.
1. It’s cheap
I expected renting a car to be expensive, but as I found out, it is much cheaper than renting a car in the United States! Read below to see exactly how much you can expect to pay for a rental car in Turkey.
2. You can see more hidden gems
Turkey can be very touristy in certain areas and popular destinations. The only way to escape the crowds is to venture off the typical tourist trail. And while the country is well-connected with public transportation, these places are much easier to get to if you have your own vehicle.
Some of the highlights of my time spent in Turkey were places that would have been a lot more complicated to visit without a rental car—the best hiking trails in Cappadocia, my favorite hidden beach in Kaş, and a villa on the southwest coast.
3. It’s faster
Public transportation in Turkey is cheap, but as with any scheduled transportation, it can be oh so slow! If you don’t want to wait around for the bus to take you somewhere, having your own rental car in Turkey is a great option.
4. Driving in Turkey is easy(ish)
There are some countries where the insane traffic and crazy driving etiquette would scare me away from renting a car. (Vietnam for example!) But most of Turkey is pretty laid back when it comes to driving, and the rules of the road are pretty much the same as you’d find elsewhere in Europe and North America.
I say “ish” because there is, as always, an exception to this statement. The exception to this might be driving in Istanbul, where the roads are modern and most people follow the typical rules of the road. However, traffic in Istanbul is notoriously crazy, and lanes and speed limits sometimes feel more like a suggestion than a rule, despite the law.
Depending on where in Turkey you plan to drive, you likely won’t encounter too much traffic or difficult situations. (Again, unless you’re driving through Istanbul or another major city.) However, renting a car in a place like Cappadocia is a great idea and it’s super easy to get around!
5. It’s convenient
If you have your own vehicle, you don’t need to look up bus times, or stick to someone else’s schedule. You don’t have to wake up early to catch that 6 a.m. bus or leave a destination before you are ready because it’s the last ride home.
You can stop whenever you need to, whether it’s to use the restroom or when you get hungry. Turn on the AC or roll down your windows. It’s up to you!
6. It’s fun!
There’s just something about road trips that are so much fun! Stock up on snacks, crank some tunes and sing aloud, or listen to a podcast with your travel buddy. No headphones needed!
Reasons not to rent a car in Turkey
I had an excellent experience with my rental car in Turkey, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everyone. Here are some things to consider:
- If you’re planning to visit far away destinations in a short period of time, renting a car might not be your best option. If Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale and the south coast are all on your Turkey itinerary, but you only have 10 days… it’s probably best to look into flights between the major hubs (though renting a car in each destination might still work out for you).
- If you’re only going to a single destination in Turkey, it might not be necessary to rent a car. This is especially true if you don’t plan to do much exploring outside of the place you’re visiting. Some of our favorite places to visit in Turkey are just as easily explored on foot or by public transportation. In this case, simply walking or relying on taxis or Uber would be a good option for you.
- If you’re nervous about driving in another country. Even though we felt driving in Turkey was quite easy compared to many other countries, it can still be a bit stressful driving in a foreign country. If this worries you, it might not be worth the stress of renting a car—especially if you’re thinking about driving in Istanbul.
- If you’re traveling solo and/or you’re on a tight budget. The cost of a rental car in Turkey is quite affordable, especially if you’re splitting the expense between travel partners. However, if you’re on your own and are on a tight budget, this might be an expense that is hard to justify since taking a bus would be much cheaper.
How much does a car rental in Turkey cost?
The cost of renting a car in Turkey is going to vary depending on the type of vehicle you choose, the time of year you visit, and which car rental company you book with. It’s not the cheapest country to rent a car, but prices are a bit better than the United States and Western Europe.
You can expect to pay $50-$70 USD per day from a major international company, like Enterprise, Avis, or Budget, for a standard car with proper insurance. Budget rental cars tend to run around $25-$30 USD per day.
The longer you rent, the cheaper the price tends to be. We love using RentalCars.com to compare all the most reputable rental companies to get the best price.
Be sure to configure gas into the cost of your car rental in Turkey. If you plan to drop off the car in a different location, keep in mind you’ll be charged a “one way fee”, which varies by distance, but is generally expensive to do.
If you’re driving on tollways in Turkey, your rental car should come with a small device that will record your tolls and then add them to your bill when you return the car.
Do I need rental car insurance in Turkey?
Note: In this section, we are sharing our experience and opinion about rental car insurance. We are not experts on insurance and this article is only meant as a reference to know what to look for. Please do a bit of research on your own, call your travel and credit card insurance so you can make an informed decision.
Yes, you should have insurance for your rental car in Turkey. Accidents are prone to happen while traveling and you want to make sure you’re covered in case anything happens so you don’t have to cough up a large amount of cash to fix the car. Plus, basic car rental insurance is required in Turkey.
The mandatory insurance in Turkey is typically called third-party liability insurance, or just Liability Insurance. Most of the time when looking online, the cost of this is not included in the posted price since you pay when you pick up your car so keep that in mind.
You may want to purchase additional coverage for your rental car depending on what is covered in their basic insurance policy.
If you have a travel credit card, or if you purchased travel insurance (which you should!), you might be covered and won’t need to purchase additional insurance for your rental.
Credit card coverage
If you have a travel credit card, you may be able to reduce the cost of your rental car by not having to purchase additional insurance, which is a HUGE plus! Check into your credit card’s policy to be sure. (We have Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards, and both have rental car insurance).
Be sure to check with your credit card company to see if they cover your rental car in Turkey. Always double check the terms of coverage with your provider. Some may require you to decline coverage with your rental company, otherwise your card’s coverage will be voided.
Travel insurance coverage
If you have travel insurance, which we recommend always having when you travel, you may be covered for your rental car. Read the policy’s fine print to ensure you have the proper coverage.
If you need more information, we’ve got a complete guide to choosing the best travel insurance policy that should answer all your questions.
FAQs about car rentals in Turkey
Here are some of the main things you need to know about renting a car in Turkey. These will help you start the rental car search off on the right foot.
Is it safe to rent a car in Turkey?
Turkey is absolutely a safe place to get a rental car. Outside of major cities, particularly Istanbul, driving is straightforward and safe on the main tollways. Scams and fraud companies are uncommon since everything is binded by a legal contract. Not to say it won’t happen, but it’s a lot less common here than in some other countries.
The main safety concern for getting a car rental in Turkey is not the process of renting, but the actual driving itself. Drivers in Turkey can be aggressive and ignore traffic laws, so being vigilant is very important when renting a car in Turkey.
If you’re flying into Istanbul, the traffic can get hectic and parking can be impossible, so it’s best to use public transport while exploring here and other major cities and pick up your rental car as you’re leaving.
If you’re traveling more off the beaten path in Turkey, like the mountainous Black Sea region, note that roads, especially in the mountains, can be very rugged and require a bit of skill to traverse, especially during the winter. In order to access them safely, you must rent a 4WD car or consider hiring a local driver.
Who can rent a car in Turkey?
These are the main things you need to be able to rent a car in Turkey:
- You must be 21 years or older. You also must have held your license for 1-2 years, contract depending. If you recently renewed your license, this can make things confusing for the rental staff, so consider bringing your old license with you otherwise they may not rent to you.
- Passport (and entry stamp to Turkey).
- Driver’s license from your home country. If you have a valid U.S. driver’s license, or a license using the roman alphabet, you can easily rent a car in Turkey with your country’s license.
- Up to a $1000 hold on your credit card. This is common practice for rental companies. Most companies will place a hold on your account in case you damage the car on your trip. The amount varies depending on the rental company, but make sure you have a large enough credit limit.
- Insurance that covers rental cars. This is important to have so you’re covered in case an accident occurs.
What’s the cheapest rental car company in Turkey?
Rental car prices in Turkey fluctuate depending on seasons, holidays, and many other factors so prices are always changing. With all the different rental car companies in Turkey, you’ll need to be diligent with your search so you can find the best deal for the best car.
Personally, we love finding the best, cheapest rental cars in Turkey with RentalCars.com because they compare reputable international and local dealers to get you the best price for your needs. You can also use a bunch of different filters to narrow your search to find the perfect rental car.
Do I need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Turkey?
Typically you don’t need an international drivers license to rent a car in Turkey. Your normal driver’s license will work fine.
If you have a license that uses a character-based alphabet (like Korean, Japanese, and Chinese) you will be required to present an international license because it serves as a translation to your home license.
If road tripping is your primary means of getting around other countries when you travel, it’s a good thing to have since some countries require it, such as Greece, Costa Rica, or Chiang Mai.
International Driving Permits are good for one year and will have you covered in the event your home country’s license isn’t accepted in the country you’re traveling to.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is easy to obtain online at https://e-ita.org/.
Tips for renting a car in Turkey
These tips are pretty universal whether you’re renting a car in Turkey, Europe or the United States. We hope they are helpful to you as you plan your trip.
1. Take pictures of the outside of the car before driving
Get up close and personal. Take photos on your cell phone of any scrapes and dents, no matter how small. And don’t forget any little cracks on the windshield. This way, none of these issues can be blamed on you.
We’ve never had to use these photos, but it’s a good idea to have yourself covered just in case!
2. Rent your car online
Since the online booking platforms reserve several cars and pay the company whether or not someone actually rents them, they get a great rate and can pass the savings onto you.
It is almost always cheaper to book online rather than walking into a store. (I never would have believed this until we walked into a car rental shop in Costa Rica and were quoted nearly 3 times as much for the same vehicle as it was listed online!)
Plus, you won’t need to worry whether there will be availability if you book it ahead of time!
3. Download offline navigation
It’s important to download the map before your trip so you have access to roads, restaurants, and attractions even if you don’t have cell phone service.
For this, Google Maps is amazing! Not only can you pin all the points of interest along your route, but it will also show your current GPS location even when you’re not within cell signal. To enable this feature, keep reading…
How do you Download Google Maps Offline?
It’s super simple, just follow these steps:
- Sign into Google Maps (it’s connected with your Gmail account).
- Search for “Costa Rica” in the search bar.
- You’ll see a white bar that pops up at the bottom of the screen. You may need to swipe right to find the “download” icon.
- Make sure you’re in Wifi, and click the “download” icon.
The map data from this region will now be on your phone, and can be accessed even when you have no cell signal! You’ll even be able to see your current GPS location as long as you have it authorized. (Settings > Google Maps > Location > select “Always”)
Maps.Me is another great map option, and we use it a lot to find hiking trails and things that aren’t always marked on Google Maps. You might want to download both maps before your trip!
4. Get a local SIM card
We recommend getting a local SIM card if you plan on renting a car in Turkey, just as a safety net in case anything goes wrong, you’ll have access to data and communication while on the road.
There are three main network providers in Turkey that you should know about: TurkCell, Vodafone, and Turk Telekom. Each provider only has one plan available to buy, but each has a different price and data amount you can purchase:
- TurkCell ($20/ 20gb data, 200 minutes): This is the most reliable network for getting a SIM card in Turkey. They have the best price and the highest amount of 4g coverage in most destinations in Turkey.
- Turk Telekom ($25/ 15gb, 750 minutes): This is the next cheapest option for getting a SIM card, but keep in mind they have the smallest amount of coverage across Turkey. Consider this if you’re staying in the main cities.
- Vodafone ($28/ 20gb data, unlimited texts and minutes): The most expensive plan is Vodafone. They have coverage that falls somewhere between TurkCell and Turk Telekom.
There are a couple ways you can get these SIM cards in Turkey: at the airport (it’ll cost you more!), or at one of the network stores (you’ll find these all over the major cities).
The easiest way to get a local SIM is with Airalo. This is an app you can use to purchase and set up an eSIM straight from your phone as long as you have Wifi access. (Note: Your phone will have to be compatible with eSIMs. Iphone models 11 and above are.)
The cost is the same as buying a physical SIM card in person, but the convenience is unbeatable. Plus, you can add more data as you go from your app. The downside to using Airlo is they provide data only SIMs. So you won’t be able to make calls or texts unless you are connected to wifi.
Other forms of transportation in Turkey
If you’re still on the fence about getting a car rental in Turkey and want to know what your other options are. Here’s how you can get around Turkey with public transportation.
Air travel is one of the best ways to get around Turkey if you want to save time. Flying domestically is actually very affordable between almost 50 cities in Turkey.
You can book last minute and still get a seat, but we always recommend booking ahead of time for the best prices and to be aware of Turkish holidays since prices are much higher during those times.
Turkish Airways is the main operator for domestic flights and they have tons of daily departures between major hubs. You can fly from one side of the country to the other in under two hours.
If you’re flying into Istanbul, know that there are two different airports in the city, one on the Asian side (SAW) and one on the European side (IST). Pay attention to where your accommodation is and note which airport you will be flying through to gauge how much time it’ll take you to get there.
Trains are an amazing way to take your time traveling around Turkey. The train service is run by Turkish State Railways and is common through most major cities in Turkey, making it a great option to get between regions.
However, as of now, the train systems in Turkey are going through a MASSIVE overhaul. They’re working on the railroads all over the country upgrading bridges, tunnels, and portions of the track, so schedules change very frequently and some routes may be canceled.
Until things improve with the scheduling and routes, it’s best to use trains only to reach the provincial city centers in Turkey: Adana, Kayseri, Erzerum, Kars and Diyarbakır from Ankara.
If taking a train is still the best option for you, be sure to go to the train station in person to confirm your train’s departure with the staff. There are a variety of different seating options and classes, as well as the option to take a sleeper train, to get you to your next destination.
Long distance bus
One of the most popular ways of getting around Turkey is on a long-distance bus. Bus stations in Turkey are buzzing with life with all the different places to eat, drink, and even shop for souvenirs.
The bus companies in Turkey are privately owned and a lot of the buses in operation are pretty luxurious with A/C, airplane style TV’s, refreshments, and even free Wifi depending on what company you book with. Every few hours, there will be a 15-minute stop for tea, as well as a sprinkle of 30-minute rest stops for meals at roadside cafeterias.
You can generally arrive at the station and book directly from a booth with no issues, but we recommend booking a ticket online so you can compare prices and departure times.
In larger cities, the primary mode of public transportation is city bus. Most city buses require you to have a prepaid ticket in order to board. You can grab a ticket at any of the kiosks near the main terminal, newsagents, or the touts, who work for specific companies (but usually charge you more money).
All the main cities in Turkey—Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Bursa, Antalya—and a handful of others, have some type of metro or light rail system that can take you all around the city for cheap.
The most popular is the Istanbul Metro. It’s a cheap, fast, and convenient way to get around the city, not to mention it’s much better than sitting in Istanbul’s infamous, and hectic city traffic.
The entire metro system isn’t complete since it’s still under construction, but there are many completed routes that can take you to and from many popular locations in the city.
At any of the Istanbul Metro locations around the city, you’ll need to grab a metro card from one of the kiosks, generally they’re yellow so they’re easy to spot. You can grab a new card here or load up your current card with more money.
A one way ride can cost you as little as 15 TL, making it one of the most affordable transportation options within the city.
Taxis are common almost everywhere in Turkey, from small towns to the larger cities, and are a safe option to get around. As a foreigner, there are a few things to keep in mind when hailing a taxi, particularly in Istanbul, but this advice can apply everywhere:
- Go by the meter. Sometimes if the driver knows you’re a foreigner, they will try and tell you the cost of the ride rather than going by a meter. Politely ask to use the meter instead. (Depending on the time of day and traffic, they may deny you a ride by the meter, so it’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to pay their price or not.)
- Verify that the driver accepts credit card payments before you get in. Not all taxis in Turkey accept payment by card. If you don’t have cash on hand, ask to verify before you get in.
- Use taxi-hailing apps as a safety net. This is a great way to ensure you’re not overpaying or getting scammed. If you’re in Istanbul, you can use your regular Uber app (Uber only works in this city). Or you can use other taxi apps like BiTaxi and iTaksi. You will have a set rate and your ride payment will be made through the app so you don’t need to worry about negotiating the rate and no cash needs to exchange hands. Also, your ride is tracked and destination is digitally passed on so you won’t have to worry about a language barrier when letting your driver know where you need to go.
Also note that most Turkish taxi drivers do not speak much English, so it’s a good idea to pull out your maps to show them where you need to go. Some drivers will actually take your phone and use your directions app to get you where you need to go.
If you’re headed to Turkey, we’ve got some things you should see!
We have lots of resources on travel in Turkey and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Turkey Travel Guide for all the answers to your travel questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.
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