Driving Guide

Turkey Driving Guide

Turkey is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2023-11-10 · 9min read

Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Due to the country’s unique position, Turkey is often considered a country of geostrategic importance, where it has acted as a bridge and barrier between the two continents.

We won't be surprised if you dream of soaking in the beauty of the Aegean coastline, exploring Istanbul, and floating over the landscapes of Cappadocia. If you are planning on driving around this beautiful country, there are essential factors to keep in mind.

Taking a drive in Istanbul is akin to driving in New York or Los Angeles or Chicago. So much traffic. Horns a blazing.

The drivers in Turkey make up the rules as they go and if you’re not paying attention, it could get bad quickly.

Kimberly is a female expat and shares her experiences living in Turkey through her blog, The Art of Living in Turkey. While she discourages tourists from driving in major cities such as Istanbul, she believes it is worth exploring other parts of the country by car!

Discover Turkey's Hidden Gems

Despite the differences in driving culture, you can make your travel to Turkey a pleasant and rewarding experience.

The roads in Turkey and the quality of the driving are generally good, however, there are some points of difference and local habits which you will soon become accustomed to.

Louise, a mountain leader, snowboard instructor, and photographer in the United Kingdom, shares in her travel blog, Wandering Welsh Girl.

Turkey is, without a doubt, a beautiful country, and like other places known for its scenery, it is best to explore it on an open road. This is why we've put out this guide to help you start your adventure in Turkey.

Let's take a closer look at Turkey

Before diving deeper into Turkey's driving culture, here are some interesting facts to know about this Eurasian country:

Geographic Location

Covering an area larger than any European nation, Turkey mainly lies in Asia, stretching from the elongated peninsula up to the Armenian highland. In contrast, its European portion, Turkish Thrace or Trakya, is nestled in the southeastern edge of Europe.

Languages Spoken

Turkish, the official language, is spoken by 90% of Turkey's 71.1 million population as their primary language. Around 6% of the populace speak minority languages, with Kurdish being notable, though not officially recognized. Approximately 1.2% of residents speak Arabic, often alongside Turkish.

Minority languages like Circassian, Armenian, Greek, and Judezmo are also spoken. The prevalence of English is relatively low, presenting a communication challenge for English-speaking visitors, but this also offers a great opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and language.

Land Area

The country stretches about 1,000 miles from west to east and has 300 to 400 miles of north-south extent. On the east, Turkey is bounded by Iran and Azerbaijan, on the north by the Black Sea, on the northwest by Bulgaria and Greece, on the southeast by Iraq and Syria, on the northeast by Georgia and Armenia, and on the southwest by the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea. The largest city and seaport in the country is Istanbul, and the capital is Ankara.


In 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded what is now known as Modern Turkey from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in Anatolia, earning him the title "Father of the Turks" and recognition as a national hero.

His wide-ranging legal, political, and social reforms, implemented through an authoritarian leadership style, were transformative. The one-party rule era ended in 1950 with the Democratic Party's election victory, which ushered in multi-party politics.

However, Turkey's democratic journey has been intermittently disrupted by military coups and instability. In 1974, the Turkish military intervened in Cyprus to prevent a Greek invasion, and Turkey remains the only nation to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkey joined the United Nations in 1945, NATO in 1952, and became an associate member of the European Community, leading to significant reforms and advancements in its economy and democracy, and initiating EU membership discussions.


Turkey's political landscape is founded on a secular parliamentary democracy with a separation of powers. The 2018 general election saw a ruling party shift, transforming the Prime Minister into the head of government alongside an executive-power-wielding Council of Ministers.

The 2017 referendum introduced a presidential system, centralizing executive powers in the President, who also selects the cabinet. The inaugural President under this system was Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Tourism stands as one of Turkey's most vibrant and rapidly growing sectors. In 2018, the industry employed 2.2 million people, accounting for 7.75% of total employment, and contributing 3.8% to the GDP.

Travel exports significantly influenced service exports, drawing about 45.8 million international tourists in 2018, generating 142.4 billion in revenue—a 12% increase from 2017. Key inbound markets included Russia, Germany, Bulgaria, Georgia, and the United Kingdom. Turkey's climate varies from freezing winters in the interior to hot summers, peaking in July, making it an attractive destination year-round.

International Driver's Permit FAQs

Traveling is more fun when you can explore at your own pace. Renting a car can help you do this. But, before you start driving in a foreign country, see if you need an International Driving Permit (IDP). For example, an International driver's license in Turkey is a must for tourists who want to drive. Getting an IDP is a key step for a worry-free trip to Turkey. It's easy to apply for this permit online with the help of the International Drivers Association. Read on to learn more about how to get this important permit and enjoy a smooth driving experience in Turkey as a tourist. With an IDP, you can be a confident driver.

Do I Need an IDP?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a crucial document for those who travel frequently. It allows you to drive in a foreign country without facing issues with local authorities.

Essentially, it's a translation of your regular driver's license, helping authorities determine your eligibility to drive. However, if you're driving in Turkey with a UK license, an IDP is not required.

The IDP is not only useful for tourists but also for business travelers in Turkey, offering the convenience and comfort of private transportation over public options.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Turkey?

For foreigners driving in Turkey, a local Turkish driving license is not sufficient on its own. You need to have an International Driver's License alongside your valid national driver's license, except for UK license holders. Without an IDP, you might face penalties.

Do I Need an IDP in Cities and Districts of Turkey?

For most foreign drivers, an IDP is necessary, except for those with a UK driving license. The IDP, while essential, is not a standalone document; it must be accompanied by your native driver's license as it only serves as a translation.

Who Can Apply for an IDP?

Anyone with a valid driver's license can apply for an IDP, a mandatory translation of your native license for non-English speaking officials in foreign countries. This is not required for UK license holders driving in Turkey.

To apply for an International Driver's Permit, you can visit our website and select a package that suits the duration of your stay. The application requires your passport, a valid driver's license from your home country, and a passport-sized photo. Note that an IDP cannot be obtained with a provisional license; it must be a full driving license.

● Passport

● Valid driver's license from your home country

● Passport-size photo of yourself

You can't apply for an IDP with provisional driving licenses only. It should be a full driving license from your home country.

Does an IDP Replace Your Native Driver’s License?

No, an IDP does not replace your native driver's license. In Turkey, foreign drivers must carry both their IDP and their home country's driver's license, except for UK license holders. The IDP typically remains valid for one to three years.

How Can I Get an IDP?

Obtaining an IDP from the International Drivers Association allows you to drive in over 200 countries. An IDP translates your license into 12 languages, which is advantageous if your original license is not in the Roman alphabet.

This translation is vital for interactions with non-English speaking law enforcement officers and is a crucial tip for driving in Turkey.

Renting a Car in Turkey

Exploring a beautiful country like Turkey becomes remarkably convenient and enjoyable when you can rent and drive your car.

Car Rental Companies

You can rent a car in Turkey either by booking online in advance or by visiting a car rental agency in person. Online booking is generally more convenient and is favored by many tourists.

Most rental cars in Turkey are compact European or Asian models, typically featuring manual transmission, air conditioning, and a sound system.

Though advertised as 5-seaters, they are more comfortable for three to four adults or two adults with one or two children, with limited luggage space. The smaller engine sizes may mean slower travel with a full load.

Documents Required

While not all rental companies strictly check for an international license, lacking one could be problematic if you encounter local authorities or are involved in an accident.

So, familiarizing yourself with the rental service's rules is essential. Typically, a regular driver’s license and an International Driving Permit (IDP) are required for renting a car. Turkish rental companies often have stringent requirements, including:

  • A valid passport or an official Identity Card (for EU citizens)
  • Payment through a valid credit card
  • A valid driver’s license, supplemented by an IDP for tourists
  • A minimum age requirement, usually 21 years or older, with some agencies setting an upper age limit of 70 to 75 years

Vehicle Types

Car rental agencies in Turkey offer a range of vehicles to suit various needs. Smaller cars are ideal for groups of three to four, while larger vehicles can accommodate up to 9 or 10 passengers. While petrol cars are common, diesel vehicles are more economical and are worth considering for cost-effective travel.

Car Rental Cost

Affordability is a key consideration for many tourists renting cars in Turkey. Booking in advance often leads to better deals, with the average cost for an economy car around $33 per day. To economize further, choose a diesel car for its fuel efficiency. Comparing rates from different rental providers and considering additional equipment, like GPS, can also help reduce overall costs.

Age Requirements

The minimum age for renting a car varies among companies, generally starting at 21 years, with some requiring renters to be 23 or even 27-28 years old for premium models. The upper age limit typically ranges from 70 to 75 years.

Most companies also require that your driver’s license be at least a year old, or two years for higher-end models. Some agencies offer driver services at an additional cost.

Car Insurance Cost

First-time drivers in Turkey often opt for car insurance for added security. Most rental companies include insurance in their packages, covering potential damages to the rental car.

Comprehensive insurance, including Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), is advisable, but be aware that CDW does not cover certain types of damage, such as to tires or windshields.

Car Insurance Policy

Since typical travel insurance policies do not extend coverage to theft or damage of your rental car, obtaining comprehensive car insurance is essential when renting a vehicle.

In Turkey, rental cars usually come with a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), also known as Collision Damage Insurance (CDI). This insurance primarily covers any potential damage to the rental car.

However, it's important to note that standard CDW policies do not cover damages to specific parts of the car like tires, windshields, or headlights. When renting a car in Turkey, you can consider the following additional insurance options to complement the basic CDW coverage:

  • Headlights, Tires, and Windscreen
  • Personal Accident/Injury (PAI)
  • Third-Party Liability Insurance
  • Theft Insurance
  • Fire Insurance
  • Loss of Use

Road Rules in Turkey

Familiarizing yourself with the local driving regulations is crucial for a smooth experience. This includes understanding the nuances of Turkish road rules, such as roundabout navigation and parking regulations.

Always ensure that you and your vehicle are in good condition before driving, and adhere to seatbelt and child restraint laws.

General Regulations

Opting to drive your vehicle in Turkey requires an understanding of several key driving regulations.

  • The type of driver's license you hold plays a crucial role in determining your driving eligibility in Turkey. For instance, holders of a UK license are allowed to drive, while other license holders must also have an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with their regular license.
  • If you're traveling with a pet, such as a dog, it's important to comply with Turkey's specific pet regulations.
  • In Turkey, the legal driving age begins at 18, and there's an upper age limit of 70 to 75 years for drivers.
  • Additionally, stringent drunk-driving laws are in place. It's essential to be aware of these before driving, especially to avoid the risks and penalties associated with driving under the influence.

"Why do I need an IDP?" Since you're keen on driving a car in Turkey, you must follow the rules and obtain this important document.

Driving in Turkey With a Dog

If you're traveling with a pet, it's essential to comply with specific requirements, such as microchipping and vaccination against rabies. Also, carry a Veterinary Certificate for Turkey obtained within ten days before travel.

  • You should have your animal companion microchipped with an ISO 11784 pet microchip called a non-encrypted device with a 15-digit tag.
  • Before your pet enters Turkey, your animal companion must be cleared for rabies by showing proof that it is vaccinated against the disease.
  • You must also carry a Veterinary Certificate for Turkey within ten days pre-travel. The certificate must be granted by the Governing Authority responsible for the export and import of animals in your native country.
  • All pet cats and dogs must show evidence that they are free from any disease transmittable to humans before entering Turkey.


Turkey enforces strict laws against drunk driving. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05% when driving alone, and a zero-tolerance policy applies when carrying passengers. Violations can lead to fines and license suspension.

If you are caught drunk driving, your license will be suspended, and you will be fined, depending on whether it is your first, second, or third offense, starting at €141.

Vehicle and Driver Readiness

Before setting off, confirm that both you and your vehicle are in optimal condition for driving. This means ensuring you are not impaired by alcohol and have any necessary aids, like prescription glasses, if you have vision problems.

Regularly check your vehicle’s essential components - battery, brakes, tires, windows, and engine. Ensure your fuel tank is adequately filled for the journey, especially in areas where fuel stations are sparse.

In Turkey, roundabouts are a common feature at intersections and may or may not be regulated by traffic signals. Contrary to practices in North America and Europe, vehicles entering roundabouts in Turkey have the right of way.

When planning to turn left, position your vehicle in the left or middle lane beforehand. For going straight or turning right, the right lane is advisable. Always give way to pedestrians and cyclists at crossings.


Ensure you park your vehicle in designated areas, particularly in well-lit spots during darker hours. Be aware of local parking fees to avoid unexpected charges. Always lock your vehicle and avoid leaving valuables inside.

Seatbelt Laws

Seatbelt use is mandatory in Turkey, and vehicles must be equipped with necessary safety equipment, such as a fire extinguisher, warning triangles, and a first-aid kit. Special child restraint rules apply based on the child's age and size.

An appropriate child restraint is used for children between 3 and 11 years old and less than 1.35 meters tall. As per the country’s laws, a 12-month-old child weighing up to 9 kg should be positioned in the safety seat at the back of the car with the baby’s head facing the rear windows.

General Standards

Speed Limits

In Turkey, speed is measured in kilometers per hour (kph). Respecting these limits is crucial to avoid fines and ensure safety. Speed limits are typically 50 kph in urban areas, 90 kph on open roads, and 120 kph on motorways.

The penalties for speeding depend on how greatly the limit is exceeded. Adhering to speed limits is also key to reading road signs accurately and preventing accidents, especially in congested areas. Driving slower can also enhance your enjoyment of Turkey's beautiful landscapes.

Driving Directions

If you are a tourist visiting Turkey, you know that getting around a foreign country is quite tricky. Lucky for you, residents of the country are welcoming, kind-hearted, and always eager to help people out, especially those who are asking for directions.

For English-speaking tourists, exploring Turkey can be difficult as most of the population cannot speak the English language at the conversational level

Tourist drivers should also know about the driving directions in Turkey. When approaching a traffic circle, make sure to give priority to vehicles who are entering it first before you.

The same rule applies to pedestrians and intersections of most roads. When merging, the driver who is on the ending lane should give priority to the drivers on the other lane. Also, you should only merge when there is enough space on the other lane and it is safe for you to enter.

Traffic Road Signs

Turkey's road signs might be familiar to those from other countries but don't always align with international standards. Knowing these signs helps ensure a safe and pleasant journey:

1. Warning Signs: Usually red or yellow, these signs alert drivers to potential dangers ahead.

2. Information Signs: Commonly used to provide details about the road you're on.

3. Mandatory Signs: These indicate actions that drivers must take and are crucial for safe driving.

4. Priority Signs: These clarify who has priority at junctions or on certain road sections.

5. Prohibitory Signs: Used to restrict specific vehicle types or maneuvers, like setting speed limits or prohibiting U-turns.

Right of Way

In Turkey, as in most European countries, the right of way is given to drivers on the right-hand side of the road. Pedestrians crossing roads have priority, especially where traffic lights are absent.

The minimum legal age to drive in Turkey is 18. However, car rental companies typically require drivers to be at least 21, with higher age requirements for luxury vehicles.

A driver's license must be held for at least a year before you're eligible to drive. Foreigners planning to reside and drive in Turkey must pass theoretical and practical driving tests. The country offers nine categories of driving licenses, each permitting you to drive only specific types of vehicles.

Laws on Overtaking

Overtaking in Turkey should be done with caution. It's prohibited to overtake at road humps, bends, bottlenecks, junctions, and pedestrian crossings. Always check your surroundings thoroughly before overtaking and avoid doing so in poorly lit or low-visibility areas.

Overtaking at bus stops is also forbidden. Exercise extra caution when overtaking urban and interurban roads; only proceed when on freeways.

Driving Side

In Turkey, driving is on the right side of the road, with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. This might be challenging for those from left-hand traffic countries like Australia. It's advisable to familiarize yourself with different car models before embarking on a road trip to Turkey.

Driving Etiquette in Turkey

Car Breakdown

Car breakdowns can occur unexpectedly, and it's essential to stay calm in these situations. Here are steps to follow if you find yourself in such a predicament:

1. Increase Visibility: Use your hazard lights and place warning signals like flares or a hazard triangle to alert other road users and authorities. Position these warning tools a reasonable distance behind your vehicle.

2. Safety First: If possible, move your car off the road. If you're stuck in traffic, exit your vehicle cautiously and seek a safer location. Lock your car if you must leave it, and consider leaving a note with your contact information. Contact your rental agency if you're using a rental car.

3. Stay Secure: If in a safe spot, stay inside your vehicle with locked doors. Keep your seatbelt fastened and contact authorities or your rental service for assistance.

4. Be Wary of Strangers: While accepting help from locals, exercise caution. If you feel uneasy, stay inside your car with open windows to communicate.

Police Stops

As a tourist driver, be prepared for possible stops by traffic authorities. In such instances:

1. Stay Calm: Turn on your hazard lights and safely pull over. Wait for the officer to approach you.

2. Be Cooperative: Greet the officer politely and promptly present your travel documents, including your passport, driver’s license, and International Driving Permit (IDP).

3. Follow Instructions: Listen to the officer's instructions and cooperate fully.

Asking Directions

Exploring Turkey as a tourist can be challenging, especially with language barriers. Here's a helpful list of basic Turkish phrases for asking directions and other common queries:

  • Are there any vacancies available tonight?- Bu gece için boş odanız var mı?
  • Where is the train station located?- Tren istasyonu nerede?
  • Could I get a map?- Harita alabilir miyim?
  • What is the cost of this? - Bu ne kadar?
  • Do you have any recommendations?- Öneriniz var mı?
  • Thank you- Teşekkür ederim
  • Can you speak English?- İngilizce konuşuyor musunuz?
  • Are buses available from the airport to the city?- Havalimanından şehre otobüs var mı?
  • Is this the correct bus to the airport?- Havalimanı için doğru otobüs bu mu?
  • Excuse me, what is the fare?- Affedersiniz, bilet ücreti kadar?
  • I have a reservation- Rezervasyonum var


In Turkey, you may encounter checkpoints, especially near borders. At these points:

1. Show Respect: Greet the officers and promptly present your documents like your passport, driver’s license, and IDP.

2. Communicate Clearly: Answer any questions politely. If language is a barrier, speak slowly or use a translation app for better communication.

3. Cooperate During Vehicle Checks: Allow officers to inspect your vehicle and open the trunk if requested.

Driving Conditions in Turkey

Driving in Turkey is generally more convenient than in other countries, such as Morocco or Mexico. The roads often feature clear signage, uncomplicated navigation, and accessible parking options.

But one should always be prepared for encounters with aggressive drivers. When embarking on a road trip in Turkey, there are several aspects that tourists should be aware of. The following guide provides essential insights into driving in Turkey, including handling the local driving behavior.

Accident Statistics

Data from the World Health Organization indicates that Turkey experiences about 10,000 road-related deaths annually, translating to a rate of 13 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants. The majority of these deaths involve passengers and drivers of cars and vans (55%), with pedestrians accounting for a significant 19%.

Common Vehicles

On Turkish roads, one can find a variety of vehicles. Besides standard cars and vans, the country also accommodates taxis, trains, metros, and local buses.

Road Situation

Turkish roads range from single-lane highways to modern, divided motorways that meet European standards. While major roads, especially those in tourist-heavy regions like the southwest, west, and coastal areas, are well-maintained, road conditions in other regions can be variable.

Notably, Turkey has its share of toll roads. Drivers should also be prepared for the heavy traffic in Istanbul, particularly during peak seasons.

Driving Culture

Turkish driving culture is characterized by a frequent disregard for traffic rules, such as running red lights or making abrupt lane changes. As a visitor, it's advisable to adopt a defensive driving approach. In the event of an accident, it's common practice for drivers to stop their cars on the road and use emergency lights or place a large rock around 10-15 meters behind their vehicle to alert others.

Understanding Speed Limits in Turkey

In Turkey, speed is measured in kilometers per hour (kph). The speed limit varies depending on the area: 50 kph in urban areas, 90 kph on open roads, and 120 kph on motorways.

Penalties for exceeding these limits are based on the degree of the violation. For drivers accustomed to miles per hour (mph), it may be more convenient to rent a car equipped with a kph speedometer.

The Top Destinations in Turkey

Turkey is often regarded as a paradise by those who have visited. This country offers landscapes, seas, and historic ruins dotting the countryside. We've curated a selection of top destinations that are sure to make your visit memorable.

For a more convenient trip to the best spots in Turkey, see our International Driving License packages to determine the most suitable one for your journey.

The Aegean Coastline

In the south of Turkey lies the stunning Aegean Coastline, a jewel of a destination known for its breathtaking vistas year-round. Summer brings out its best, with idyllic beach spots perfect for a refreshing swim. The area is also peppered with picturesque villages and historical sites.

A drive through southern Turkey also allows for exploration of former Greek islands like Bozcaada, Cunda, and the beautiful Gökçeada.


As Turkey's largest city, Istanbul is steeped in history, with landmarks like the ancient Constantinople drawing visitors worldwide. The Grand Bazaar offers a shopping paradise, while the Bosphorus River presents a unique opportunity to see the city's European and Asian divide.

Culinary delights such as pudding, baklava, Turkish delight, revani, halva, and kunefe are must-tries.


Cappadocia is a summer favorite, offering hot-air balloon rides over its unique rock formations, often cited as Turkey's most stunning natural wonder. The sweeping rock valleys are a haven for photographers and hikers.


Ephesus, an ancient city replete with ruins and temples, offers a deep dive into history. Safe to visit year-round, guided tours can enrich the experience.


Antalya, the second most visited spot in Turkey, offers a year-round pleasant climate, beautiful beaches for water sports, and family-friendly theme parks.

Get an IDP to Explore Turkey

Ready to savor Turkey's delectable cuisine and be inspired by its numerous archeological and religious sites? You can turn your itinerary into a reality by securing an International Driver's Permit.

Get one now and start your Turkish adventure!

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