There are a wide choice of flights to Turkey from the UK (fewer from Ireland) taking between three and a half to five hours depending on your start and end point. Just two carriers fly direct to Turkey from North America, so most North Americans reach Turkey via a European gateway airport. Many travellers from Australia and New Zealand use a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket that includes İstanbul, though there are advantageous return flights from Sydney. Driving to Turkey from Europe (perhaps with a ferry hop from Italy or Greece as the final stage) can be expensive and time-consuming, but once inside the country having a car can prove worthwhile.
Airfares from Europe and North America are highest during Easter week and from June to early September; fares drop between April/May and late September/October – and you’ll get the best prices between November to March (excluding Christmas and New Year, when seats are at a premium). Australian and New Zealand fares are lowest from mid-January to the end of February and October/November; peak season is mid-May to August, plus December to mid-January.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
You can fly direct from the UK to İstanbul (both airports), İzmir, Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya. Reaching any other destination in Turkey involves a change of flights in İstanbul, though if you’re flying with Turkish Airlines you can get a discounted domestic connecting flight to most of the internal airports which they serve. At busy times, it may be worth considering cheaper, indirect (ie one-stop) flights with other European airlines such as Swiss, Air France or Lufthansa (which serves several Turkish airports direct from Germany).
Direct, scheduled flights are provided by Turkish Airways (THY), British Airways (BA) and Cyprus Turkish Airways (KTHY). THY links London (Stansted or Heathrow) with İstanbul (Atatürk or Sabiha Gökçen) several times daily year-round, with the Stansted–Sahiba Gökçen route comparing well price-wise to the “no-frills” airlines. There are three daily departures from Heathrow to Atatürk, with prices across the year hovering around the £200 mark. BA has two to three daily services from Heathrow at comparable fares. THY also has daily services from Birmingham and Manchester to İstanbul. Domestic fares from İstanbul to Mediterranean resorts start at 39TL (€18) with either THY or competitors such as Sunexpress ( for more on domestic flights). KTHY (only bookable direct or through specialist agents) offers useful direct flights to the southwest coast year-round out of several UK airports, though on-board standards aren’t up to those of BA or THY. To the following year-round services (Stansted–Antalya, 4 weekly; Heathrow or Stansted–İzmir, 3 weekly; and Manchester–Antalya, 1 weekly) are added in summer once weekly each Stansted–Dalaman, Stansted–Bodrum, Heathrow–Antalya and Birmingham–Dalaman. Winter fares can be as low as £150 return, rising to about £260 in summer.
Budget and charter flights
Among budget airlines, easyJet flies from London (Luton and/or Gatwick) to İstanbul Sahiba Gökçen most days all year, as well as from Gatwick to Dalaman (April–Oct only). Advance low-season fares can be under £40 each way, though in peak season or at short notice they’re hardly different from “real” airlines. Pegasus links Stansted to İstanbul Sahiba Gökçen daily all year, with fares likely to be a bit higher than easyJet. Jet2 serves Dalaman from Leeds Bradford, Manchester, East Midlands and Newcastle (summer only, from about £60 each way).
The widest choice of charter flights to Turkish coastal resorts are offered by Thomas Cook and Thomson. With Thomas Cook, you can choose different departure and return airports, flexible dates and even book one-ways. There are now year-round charters to Antalya and Dalaman, while those serving İzmir and Bodrum usually operate from late April/early May to late October. In peak season these flights are often scarcely cheaper than scheduled services – £300 London–Dalaman is not unheard of – but you do avoid having to change planes in İstanbul. In winter, tickets can be picked up for under £100 return from almost anywhere in the UK to Dalaman or Antalya.
Flights from Ireland
From Belfast, there are no direct scheduled services to Turkey, and stopping routes will likely cost over €400; get yourself to mainland Britain first. From Dublin, matters are better, with daily direct services all year on THY to İstanbul Atatürk (from €225 return off season). Alternatively, take a budget Ryanair or similar flight to the UK (Stansted is a major hub of KTHY), and then on to Turkey.
Flights from the US and Canada
No matter where you’re flying from, İstanbul will be the cheapest gateway airport. For the best value, pick up a bargain transatlantic fare to Europe, then arrange the final Turkey-bound leg of the journey yourself; onward flights from the UK are detailed.
Turkish Airways (THY) is the sole carrier flying direct year-round from North America, with daily flights from New York (JFK) to İstanbul, and several weekly out of Chicago. Delta Airlines is the only other airline offering a direct service (April–Nov), from New York JFK to İstanbul. All other flights route through European hubs such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Milan and Zürich. THY is often a bit cheaper, from US$700–900 round trip low season compared to Delta’s US$850 or so. At the opposite end of the spectrum, count on well over US$1600 for peak season travel from the west coast.
Despite many domestic competitors, THY still has the most comprehensive selection of connecting flights within Turkey, a major incentive for booking with them at least part of the way. THY normally charges an add-on fare for these cities when the domestic leg is purchased as part of an international itinerary, but specialists might be able to book you straight through (or with a stop in İstanbul) for less.
The only direct flights from Canada are on THY from Toronto to İstanbul three days per week all year; fares vary from C$800 to just C$1000 depending on the season. Otherwise several airlines fly to İstanbul via major European hubs. From Vancouver to İstanbul indirect flights via American or European hubs can be found from C$1300 to C$1400 year-round.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
There are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to Turkey. However, several weekly scheduled flights will get you there after either a plane change or short layover in Asia or the Middle East. Fares from Sydney range from A$1700 (low season) to A$2600 (high season), with the likes of Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Gulf Air. From New Zealand, flights tend to be pricey, involving two or three stops – you’re probably better off getting cheaply to Australia and arranging onward travel from there. Round-the-world tickets including Turkey could be worth considering for a long trip taking in many destinations; several free stopovers are allowed, with fares starting at A$2000/NZ$2500. From South Africa, routes (out of Johannesburg only) are mostly via one of the Gulf states, and return fares on the likes of Emirates vary from ZAR6000 to ZAR10,000 depending on the time of year.
Travelling to Turkey by rail is both slow and expensive, and only makes sense if you want to visit other countries en route (try the excellent wwww.seat61.com for detailed planning). The most direct route from the UK begins with the Eurostar (wwww.eurostar.com) service from London St Pancras International to Paris, then an overnight sleeper to Munich or Vienna, followed by a morning departure to Budapest, and finally two more nights aboard a sleeper to İstanbul (including a change in Bucharest), making a total minimum journey of three days and nights. The return trip is likely to set you back between £540–610, depending on class of trains selected and whether you have a rail pass. An alternative strategy, potentially cheaper, is to get to Italy by train and then proceed by ferry to Greece (48hr journey time) or even all the way to Turkey.
The “Global” InterRail pass (wwww.interrailnet.com) required to reach Turkey may save a bit of money, especially if you’re under 26. These are valid for unlimited travel (except for Eurostar) and fees apply for express train reservations. For North Americans, Australians and New Zealanders (not eligible to buy InterRail passes), a standard Eurail pass (wwww.eurail.com) is unlikely to pay for itself, whether going to, or travelling in, Turkey.
By car from Europe
You can drive from the UK to Turkey in three to four days. However, this allows little time for stopping and sleeping, and most will prefer to do this more slowly, taking in a few places en route.
The all-land itinerary goes via Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, though a more relaxing if less direct route is through France, Italy and Greece. You can cut driving time even more by using a ferry from Italy, direct to Turkey; there are also short-hop ferry or catamaran services from various Greek islands to the Turkish Aegean coast.
Ferries run from both Ancona and Brindisi in Italy to Çeşme, near İzmir. Marmara Lines (wwww.marmaralines.com) has services from early May to late October, departing Ancona on Saturday evening. A one-way Pullman seat in high season is €160 and an average-sized car €260, with twenty-percent round-trip reductions. MedEuropeanSeaways (Mesline) operates a service between mid-June and mid-September from Brindisi to Çeşme (departs Brindisi Sat and Wed); they have no website but Genoa-based wwww.cemar.it may prove useful.
Ferries and catamarans from Greece
Many travellers take the short-hop ferries or catamarans over from the Greek islands of Lésvos, Híos, Sámos, Kós, Kastellorizo/Meis, Sými, and Rhodes to the respective Turkish ports of Ayvalık, Foça, Çeşme, Kuşadası, Datça, Bodrum, Kaş, Marmaris and Fethiye. Services are daily in season (early May to early Oct) and, except for the Fethiye-, Foça- and Datça-based services, they still run after a fashion in winter, but you may have to wait five to seven days between departures. Although they’ve dipped slightly in recent years, fares are still overpriced for the distances involved; full details of every service are given at the end of chapters 3, 4 and 5. At the time of writing car-shuttle services serve all of the above Turkish ports except Foça, Fethiye, Kaş and to a degree Kuşadası, which only has one semi-reliable service weekly. wwww.feribot.net is useful if not infallible.
Package tours and special-interest holidays
Scores of companies in the UK offer some sort of Turkish package deal. Most of these target İstanbul and the coast between Çeşme and Alanya, but most outfits also feature fly-drive plans. Coastal yachting (gulet) packages are available from May to October, while winter breaks are increasing in popularity. Inland holidays concentrate on Cappadocia, while special-interest programmes include trekking, bird-spotting, yoga retreats, whitewater rafting and battlefield tours.
Three- or four-night İstanbul city breaks start at around £130 off season for three-star bed-and-breakfast accommodation (including flights and transfers). The main price factor is the departure airport, the cheapest relying on easyJet’s Luton– or Gatwick–İstanbul (Sahiba Gökçen) runs.
Prices for a cheap-and-cheerful, two-week beach package start at around £300 per person (double occupancy) in low season, including flights; using a four-star hotel will set you back £550–800. Quality self-catering villas tend to cost £700–1100 per person for one/two week(s), flight included, increasing to £1100–1800 at peak periods. Fly-drive-only deals weigh in at around £450 per person for four adults travelling for two weeks in high season, around £550 if there are only two of you.
A ten-night, eleven-day yachting or cruising holiday will cost £900–1050 per person (double occupancy basis) depending on season, booked in the UK through an agent, less if arranged in Turkey directly with skippers. Cycling/hiking trips vary from £250–300 for 7 to 8 days along the Lycian Coast arranged locally, to £500–550 for a higher-quality adventure booked in the UK. Specialist holidays, relying on the services of expert natural history/archeological guides, are priciest of all, from £1100 (1 week) to over £1900 (2 weeks). All these figures exclude flights.
The best of the US-based cultural or adventure tours don’t come cheap either – expect to pay at least US$5100 for a 13-day land-and-sea combo (inevitably with a couple of days in İstanbul at the start and end). The price will include all meals (excluding drinks), guides and ground transport, but not flights.Read More