Driving in Turkey for Foreigners

Driving in Turkey for Foreigners: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring Turkey on Wheels

Turkey is a fascinating country with rich culture, history, and scenic landscapes. Exploring this beautiful country on wheels is an adventure in itself. But for foreigners, driving in Turkey can be a little daunting due to different road rules, traffic patterns, and driving culture.

Don't worry, though. With some preparation and knowledge, driving in Turkey can be an enjoyable and memorable experience. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about driving in Turkey as a foreigner, from obtaining a driving license to navigating the roads and highways.

Obtaining a Driving License in Turkey

If you plan to stay in Turkey for an extended period or plan to rent a car, you need a valid Turkish driving license. Here's how to obtain one:

  1. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP): Before arriving in Turkey, obtain an IDP from your home country's driving license authority. An IDP is an official translation of your home country's driving license that allows you to drive in Turkey legally. You can obtain an IDP in-person or online.

  2. Apply for a Turkish driving license: If you plan to stay in Turkey for more than six months, you need to apply for a Turkish driving license. To do this, you'll need to visit the local traffic police department (Emniyet Müdürlüğü Trafik Şubesi) with your IDP, passport, and residence permit. You'll need to pass a written and practical driving test before obtaining a Turkish driving license.

Driving Culture and Road Rules in Turkey

Driving culture and road rules in Turkey can be different from what you're used to in your home country. Here are some essential things to keep in mind:

  1. Drive on the right side of the road: Like most European countries, Turkey drives on the right side of the road.

  2. Seatbelts are mandatory: Both the driver and passengers must wear seatbelts while driving.

  3. Speed limits: In Turkey, the speed limits are 50 km/h in urban areas, 90 km/h on highways, and 120 km/h on motorways. Always follow the speed limit signs, and don't exceed them.

  4. Traffic lights: In Turkey, traffic lights follow the standard red, yellow, green sequence. However, drivers tend to jump red lights, especially at night. So, be cautious at intersections and crossroads.

  5. Overtaking: Overtaking from the right is forbidden in Turkey. Always overtake from the left side.

  6. Use of horn: Honking is common in Turkey, and drivers often use it to signal their presence or to show frustration. Don't be alarmed if you hear honking frequently.

  7. Roundabouts: In Turkey, roundabouts are prevalent. Always give priority to the vehicle coming from your right and follow the lane markings.

Road Signs in Turkey

Understanding road signs is crucial for safe driving in Turkey. Most road signs are similar to those in Europe, but some signs may be unique to Turkey. Here are some common road signs you'll encounter while driving in Turkey:

  1. Yol Ver: This sign means "give way" and indicates that you should yield to oncoming traffic.

  2. Dur: This sign means "stop" and indicates that you should come to a complete stop.

  3. Oncelikli Yol: This sign means "Priority Road" and indicates that you have the right of way.

  1. Park Yeri: This sign means "parking area" and indicates the location of a parking lot or parking space.

  2. Yavas: This sign means "slow down" and indicates that you should reduce your speed.

  3. Yol Calismasi: This sign means "road work" and indicates that road construction or maintenance is underway.

  4. U-Turn: This sign indicates that you can make a U-turn.

Renting a Car in Turkey

If you don't have a car or prefer not to drive your own car, renting a car is an excellent option. Here are some things to keep in mind when renting a car in Turkey:

  1. Choose a reputable car rental company: There are many car rental companies in Turkey, but not all are trustworthy. Do some research and choose a reputable company that provides insurance coverage, roadside assistance, and reliable cars.

  2. Book in advance: During peak tourist seasons, car rental prices can go up, and availability may be limited. Book your car rental in advance to ensure you get a car at a reasonable price.

  3. Check the car before renting: Before renting the car, inspect it for any damage or defects. Note them down and take pictures as proof in case the rental company accuses you of causing the damage.

  4. Know the rental terms and conditions: Read the rental agreement carefully and understand the terms and conditions, including the insurance coverage, mileage limit, fuel policy, and additional charges.

Navigating the Roads and Highways in Turkey

Navigating the roads and highways in Turkey can be tricky, especially if you're not familiar with the roads and don't speak Turkish. Here are some tips to make your road trip in Turkey smooth and enjoyable:

  1. Use GPS or navigation apps: Google Maps and other navigation apps work well in Turkey and can guide you to your destination with ease. However, make sure you have a data plan or Wi-Fi connection to use these apps.

  2. Be prepared for toll roads: Many highways and bridges in Turkey are toll roads. Make sure you have enough Turkish Lira (TRY) or a HGS (Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi) toll pass to pay for the tolls.

  3. Watch out for speed bumps: Speed bumps (tümsek) are common in Turkish towns and villages. Always slow down when approaching a speed bump to avoid damaging the car's suspension.

  4. Avoid driving at night: Turkish roads can be dangerous at night due to poor lighting, drunk drivers, and reckless driving. If possible, avoid driving at night or drive with extreme caution.


  1. Q: Can I use my home country's driving license to drive in Turkey?

A: Yes, you can use your home country's driving license for up to six months in Turkey. After that, you need to obtain a Turkish driving license.

  1. Q: What's the minimum age to rent a car in Turkey?

A: The minimum age to rent a car in Turkey is 21 years. However, some car rental companies may require a higher age limit or charge a young driver fee for drivers under 25 years.

  1. Q: Is it safe to drive in Turkey?

A: Yes, driving in Turkey is generally safe. However, you should always be cautious, especially on narrow and winding roads, and avoid driving at night.

Driving in Turkey for foreigners can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it requires some preparation and knowledge. Obtaining a driving license, understanding the driving culture and road rules, renting a car, and navigating the roads and highways are all important aspects to consider. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can have a safe and enjoyable road trip in Turkey.

Remember to always drive defensively, pay attention to road signs and signals, and be prepared for unexpected situations. With a little bit of preparation and knowledge, driving in Turkey can be an unforgettable experience. So, buckle up, hit the road, and enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of Turkey!"

Final Words

Driving in Turkey for foreigners can seem daunting at first, but with some preparation, knowledge, and caution, it can be an enjoyable experience. From obtaining a driving license to renting a car and navigating the roads, there are many things to consider before hitting the road in Turkey. Make sure to research and plan ahead, understand the road rules and signs, and always be prepared for unexpected situations. With the right mindset and attitude, driving in Turkey can be an unforgettable experience that you'll cherish for years to come. So, pack your bags, grab the keys, and get ready for an exciting road trip in Turkey!