Get on Board in Turkey
Turkey is the European gateway to Asia, and probably one of the most exciting and romantic countries in the world, even for the most ho-hum traveler.
Istanbul was once the end-station of the Orient-Express, taking travelers from London and Paris to the Bosphorus Strait, one of the world’s most strategic waterways. Today, there are services from Beograd, Thessaloniki, Bucharest, or Sofia. Allow a good twenty hours for these trips (sixteen for Thessaloniki). The Istanbul station (also known as Haydarpasa) still exudes the grandeur of its early days, but don’t expect anything resembling luxury services.
Trains are not an ideal way to experience Turkey (bus is preferred), as train travel is slow, and limited. However, there are a couple of routes where trains are a very viable, safe option: Ankara to Istanbul, and lines on the European side. Moreover, the anticipated completion of the Istanbul to Ankara hi-speed line will dramatically reduce journey time between these two cities (just three hours).
Always travel first class in Turkey. At a local station, you can book a single or a double compartment in a sleeping car on night trains; both offer good comfort on major routes.
For travelers with more than their share of moxie, Turkey tempts delightful discoveries. Journey east by train, and explore the Middle East. And although train travel to Iraq has been suspended, there’s still a weekly service to Tehran and Damascus with the Trans-Asian Express. Just allow a good (ahem?) sixty-six hours to reach the Iranian capital.
Rail Europe doesn’t offer train tickets for Turkey. We do recommend you purchase a Balkan Pass, which also provides flexible travel in Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania. And now, Turkey is automatically included if you purchase a Eurail Global Pass. And it’s also an option if you purchase a Eurail Select Pass. Don’t forget to make your reservations locally.
For more information on Turkey contact the Turkey Tourist Board.