Hiring a car in Istanbul Ataturk Airport
The car hire desk can be found within Istanbul Airport, but it is usually recommended that you book in advance to save the hassle of possible long lines, and missing out on the car you want. The companies that service Istanbul Airport are Avis, Budget, Hertz, National Sixt and Ülger.
The car rental companies in Istabul offer a comprehensive range of options. You can find economy hatchbacks, compact 4 door sedans, full size vans and 4x4 SUVs. You can also choose manual or an automatic transmission, though please note that automatic transmissions tend to be more expensive.
Leaving Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
Ataturk Airport is located 24km southwest of the city, so the drive will take you around 35 minutes if you don’t encounter any heavy traffic.
Get on the E5, then continue on the D100/E5, taking the exit toward Ayvansaray/Eyüp, continue on Ayvansaray Cd, and then take Mürselpaşa Cd., Abdülezelpaşa Cd. and Ragıp Gümüşpala Cd. to Alemdar Cd. in Alemdar Mahallesi to get to the centre of town.
There are two petrol stations on the E5 road into the airport where you can fill up your tank before returning your vehicle to the rental company.
Driving in Istanbul
Traffic travels on the right side of the road in Turkey, and the roads to most of the big destinations in this country are well connected and maintained. It’s worth noting that fuel stations can be infrequent outside of the city, so filling up your tank when you come across them is advised.
If you’re carrying a foreign license, Turkey requires that you hold an International Driving Permit (IDP). Please make sure you carry your IDP and license with you when you are driving in Turkey.
What can you see and do in Istanbul?
You will be overwhelmed with all the things there is to do in Istanbul, and you won’t get around to doing all of them, but sticking to the main things you want to see will give you a taste of this fantastic city.
Start with the iconic Hagia Sophia. Once a Greek Orthodox Church, turned mosque, and then finally a museum, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Go underground and explore the Basilica Cistern, a feat of extraordinary Byzantine engineering, this chamber delivered drinking water from modern day Bulgaria via aqueducts to the city. Shop in the city’s splendid Grand Bazaar to pick up trinkets for yourself and your family.
For a short day trip, head out to Gallipoli in the west of the country, where you can learn about the sad battle that is still considered to be one of the biggest disasters for the Allied forces in World War 1.
If you’re after a longer adventure, then make the 6 and a half hour journey to Ephesus, the incredible preserved Roman city on the Mediterranean coast. This is a spectacular trip, and travelling this far south will give you a chance to see this fascinating chapter in Turkey’s history.
Please note all information is current as of October 2015.