Bicycle touring in Turkey is a great experience! Before we started travelling Turkey by bicycle we had heard from other bicycle tourers the country is one of the best for traveling by bike. We were enthusiastic to reach the country and make our way from Europe to Asia. We entered Turkey on the 1st of May 2014 and left the country on the 7th of July 2014. We have cycled a little bit more than 2440 kilometres and ascended around 20709 meters (2 and a half times mount Everest).
cycled in Turkey
Our impressions of Turkey
Turkey is a very hospitable and welcoming country. We would never have to stop for more than minutes without an initiation for chai.This stayed from the west to the far south-east of Turkey. The roads were not to busy. There are big roads that are fast to reach the next destination with traffic but wide shoulders. More so we were able to find some small roads in good condition and taking us through interesting towns and villages. Wild camping was never an issue and we had some of our best camping in Turkey. The history abounds in Turkey and is intriguing and interesting in every part of the country. Istanbul has a strong Euro-Asian feeling and history, old mosques and churches and the city breaths a special past. At the bazaar the colours and smells are amazing. We purchased our best spices in Turkey. We especially enjoyed the central parts of Turkey such as Cappadocia, with old Greek settlements which is now a tourist center. In the same area we found Ihlara valley, a valley which consists of hundreds of churches carved into the rock face. South-eastern turkey has a distinctive kurdish culture and a strong military presence. We enjoyed the area and scenery very much and cycled our best roads in that area. A special feature for cyclists in Turkey are fuel stations. They have everything, usually good toilets and in many areas also free WIFI! Many cyclists we know of have camped at fuel stations. We find the traffic too frequent to get a good night sleep. Dress is very mixed, in the cities people are very modern is their way of dressing, in the countryside people are more modest. The further east the more conservative people dress and a headscarf becomes more apparent. Don’t forget that Turkey has some serious mountains and mountain passes. Crossing the country usually means that you will cycle a few roads above 2000 meters. We had a great time bicycle touring in Turkey.
Food, we can’t write about Turkey without writing about the food. Our lunch in Turkey has been the best: durum, doner kebab, shashlicks, tasty fresh bread, veggies, cheese etc. The fruit is amazing: cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, watermelons, grapes. Many times we have been gifted fruit on the road from friendly people waving us to come over at fruit stalls. And then there are the Turkish deserts or sweet snacks such as baklava. A traditional drink is Ayran, a yoghurt salty drink which a lot of people drink.
Practical words: Hello = Merhaba, Goodbye = Güle güle, Thank you = Teşekkür ederim, Water = Su, Tent = Çadır
We were in the South-east of Turkey during the first week of Ramadan. At sunset after the muezzin people would be waiting in small street side restaurants before they would be allowed to drink. It was a true outside feast with family and friends. After dinner there would be small chai places with low tables and small chairs along the streets to sit on and mingle among the crowd. Was a special experience to witness ramadan in a muslim country. We were modest with drinking and eating in sight, but because we were travellers it was allowed for us to consume and we haven’t had any problems accordingly.
One thing Turkey is also famous for in the bicycle touring world is dogs. There are many angry dogs, but we also found out there are many friendly dogs that just want to be your friend. If you are in an area with angry dogs the best is to carry stones and to stop if they come after you. If they don’t go away usually it helps to throw the stones.
We really want to share our story, our journey with you. We have thought about this new dimension for a while. If you enjoy our story consider receiving one of our postcards from the road. We cycle through many small towns and cities with their own story and often there is a postcard to be found. This postcard can be sent to you.
We crossed the border into Turkey from Greece at Ipsala on the D110 and followed the coast to Istanbul. Cycling out of the city there was a bicycle path to follow along the water. We took a ferry to to Yalova and followed the old Ankara road with the towns Iznik, Nallihan, Beypazari to reach the capital Ankara. From Ankara we headed south to Tuz Golu and Aksaray after which we cycled some small roads into Cappadoccia. We wanted to go to the South-East of Turkey and took some small roads to Develi, Goksun, Elbistan and the town Malatya. From Kale we took a shortcut over a small pass and it was time to descend to Ergani and Diyarbakir. This is where the Kurdish area started. From Mardin it was hot an hilly to Midyat, Cizre, Sirnak, Hakkari and Yuksekova with frequent military checkpoints. We crossed the border near Yuksekova to Urumiyeh in Iran. We enjoyed this route bicycle touring in Turkey
From Guzelyurt we took nice small roads to Goreme, over gravel roads through tiny villages and past old Greek houses remembering the population exchange of 1924. We ended up wild camping in Goreme in the midst of one of the valleys. Very beautiful.
Martin and Susanne are the crazy cyclists behind TwistingSpokes. We enjoy taking you along on our adventure while we are traveling by bicycle from the Netherlands to Nepal. What occupies us while cycling are the interactions with people on the road, culture, scenery and meaningful encounters. You can read more about us on our About page or on G+.