I rent a car nearly every month. As a professional Turkish lawyer in Turkey, I use car rental services whenever my job requires me to travel somewhere else. And even lawyers can face troublesome times when renting a car.
In this writing, I will share my experiences to help you rent a car and drive in Turkey.
Where to rent a car in Turkey?
There are many local and international car rental brands in Turkey. Yet, the best car rental companies are Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, Budget.
The cheapest car rental prices start at 10 USD. Economy car daily rental is around 15-45 USD. The prices vary greatly depending on the season and the city.
Airports are nearly always more expensive than inner-city car pick-up locations. You may try looking for city pick-up points and travel by taxi from the airport to pick up your car. I use this trick to save a good amount of money.
Also booking in advance can save you money when renting a car.
If you wish to know my top recommended places for hiring a car in Turkey, you can check my travel resources page or, for a quick solution, check Rentalcars.com to compare the prices of different rental companies.
Is it safe to rent a car in Turkey?
It is safe to rent a car in Turkey if you rent a car from one of the international brands. As a Turkish local, I never experienced a situation as serious as credit card information theft. Yet, only I used the main international brands.
I would advise only using internationally known brands like Hertz, Avis, Europcar for renting a car.
I never use the local brands unless I know the renter through a personal connection.
What is the minimum age for renting a car in Turkey?
The minimum renting a car is 25. This is not a legal requirement. It is a rental car industry practice.
Some rental companies rent cars to younger people and ask for additional payments for the risk. I never had this age problem when I was young, but that was 15 years ago.
Some rental companies also ask for driver’s licenses that are at least one or two years old. Again, this is also not a legal requirement. Bring your old driver’s license with you if you recently renewed your license to avoid an argument.
Some rental companies may refuse to rent a car to those who are older than 70. Yet, again most will rent the car with extra fees.
Documents you need when renting and driving a car in Turkey
Documents for Driving in Turkey
Your driving license is valid in Turkey. According to Turkish Law (Turkish Road Traffic Regulation Article 88), all foreigners can use their home country driving license in Turkey for up to 6 months starting from the day that they enter Turkey.
There are only two conditions, your Driver’s License needs to be in the Latin alphabet and needs to have a photograph on it.
Additionally, the driving license should not be a provisional driving license.
If you entered Turkey with your ID, you do not need your passport. In that case, your Entry Document to Turkey is required to prove that not six months have passed from the day you entered Turkey and your driving license is still valid.
If six months have passed, you need to convert your driving license or get a new Turkish Driving license.
- Passport (or in some cases your ID and entry document)
- tourist visa with your entry date stamp
- your driving license,
- vehicle registry documents
- and mandatory vehicle insurance must be present with you at all times when driving.
Your rental company will provide vehicle registry documents and mandatory vehicle insurance. Learn their place when renting a car.
Simple as that, if you want to know more about the validity of driving licenses, check my article “Can Tourists Drive in Turkey?”
If you wish to get a Turkish Driving License check my guide on 2 Ways to get a Turkish Driver’s License for Foreigners – Full Guide.
Documents for Renting a Car in Turkey
Documents required to rent a car in Turkey are listed below.
- valid driver’s license
- entry stamp to Turkey
- credit card
A credit card is required for a security deposit. An amount between 100 $ – 1000 $ will be blocked on your credit card depending on the car you rent and the rental period. This procedure is standard practice.
Renting a Car and Insurance
One of the most asked questions is, “Do you need car insurance in Turkey?” Let me explain.
You need to buy car insurance in Turkey. Yet, All cars in Turkey are insured by mandatory traffic insurance for damages you may inflict on other people or cars. Compulsory insurance does not cover your damages, only damages you inflict on innocent third parties.
However, mandatory insurance coverage limits are low to cover all third-party losses in big accidents. For this reason, I always take full insurance (Kasko). Anything can happen. I want to be on the safe side rather than sorry.
What type of car to rent in Turkey?
Be sure to check the transmission type of the car. In Turkey, manual type transmission is the standard norm. Rental companies may ask for additional fees for automatic cars.
If you are planning to stay in more urban areas, I would suggest small economic models. They are cheaper and easier to park in cities.
There are not many small alleys to drive in Turkey compared to Italy and Greece. On the other hand, if you plan to go to rural areas and explore as I do, I would suggest renting an SUV.
Especially if you are going to East Turkey, where the landscape is more mountainous and less developed, you will be grateful for renting an SUV.
Lastly, check to see if your car has winter tires if it is winter. If it snows, Turkish people always tend to act as if they see snow for the first time in their lives, and it can be chaotic.
Renting a Car Process
Receiving a rental car is a straightforward process. You will be inspecting the car with a rental agency agent.
The agent will mark the scratches and other malfunctioning parts of the car. You may want to take a video of the car or take photos of the vehicle in the process to avoid future arguments.
Car Toll Transponder or Sticker
Ask about road toll fees to your rental company agent. Some of the major roads are not free in Turkey. These roads are paid with onboard devices or stickers. You should learn the policy of using this onboard device (OGS or HGS).
Most of the paid roads do not have a cashier at the end of the road. They are automatically paid with these onboard devices.
Reasons for renting a car in Turkey
- Freedom to explore. This is the main reason I rent a car instead of public transport. Whenever I see something interesting, I pull over my car. It can be a cafe near the sea, an abandoned village, or just to taste the water of natural cold spring water coming from the fountain in the heat of the summer. Turkey is full of surprises, and there is no telling what you can run into.
- Renting a car can be cheaper than going on a tourist tour. Especially if you are traveling with your friends or family, renting a car is definitely cheaper. Tours generally earn commissions by taking you to specific places and limit your freedom to explore your options.
- Accomodation options in city centers are usually more expensive and less comfy than the ones that are outside the city center. By renting a car, you can access more hotel options, and you may get better value for your money.
- Comfort. I do not use the public transport system unless I have to. Even though most cities in Turkey have an excellent bus system, I use a car or taxi service. I only use the metro in metropolitan cities like Istanbul because driving or taking a taxi can be slower and less comforting than the metro.
- Having your car also gives you the advantage of deciding your own hours. You can visit major tourist attractions before or after the tours arrive. Going to touristic places like Pamukkale or Ephesus before 10 AM or after 4 PM will likely decrease the crowd of tourists. Also, especially in the summer, I do not like to be on buses with other people.
TIP Watch for brown road labels. These labels show unique attractions. Whenever I see them, I have an urge to discover them. They signal unique places to visit. Here is an example of brown-label traffic signs.
Reasons for not renting a car
- If you are not feeling okay driving in another country or you have not practiced your driving skills for a while, you should not rent a car. You are coming here to enjoy your visit, not to get more stressed.
- Even if you are an experienced driver, do not try to drive in Istanbul. Even finding a parking space can be problematic.
Is it a good idea to rent a car in Istanbul and other metropolitan cities?
If you are going to stay only in the city centers of Izmir, Istanbul, or Ankara, renting a car may be a bad idea. I would use public transport (stick to the metro as much as possible).
Also, use yellow taxis in big cities. Yellow taxis are cheaper in these metropolitan cities than in smaller Turkish cities. Rent a car only if you want to take your day off and explore outside the metropolitan area. You may wish to read my guide on Turkish taxis.
Is Driving in Turkey Safe?
Turkey is not your safest country regarding traffic safety, but it is not as bad as you may think. Actually, it is one of the safest places in the world to drive.
Let me demonstrate my point. This is a graphic prepared by the World Health Organization. It shows death rates from road traffic accidents by country. (per 100,000 inhabitants)
Also, Driving in Turkey is also safer than in the United States and most of the American continent.
Suggested Reading: Can Tourists Drive in Turkey? Driving tips in Turkey for foreigners.
Simcard and Online Maps
Mobile internet coverage is very good in Turkey. Also, it is tough to find a spot without access to mobile internet. You can easily buy a sim card for your phone with data coverage when you arrive in Turkey.
This means you can use Google Maps or Yandex Maps to find your way around Turkey. They have pretty accurate road assistance services. Most people use Yandex Maps in Turkey, but I like Google Maps.
Baby and Children Seats
The child seat is mandatory in Turkey for babies and kids who are shorter than 150 cm and under 36 kg. Fortunately, most rental car companies supply baby and child seats at your request.
Police checks are frequent, and checkpoints are located at the exits and entrances of significant settlements, and there are also random checkpoints.
If you are stopped at these checkpoints, this does not mean you did something wrong. These are both traffic and security control points.
Please drive slowly and carefully when nearing these checkpoints. Follow the lead of the police officers.
This is the most confusing part of Turkish traffic. Typically you should give priority to the traffic coming from the right. However, we do not follow this rule. Turkish people have a different understanding of this.
Turkish people tend to treat roundabouts as intersections, but our understanding may be illogical for a foreigner. Follow the locals. Proceed carefully in roundabouts.
This advice is not about driving but about walking. Never assume that the car will stop and give you the way when crossing the street. Even in the pedestrian crossings.
Be watchful when crossing the streets until you have some experience in the Turkish way.
Turkish traffic rules and speed limits
In Turkey, when driving, you follow the right side of the road ( like France and the USA, not like the UK).
Here are some of the basic rules to follow to avoid getting fined by the police.
- The seat belt must be worn at all times.
- If you have children under 5, she or he must be seated in special children’s seats. All major rental companies provide children’s seats on request.
- The driver should not use a cell phone while driving; connecting your cell phone to your car via Bluetooth and using it hands-free is okay.
- The strangely parked cars on intercity roads with different antennas are usually police speed radars, and there are also lots of speed cameras to be mindful of speed limits.
These are the general speed limits.
- 50 km / h (31 miles per hour) inside town and cities
- 90 km / h (55 miles per hour) on intercity regular roads
- 110 km / h (68 miles per hour) on intercity divided roads
- 120 km / h (74 miles per hour) on motorways/highways
How to park your car in Turkey?
In Turkey’s most urban areas, parking is free unless otherwise indicated in writing or forbidden by a sign. If in doubt, ask locals.
The private sector also operates many parking lots. Parking will not be a problem if you are not in a condensed urban area.
TIP: If you are stuck in a metropolitan area, do not know what to do, use the hotels’ vale services, get in front of the hotel, and ask the help of the personnel.
This method may be more expensive than normal, but it is sometimes too chaotic to find a parking spot.
Essential Things to Know About Fuel stations in Turkey
Everything can be cheap in Turkey but not the fuel. Turkish people use one of the most expensive gasoline in Europe. You may think petrol stations are trying to scam you because you are a tourist. Gasoline prices are high in Turkey.
Unlike in the USA, service members fill the gas for you in Turkey. You pay by giving cash to service members, or you can go inside the gas station to pay with credit cards. As standard practice, all of them accept credit cards.
The service level you get in gas stations differs depending on their brands. My first choice is OPET. This brand usually has the cleanest toilets and a good supermarket. The other brands I like are Shell, BP.
A windshield cleaning service is available free of charge in most gas stations. Service members usually clean your windshield after filling your vehicle’s gas tank.
What should you do in case of Emergency in Turkey?
For all emergencies, you can dial 112. It is the general helpline. To reach the Turkish police directly, you can dial 155, and you can also call gendarme (military police) by dialing 156 in rural areas.
Also, you should call your rental car company for specific instructions for other minor issues.