Which Side of the Road Does Turkish Drive On?

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If you wish to know which side Turkish people drive? You are in the right place. As an experienced Turkish driver, I will give you all you need to know, plus some road trip tips.

Turkey drives on the right side of the road like the USA and most European countries. This is the standard. It may seem a little disorienting if you are accustomed to left-side driving like in the UK, but with a bit of practice, you should be able to acclimate.

The only exception is Northern Cyprus. In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, left-side driving is the rule of law.

Being a former British colony and recognized as a separate country by Turkey, Northern Cyprus has its own rules.

Also, most of what I will say here is not applicable to Northern Cyprus because Turkish Cypriots drive calmly, and being an island, Cyprus is more relaxed than Turkey.

Most of the time, Driving in Turkish Cities is easy.

1. Is Driving in Turkey Difficult?

While driving in any foreign country may come with its challenges, Turkey is no exception.

While driving in Turkey might seem a little intimidating at first, yet most rules and driving style in Turkey are similar to European countries.

With the right preparation and understanding of the rules, you’ll find yourself navigating Turkish roads like a pro.

The driving difficulty level in Turkey, however, depends largely on the region in which you’re driving.

In major cities like Istanbul or Ankara, you might face little difficulty due to heavy traffic and somewhat aggressive driver behaviors. Additionally, complex road networks in Istanbul and Ankara could be challenging for foreign drivers.

Rural areas, on the other hand, tend to be quieter, although roads might not be in optimal conditions, and signage could be scarce.

Familiarizing yourself with Turkish driving etiquette and laws by reading articles on driving in Turkey before your journey will surely help mitigate some of these challenges.

Driving in Turkey is an excellent way to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, from bustling cities to serene countryside.

🚗💨 Want to book your car rental? Click the link to book directly with Discover Cars, which searches all national and local companies to get you the best rates.

You can encounter wildlife even in city centers in Turkey. Wild horses in Manisa, my hometown. Also, watch out for free cats and dogs crossing the road in every city.

2. Can Foreigners Drive in Turkey?

Foreigners and tourists with foreign driving licenses can drive in Turkey.

As a general rule, all foreign driving licenses with a photo are valid in Turkey. The only condition is that they should be written in the Latin alphabet.

With foreign driving licenses, tourists can drive in Turkey for up to 6 months after entering Turkey.

If you are staying long-term, you may think of acquiring an International Driving Permit or converting your driver’s license to a Turkish one.

To learn more, you read my article about “Can Tourists Drive in Turkey?”

3. Can Americans or British Drive in Turkey?

American citizens with U.S. driver’s licenses and British citizens with UK driver’s licences can also drive in Turkey, provided they’re over 18 years old. For more information, click for UK driver’s licence validity in Turkey and U.S. driver’s license validity in Turkey.

Yet, provisional driving licenses are not valid.

If you are staying for a longer term than six months, you should obtain a Turkish Driver’s License.

A UK driver’s license is easily convertible to a Turkish Driver’s licence without an exam and some paperwork.

US Driver’s License is not convertible to Turkish Driver’s license, and you should attend a course, and pass written and driving exams to get a Turkish Driver’s License.

A Street in Izmir city center.

4. Can You Rent a Car With a Foreign Driving License?

You can rent a car with a Foreign Driving License in Turkey. Your Driving Licence must have a photo. Some rental companies may deny renting a car to people who are younger than 21.

There are many options to choose from international rental companies like Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, Budget, and other local companies.

Before renting a car, I usually check car rental companies’ scores and reviews at Discover Cars.

Renting from local companies with low ratings in Discover Cars may not be the best idea.

4.1 Rental Car Insurance

All cars insured in Turkey are insured by mandatory traffic insurance for damages you may inflict on other people or cars.

Sometimes mandatory insurance coverage limits are low to cover all third-party losses. Plus, compulsory insurance does not reduce your liability if you are the faulty one.

I would suggest you obtain full insurance from your rental company to protect you from unwanted liability. Better safe than sorry.

4.2 How much to rent a car for a day in Turkey?

The price of renting a car in Turkey is around 15-40 Dollars per day. The cost does not include fuel. The availability and the price significantly differ from city to city.

Click to read my article for additional renting and driving tips in Turkey.

5. Why do we drive on the left or right?

The reasons why certain countries drive on the left or right side of the road are rooted in historical practices and conventions rather than any strict scientific or logistical reasoning.

The main theory for left-side driving dates back to feudal times. Knights, who predominantly used their left hand for the shield and the right hand for the sword, found it easier to keep to the left of the road.

This allowed knights to have their sword arm (usually the right arm for right-handed knights, which most were) nearer to an opponent.

Similarly, horse-mounted travelers would ride on the left side to ensure their right arm—the sword arm—was free to deal with any potential threats.

However, in the late 18th century, things started to shift. In the United States and France, large freight wagons pulled by several pairs of horses were a common sight.

These wagons had no driver’s seat; instead, the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to whip the team.

Sitting on the left, the drivers naturally wanted everybody to pass on the left, so they kept to the right side of the road.

A theory also ties the shift from left to right in many countries to the French Revolution. The customary rules of the road were overturned as part of the French Revolution.

Before the revolution, the aristocracy traveled on the left side of the road, forcing the peasantry over to the right side. After the revolution, however, all travel switched to the right to symbolize a departure from the era of the monarchy.

6. Which Countries Drive on the Left?

Approximately one-third of the world drives on the left side of the road.

This includes the United Kingdom, as mentioned, along with other countries like Turkish Northern Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and Japan, to name a few.

Most right-driving countries are former British colonies.

Turkey, on the other hand, drives on the right like France, the USA, and other major European countries.

7. What Are the Rules for Driving in Turkey?

Turkey has similar traffic laws to many other countries. In short

Seatbelts are compulsory for both front and rear passengers. Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited unless you have a hands-free system.

And, of course, driving after drinking is illegal, with strict penalties for those who break the law.

Speed limits vary depending on the type of road. In residential zones, it’s generally 50 km/h (31 mph), on open roads 90 km/h (56 mph); and on motorways, it’s 120 km/h (75 mph).

For more driving rules and other essential information, click read my comprehensive guide about Driving in Turkey.

Turkey Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Turkey?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from SafetyWing, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.

💧Can you drink tap water in Turkey?

Rarely — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Turkey, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Turkey. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Turkey?

Yes — Renting a car in Turkey is one of the best ways to explore the seven regions of Turkey! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Turkish companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Turkey accommodation?

For Turkish hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering an Airbnb, don’t forget also to check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Turkey? For finding cheap Turkey flights, I recommend Skyscanner and Google Flights. (Read more about the best Turkish Airline Companies.)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Turkey?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian, and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Turkey but check here to see if you do need a Turkey travel visa.

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