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From Istanbul to Antalya: 4 Best Ways to Get There

Written by Jess Lee
Dec 24, 2020

Istanbul and Antalya are two of Turkey's most popular vacation destinations. With so many travelers wanting to combine a visit to both on their Turkey trip, there are plenty of transport options between the two cities.

With Istanbul's glut of Ottoman and Byzantine monuments and Antalya's dramatic Mediterranean coastal scenery, beaches, and nearby historic ruins, time split between these two cities is a great introduction to what Turkey has to offer.

Whether you're on a quick visit and concentrating your focus only on these two cities, or want to take a little more time seeing some sights along the way, here are the best ways to get there.

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1. From Istanbul to Antalya by Airplane

Konyaalti Beach, Antalya

Both Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines offer services from Istanbul to Antalya Airport.

If you're on a short Turkey trip schedule, catching a flight between these two cities makes sense and leaves you more time to explore on the ground.

Turkish Airlines usually operate 10 flights daily with services from both Istanbul International Airport (on the city's European shore) and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (on the city's Asian side).

The flights from Sabiha Gökçen Airport are normally cheaper to purchase as they are operated by the Turkish Airlines subsidiary airline AnadoluJet.

Pegasus Airlines is Turkey's main budget airline. It also offers 10 flights every day from Istanbul to Antalya with all services operating from Sabiha Gökçen.

Pegasus flights usually cost less than Turkish Airlines but know that, when purchasing the cheapest Pegasus seat options on this route, you will have less baggage allowance (15kg instead of 20kg) and won't receive a complimentary snack onboard.

The flight time from Istanbul to Antalya is between 75 and 90 minutes.

Both Istanbul airports are connected to the central city by regular, good value airport buses.

From central Istanbul pick-up locations at Taksim and Beyazit (near the Grand Bazaar) Havaist airport buses to Istanbul International take approximately two hours. To Sabiha Gokcen, Havabus airport buses from Taksim are normally a 90 minute journey.

Antalya Airport is handily connected to the central city by tram. If you're staying out of the city, in one of the beachfront hotels, an airport pick-up arranged by your hotel is the easiest transfer option.

2. From Istanbul to Antalya by Direct Bus

Lower Duden Waterfall in Antalya City

Several intercity bus companies run direct bus services between Istanbul's main bus station (Esenler Otogar) and Antalya.

The journey takes between 11 and 13 hours (depending on how many stops the service makes), so the vast majority of services operate this route overnight.

Major bus companies offering this route include Pamukkale Turizm, Metro Turizm, and Isparta Petrol Turizm.

The buses used on this route offer comfortable airline-style seats, usually incorporating individual entertainment systems and charging power points for your phone, and an onboard conductor who hands out complimentary tea, coffee, water, soft drinks, and snacks at points along the journey.

Most intercity bus services in Turkey also offer Wi-Fi.

Buses don't have onboard bathrooms. They stop every three to four hours at either a bus station or a well-equipped and modern highway service station for bathroom and dining breaks.

In Istanbul, Esenler Otogar is directly above the "Otogar" stop on the metro system. Antalya's bus station (Antalya Otogar) is connected to the central city by tram.

3. From Istanbul to Antalya by Train & Bus

Hadrian's Gate in the old city of Antalya

If you've got some time up your sleeve and want to see some of inland Turkey's main tourist attractions and towns on your way down to Antalya, using a combination of trains and buses can be a great idea.

The most interesting route using this transport method, begins by taking the high-speed train service from Istanbul to Eskişehir (11 departures daily), where you can spend a day exploring its vibrant art scene and old town district.

The next day, hop aboard the Pamukkale Ekspresi train service (one daily early morning departure), which takes a relaxing eight hours to chug from Eskişehir down to Denizli.

You're now on the doorstep of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pamukkale, with its famous white calcite terraces and the Roman ruins of Hierapolis. Minibuses zip between Denizli's bus station (just across the road from the train station) and Pamukkale village every 20 minutes.

After a day touring the sights, simply catch a bus from Denizli's bus station (regular departures) for the four-hour bus ride to Antalya.

An alternative train-bus combo would be to catch the high-speed train from Istanbul to Konya, home of the Mevlana Museum and with a city center brimming with preserved Seljuk-era monuments and mosques. After you've finished exploring, catch a direct bus from Konya's bus station to Antalya.

Turkey's high-speed trains are super modern, with brand new rolling stock and comfortable seating. Normal long-distance trains such as the Pamukkale Ekspresi are well-maintained but have older amenities. Both offer drinks and snacks for purchases through the carriages along the way.

Purchase train tickets in advance, particularly in summer, as they do sell out. Because of the amount of bus services available, you can normally just buy your bus ticket on arrival at the bus station.

4. From Istanbul to Antalya by Car

Aerial view of the road along the water near Antalya

Hiring a car in Turkey to journey from Istanbul to Antalya is a good option for travelers who enjoy road trips, don't want to rush, and don't want to be tied to public transport timetables.

This option gives you the freedom to stop off at towns and heritage sites as you toddle your way down the country at your own speed. Allow a chunk of time and make the road trip a main focus of your travels.

The most direct route (694 kilometers) between Istanbul and Antalya is inland, cutting a swath through western Anatolia.

It passes through the historic cities and towns of Bursa, Kütahya (where you could side trip to the Roman site of Aizanoi or to the Phygian ruins of the Midas Monument); Afyonkarahisar, with its craggy castle; and Isparta, gateway to Turkey's "lake district" and the phenomenal mountaintop ruins of Sagalassos.

Main roads in Turkey are in excellent condition and have clear signage. Be aware, though, that gas is expensive, and getting in and out of big cities such as Istanbul and Antalya can be frustrating due to the sheer amount of traffic.

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