Being a slow traveler as I am, I travel by bus most of the time. Although I prefer traveling by train, bus is the mode of transportation that I often use since it’s cheaper. At the same time, I can also enjoy the scenery along the way from one place to the other.
Even 12 years ago when I stayed in Izmir as a student, I enjoyed traveling by bus in Turkey because the bus service there was top-notch!
Also, in case you have time for a little laugh, there was one time when I also ran out of money in Marmaris and I didn’t have enough money to buy the bus ticket back to Izmir. Needless to say, I have a bittersweet memory when it comes to traveling by bus in Turkey.
Traveling By Bus in Turkey
In 2010, back when shuttle bus was a new thing in my home country, I was surprised when the bus companies in Turkey offered a service that almost felt like full-service airlines. Mind you, in 2010, the bus attendant already served a snack and a drink on board for a long route like Istanbul to Izmir, or vice versa.
I thought that if traveling by bus was already so convenient back when Blackberry was still a thing, how bad could it be to travel these days right? And that’s why I decided to travel to Izmir from Istanbul by bus again when I arrived in Istanbul a couple of months ago.
If back in 2010 I had to go to otogar (the bus station) or the bus office to purchase the ticket, these days you can book a bus ticket online through websites like Obilet and Biletall. Unfortunately, just like many platforms in Turkey, both websites currently don’t accept international cards for online payment.
You can still use Flixbus to buy a bus ticket online in Turkey, but the price isn’t the same as the price there is only available in both Euro and Swiss franc.
Being a cheapskate as I am, when I couldn’t go to the bus office and buy the ticket in person, I usually just texted Vika, a Russian friend who’s been living in Mersin for 10 years now, to book a bus ticket for me through Obilet so that I could transfer the money to her Turkish bank account via Wise.
Not only is it cheaper, I asked Vika to book a bus ticket for me at least three times during my last trip to Turkey. Because of that, I also got a promotional coupon from Burger King through Obilet… Not just once, but twice!
So, how was my experience of traveling by bus in Turkey? Which bus company would I recommend for your road trip in the country? Let’s check this out!
Top 5 Best Bus Companies in Turkey
The tricky part is that there are actually so many bus companies that offer various routes throughout Turkey. Unless we talk about routes connecting to or from Istanbul, you need to check each bus company’s availability for the route you’re looking for. For this, websites like Obilet or Biletall can help even if you cannot book it online with your international card. The information on the platforms is usually accurate, even if you buy the ticket from the ticket counter.
For instance, once I booked a bus ticket at Kamilkoc bus office in Basmane and Metro ticket counter in Izmir otogar, the price that I paid is exactly the same as written on Obilet and Biletall.
While online booking through platforms like Flixbus or Bookaway might be more convenient, they charge a pretty high conversion rate compared to the original price.
So if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly price for a bus ticket in Turkey as an international traveler, the best price you could get is by purchasing it directly from their sales office.
If we talk about bus companies in Turkey from the business point of view, then Kamilkoc is the market leader for bus travel in the country. The bus ticket for Kamilkoc may be more expensive than the other companies, but it’s aligned with the tremendous service they offer for each passenger.
Honestly, they spoil you rotten if you’re looking to get on a bus, being happy as a freeloader. LOL. For a long trip like Istanbul to Izmir or Izmir to Goreme, they could serve snacks and drinks for up to 4 (four) times, and it’s outside the lunch or dinner break at some rest area.
As much as I love snacks time, I rarely finish any of their soft drinks on my trip with Kamilkoc. LOL.
Not sure if it’s just Kamilkoc or it applies to all bus companies in Turkey, but Kamilkoc usually offers buses with 2+1 seat arrangements for each of the routes they offer. If you choose your seat on the 1-seat line, there will be an additional cost of 5 TL (around 30 cents in USD).
Given the idea I like having my own space on top of coronavirus, I usually buy tickets on the 1-seat line. And I feel like 5 TL is nothing compared to the possibility of anxiety to sit next to a stranger.
Apparently, pretty much what I experienced when I got on the bus in Laos, in Turkey there’s also a rule whereby a man and a woman cannot sit together on the bus unless they are under the same booking code. So even if you choose to buy the ticket on the 2-seat line, you won’t find yourself sitting next to the opposite sex.
- Kamilkoc is the largest bus company in Turkey, so they offer various routes throughout the country.
- They serve the best snack and drink time compared to other bus companies in Turkey. Their standard procedure is to serve a snack (normally some biscuit or cake packet), a glass of mineral water, and a bottle of soft drinks that you can choose on your own. The latter would be optional between some fruit soda and coke.
- You don’t need to worry about tardiness, as the bus usually departs on time. So be sure not to be late if you book a trip with Kamilkoc!
- More often than not, Kamilkoc bus ticket is more expensive than other bus companies for the same route.
2. Nevsehir Seyahat
In case you don’t know yet, Nevsehir is a small town around the Cappadocia region in Turkey. Seyahat literally just means travel in Turkish. So needless to say, Nevsehir Seyahat bus company was named after the town in Cappadocia.
Since Cappadocia is probably the most-visited touristic spot in Turkey after Istanbul, if you’re planning to go to Cappadocia by bus, you can check an option to get the bus ticket from Nevsehir Seyahat.
While Nevsehir might not be the best area to stay when you visit Cappadocia, Nevsehir Seyahat also provides services from other towns around the region.
For example, I got on Nevsehir bus when I returned to Izmir from Goreme, the area where I stayed in Cappadocia. They provided a shuttle bus that took us to Nevsehir otogar, and then we changed the bus there to get to our final destination.
Just like the majority of bus services in Turkey, Nevsehir Seyahat also comes with the 2+1 seat arrangements for the bus.
I’m not sure if there’s any additional fee for the 1-seat line, but I bought a ticket from Goreme to Izmir for 120 TL (around $8.5 USD) to get one seat on the 1-seat line. For the same seat arrangement on Kamilkoc bus from Izmir to Goreme, I paid 144 TL (around $10 USD).
- Compared to big names like Kamilkoc or Metro, Nevsehir offers relatively affordable bus ticket price.
- While it might not be as fancy as they serve on Kamilkoc bus, the snack and drink service at Nevsehir Seyahat is pretty decent. They also serve a packet of biscuit or cake on their service flow. The only difference is that they serve either coffee or tea instead of a bottle of soft drink.
- The available routes for Nevsehir Seyahat might be quite limited compared to the big names. Except for around Cappadocia region, you may need to find a ticket counter that sells any ticket outside the big names if you try to get the ticket in otogar.
If Kamilkoc is known for its luxury and all the good things about the bus company, Metro is a big name that is popular for quite the opposite. As in, yes, Metro offers so many routes that other companies don’t. But the bus company is not well-known for its good service.
A lot of their fleets are a bit run down, and I had to prove it on my own when I found my seat table was broken when I got on the Metro bus from Izmir to Edirne. And their service isn’t the best either. If anything, I found it a little weird when I saw a significant gap on the bus ticket I bought from Izmir to Edirne and vice versa.
So, I bought a bus ticket from Metro sales counter at Izmir otogar to Edirne for only 150 TL (around $10.5 USD). But when I bought a bus ticket from a sales office in Edirne city square to Izmir, suddenly it cost me 220 TL (around $15.5 USD). Not sure what makes it any different, but anyway…
For their snack and drink service, it’s pretty much similar to other bus companies. Slighty similar to Kamilkoc, the only difference is that instead of serving you the whole bottle, you will have an option to choose either soft drinks, coffee or tea. The bus attendant will serve the latter in the paper cup.
For me, I could deal with the broken table and everything… But I just can’t help but wonder about the discrepancies in the ticket price for the same route.
- They probably have the most available routes throughout the country. For instance, Izmir-Edirne route isn’t as popular as the route to more popular cities in Turkey. But Metro has the route available with the shortest duration from one point to the other.
- I just can’t help to think why the heck the price difference was so significant when the route is practically the same.
- Their fleets aren’t really well-maintained, with a broken table and the seats looked kinda older than the other buses that I’ve got on around Turkey.
4. Ozlem Diyarbakir
I honestly never heard of Ozlem Diyarbakir bus company before, until when I searched for the bus to get back to Istanbul from Ankara. Initially, I wanted to try Ozlem Batman bus company simply because it has the name “Batman” on the brand. LOL.
However, I eventually decided to book one with Ozlem Diyarbakir instead for one simple reason: it’s super cheap!
From Ankara ASTI otogar to Istanbul Esenler, the bus ticket only cost around 100 TL (around $7 USD). It intrigued me because I started wondering whether the cheap price would justify their bad service or it would surprise me with a terrific customer experience on a low budget.
I bought the bus ticket through Obilet at the time, and I had to check with their counter to find out which person I should go to and whether it was necessary for me to print out the ticket. The staff informed me the number of person where I should wait for the bus.
And since GDPR doesn’t apply in Turkey, personal data such as name, HES code and phone number would be needed to purchase a bus ticket. The print-out of the bus ticket isn’t necessary as the bus attendant will just match your personal information with the one they have in their system.
Now that I tried their service, I have a mixed opinion about Ozlem Diyarbakir. The first disappointment was when I reached my seat and immediately noticed that someone littered on my seat and the staff didn’t get a chance to clean them up.
It was dirty and all over the place, there were a used plastic glass of mineral water and the biscuit packet. And on top of that, there were some crumbs on the seat. At one point, I really hoped it was a kid sitting there because if the previous passenger was an adult, then he or she would be freaking disgusting.
But other than that, everything else looked decent. They even have a wifi connection on board that actually worked. And while they only serve a drink without any snack, at least we could have a cup of tea or coffee on our way to the destination. They also stopped at some restaurant for lunch, where we could also buy some gifts from Turkish sweets to accessories.
- It’s honestly super cheap compared to any other bus companies with the same routes. When Kamilkoc cost around 160 TL for Ankara-Istanbul route, Ozlem Diyarbakir only cost 100 TL.
- Their wifi connection actually works decently. I ended up working on some stuff through my tablet on my way to Istanbul.
- The staff didn’t clean my seat from the previous passenger, and it was super dirty.
- It wasn’t really a downside for me personally, but at least for Ankara-Istanbul route, they only serve a drink and not a snack for Ozlem Diyarbakir passengers.
From my personal perspective, Pamukkale has been my second favorite bus company after Kamilkoc. I used Pamukkale bus a few times, but it was back in 2010 for the full service!
On this trip, I got a chance to book a ticket with Pamukkale bus too when I traveled from Yalova to Bursa for my birthday trip. However, since the distance between the two cities were too close, I didn’t get to experience the snack servings just like what we usually get on the longer routes.
But overall, I think Pamukkale is still one of the top 3 bus companies in Turkey judging from their fleets that look well-maintained, and the service where they still offer lemon cologne for the passengers as soon as the bus departs. Keeping up the tradition, yall! 🙂
Unfortunately, the available routes for Pamukkale might be quite limited as I tried to find a bus ticket with Pamukkale when I went to Cappadocia and Edirne from Izmir, and they had none. It might not be the case if you’re looking for a route to destinations like Istanbul or Denizli, the city where Pamukkale is located.
- If their long-route service were still the same as it was in 2010, their service was quite top-notch. Almost head-to-head with Kamilkoc, with a relatively more affordable price for the ticket.
- Their fleets are well-maintained, and it’s quite easy to find their sales office even outside the otogar. If you’re planning to travel from Izmir, apart from booking the ticket online and going to the sales office at otogar, you can also find their sales office in Basmane.
- The number of routes they have is quite limited, as they seem to only have the routes to popular touristic destinations.
I haven’t traveled the world yet, but by far Turkey has the best couch service on the bus in terms of the service, the price, and everything else. I would say, it’s also my favorite method of transportation because not only is it affordable, I feel like the service exceeds what I’ve paid for.
For the longer routes like Izmir to Goreme, traveling by bus could be quite challenging. But at least they always make a few stops along the way where you can stretch for a bit and go to the toilet if necessary.
If you’re a slow traveler like me, I would recommend traveling by bus in Turkey just so you can experience it yourself.
So, have you traveled with any other bus companies in Turkey that isn’t listed here but you would like to recommend? Share in the comment below, and cheerio! 🙂
Marya The BeauTraveler
I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry, but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017 and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.
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