Combining nostalgia with comfort, train journeys have once again become one of the most popular travel options in our country in recent years. Long train journeys specifically with their sleeping wagons and restaurants, have started to gain popularity both in Turkey and in the world in recent years. In addition to the high-speed trains, the local trains, which turn the journey into pleasure with their renovated sleeping wagons, have entered the list of must-experiences for adventure lovers.
For solo travellers, long train journeys stand out not only as a travel experience, but also as an accommodation option.
The Most Popular in Turkey: Orient Express
The Orient Express, one of our most popular train routes, is Turkey’s equivalent to Russia’s Trans-Siberian Express, offering a 26-hour long journey from Ankara to Kars. The 1310-kilometer route offers you just as many opportunities to capture frames to share on Instagram. The line allows both day and night travel and carves a unique route from the steppes of Central Anatolia through the steep valleys of Eastern Anatolia. For in-car dining, you can choose to enjoy your meal in the restaurant wagon if you need it while underway. At the end of the journey, the historical touristic beauties that await you in Kars are the topping to a delicious dessert. Don’t forget to take time at the viewing windows so that you can enjoy the natural beauty you’ll see along the way. At the end of the road, you can explore the Ruins of Ani or Çıldır Lake. Orient Express train tickets, which have a choice of two- or four-person sleeping cars (called couchettes) or pullman (seats), go on sale 30 days before travel. Odamax hotels, where you’ll surely want to rest your head while waiting to discover the beauties of Kars, await you at your destination.
South Kurtalan Express
The “South Kurtalan Express”, which gave its name to the Kurtalan Ekspres rock music group founded by Barış Manço in 1972, is a 1212-kilometer train line between Ankara and Kurtalan. During this 27-hour journey, the train passes through the cities of Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Diyarbakır and Batman.
In addition to the 2-person bed, 4-person couchette (sleeping) wagons on the train, there is also a restaurant where you can satisfy your hunger. You can explore many natural beauties along the way and when you arrive in Kurtalan, you can easily travel onwards to many historical touristic spots such as Mardin. Although the South Kurtalan is not as popular as the Orient Express, nonetheless it can be very challenging to find train tickets in some periods. You can obtain detailed information about the return flights 5 days a week from the TCDD website.
Van Lake Express
Van Lake Express, one of the routes that remains largely discovered and not overburdened with crowds, promises a unique journey that takes approximately 26 hours. Van Lake Express runs twice a week on a reciprocal basis. The train departs from Ankara on Tuesdays and Sundays, returning from Tatvan on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition to the very spacious and comfortable seated wagons on the Van Lake Express, there are very comfortable sleeping cars and restaurant wagons. After Tatvan, you can go to Van over the lake to the city centre and have a wonderful breakfast featuring the unique herbed sheep’s cheese called Van Otlu peyniri, which is unique to Van. The crowning touch to polish off the 1245-kilometer train journey, should be a visit to Akdamar (Holy Cross) Church on Akdamar Island. The train follows the route Ankara – Kayseri – Sivas – Malatya – Elazig – Tatvan. You can choose from Van hotels to explore in comfort or to await your train’s departure.
İzmir Blue Train (İzmir – Ankara)
İzmir Blue (Mavi), the railway line that connects İzmir, one of the most beautiful cities of Turkey, and Ankara, the capital city, promises a unique experience with its 837 kilometres distance and approximately 15 hours of travel time. The daily and reciprocal İzmir Blue Train services between Ankara and İzmir follow the route Ankara – Eskişehir – Kütahya – Balıkesir – Manisa – İzmir (Basmane). There are sleeper and pullman options on the train with the restaurant wagon. You can witness different geographies along the way. By making a reservation for İzmir hotels, do not forget to visit many historical and natural beauties in the vicinity. You can buy tickets online for the İzmir Blue Train.
Konya Blue Train (Konya – İzmir)
The Konya Blue Train, with its 689-kilometer line, promises a unique journey from Konya, the land of Sufi poets and mystics Mevlana (Rumi) and Şems, to İzmir. The journey takes approximately 12 hours. If you are planning a trip from İzmir to Konya, do not forget to sample the local speciality called etli ekmek, a pizza-like dish whose name literally means “bread with meat” and to make time to visit the Mevlana Tomb. Thanks to the sleeping wagon, you can have a comfortable journey, and if you are still hungry, all your needs will be met in the restaurant wagon. Do not forget to watch out for the unique natural beauty visible along the route. You can buy your Konya Blue Train ticket online, which makes daily departures from either city every day.
Main Line, Regional and International Trains
You can get to many places in Turkey comfortably and quickly by train. mainline trains such as Pamukkale Express, Aegean Express, Fırat or Erciyes Express will turn your journey into a unique experience. Short-haul, regional trains such as Adana – Mersin, Afyon – Eskişehir, Batman – Diyarbakır, Halkalı – Kapıkule, Kütahya – Balıkesir offer comfortable seating for a unique viewing experience, with return journey departures at various times of the day. The İstanbul – Sofia Train offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience which will transform your international travels into a long-distance train adventure.