Although Ankara is the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is the major travel hub in the country and chances are you’ll get a better fare for flights into Istanbul rather than the capital. So, you’ll need to figure another way to get from Istanbul to Ankara. Thankfully, there are plenty of options. You just need to choose the best for you (and your budget).
It costs about the same and takes almost the same amount of time to travel by bus or train between Istanbul and Ankara. That’s until the new high speed line will connect the two cities directly. If you are in a hurry, though, you can consider flying. It’s not too expensive compared to the bus or train fares.
Flights from Istanbul to Ankara
Ankara is served by Ankara Esenboğa International Airport (ESB), located about 28 km from the city center. Compared to Istanbul’s airports it receives fewer flights.
Istanbul is served by two airports, both handling flights to/from Ankara:
- Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST): this is the main airport serving Istanbul , located on the European side of the city, about 20 km from the city center. It is Europe’s eighth busiest airport and the main gateway into the country. It is hub for: Atlasjet, Onur Air and Turkish Airlines. Flights to/from Ankara are operated by Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
- Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) : this is the second airport serving Istanbul, located on the Asian side. It is the airport preferred by the low cost carriers. Flights to/from Ankara are operated by Pegasus Airlines, Turkish Airlines and AnadoluJet.
The cheapest flights to Ankara are from SAW. The flight time is 55 min. In mid April 2012, single fares start at €22 on Pegasus. Prices stay the same even during the peak travel season (July 2012).
Buses from Istanbul to Ankara
Metro Turzim is one of the companies operating buses from Istanbul’s Büyük Otogar (main bus terminal) to Ankara’s bus terminal (AŞTİ). Buses depart Istanbul every hour, every day between 5:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. The travel time is 5 h 15 min. The single fare is 38 Turkish Lira / €16 to 47 Turkish Lira / €20, depending on the hour of departure and type of ticket.
>>read more about Bus Travel in Turkey
Trains from Istanbul to Ankara
There will be a direct high speed railway between Istanbul and Ankara but right now the high speed trains only work from Eskişehir to Ankara. Even so , the total travel time between Istanbul and the capital is 5 h 45 min. There is still one old fashioned (slow) train between Istanbul and Ankara which leaves Istanbul at 1 p.m and arrives in Ankara 9 ½ h later. The new high speed trains leave Istanbul at 7 a.m., 10:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The fare is 40 Turkish Lira / €17 during the day , one way.
There’s also a sleeper departing Istanbul at 10:30 p.m. and arriving in Ankara 10 ½ h later. The single fare is 60 Turkish Lira / €25.30 in a shared 2-bed room.
>>read more about Train Travel in Turkey
Driving from Istanbul to Ankara
You can rent a car in Istanbul and drive the 452 km to Ankara on E-80. The drive time is about 5 h 15 min.