Turkey - take a road bike?


I'm away to Turkey, north of Izmir, for beach holiday in July. Looks pretty rural on Google earth. Thinking of taking a road bike.

Does anyone know what the state of the roads and driving is like there? Does Turkey have a road biking culture at all?

Advice welcome.




  • lateralus
    lateralus Posts: 309
    A colleague of mine took his bike there a couple of summers back and toured from Istanbul down the Aegean coast. He and his mates had a great time - he raved about the scenery and the friendliness and hospitality of the people.

    He did say the roads tended to be quite rough. I've been there on holiday (but not cycled) and I noticed that the surfaces often aren't great.

    The standard of driving isn't particularly high - it's not as bad as in the Middle East, but there are a lot of questionable manouevres by people in clapped out vehicles. That said, there are plenty of quiet roads off the main routes where it might not be such an issue if you have your wits about you.
  • knedlicky
    knedlicky Posts: 3,097
    Helmets for cyclists are required by law in Turkey. That doesn't means Turks wear them, but then often they don't follow the basic traffic rules for car-driving either, which are mostly the same as in Western Europe. A foreigner on a bike disobeying the rule might, however, be picked up (= fined) for his misdemeanour.
  • Hugh A
    Hugh A Posts: 1,189
    I haven't been for a while, but back then it was wise to avoid airports or any military installation (tendency to get questioned, papers required etc.). I don't suppose you are planning to ride at night but a lot of vehicles, often horse or tractor drawn go about with no lights! Otherwise lovely.
    I\'m sure I had one of those here somewhere
  • knedlicky
    knedlicky Posts: 3,097
    As Lateralus said, the scenery can be great, the people are friendly, and the roads can be rough.
    Minor roads are not always paved or, if they are, they might be uneven, or broken up and potholed. Slightly larger roads often have what I think is called ‘surface dressing’, i.e. uniform size gravel, about 1 cm size, embedded on a bitumen base, not the smooth surface you’d like on a narrow-tyre road bike.
    Still, the roads have relatively little traffic on them - on minor roads you might easily go 30 mins without seeing a car, instead there’ll be a few scooters, several donkeys, some tractors, and occasional flocks of sheep or herds of goats. And people walking or tending animals.

    I don’t know the area north of Izmir, but if it’s like farther south, be prepared for a lot of up and down – the landscape is quite ‘bumpy’ in places and hills rise up to over 1000 m above sea level within 10 km of the coast.
    Signposting is poor and most roads don’t appear to have designations, so get ready for some guesswork based on whatever map you have. Though, don’t rely too much on a map – sometimes minor roads indicated as surfaced aren’t, or maybe don't exist at all, or junctions shown east of a village are actually west of the village, or place names on a map aren’t used on signposts and vice versa. It can be fun!

    You certainly see locals ambling along short distances on clapped-out bikes but I wouldn’t say there was a road biking culture there, even though the week-long Tour of Turkey, a UCI class 2 race, took place about two weeks ago.* I know of a cycling guide book with over 30 routes for mountain bikes, but it's in German and all the routes are between Fethiye (300 Km SE of Izmir) and Antalya.

    *(The Tour was won by Garcia-DaPena and other participants including Petacchi, Hondo, Azevedo, Canada Gracia, and Klöden; teams included Lampre, Milram and Astana. An Irish national team took part too. Except for an opening stage in Istanbul, all the stages were between Izmir and Alanya.)
  • Thanks for the info.