How to Travel between Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir?

There’re 81 cities in Turkey and 30 of them are accepted as “metropolitan”. As you know, Ankara is the capital city and its population is more than 5 million. Istanbul is the most crowded city with more than 15 million population. And third one is Izmir in Aegean side and its population is also almost 4.5 million.

Transportation alternatives between these metropolitans in Turkey can be ignored because of the budget, departure hours, time of the arrival, and sometimes travel habits. We have evaluated all options for those traveling between Ankara – Istanbul, Ankara – Izmir and Istanbul – Izmir. We set a standard date for all transportation options: We compiled and compared the performances of tickets and time on June 25, 2019, Tuesday.

Ankara – Istanbul: Options and their Prices & Travel Times
There are three ways to travel between Ankara and Istanbul: air, road and rail. For flights from Ankara to Istanbul, you can to choose Istanbul Airport or Sabiha Gokcen Airport from Esenboga Airport.

Price of Turkish Airlines ticket is minimum ₺130 and another airline, Pegasus has less than ₺120 for the same date. If you want to travel by an intercity bus, you’ll need to pay minimum ₺55 for this date.

High-Speed Train

YHT (High-Speed Train) operates eight services from 06:00 in the morning to 19:25 in the evening. And prices are something like ₺70.

Travel Times
Airlines: 1 hour for Sabiha Gokcen Airport, 1 hour and 15 minutes for Istanbul Airport.
Intercity buses: Around 8 hours.
YHT: Around 4 hours.

Ankara – Izmir: Options and their Prices & Travel Times
When you search for Ankara – Izmir flight tickets, AnadoluJet offers you more than ₺140. On the other hand, prices of Pegasus are cheaper than it: We found like ₺125. The prices of bus tickets starts from ₺80 goes up to ₺100.

Izmir Mavi Tren (Blue Train, a kind of express line) departs from Ankara to Basmane every evening at 19:00 and the journey is completed by 15 hours. We could not find the ticket for our sample date. We looked at different days in May. Standard prices are something like ₺50. If you prefer to travel in sleeper class, you should pay more than ₺150.

Travel Times
Airlines: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Intercity buses: Almost 8 hours.
Train: Around 15 hours.

Istanbul – Izmir: Options and their Prices & Travel Times
Unfortunately, there is no train connections between Istanbul and Izmir. You will travel between these two points, either by bus or by aircraft.

Minimum ticket price is more than ₺160 from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Izmir in AnadoluJet. On the other hand, Turkish Airlines sell its tickets more than ₺230 from both airports in Istanbul. Ticket prices of Onur Air is like ₺210. The other two airlines, Atlasglobal and Pegasus offer ₺195 and ₺150. If you prefer to go with an intercity bus, ticket prices are more than ₺100.

Travel Times
Airlines: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Intercity buses: Minimum 8 hours.
Fastest Option
Of course travelling by air is the fastest, but there is one exception. When we can compare YHT and airlines between Istanbul and Ankara, YHT can be faster than airlines. If you fly from Ankara to Istanbul, it takes minimum one hour. But your transportation to airport can take minimum 40 minutes in Ankara. You’ve to also wait something like one hour in the airport. When you arrive to Istanbul, you’ll lose 15 minutes in the airport. There’ll be also transportation time, minimum 20 minutes. All these numbers are written positively. They’ve got more than three hours in total. So, if your hotel is located close to train station, travel by railway is a fast option. 

Safe Option
The answer is not intercity buses, clearly. It is also hard to compare with other two options. For us, they’re almost same.

Comfortable Option
If you will fly in Business Class, the answer is clear. If you’ve time, you can also evaluate sleeper class in Mavi Tren (Ankara-Izmir).

Cheap Option
The ticket prices of intercity buses are cheap, when you compare them with other options. There’s also one exception. If you travel between Ankara and Izmir, railway tickets (standard) are almost half of bus ticket prices.

Travel Times are written by approximately.
₺ means Turkish Lira
We evaluated prices on May 2, 2019 for June 25, 2019.