Beautiful sunflower field and Turkish State Railways train passing by

Most Beautiful Train Routes in Turkiye

One of the best ways to explore the richness of Turkiye’s geography is to follow the rails.

Train tours not only offer the opportunity to see the natural beauty of numerous cities but also allow us to discover their rich flavors and meet their people.

5 Most Popular Train Routes in Turkiye

Eastern Express

Starting in Ankara and ending in Kars, this route is Turkey’s most popular train journey.

But why does everyone rush to this journey, with tickets selling out on the day they become available?

Indeed, the Eastern Express fully deserves this interest. The landscapes seen along the way, combined with the great pleasure of train travel, make for an unforgettable experience.

There are two different trains from Ankara to Kars: the Touristic Eastern Express and the Eastern Express.

The Touristic Eastern Express departs from Ankara Station every day at 17:55 and arrives in Kars the next day at 18:30. It’s one of the longest journeys in our country.

The train stops three times at Kemaliye, Erzincan, and Erzurum. At each stop, you have about two hours to explore. The best part of these breaks is the opportunity to discover different geographies with their nature, people, and flavors.

Touristic Eastern Express at İliç train station in October
Touristic Eastern Express at İliç train station in Erzincan

In Kemaliye, after wandering around the Kemaliye houses in awe, throwing yourself into a village cafe with a burning stove and the warm welcomes of the elderly people at the cafe are among the memories you won’t forget.

In Erzurum, the taste of the cağ kebab, in Erzincan the thrill of the Girlevik Waterfall, and the legendary beauties of Kars are must-sees.

Places to Visit in Kars

Those traveling to the final stop of the Eastern Express, Kars, can expect a wonderful holiday experience. Kars, vibrant in all seasons, becomes especially lively during the winter months due to the Sarıkamış Ski Center.

However, if you decide to tour Kars in April-May, you will not regret it. The magnificent nature, stunning ancient cities, and historical sites of Kars await you. To briefly summarize the places you must see while in Kars:

Kars Baltic Houses

In the city center of Kars, there are many buildings constructed in the Baltic architectural style during the Russian era. Many public buildings such as the Kars Provincial Health Directorate, Caucasus University State Conservatory, Kars Chamber of Industry and Commerce Building, and the Cheltikov Mansion are housed in these structures.

Sarıkamış Ski Center

Increasingly popular each year in Turkiye, Kars offers a unique skiing experience at the Sarıkamış Ski Center, known for its crystal snow found only in the Alps. The ski season in Sarıkamış is quite long, with average snow depths exceeding one meter.

In recent years, Sarıkamış Ski Center has carved out a significant place among Turkiye’s best ski centers, catering to skiers of all levels, whether amateur or professional.

Çıldır Lake

Çıldır Lake, where you can boat in the summer and sled in the winter, is a must-see in Kars.

In winter, Çıldır Lake freezes over, and it is possible to fish for trout through holes in the ice all year round.

Fishing at the Frozen Lake of Çıldır

In the summer, you can enjoy walking or picnicking around the lush greenery of the lake.

Ani Ruins

The city of Ani, once bustling with trade caravans from the Caucasus, was one of the world’s most populous cities at one time.

Today, the Ani Ancient City, displaying traces of the Armenian Kingdom, the Seljuks, and many other civilizations, has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2016.

Some of the surviving Armenian Period artifacts in Ani include the Ani Ancient City Walls, the Church of Tigran Honents, the Monastery of the Virgins, and the Nuns’ Monastery.

ani ruins, Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents
Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents

The two surviving legs of the Silk Road Bridge, the Seljuk Palace, and the Seljuk Caravanserai are other notable examples of Seljuk architecture in Ani Ancient City.

The Abu’l Manuçehr Mosque, still standing today, is of great importance as the oldest surviving Seljuk structure.

Sarıkamış Martyrdoms

During World War I, the martyrdoms of over 90,000 heroes who fell on the Eastern Front are located around Sarıkamış in the Allahuekber Mountains.

The memories of these heroes are commemorated with large-scale memorial ceremonies in the first week of January every year within the boundaries of Sarıkamış Allahuekber Mountains National Park; at sites including Allahuekber Hill Martyrdom, Unknown Soldier Martyrdom, Sarıkamış Martyrdom, Dikenli Hill Battery Martyrdom, Çakırbaba Martyrdom, Ağababa Martyrdom, Soğanlı Martyrdom, Divik Village Martyrdom, and Bardız Pass Martyrdom.

What Are the Eastern Express Carriages Like?

There are four types of tickets available for purchase if you are traveling on the Eastern Express. The first and cheapest option is the “pullman,” which features a standard seating arrangement with double rows of two seats each. Despite the seats being wide, considering you will be seated for 24 hours, it may not be very comfortable.

Covered Couchette: This option has compartments with seats that can be converted into four beds. It is quite comfortable, so you might prefer it. Bedding is provided in the covered couchette, and you can arrange your seat into a bed whenever you wish. However, if you do not want to travel with strangers, you need to purchase the entire compartment.

Sleeping Car: The compartment in the sleeping car has two beds in a bunk bed style, one above the other. The compartment includes a mini-fridge, power outlets, a table, and a sink. For the toilet, you can use a shared WC.

Dining Car: This car is known as the dining car, where four people sit around a table, similar to a restaurant setting.


Pamukkale Express

Linking Eskisehir to Denizli, this train travels through the countryside, providing views of the famous white travertine terraces of Pamukkale near the route’s end.

Covering a distance of 426 kilometers, the route takes approximately 8.5 hours to complete, providing a seamless blend of scenic views and cultural immersion.

Starting at Denizli Station, the train winds through the cities of Afyonkarahisar and Kütahya before reaching its final destination at Eskişehir Station. This rail route not only connects passengers to Eskişehir but also serves as a gateway to major cities like Istanbul, Ankara, and Konya through transfers to High-Speed Trains (YHT) at Eskişehir.

The Pamukkale Express operates daily between Denizli and Eskişehir, departing from Denizli at 7:50 AM. After a mid-journey pause at Afyon Station at 12:39 PM and Kütahya Station at 2:43 PM, the train arrives in Eskişehir at 4:14 PM. The return trips also follow the same route, departing Eskişehir at 10:25 AM, with a scheduled arrival back in Denizli at 6:51 PM.

The express is equipped with 2+1 Pullman coaches that feature bus-like seating arrangements. This configuration provides solo travelers with single seats on one side and paired seats on the other, ensuring comfort throughout the journey.

Ideal travel months for the Pamukkale Express are during the warmer spring and summer seasons, though the charm of Eskişehir in winter should not be underestimated. Denizli is renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pamukkale Travertines, from which the train derives its name. While there, visitors can explore the ancient city of Hierapolis and even swim in the Cleopatra Pool, famed for its historical and therapeutic properties.

white travertine terraces of Pamukkale in Turkiye

Additionally, the Anadolu Seljuk-built Kaleiçi Bazaar and the Atatürk Ethnography Museum in the city center are must-visits. For those willing to venture a bit further, the healing waters of the Karahayıt Hot Springs and the ancient ruins of the city of Tripolis are highly recommended. For natural beauty, don’t miss the Ağlayan Kayası Waterfall. To fully explore Denizli, consider renting a car for convenience.

In terms of cuisine, Denizli is famous for its kebab, known locally as “Denizli tandır kebabı,” slow-cooked over a wood fire. The city’s cuisine also features influences from the Aegean region, with dishes such as stuffed dried peppers and eggplants, corn bread, eggplant dishes, and bean tarhana soup.

Van Lake Express

A wonderful route to explore the natural beauties, historical cities, hospitable people, and flavors of the East.

Turkish State Railways train passing by the Van Lake in a snowy day

The train, which departs from Ankara every Tuesday and Sunday, has its final stop in Tatvan.

There are also services from Tatvan to Ankara on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On the Tatvan-Ankara route, you have a better chance to see the cities during the day.

After Ankara, the train passes through the stops of Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Elazığ, Muş, Tatvan. The journey takes 25 hours.

The train offers compartments, pullman, covered couchette, dining, and sleeping car options.

The most beautiful views of the journey start after Elazığ. With long stops, you have the chance to see the cities and taste the rich cuisine of the East.

Izmir Blue Train Kars Express

Although many of us think the longest train journey in Turkiye is the Eastern Express, it is actually the Izmir Blue Train Kars Express that holds this title.

The journey lasts 39 hours.

The first part of the train journey totals 15 hours.

Starting in İzmir Alsancak, the journey passes through Manisa, Uşak, Afyonkarahisar, Kütahya, and Eskişehir, arriving in Ankara.

From Ankara Train Station, the journey continues to Kars with the Eastern Express.The second segment from Ankara to Kars passes through the cities of Yozgat, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, and Erzurum.

This magical journey from west to east covers 14 cities and 79 train stations, spanning a total distance of 2,190 kilometers.

The sleeping cars are equipped with clean sheets, pillows, a washbasin, a table, and an electrical outlet.

Southern Kurtalan Express

Starting in Ankara and ending in the district of Kurtalan in Siirt, this journey lasts 24 hours.

One of the oldest lines in the country, the Southern Kurtalan Express passes through Ankara, Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Diyarbakır, and Batman.

The train departs from Ankara on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and from Kurtalan on all days except Tuesday and Thursday.

Southern Kurtalan Express passing over an historic bridge by the river

The train offers compartments, pullman, covered couchette, and sleeping car options. The most comfortable choice for long train journeys would be the sleeping car. Rooms include a refrigerator, washbasin, and table.

As you travel through the steppe, you will be amazed by the different beauties of Anatolia. As you pass through so many cities with rich cuisines, your journey will also be a culinary adventure.

You will witness wonderful views while passing Lake Hazar. A nostalgic journey awaits you on the Southern Kurtalan Express.

In April 2024, two new touristic train routes that are great for anyone interested in seeing more of the country’s cultural and historical sites. These new routes, from Ankara to Diyarbakır and from Ankara to Tatvan, are designed to help travelers easily visit and enjoy different regions.


1. You can purchase tickets at the Turkish State Railways website:, However, we couldn’t open the website as we are located in Spain. If you have a similar problem, you may need to use a VPN to access it. Connecting a server in Turkiye, you can access the website.
2. The United Nations has accepted the Turkish government’s request to officially recognize the name “Türkiye” instead of “Turkey” for international use. This official change, implemented in 2022, aligns with Türkiye’s efforts to standardize its name globally.

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