It’s easy when you know how. Follow our intrepid readers as they make the trip to Fethiye by car.

Take one old car, 2 people, a lot of confidence a dash of planning and 2,300 miles later we’re in Fethiye!

We set of in October 2006 in a 1992 Toyota Corolla and completed the journey in 6 days. Here’s the whistle stop tour of how we did.

Day 1 – SW UK to Ashford, Kent

We left the South West of England at 11:30am and arrived in Ashford, Kent at 3:50pm where we stayed at the Travel Lodge off junction 9 of the M20. We booked a room in advance on the internet and paid the great price of £29 for a family room http://www.travelodge.co.uk/.

Day 2 – Ashford to Luzern, Switzerland.

Setting off at 4:30am the following morning we took the 5:55am Channel Tunnel car train to Calais arriving at 7:23 French time. Again we booked in advance and the one-way ticket cost £49 – eurotunnel.com. We could have got a cheaper crossing by sea (speedferries.co.uk) but decided against it in case bad weather, which is prevalent at that time of year, stopped the ferries. Our decision paid off as the morning we crossed gale force winds lashed the Channel ports.

Just outside the tunnel terminal we stopped for petrol and then headed on the A26 towards Riems. After a short stop for breakfast we arrived at Reims by 10:30. We then headed on the A4 towards Metz and on to Strasbourg where we joined the A35. The fast and quite French motorways are a welcome relief from the congested UK motorways. We were able to drive at 81mph – the legal limit – and really covered some serious miles.

After a couple more stops we arrived at Basel on the Swiss border at 4:15pm. We had covered a similar route a few years earlier when we drove down to Italy. However, this time we took a slightly different route at the Mulhouse junction. Instead of carrying on as sign posted we turned towards Germany and followed the E35 into Basel as this route keeps you on the motorway rather than taking you through the busy centre of Basel. This section of the journey cost 38 Euro in tolls.

{mosimage}To enter Switzerland you must pay a Carne/Vignette to use their motorway system. If you pay in cash the system is very quick, hand over 40 SwFr and place the sticker you are given on your windscreen and you’re on your way. You can also pay by credit card but need to park up and pay at the office. We continued on the A35 and headed for Luzern on the A2 where we planned to stop that evening. We arrived at Luzern at 5:30pm and drove around for 15 minutes until we found our hotel. We spent an enjoyable evening taking in the sights of Luzern.

We had covered 533 miles since we set off from Ashford.

Day 3 – Luzern, Switzerland to Ancona, Italy

We headed back onto the A2 and after a quick fuel stop (1.66 SwFr per litre) we headed for the St Gotthard Tunnel. About a mile away from the tunnel we came to an abrupt halt – all the traffic was stopped. Why….we didn’t know? We crawled for around 15 minutes before we saw the reason – traffic lights! Since the horrific fire that happened a few years ago in the tunnel the Swiss have introduced a system that limits the number of vehicles, and especially lorries, that can pass through the tunnel at any one time and the traffic lights achieve this. We were back on our way again through the longest tunnel in Europe.

We arrived at the Italian border at 10:00 am and, after a cursory nod from the border guards, we headed on the A9 motorway towards Milan. After negotiating the huge interchange on the Milan motorway we joined the A1 towards Ancona. We arrived at Ancona port at 4:15pm. We had covered 417 miles that day and paid 24 Euro in tolls.

{mosimage}Ancona Port was in organised chaos when we arrived as 3 ferries were simultaneously loading. We headed for the Turkish ferry with the help of the many port staff who were trying to organise the loading and traffic. We had made good time but now had to wait for 6 hours until the weekly ferry left at 10:30pm. However, before that we needed to get a ticket as we hadn’t booked in advance.

I headed off to the ticket office and found the Marmara Lines office, which was as expected, right at the bottom of the hall. As I approached I could see the usual Turkish chaotic queue with groups of people all crowded around one open ticket window. Some of the chaps standing around looked a bit unhappy but I managed to flow to the front of the queue. I asked the ticket person for 2 adults and a car and he replied ‘FULL’……..oh…so you’re full then ‘YES’. “When’s the next ferry?“ I asked – “next week” he replied. My heart sank – what do we do now?

After a 5 minute chat and a look at the road atlas we solved the problem, we would drive across Greece and into Turkey at Ipsala. All we needed to do now was book a ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece. All the ferries to Greece had gone by the time I returned to the ticket office but I was able to book us onto the next ferry the following day leaving at 1:30 (superfastferries.com). A 2 berth cabin and the car cost 342 Euro which was a special offer apparently. We found a good hotel just outside Ancona for the night.

I later found out that the Turkish ferry was unusually full for the time of year because the FIA world rally championships were in Antalya the following week and many of the competitors were using the ferry to get to Turkey.

{mosimage}Day 3 – Ancona, Italy to Igoumenitsa, Greece

We boarded the ferry at 11:30am. I call it a ferry but it was almost like a luxury liner. The cabins were modern and well appointed. The food and drink on board was excellent and cheap. The 16 hour crossing flew by and we arrived at Igoumenitsa at 5:30am the following morning.

Day 4 – Igoumenitsa, Greece to Kavala, Greece

{mosimage}We set off in the dark and headed on the E90 for Thessaloniki. The E90 is a new motorway that will eventually link the port at Igoumenitsa with the border crossing with Turkey at Ipsala. However, at present much of the motorway is under construction and, given some of the difficult terrain the road will cross, may not be completed for some years. This means regular diversions from the completed parts of the motorway onto the old mountain roads and through badly signed town centres. Some of the old road took us over high mountain passes and through wonderful scenery. We passed a ski resort and snow ploughs so this could be a difficult crossing if carried out in January – March! We stopped for petrol just over the summit and the garage attendant said that the snow was only a few days away – we were lucky! At times we wondered if we had taken the right road as there was hardly any traffic around and stopped a couple of time to check. However, we made good progress with no mistakes and arrived at Thessoloniki (Salonika) at 11:40am. Note, that although the whole motorway is marked on the road atlas as a toll road we only paid 2 Euro on a stretch of road entering Thesseloniki.

{mosimage}The second half of the day proved to be a bit of a nightmare. The main road we wanted to take to Kavala had been closed as a bridge had washed away the previous day due to torrential rain. We lost time when we took a wrong turn. We eventually arrived at Kavala in northern Greece at sunset and found a hotel to stay for the night.

Day 5 – Kavala, Greece to Aydin, Turkey

Feeling refreshed we set off at 8:00am and went back onto the E90 heading for Ispsala. This stretch of the motorway is completed and we made good time despite the wind and rain that morning. We stopped just before the border to fill our tank with petrol as Greek petrol is around half the price of Turkish petrol. The approach to the Turkish border is via a three lane motorway and it was deserted making us wonder if the road was actually in use. However, we arrived at the Greek border control where there were 4 cars waiting. After a quick passport check we stopped at the duty free to stock up. We then followed the road and passed a Greek sentry post and then a Turkish sentry post before going over the Evros river bridge. The metal barriers at the side of the road changed from the Greek flag colours of blue and white to the Turkish red and white. We arrived at the Turkish border crossing at around 10:00am.

The border crossing was fairly quiet when we arrived. We drove up to the immigration booth but were told we needed buy a tourist visa in the main building. We parked up and made our way into the building. We found the visa office but it was closed. The helpful sign said they would next open at 2:00pm. A group of people were already hanging around the visa office so we got chatting to them in broken English/Turkish. My wife then headed off to the various desks in the main office and started asking the staff if the visa office could be opened. It worked and 5 minutes later a little guy came running down and opened up.

We jumped back in the car again and headed for the customs booth. The guy checked our vehicle documentation and entered the details into his computer, stamped my passport and entered the date we needed to take the car back out of Turkey. I was then beckoned to go to another booth. This turned out to be the customs checkpoint. The guy spoke excellent English and checked my documents again. He asked for my Green Card insurance but I didn’t have any. No problem he said to go to the Duty Free shop complex where you can buy it. I did and returned 10 minutes later.

Our car was absolutely stuffed with household items, clothes, a bike and various other essential things my wife could live without (a sewing machine…really!). The car was so full our rear mudflaps touched the road when we went over bumps. However, the customs guy just asked me if I had any televisions in the car. I said “no”, he said “thanks have a nice holiday”! It took us 1 hour to get through the border crossing in total. The staff at the Turkish border were really friendly unlike the stone faced staff on the Greek side.

We passed through one final check point and then we entered Turkey.

{mosimage}We continued on the E90 to Kesan and then joined the E87/E90 towards Canakkale. We arrived at Egebat where we would board a ferry for a short crossing over to Canakkale. The ferry runs every half and hour during the day and cost 12 YTL for two adults and a car.

From Canakkale we headed on the E87 all the way to Izmir where we arrived just in time for rush hour at 6:00pm. Despite the heavy traffic we made our way through the congested and polluted streets and joined the motorway. The first part of the motorway was toll free and therefore congested but once we passed the Cesme spur the motorway was empty. We covered the next section to Aydin just before sunset in 45 minutes. The toll for this section of road was 2.5 YTL.

Although we were only 3 hours from Fethiye we decided to stop for the night in a hotel.

Day 4Aydin to Fethiye

After a leisurely breakfast we set off towards Mugla at 8:00am on the 550 and on to Fethiye on the 400. We paid 2.5 YTL toll to pass through the Gocek Tunnel and arrived in Fethiye at 10:50. 

All in all we covered 2,293 miles and averaged 41 mpg even though we were in an old car.

We could have cut the journey time down by 2 days had we arrived to catch the Saturday ferry and carried on to Fethiye on day 5 so that the total journey time would have been 4 days.

What’s The Cost of the Drive?

Our breakdown of costs was as follows:

Journey Costs                £
Petrol                         185
Tolls                            62
Accommodation           182
Sea Crossings              286
Green Card                   40
 
Total                             756

Food has been excluded because of the variability of prices and tastes.

And, Finally

Whilst the journey may have cost more and taken longer than a cheap flight it was much more fun seeing Europe from the drivers seat than from an airline seat. We were also able to bring with us around 300 Kgs of ‘stuff’ – try taking that on a plane or importing it for this price! We also have the benefit of a car to use in Turkey for up to 6 months. So all in all we think it was a fun and cheap way to get to Turkey.

Note – we can only keep our car in Turkey for 6 months – 180 days. The car must be impounded with customs if, for any reason, you must leave Turkey e.g to renew your visa.

Planning Your Trip

See our tips and tricks for a hassle free trip here.

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