Got that same dream ? Well, here is how to make it come true.

Why does anyone go to Pompei, or to Versailles or to the Akropolis in Athens ?

There may be different reasons : perhaps because the history of western civilisation was forged there. Because nothing much there has changed over a period of so many centuries. Or perhaps most of all, because some spirit of times long past still lingers among the old buildings.Something you cannot define as such. But still, it's there.

Why should anyone wish to go to a place like Gallipoli ? Well ...

  

PART 1 : How do you get there ?

There are lots of ways to go to Gallipoli. It all depends of course on where you come from, but it is safe to say that not all means of transport are equally interesting if you want to visit the peninsula. So let me limit myself to what I think is the easiest and most satisfying way to do it.

To start with : most probably, you will go to Turkey by plane and once there, you will need a car. It's perfectly possible to travel to Gallipoli by public transport, but once you get there, you get stuck : civilisation ends about 10 miles from Anzac, 15 miles from Helles and 20 from Suvla.There is a sealed road, but nothing else.
  

 

 

 

If you should decide to make the trip by coach anyway, the following information might be useful :

The first thing to do is to catch a bus at the Airport, that will take you to the 'Otogar', the big bus-station outside Istanbul, from where all long-distance coaches leave to destinations all over the country.

The price for the trip Istanbul - Eceabat is about 20 000 000 TL or something like 11 EUR / 15 USD.

Coaches are pretty luxurious and make a sanitary stop every 2 hours at a 'tesisler', a roadside restaurant, where you can get all kinds of refreshments. On board, smoking and use of mobile phones are forbidden.

 

To Istanbul

I
stanbul is in fact the only possible destination if you come by plane and want to travel to Gallipoli by the easiest route. What you should keep in mind, is the fact that Istanbul Airport (Atatürk Havalimani) is situated some 10 miles west of the city itself, which is fortunate.

As a matter of fact, driving a car in Istanbul is certainly not a good idea (unless you are a native yellow-cab-driver, or a hard-core masochist). Take this advice to heart : collecting a hired car in Istanbul and then getting it out of the city, will probably cost you half a day, if not more. Don't do it.

A much better solution is to make sure your car is waiting for you at the airport when you land. All main rent-a-car companies have an office there, and when you book your car in advance, you'll be on your way in 10 minutes. Even if you arrive by night flight, collecting your vehicle is no problem. Booking in advance from your home country (phone) and paying with Visa at the airport is the cheapest procedure. Your best bet might be Europcar or Budget Car : their vehicles are usually new and reasonably priced. Expect something like 30 USD / day for a mid-sized one with airco on board. Once you have your car, stay out of Istanbul, head for Gallipoli first.

If, after your visit to the peninsula, you return to Istanbul, and want to do some sightseeing there, which is a very good idea, hand in the car at the airport, and then take a taxi to the city. They're relatively cheap (less than 10 US dollars for the trip) and have a native driver on board. This way, you'll avoid a lot of misery and gain a lot of time.

To Gallipoli

Once you have left Istanbul Airport, follow the roadsigns that say 'Tekirdag'. The complete trip to Gallipoli is 350 km (some 220 miles).

There is a new motorway for the first 100 km of your journey. It has to be paid for, but it's cheap (only something like 2.5 million Turkish lira and nothing to worry about : in fact 1.5 EUR or 2USD). When the motorway ends, keep following the signs for Tekirdag, which is a nice sea-side resort on the Marmara. The road is generally good. Sometimes, especially during week-ends, traffic may be a bit busy here and you should be careful with people crossing, but normally you will not encounter any other problems. Be aware of the fact though, that Turkish police regularly have speed controls along this road.

 

When you arrive at Tekirdag and feel you have been driving long enough, this is one of the two places where you can make a (sanitary) stop during your journey. There are a number of restaurants at the side of the road. Most are decent, none are expensive and this one is certainly one of the better choices. If you feel hungry, it might be a good idea to order 'köfte', a traditional Turkish dish. You will then get spicy meatballs that come with a mixed salad and bread. When you feel refreshed, carry on along the coastal road.

  

 

When you leave Tekirdag, keep following the road and drive straight on to Kesan. If you have a look at your map, this can seem illogical, as it certainly looks like a serious detour, but : the roads on some maps do not exist in reality. What does exist, but is not on your map, is a big army camp that blocks your way. It can be done (if you are the rallye type), but Kesan is certainly a better choice.

When you reach Kesan, you arrive at the only crossroads of the whole trip, where you have to be careful : turn left and follow the signs that say Chanakkale. After some 50 km (30 miles) you arrive at Bolayir, the narrow isthmus where in 1915 the landing was expected, but never came.

If you should feel like it, here is the second possibility to interrupt your trip for another  (sanitary) stop. When you approach the Bolayir isthmus, you will see that the road starts climbing gradually until, near the highest point, you have a panoramic view over the Gulf of Saros at the right hand side of the road. To the left, there is a decent little restaurant, where you can have a hot or cold drink and / or eat something simple. They have toilets and on the parking lot in front, there are some stalls where traditional Turkish souvenirs and carpets are sold. Whether buying these is a good idea, is a completely different matter.

  

 

 After 20 more kms, you drive past Gelibolu, the town that gave its name to the peninsula. It's a small fishing port without any further interest.

For the last 40 kms, you will notice that the road becomes gradually more sinuous, as it starts running close to the banks of the Dardanelles. Finally you will reach Eceabat, the 'capital' of the Gallipoli peninsula.

If you feel like visiting the place, turn left, take the street that crosses the town and drive straight on, till after some 300 m you reach the quay, where the Dardanelles ferries load and unload cars and passengers. You can park your car there and have a coffee at one of the cafes on the quay. They are open from 4.00 o' clock in the morning.

If you need Turkish money, there is a money machine on the quay, opposite the little souvenir stalls,  which accepts Visa.

One last piece of good advice :  at Eceabat, there are 2 petrol stations on the coastal road. Whether the petrol tank of your car is full or not, you should keep in mind that these are the two only ones on the entire peninsula. Better take your precautions.

You have arrived.


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