Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

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-   -   London to Istanbul (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/route-planning/london-to-istanbul-59800)

billyedit 21 Oct 2011 00:35

London to Istanbul
Hi, I'm of to Istanbul in a week or so, my first big trip (in my book), thinking of going through Germany, to Vienna then rounding down to Croatia, following the coast down to Albania before cutting east to Istanbul. Does any one any advice on this route, its feasibility, places to see or even want to join me any part of the way!


Robertsmits 21 Oct 2011 02:21

London to Istanbul
Will, you are 7 months ahead of me as I am planning more or less the same trip (from Amsterdam). To get as much driving time in the South I'm thinking of taking an auto-sleeper-train from Holland to Italy (Livorno) cut to the other side of the Italian boot and take a fast ferry from Ancona to Ingoumenitsa (Greece). I'm not so sure about Greece though with its nasty economical situation and all. Would be no fun if their banks run out of money and their ATM's end up dry. I've done the trip to Croatia before and I entered Slovenia from the tip of Italy, at the point where the three countries, Austria, Italy and Slovenia, come together. There is a lovely winding pass across some old border-crossings with remnants of the war between The Austrian Empire and Italy. Further south I hugged the coast through Istrie in Croatia, which is quite touristic in the high season and took a short ferry crossing to the northern tip of the Island of Cres. This Island is stretched a fair way south and the main road is quite scenic and a delight to drive. From the southern tip of the island you can take a ferry to mainland Croatia again and head further south. This will involve some island hopping but the Islands are beautiful and the ferry tariffs used to be fair. I just might take this route on my return trip again. Have a safe trip and let us know how its been! Cheers, Rob.

Mehmet Zeki Avar 21 Oct 2011 12:55

So at the finish line, you are all invited for adventure talks,experience exchanges while having welcome drinks in our club garage..

Wish you all the best and safe trips.

Robertsmits 21 Oct 2011 21:00

Istanbul and beyond
I've been reading a lot about you guys down in Istanbul...seems you are getting quite famous! I will take up the invitation and pay you a visit when I make it to Turkey. My traveling plans inside Turkey are not definitive yet, they are somewhat restricted for I ride a Kawasaki Vulcan cruiser....so no serious off-roading. That doesn't mean I will just stick to highways, rather take the backroads. Anyway....will see you in 2012!
Cheers, Rob.

Mehmet Zeki Avar 22 Oct 2011 10:56

Hi Robersmiths,

Here is a link to our club facebook page.

and my personal page.(generally in English)

*Our club is the first Turkish Cycling and Biking Club Ass.(since 1968)
*NGO. and a tourism volunteer.All the problems you meet in Turkey are reported to the authorities..
*Has a garage with tools for foreign long distance cyclists and bikers.
*Makes routes to foreign bikers according to their hobbies and dislikes..
*The only club who can make crates for shipping and customs formalities in Turkey for bikes.
*400 members in İstanbul, over 5.000 in Turkey,and about 1.000 around the world.
*Donated by local bikers by volunteering and by foreign bikers sometimes against accommodation.
*We travel a lot,learn a lot and like to share our experiences.
*We write only in HU.because HU is the only sincere and honest website for bikers on the world and Mr.Grant is very important for all of us.
*We are a team.

Wish you all the best

managing team
Adil-Mehmet-Zeki-Mehmet II-Salih-İsmail-Serhat-Abdurahman-Taylan-Şeref-Ömer

billyedit 26 Oct 2011 00:53

Thanks, sounds and looks like a really great setup, i have the co- ordinates and will drop in to see you soon, wish I could bring my cycle bike too!

Crappybiker 26 Oct 2011 22:58

Hi Will,

I am going that way..but a little further to Iran, Pakistan, India etc

Just waiting for some visa's in London then Germany and down to Turkey...if you feel like some company?


billyedit 28 Oct 2011 02:39

Hi CB!, I'd defiantly like some company! I'm just sorting through a few loose ends and then off! give me an emai - billyedit@gmail.com

PanEuropean 29 Oct 2011 04:57


I just finished a tour with a very similar route (Switzerland to Istanbul and back) - I started on Sept 9 2011 and finished on October 1 2011. A map showing the path I took is below.

I had an excellent time on this trip and the weather during September was a dream - average temperatures of about 30°C every day.

Although I was very happy with the route that I took - I tend to avoid motorways and stick to the secondary roads wherever possible - I think that you might encounter cooler weather at this time of year, especially in the Northern part of your trip.

You might want to consider riding to Ancona, Italy, then taking the ferry from Ancona to Patras, Greece (or Igoumenitsa, which is the stop prior to Patras - pretty much the same thing). Then you could ride across Greece and into Turkey. Once you have done that, you could then evaluate the weather conditions for the return part of the trip, and choose to either return the same way (Greece to Ancona ferry), or be adventurous (translation = possibly get cold) and ride up the east side of the Adriatic to Venice, then carry on from there.

I am pretty sure that you are going to encounter less than ideal weather on the north side of the Alps during November.

I posted a write-up about this trip at this link: Notes from a September 2011 ride through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece. You might find some useful information about customs procedures, insurance, etc. there.

Turkey is a wonderful country and I enjoyed it very much, but the traffic in Istanbul is beyond description. There are about 20 million people living in greater Istanbul (it's one of the world's ten largest cities), and every single one of them owns a car. The traffic jams and the sheer volume of traffic in Istanbul makes Metropolitan London look like the Outer Hebrides by comparison.


Route I took in September (clockwise direction)

PanEuropean 29 Oct 2011 05:08


Originally Posted by Robertsmits (Post 353221)
Will, you are 7 months ahead of me as I am planning more or less the same trip (from Amsterdam). To get as much driving time in the South I'm thinking of taking an auto-sleeper-train from Holland to Italy (Livorno) cut to the other side of the Italian boot and take a fast ferry from Ancona to Ingoumenitsa (Greece).


I do recommend that you consider Robert's idea of taking the train from Netherlands down to Italy, then taking the ferry from Ancona to Greece. I am going to guess that the cost of transporting yourself and your bike by train and ferry will not be much different than the cost of riding that same route (by the time you factor in fuel, tolls, hotels, tire wear, etc.), and you will enjoy more days riding in pleasant weather, and fewer days freezing your butt off, cold and wet and hugging your exhaust pipes for warmth.

I can't offer any advice about the train (I have never taken it), but if you take the ferry from Ancona to Greece, you can book a either a dormitory room or a private room on the ferry. At this time of year, there will be very few passengers on the ferry (mostly just truck drivers), the ferry company comps the truck drivers a single room, if you book into the dormitory you will probably have it to yourself. I booked a single room, but that was just my personal preference (I wanted the shower, etc.; plus I rode non-stop from Ancona to Zurich to catch a flight and wanted to be well rested when the ferry arrived).

There are also lots of ferries operating from Bari (bottom of the heel of the Italian boot), you could also get a ferry from Bari to Greece if you want to ride south the length of Italy. The ferries leaving from Bari are less expensive (shorter distance) and take far less time - you don't need to worry about sleeping on the ferry trip.


Robertsmits 30 Oct 2011 00:40

Car/Bike and train
Startingpoint of the train from Holland to Italy is the city of Den Bosch with destination Livorno. It take three days (if I remember correctly) and there are a number of options available regarding berths. My choice is a shared four bed cabin with breakfast/hot meals included in the on board restaurant/bar. Again, out of my memory, it was about 350 euros one way. I am pretty sure though this train is only operational from the first of june (every fridaynight) to the end of august. DB (Deutsche Bahn) has a site (also in English) where you can find al the specifics.

MedMan 11 Nov 2011 23:45

Robert Smits
The Motorail train service from Holland (Den Bosch) to Italy (Alessandria) has been extended to run from April to October in 2012. The Den Bosch to Livorno service remains at June - August.
It is an overnight service (departs Den Bosch @ 16:21 and arrives Alessandria 09:34) not a 3 day service!
Prices as quoted for May departure (at present time) are £150 for the bike and £99 for a 4-berth couchette or £75 for a 6-berth couchette.
I have provisionally booked for an early May departure - I will then transit Alessandria to Ankaran (Slovenia) where my last tour ended, then travel the eastern Balkan route to Istanbul, returning via Greece and the western Balkans, catching the Motorail back to Den Bosch.
details here
Welcome to Railsavers - Leading Motorail Specialists

Maybe see you en-route.

Robertsmits 12 Nov 2011 01:03

trains and bikes
Hi Garry,
Thanks for the more detailed info....I'm not certain of my exact date of my departure because it takes some planning with work and family but I'm pretty sure it will be in spring. My initial plan was to take the first train available to Livorno, the first or second of june, I'm not sure. Also still have to make my mind up regarding the route to Turkey, probably will do the ferry Ancona-Ingoumenitsa on the way out and return via the Western Balkans to finally end up in Livorno again to catch the train back home (I have about a month). I'm riding a Kawasaki 800 Vulcan and don't mind some gravel or hard surface but no serious off roading. I'm thinking of a combination of (wild) camping and the occasional hotel when I really want a decent bed and a clean up. I'll have to find out if this solotrip suits me or if I start to talk to the trees out of loneliness. I've done some riding in groups and it wasn't my thing so going solo is the next logical step. Who knows, might run in to you somewhere....Safe riding. Rob.

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