We are hoping that this page will help alleviate any stress that you may be experiencing at the thought of cycling into Istanbul from Europe.
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1. The night before the Turkish border we camped at the Sakar Hills campsite near Biser, a top drawer place that was only €10, had WiFi, showers, tables, and free power
2. Biser to Border: On the road from Biser to the border, we followed the signs to Svilengrad, as opposed to taking the opportunity to cycle directly towards Kapitan Andreevo. When we got to Svilengrad we picked up the new road that is being built and followed it all the way to the border. Large hard shoulder all the way
3. Border to Edirne: there is a large hard shoulder for most of the way and we had virtually no traffic. On entering Edirne, cross the bridge and head off up the tree lined street; do not follow the D100 all the way around as that goes to Greece.
a) When you get to the top of the tree lined street you will hit the mosque (the one that I am talking about is absolutely unmistakable), you need to turn right here and it will take you out of the city.
b) There is a Carrefour just past the mosque on the road out of town for stocking up on supplies if necessary
4. Edirne to Kirklareli: there is mostly a large hard shoulder out of Edirne all the way to the turn off for the D020. Once turning off onto the D020 the hard shoulder is no longer!
a) The D020 all the way to Kirklareli is undulating / rolling hills, with the occasional tough climb.
b) We had to deal with ridiculous head and cross winds that made the cycling slow and lethargic. Definitely factor the wind into your planning
c) We free camped just out of the village of Umulu, however, when we woke in the morning and made our way towards Kirklareli we spotted an ideal camping spot just short of the town of Inece. It is on the left before you descend into the town and has picnic tables; from where we were sitting (as we cycled past) it looked ideal!
5. Kirklareli to Saray: the road out of Kirklareli is incredible… for about 10kms. The road then turns into a single carriageway with little or no hard shoulder.
a) The drivers were generally good
b) Savage, savage head winds. We made the mistake of taking our time having breakfast in Kirklareli; in hindsight we should have just cracked on as the wind did not really become a big issue until about 10am
c) Brutal hills, much worse than the Edirne to Kirklareli day, but there were fantastic views
d) We camped just shy of Saray, which turned out to be a mistake. We were surrounded by a pack of dogs all night and struggled to sleep. Had we known what lay beyond Saray we would have pushed on and camped there
6. Saray to Durusu: the road out of Saray is an undulating single carriageway that passes through the most incredible oak forest. We really wish we had cycled through Saray the day before and found somewhere out there to camp.
a) The road from Saray to Subaşi was uneventful, and not memorable at all (aside from the wonderful oak forest). This probably means it was not as tough as we thought it would be, and the drivers were courteous
b) The road out of Subaşi is more like a six-lane motorway with no one on it, and this lasts for a very long time
c) There is an enormous hill just past Kizilcaali, but when you reach the top you are afforded views of the Black Sea
d) We cheated a little (in the spirit of camping etc.…) and on getting over the crest of the aforementioned hill we stopped at a hotel for the evening (about 5-10km from the top of the hill). It was beyond our budget, but it was an all you can eat buffet for dinner and breakfast, and it had a pool (it was too cold for us, but something to possibly consider in the summer months)
7. Durusu to Kemerburgaz: the road is a large, busy, new motorway type road (it is not a motorway, but in a lot of countries it would be). There is plenty of room on the hard shoulder though, and we did not feel threatened by the numerous trucks at all.
a) The road deteriorates a few times from what was described above, but for no more than 1km at a time
b) The road is again undulating, and there was a bit of wind, but not too much
c) Turning off the main road to Kemerburgaz was a shock to the system. The road (for about 1-2kms) is awful and super busy. It is single carriageway with a lot of trucks. It may be a shock to the system, but to avoid what is reputed to be hell on a bicycle, you need to turn off at Kemerburgaz. In fact, if there is anything you glean from this page it is turn off at Kemerburgaz!
d) When getting to a set of lights you need to turn right, this road is even busier, but we managed by waiting for the lights to and cycling as fast as we could and then pulling off when trucks started to come through. It is only like this for about 500m-1km.
e) There is a garden centre on the right; at this point you need to turn and head up a savage, savage hill. This is the road now for most of the way
8. Kemerburgaz to Bahçeköy: the road is a single carriageway, but is not too busy. What it is though is hilly, very very hilly.
On arrival to Bahçeköy you need to turn right at the T-intersection to go directly into Istanbul (we turned left and cycled over to the Black Sea for an evening). We can’t comment on the road from Bahçeköy to the Bosphorus
The road along the Bosphorus is busy, but not too bad, and should not be feared. It should be respected, but definitely not feared.
Please contact us through our Contact Us page if you have any questions. We will answer them as soon as we have an internet connection.
Happy and safe cycling