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Turkey by motorcycle

From Thessaloniki to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Bursa.

3,000km in 4 days, solo.


615km - 7h (border included)

I wanted to go back to Turkey after we flew to Istanbul and Cappadocia last April (I recommend you see the dedicated blog to find out more). Istanbul is a city that always arouses something special, it is impossible to get bored of the architectural beauties and the nightlife it offers. Cappadocia also remains one of the most particular and fascinating places in this world.

Not to mention the balloon flight, the canyon, the underground cities ....

So I decided, 36 hours before leaving, that I would return by motorbike, alone.

Once I got home from work, I had mapped the route and equally divided the daily kilometers, only booked the first hostel in Istanbul and the rest would come by itself. There were many kilometers and few days, but my luck was the perfect weather and a mild climate, almost a miracle for a motorcyclist.

So, after 24 hours, I woke up at 6 in the morning with the bike ready from the previous evening, a few lights and heavy clothes, the necessary documents (see the list at the bottom of the advice), a tire repair kit, food and water and a 5lt petrol tank (useless but as a precaution).

As a first stop I headed towards Kavala and Alexandropulis via the beautiful E90 (which turns into E84 in Turkey) and seeing my city and this road to Kavala at dawn immediately puts me in a good mood, I turn on the gas and sling to the border with Turkey, 615 km and 7 hours of travel await me and what worries me is the wait at the border and my appointment in the afternoon to see the Istanbul Cistern.

Arriving at the Turkish border, an imposing Arab-looking structure with huge flags that stand out towards the sky is revealed in front of me. I am intoxicated for a few minutes, it was the first time I took the bike to the Asian continent and it seems like the journey of a lifetime. I pass a first quick check where I record the license plate of the bike with the camera and ask me to repeat the license plate while a smiling employee brings it back to the computer by hand.

Fortunately, it was a working day, having left on Thursday 29 September to return on Sunday 02 October, so I only had a few cars in front of me when I arrived at the main control. I decide to wait in line to rest after several hours of driving. It is a little hot but bearable, and in the meantime a red German Vespa with a middle-aged couple on it stops next to me, waving to me.

When my turn comes, I show my passport (they also accept a valid document for expatriation) and the motorcycle registration document. After a few minutes they give me my documents back and I go to the next window where they ask for my passport, booklet, driving license and insurance. I didn't think my insurance covered Turkey because they didn't ask me to take out one on the spot. After about ten minutes, my passport is stamped and I finally enter Turkey, so excited !!!

Already from the first kilometers, you can savor the perfect roads that are in this country. Black, pothole-free asphalt, wide, clean roads. I love this country.

I hurry to proceed quickly to Istanbul and it is only 12 but first I fill up with petrol at 1.10 euros/liter. I continue fast to Tekirdağ where I stop to eat a sandwich that I had in the trunk along with a can of tea that a girl gave me after I reattached her fender in a lay-by near Kavala. In Tekirdag I make my acquaintance with the Sea of ​​Marmara, the same colors as the Black Sea and with slightly turbid waters.

In an hour and a half, I'm finally in Istanbul, I'm excited and head straight to the Cistern. Here the main problems of the city emerge immediately, the traffic is congested and it takes me 45 minutes to travel the 2km that separate me from the arrival with the motorbike overheated and the fan screaming and sending heat to the left leg. Istanbul looks as beautiful as ever, as alive as few European cities and full of imaginative colors.


Cistern Basilica

After six months from the last time we were in Istanbul I can finally see this place as it has undergone a heavy restoration in the last four years and we had not had the opportunity to visit it. Being a lover of the underground world, whether they are ancient tunnels reused in the world war, underground cities or mysterious places, I could not miss the opportunity to see this magnificent place.

I had already booked my ticket and preferred visiting time through Google so I skip the line but an assistant shows me where to wait for the guide together with other people. Guide who later makes you skip the line, but tells you in 10 minutes the same information that is on Wikipedia and once inside he shows you the path and that in the end he will wait there, but then he disappears. So if you have questions, unfortunately, you won't get answers. I therefore recommend arriving on site and scanning the QR code near the entrance to only have the ticket and skip the line if you do not want to take advantage of the various young local guides. Perhaps with the money from the guide it is better to buy a small informative book with the whole story inside.

A bit of history: "in 532 the Emperor Justinian recreated and enlarged this underground cavity that had existed since the time of the Emperor Constantine. The cistern was fed by the Valente aqueduct, one of the longest aqueducts in Rome, which carried water since the Belgrade forest, this is because Istanbul was one of the few cities in the world that did not have its own underground source of drinking water.

Forgotten during the Middle Ages, it was accidentally rediscovered between 1544 and 1550 by the Dutch traveler P. Gyllius during archaeological research on the ruins of Byzantium and then became a tourist destination and one of the symbols of Istanbul .. "

Over the centuries it has undergone major restorations, at least 2, and the last from 2018 until July 2022, that's why I didn't want to miss this opportunity. I don't know how it was previously, certainly always beautiful, but during my stay in the Cistern the tourists also enjoyed a simple but evocative light show, from red to white, which colored the columns and the water below the walkway.

The grandeur and importance of this place for the city is on everyone's lips and the show is guaranteed. One is amazed by the size and beauty of this place. Furthermore, we were advised to look carefully at the 336 columns, very different from them and coming from different places and made of different materials.

Also suggestive are the two columns with the head of Medusa at the base which was overturned by mistake at the time and then remained permanently in this position. Behind these two columns is the statue of Medusa which, thanks to the projector pointed at it, creates a rather frightening shadow!

The tourist route is made up of iron platforms that go around the perimeter of the Cistern and under it there is precisely the water that kept the fish alive but which were eliminated during the last restoration.

After the visit to the Cistern I passed the Agia Sofia mosque which is just a step away and I returned to the street that led back to the motorbike, named Yerbatan Cd. This pedestrian street features colorful buildings that offer particular typical restaurants and bars. Neither the previous time nor this one I, unfortunately, had the opportunity to try them but next time I will certainly not let the opportunity pass.

I continue to the hostel driving in a zigzag way so as not to get stuck in the absurd traffic and I take two streets in the wrong direction with four policemen who looked at me laughing (the navigator was perhaps not updated) but within 20 minutes I managed to park in the back garden that I had booked and that I highly recommend booking for a holiday in Istanbul if you drive a motorbike or a personal vehicle.

The hostel is called Hamam Hostel 1469 which offers a very central location and a small back where you can park a car or a motorbike. Unfortunately, Turkey does not offer adequate hygiene to the European standard and even here I had to make do a little. I have certainly chosen a hostel, but it also happens in higher-category hotels that certain details of cleanliness are missing.

In the evening I eat a single Turkish dish and a couple of homemade lemonades before going back to my room to sleep. The next day the alarm was again at 6, towards Cappadocia!

PS: in the hostel, I met a Russian boy (I can't spell his name) who had taken refuge in Istanbul to escape the war in Russia. Unfortunately, the situation had become unbearable for him and his family (his wife and children went to China) and he decided to leave the country, which is impossible now because he told me that men are forbidden to leave the country because they will be called back to the country. weapons. During the good chat that lifted him up, we laughed and joked together as we ate the pistachios I had bought near the Bazaar. I send him a greeting and wish him a better future for his family as well.


Uçhisar e Göreme

735km-7,5h (stops not included)

The planned route goes from Istanbul to Göreme, skimming Ankara, partly highway (economic) and partly state highway. Although I initially chose the highway, this still allows you to see beautiful hilly and mountain landscapes without necessarily having to face slower routes. The highway is the E80 which turns into E89 shortly after the town of Bolu.

Istanbul at 7am is wonderful, the sun was rising at that time and the air was cool but pleasant. I take the highway towards Ankara, perfect asphalt and four fast lanes, but after about 200 km a transversely overturned truck blocks the road, causing an endless queue. The good fortune of being on the bike allows me to continue easily even if the vision of this accident worries me given the kilometers I still have to face.

I continue on until the landscape goes from being green and mountainous to semi-desert and bare, the first sign that I am entering the central part of Turkey. I pass a rocky area that reminds me of the Cappadocia even if far from its beauty and I take some photos from the edge of the road, not very dangerous since they are all in the queue behind the overturned truck. Every now and then I stop to fill up or to drink an energy drink as fatigue is making itself felt.

I am pleased to discover that some rest areas are giants, real miniature villages made up of shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and a gas stations as a result. On one occasion I took a tour of the shopping center where inside I found fast food of all kinds, bars and clothes or telephone shops. I believe that this highway connects directly the east with the west, allowing it to cut the whole of Turkey in two as it offers so much to motorists.

At about 300 km from Göreme the landscape becomes lunar but colorful, an immensity that leaves you astonished, it seems to wander into nothingness and I like this. The sky is clear and the colors are getting lighter and more yellowish as I approach the goal. They almost look like huge expanses of cut grain changes, or maybe they are?

I take the exit for Nevşehir and sling up to Göreme and here I am for the second time illuminated by the suggestive beauty of this territory where once the people lived in the rocks or up to eight floors are ground to defend themselves from enemies and from the cold or from the heat. I take a ritual photo with the camels in a rest area (as I had already done in April) and park the bike at the hotel. My hotel is the Kayatas Cave Suites, a classic luxury cave or hotel built into these particular rocks and I paid around 36 euros for my double room with breakfast and private parking, a super offer. The breakfast alone deserved the stay in this place.


Sculpture Park "Time And Space"

I didn't make this trip to rediscover Cappadocia but it was simply the dream of reaching it by motorbike. Even the short time did not allow me to review the Pigeon Valley, the Love Valley, the Fairy Chimneys, or the underground cities. It would take me another three days which I would have gladly done. So I left the trunk in the hotel and went for some healthy off-roading among the rocks! Here you have a lot of fun, the ground is quite beaten even if in some places it is mixed rock-sand. I personally would have stayed to drive in this place every day because I have guaranteed fun. For those who wish it is possible to rent quads or ride a horse either alone or in a group.

Since driving off wasn't enough for me, I tried to reach the Love Valley we had visited in April but unfortunately, I didn't remember that it was closed to cars and reachable only on foot. On this occasion, I followed a group of people who were driving quads to do another bit of off-road and some curves outside the city. And it is just looking around that I noticed these strange drawings on the hills made with stones that some depicted animals, almost as if they were crop circles but made of stone and, while I was looking on google how to reach them, I realized that they were far away on foot but instead I had found these "totems" located in the "Sculpture Park" Time And Space. As it was getting late and it was easier to reach them I drove off until a stone wall stopped me and then I continued on foot. After 10 min walk, I arrive at this first immense totem that gave me the feeling of being a Stargate and then continue into the real park full of totems.

From up here, the view is as far as the eye can see and the very particular site, I recommend it if you have more time available.

Before returning to the hotel I continued the off-road vehicle among the rocks, meeting and joining the many quads in circulation and people on horseback, to finally enjoy the sunset in harmony.

I finish the evening by eating the classic Turkish main course consisting of rice, vegetables, a green pepper in the center and some meat and then sling down to rest. the next morning another 650 km awaited me to get to Bursa.

Göreme-Tuz Gölü

Salt lake


Initially, there was no stopover here. In April I remembered that we wanted to reach a famous pink lake but I didn't think I would pass by it shortly thereafter. Once I left Göreme I headed without a motorway towards Bursa and, going up about 190 km along my route on the D750 state road, I saw in the distance on my left this territory that looked like a strange wet mirror, almost as if it were a hot desert and I was wondering at that moment what it could be. I knew I would touch a lake on the way but this didn't feel like the lake I wanted to visit months before.

For a while, I ignore it and along this fast road with little traffic I find on the right a beautiful landscape, canary yellow with some dark streaks and these asphalted roads that were lost in the middle of these bare mountains. I was on time and I decided to take one of these routes a little for curiosity and a little to enjoy these mountains. The path led into the middle of nowhere and from time to time I saw some pasture but I can assure you that the view was indescribable! It was like being in South America where infinity reigned around. The ride ends at the entrance of an inhabited village where I turn around to take the main road again.

In going back I still have this kind of hot desert in front of me but the guardrail that divided the two lanes did not allow me to approach from the other side to observe better. I looked at the navigator zooming out and it showed a huge lake, but where was the water?

As I drove and got closer and closer, I could catch a glimpse of him. inside the bulldozers and trucks in the middle of the lake and I realized it was the famous salt lake, simply gigantic! I would have liked to take some pictures in the middle or go by motorbike but it was all fenced, until a nice colored sign indicates the entrance to the Tuz Gölü lake, what luck! I park the motorbike where among the buses full of tourists and where there are bars, restaurants and souvenir shops, while the entrance to the lake is mandatory passing through the small shopping center.

The salt lake is white as milk, from a distance it looks like a mirror or a hot desert, as I said before, thanks to the hot and very sunny day. It was the first time in my life that I had this experience and it was worth it. People looked like little ants wandering aimlessly, others played with children to collect and throw salt on them. If I ever come back from here, I would happily return!

Tuz Gölü-Bursa

Back home with good and bad experiences

I finish the tour at the lake, I take and have some pictures taken and I quickly get back on the bike, I have lost a lot of time and I have to recover it. I resume the state road that takes me shortly afterward to the hinterland, with fast roads that run in the middle of nowhere, zero traffic and great fun curves. The landscape remains enchanting as well as the weather but I am briefly slowed down passing through a road with works in progress, forcing myself to continue on the gravel for a couple of kilometers, continuing fast at its end and admiring the view, until I return to another fast state. After a few kilometers, I see a motorcyclist standing on one side, I stop to ask if he needs help and I know Seyyahi (if you spell that), a very nice young Turkish policeman who has worn out the wheel hub and has been stuck waiting for the 'assistance. Unfortunately, I can't help him but we share Instagram, take some photos together and I get some valuable help in Turkey if I ever need it in the future, or a friend who will host me if one day I find myself near Antalya.

Who may need his address it will host you :)

After so many warm and sincere greetings I take the bike back but after just 3 km I see a gruesome scene, a small SUV had crashed on the tip of the guardrail that divided the main road with the one for the exit, cutting the car in two and unfortunately killing the man who was inside. A lot of people were trying to open the doors but for him it was too late, his body was half poured out of the windshield. I make a sign of the cross and go on pale, pained and a little frightened but the journey had to continue.

The roads remain clear of traffic and I quietly continue for several kilometers along the main road which soon passes through a small town and then stops at a red light behind a truck. At the restart, the truck in front of me proceeds strangely in a zigzag and I see in front of the truck a very old car full of people gesturing to the truck driver. The car in front of me and I decided to overtake on the left as the lane was free but suddenly the truck swerves towards us forcing us to nail down and then ram the car in front that turns on itself, making me find myself in a cloud of smoke and glass reaching my face. I have time to brake and not be hit by a rear-end, the cars behind nailing and banging wildly and I see the poor car that ends its race against a sidewalk and overturns on the other side. The truck driver proceeds as if nothing had happened ... but I've already seen too many today. I play and signal to pass him and go as fast as I can to forget the scene and continue on my way. In the meantime, cars stopped to assist those poor people.

As I thought about the danger I ran into and the luck I had, I declare to myself that the truck drivers in Turkey are crazy. One had overturned in the direction of Cappadocia, this one rammed a car and ran away, I have to be careful. I take back my bike and after another 100km here again another gentleman who pushes the bike on foot into the emergency lane. I stop to ask what the problem is and his tired and sweaty face makes me sad, he is very good and friendly but unfortunately, he does not need my gasoline which I would have happily given him but he had broken his inner tube and had to go home somehow. I had no water with me and he was obviously sweaty and hungry. We still take a picture and we greet each other warmly. Let's hope everything went well for him.

I continue my journey towards Bursa, the road remains perfect and with little traffic, and the surrounding landscape is getting greener, a sign that we are approaching West near the water. After a stop for an hour to sip tea for 15 Turkish lira in a bar adjacent to an abandoned petrol pump, I get on the saddle to make up for more lost time and shortly after I see the same truck that rammed the car surrounded by police, I hope justice be done.

The outskirts of Bursa are revealed quickly, it does not surprise me for its beauty as it has the appearance of a former Soviet city all concrete and not very green. the traffic becomes heavier and I don't like it, but I manage to get to the hotel safely. The hotel, strictly in the center, is a three-star hotel with private parking. According to the receptionist, the private parking for my motorbike was nothing more than the entrance to the hotel itself! After a laugh of amazement, I ask for confirmation and he nods. Okay, I park the bike at the entrance and finish the evening with two hamburgers, I had eaten too much rice since I left.

PS: I have to say that the center in the upper part of the city is typical and colorful, it was nice but more than a day here I wouldn't waste it, Turkey offers better shows but it remains a main city that offers everything you need to break up a long journey.


1915 Çanakkale Bridge


The next morning I woke up feeling a strong wind that will accompany me all the way to Thessaloniki. The return is long, with the crossing of the Sea of ​​Marmara with a small ferry and the border between Turkey and Greece. My Tom Tom makes me continue towards the North West without particular traffic even if my fixed thought was on the ferry and its timetables, I did not want to waste too much time even if the idea of ​​taking a ship and crossing the little sea that separated me I liked it as an idea. I make another stop on the sea and I stop on the wild beach to admire the beauty of this place until a doubt assails me as even here on the sea the wind continues to be very strong. Would the ferries leave?

This doubt is dissolved when the navigator directs me to the port but in the distance, I see a brand new bridge of enormous dimensions, like the one in Brooklyn, which connects the two coasts. It did not seem real to me but my navigator was not up to date and did not recognize that bridge. So I ask for information in a market where I bought food and red bulls, and they confirm that it is both open and free at the moment.

The bridge is taken by continuing beyond it and then exit on the right and making an immense half-moon that enters directly on the bridge. It's fast, brand new and fascinating, a massive piece of work! As soon as you arrive on the other side you enter directly on the highway also this brand new with three lanes that connect the major destinations including Istanbul.

Turkey is investing heavily in the roads and the work they are doing is of excellent quality, spiced up in some areas by breathtaking landscapes.

Keeping a speed just above average, due to persistent wind, I arrive at the border with Greece almost on time. The entry to Europe was very fast, with no special checks, only the passport, and off you go.

Here I met a Danish boy who from his city even arrived in Georgia and Armenia crossing all of Turkey with his Suzuki V-Storm 650 and I also found a Bulgarian gentleman whom I had always met at the border on the first day of entry. in Turkey. Various chatter and laughter accompany the quick wait that separates us from our home and we finally wish us a good return and a good life.

This little solo trip made me meet beautiful people and remember how hospitable the Turkish people are. Turkey is a must-see destination and offers natural wonders, scenic drives and is the gateway to the Asian continent par excellence. I have never felt in danger with the people around me on the contrary, I had the impression that they were happy to see a foreigner visiting their country. Unlike Greece, Turkey is very clean, they collect plastic along the roads and highways and maintain the decor of the green areas around the roads. This does not mean that they recycle everything also because I often thought I saw some open landfill, but at least not everything remains around.


- have a tire repair kit with you if you are driving through isolated areas. Roadside assistance is available but you risk losing too much time if your days are numbered or if the sun is going down, the temperature range in Capadocia in spring or autumn is dangerous

- never fight with truck drivers

- in Istanbul make reserves of pistachios or dried fruit, powdered tea or anything else you like because the prices are unbeatable. At the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, prices are almost double above average compared to small merchants around the city

- if you have time, explore the lesser-known roads avoiding the highways from time to time, you will immerse yourself in nature

- always useful to have cash, hotels often charge commissions of up to 7% for those who pay by card

- the road network offers much more widespread service areas than in Italy and Greece, almost as if it were a passion

- especially in Cappadocia, it is always good to bring a shirt or thermal sock because the day-night difference is considerable

- calm for the gendarmerie, they stopped me and congratulated me on the bike and the country I come from and taking a quick look at my passport, the other Turks in line behind me searched the cars

- lastly, remember hygiene? if you have many kilometers and a few days, better focus on superior category hotels, out of season in Capadocia I paid 36-39 euros for a double suite with breakfast and private internal parking in the center of Goreme

Have a good trip from Fabio and Federica !!


Click here to see the map and use it during the trip



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