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Traveling with a camper van to Istanbul

Lisa – Written – 17-03-2022 – Reading Time: 2 min – Taking the campervan to Istanbul. It’s a long drive from the Netherlands but it’s certainly possible and a very scenic route. And that also immediately makes us in Asia by motorhome. In fact, Istanbul is half in Europe and half in Asia. The city is divided into two parts split by the Bosphorus a river that flows into the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. The European part is the most touristy part, where you will find the most famous mosques and other tourist attractions. The Asian part you can reach by bridges, tunnel or ferry.

Sleeping in a camper van in Istanbul

We stayed overnight in Istanbul with our motorhome. We wanted guarded parking so we could leave our motorhome at ease. Camping close to the city centre core are hard to find. We found a place, this was in a car park of a football club. Here you can spend the night with your motorhome. It is a very friendly man who keeps a good eye on the campers. You can also use the toilet and hot showers that belong to the football club. These are not very clean but certainly sufficient for a place in the middle of town. This spot costs about 9 euros per night. From this place you can walk to the famous mosques, Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmet mosque in 20 minutes, you can walk straight into the bustling city with various food stalls and the big bazaar is also within walking distance. Public transport allows you to see the rest of the city.

Driving a camper van through Istanbul

As long as you drive on major roads, you can drive around Istanbul with a campervan just fine. It is very busy though and traffic rules are not always followed, so it is extra careful in this city. There are 4 roads to cross by car/camper from the European part to the Asian part. At the bottom, you have a tunnel Avrasya tunnel. CAUTION: You can take this one up to a maximum height of 2.80M. We were unfortunately too high because of this we had to detour to another bridge. You have two other bridges you can use to cross the water. The middle bridge, Bosphorus Bridge and the highest burg. Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge, this one we took. We only found this out later but in Turkey you pay toll roads electronically, via a vignette or card you can buy at various places along the highway. Like petrol stations or service stations. You put money on it and when you pass a toll gate it is automatically scanned. Always take the HGS gates. This is because you need a Turkish bank account for OGS. If you don’t do this you will get a receipt with a fine that you have to pay within 15 days, after which a higher fine will be charged.

Mosques in Istanbul 

Hagia Sophia IstanboelWhen in Istanbul, it is fun to visit the mosques. Big beautiful buildings scattered throughout the city. The most famous are Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmet mosque. These are very close together and separated by a large square from where you can see them both. You can also look inside the mosque. Its size and beautiful wall decoration makes it very impressive.

Grand bazaar Istanbul

At istanbul’s big bazaar, you can get lost. There is a whole district full of stalls. With food, clothes, souvenirs almost anything you can think of you can find at this bazaar. You can walk inside through the beautiful coloured buildings and outside through the busy streets. Try the Turkish chay (tea), coffee or delicatessen. If you like it, you can spend an afternoon here.


KIM KUM IstanboelThere is plenty of choice when it comes to food. You have the Turkish tents with kebabs or kofte. I have also seen a lot of eateries from Pakistan or India. If you want to go for a cheaper eatery, you can go for a buffet/self-service which you can see on the outside. There are all kinds of different dishes behind a counter that you can choose from and you pay for them. The two of us ate here for 6 euros. Don’t expect a culinary dish, but it’s fine. Another evening we had a slightly more luxurious dinner on the Asian side at KIM KUM Egyptian vegan restaurant. If you are on the Asian side in Kadikoy and you like vegan food this is definitely a must! Delicious homemade dishes with falafel and hummus. It is a small homely restaurant and the people working there are very nice. For 12 euros, we ate our fill and drank a mango smoothie. Not very expensive.