The D400, along the western Turkish coast, is known as one of those special routes just perfect for road trip lovers. Following alongside the Lycian Way, it’s essentially the modern version of this epic route.
However, it would also be fair to say that driving in Turkey can be quite challenging. I was the passenger and map-reader during our little adventure, as I’m not the most confident of drivers. Justin however, is the opposite, and won’t blink twice at the idea of driving in the Alps in winter. Even so he found the experience quite tiring, as you always really have to keep your wits about you.
With this in mind I decided to put together this little guide, so others can know what to expect from a D400 road trip…
1 – A simple one to start – in Turkey, drive on the right! 😉
2 – When hiring a car, if you plan to visit the towns along the D400 I recommend paying a little extra for a more powerful car. This is because a lot of the roads are very steep and bendy and a basic car can struggle quite a bit with these. From Antalya Airport, simply drive onto the city’s circular road and follow the signs to Kemer. After some time you’ll merge onto the D400 and leave the city behind.
3 – The D400 itself isn’t a hugely busy road, but it’s also not as ‘big’ as you might expect. It mainly has two lanes going in each direction, but at certain points this goes down to one. However we didn’t experience any real kind of heavy traffic during our May trip, even though this is the main road into Antalya from the west.
4 – Keep your distance from other drivers whenever possible. Drivers veering across lanes was a much more common sight that I’d have expected. And not just a little, they’d often drive along simply straddling two lanes! A lot of the time it seems it’s down to using their phones to text while they drive, even though I checked and it is actually illegal to do so in Turkey.
If you come across one of these dodgy drivers, your best decision is to either stay far back or to overtake when a safe opportunity arises.
5 – Tailgating is a regular occurrence. Although it can feel intimidating, it’s not meant in an aggressive manner. I was told by a local that it’s their way of saying ‘please move over, I have places to be!’. Do as the locals do if you have someone too close for comfort and simply move across onto the ‘hard shoulder’ enough for them to overtake you and go on their way.
6– Be careful driving at night, the majority of the road is unlit and some crazy drivers don’t put on their lights until it gets pitch dark!
7– It’s not just drivers you have to keep your eyes open out for! Also be aware of people just walking out into the road in front of you and also animals!
We did several emergency stops on the trip for cats, dogs (one with her two puppies in tow), goats and even the odd tortoise!
8 – Don’t confuse the hard shoulder for another lane! Many Turkish hard shoulders are about the same width as a normal driving lane, so don’t let yourself get confused. Often people are seen parking their cars there, and on the coastal sections there are often rock falls on the hard shoulders, so it’s not a good idea to drive along them.
9 – Always have ID with you. Foreign visitors are expected to have ID on them at all times. On the final stretch of our drive back along the D400 to the airport we actually came across a police checkpoint where we were pulled over.
The gun-toting policeman leant over and asked for Justin’s passport. As soon as he saw it we were sent on our way…
10 – Check beforehand that the road is open. When it has heavy rainfall, the area can be at risk of rock falls. This was the case before our visit, and a section of the D400 was closed, which led a 20-minute detour along some very windy country roads. The detours are pretty straightforward, but it’s good to know ahead of time whether to expect them, have an idea where you need to go and of course allow yourself extra time if you need to be somewhere…
11– Beware the bends! Many of the bends along the D400 are hairpin, so take it easy when you turn. Also beware of those coming in the other direction – as we spotted several lorry drivers who didn’t have any qualms about overtaking on these blind bends.
13 – Also try to visit some of the beautiful towns and villages. Down on the seafront there’s beautiful Cirali, Adrasan and Simena, whilst up in the mountains (still with a sea view) are the peaceful hamlets of Beycik and Hoyran.
14 – My final tip is for those heading back to Antalya airport to drop off their car. There are a number of petrol stations within the last 5km of the airport, so you can leave it ‘till then to top up your tank.
Have you driven in Turkey? What was your experience? We’d love for you to share your stories and tips in the comments below!