Tekirdağ (pronounced TEH-keer-daa) is a city of 108,000 (2000 census) in European Turkey, on the northern shoreline of the Sea of Marmara. Tekirdağ is 132 km west of Istanbul, the biggest city of Turkey.
Tekirdağ was first founded as “Byzanthe” by Thracians. The actual location of first Byzanthe was what is now Barbaros, a village 9 km southwest of Tekirdağ. It was then colonised by Greeks from the Aegean island of Samos. After the split of Roman Empire into two parts, Tekirdağ remained in Byzantine hands and in 14th century captured by Ottoman Turks who gave the city the name “Rodosçuk”. Its name underwent several changes and took its current form in 1927, in the early years of Turkish Republic.
Although it is not the case with many languages today, Tekirdağ used to be called “Rodosto” in several European languages, after its Latin name used in Roman period, which itself derives from “Rhaidestos”, the Greek name of the city, long after this official renaming took place. In fact, Tekirdağ is still called “Rodostó” in Hungarian.
This is the city where Hungarian prince and independence movement leader Francis II Rákóczi (also known as II. Rákóczi Ferenc in Hungarian) lived for fifteen years (between 1720 and 1735) while in exile and died. Together with him Kelemen Mikes, the writer of Letters from Turkey (Törökországi levelek in Hungarian), which is one of the milestones of Hungarian literature, lived in Tekirdağ until 1761, when he died.
Tekirdağ since 1923 is a part of the Republic of Turkey. The city is the provincial capital of Tekirdağ Province, which is named after the city.
The city is surrounded by the Sea of Marmara on one side, and by sunflower and grain fields on the other. On the hillsides to the southwest, viniculture is an important activity.
Local climate is a curious mix of Mediterranean climate of the regions to the south and continental climate of the inland regions to the north, with the rain patterns resembling the Mediterranean climate, while temperature patterns are comparable to the continental one — moderately dry and hot summers (temperatures may rise to 35º C) and rainy, occasionally snowy, and cold winters (temperatures may drop to -8º C; however with the effect of relative humidity, it can even feel bitterly colder than that) in short. However unlike the typical Mediterranean climate, it can rain heavily even during the hottest month (August), although these showers do not last more than 20 minutes at most. Though it’s also possible that you can encounter consecutive weeks without a single drop of rain.
Autumns are mild, long and very nice. It is the best time to swim—sea is warm, just like the air is—since the sea is usually cruelly wavy during summer but is very docile during September.
The nearest international airport is Çorlu Airport (about 50 km to Tekirdağ) but it is reserved only for flights from the ex-Soviet countries, as some of the airway companies of these countries spell peril on the Atatürk International Airport with their aging plane stock and pilots insisting on speaking only in Russian. (Çorlu Airport tel +90 282 682 40 36 - 10 lines)
So, for most flights Atatürk International Airport  (IST) in Istanbul is the nearest international airport available (130 km to Tekirdağ). Once in the Atatürk International Airport take the metro (called as “light rail” in the signage) and go to Otogar to board a bus heading for Tekirdağ.
The construction of the branch line between the city and the main Istanbul–Edirne line has been completed recently—which marks the extension of the national rail network for the first time within the last 40 years in Turkey—and now the city station welcomes comfortable and fairly modern railcars (a single coach train with no locomotives—think of a bus running on railtracks) several times a day (mostly during morning and evening hours) from nearby towns of Muratlı to north and Çorlu to northeast, both of which are on the main trunk line. Railcars from Çorlu also call at Muratlı station. A trip from Muratlı takes 25 minutes and costs 2 TL pp.
When approaching from Istanbul, a transfer at either Muratlı or Çorlu is necessary. The afternoon train (departing at 3:50PM, going all the way to Kapıkule at Bulgarian border via Edirne) from Istanbul's Sirkeci station is especially useful, as it arrives in Muratlı at 7:12PM (usually with no delays) and the railcar to Tekirdağ departs at 7:20PM from Muratlı. Istanbul–Muratlı ride costs 8.50 TL pp, or 6.75 TL if you're under 26 years of age.
Tekirdağ's newly built and small station lies about 3-4 km west of city centre, on the edge of city and next to the highway west. Minibuses, which wait for passengers right in front of the station in accordance with the train arrival schedule, connect the station with city centre for 1.50 TL pp, taking 10 minutes. If you're deadly on budget, walking is also viable, which would take around 50 minutes along some wide but noisy (due to traffic) sidewalks.
From Istanbul – first take D100 highway or O3/E80 motorway (toll-way), if you are on motorway leave it in Kınalı exit (there are Tekirdağ signs there), and at Kınalı junction follow Tekirdağ signs (although the road numbers are not shown on the signs there, the road that you will enter into is D110/E84). The pavement quality between Kınalı and Tekirdağ deterioted within the last few years, but long sections of it are 4-lane (two for one direction and two for the other). Total distance is 132 km and can be covered within one and a half to two hours.
From Bulgaria – There are two ways:
If you enter Turkey at Kapitan Andreevo/Kapıkule border gate (NW of Edirne), first by-pass Edirne via the ring road (E80, toll-free, signs are green), then either take D100 highway by quitting the E80 after you left Edirne behind (the second exit after you entered the ring-road) or continue onto O3/E80 motorway (toll-way), if you are on the motorway leave it in Lüleburgaz exit (there are Lüleburgaz and Muratlı signs there), you’ll reach D100 here, take the direction towards Çorlu/Istanbul. After you drove about ten minutes away from Lüleburgaz, you’ll come to a junction, signs will say Muratlı/Tekirdağ. Turn that way (right). You are now on D565 and will reach Tekirdağ in about 40 minutes. Total distance from Kapıkule to Tekirdağ is about 160 km.
If you enter Turkey at Tirnovo/Dereköy border gate (north of Kırklareli), take the D555/E87 (that’s the only way already), drive on it until you are in Babaeski (do not enter the motorway shown by green “Istanbul” signs before you reach Babaeski). In Babaeski you’ll come across a roundabout, turn around it to the Lüleburgaz/Istanbul direction (blue signs). Now you are on D100. Keep on it until you are about ten minutes away from Lüleburgaz, you’ll come to a junction, signs will say Muratlı/Tekirdağ. Turn that way (right). You are now on D565 and will reach Tekirdağ in about 40 minutes. Total distance from Dereköy to Tekirdağ is about 155 km.
From Greece – Enter Turkey at Peptos/İpsala border gate, take the only road available there (D110/E90, after Keşan D110/E84). By never turning right or left you will be in Tekirdağ within one to one and a half hours. Total distance is about 110 km.
There are many bus companies operating between Istanbul’s Otogar (main bus station) and Tekirdağ. Just look around in the Otogar and soon you’ll see word Tekirdağ on one of the windows. However, some companies operating further than Tekirdağ also add Tekirdağ on their windows and their service may be inferior. The most popular company is arguably İstanbul Seyahat (tel 444 59 59, dialed without a prefix anywhere in Turkey except cellphones from which you should dial +90 212 444 59 59), but there are many more others. It is possible to find a bus to Tekirdağ about every 15 minutes, even every 5 minutes in summertime. Direct bus travel with the Asian side of Istanbul is less frequent, only once every few hours. From Istanbul’s Otogar to Tekirdağ doesn’t normally take more than two hours, but, especially in summertime, because many people heading for their “holiday homes” on the way to Tekirdağ use these services, stops can be tiresome, and can lengthen the travel time up to four hours when complemented with congested traffic. There is normally no scheduled stop on the Istanbul-Tekirdağ bus lines for a break.
Ticket fares from/to Istanbul are uniform across all bus companies and are 15 TL as of Sept 2010 (and a few liras more from slightly further away Asian Side of Istanbul). Because of rivalry, some companies sometimes lower their prices to around 10 TL, but these promotions are only occasional.
It may be wise to book your seat a week beforehand during the peak season (July-August) if you are going to either
travel from Istanbul to Tekirdağ on Fridays
travel from Tekirdağ to Istanbul on Sundays
Some companies deny to book a seat during peak season, instead, insist on selling the ticket right away.
Buses coming from Istanbul first enter Tekirdağ’s otogar, which is very tiny compared with Istanbul’s, and some proceed to outlying hoods of the city in the west, and some finish their journey right there. In summertime almost all buses end their trip in Kumbağ via Tekirdağ’s otogar and the avenue at the shoreline. To go to the downtown area (Çarşı, pronounced “char-sha”), you should either get off the bus at the shore and walk uphill for about 10 minutes or take one of the public busses (their stop is right next to the otogar).
Buses heading for Istanbul from Çanakkale and Gelibolu passes through Tekirdağ, so it is possible to board an Istanbul bus from these places and get off in Tekirdağ. When buying the ticket or paying the fare inside the bus tell them that you’ll get off in Tekirdağ, not Istanbul, a journey which deserves a slightly lower fare than all the way to Istanbul (about 3-4 YTL less than full price for Istanbul).
One easy and cheap way reaching from Greece to Tekirdağ by bus might be somehow to reach Keşan first, which is about 25 km away from Greco-Turkish border, then take a bus there coming from Çanakkale, Gallipoli or already has its terminus in Keşan and heading for Istanbul.
There are regular daily voyages from little harbour in the city centre to Marmara Island, Avşa Island, Erdek, and Bandirma across the Sea of Marmara (at least in summer months). There is a ferry line to Gemlik on the SE coast of the Sea of Marmara from the bigger and newer harbour (2 km west of city centre). There is also a line to Karabiga on the SW coast of the Sea of Marmara, near Çanakkale from the harbour of Barbaros, a village 9 km SW of Tekirdağ.
There are also ro-ro (ferry) services direct to Trieste in NE of Italy (near the Slovenian border) twice a week, but passengers without vehicles may not be accepted into these ferries. (Akport harbour tel +90 282 261 08 00 - 4 lines)
There is also a marina in the city. As of December 2007, its construction seems to be completed but it seems it is not accepting any boats or yachts yet.
There is a customs office in the bigger harbour (2 km west of city centre). You can have your passport stamped if you are arriving by your own boat and haven’t disembarked in Turkey yet. Be aware that it’s illegal to land on Turkish soil before your passport has an entrance stamp – which can be obtained from most visited marinas and major harbours, such as this one.
Along the highway (E84 is the European road number while D110 is the national one) which traverses all along the city and eventually reaches the Greco-Turkish border one side and Istanbul (and onto Asia) on the other, there is an abundance (several of them even within 30 minutes) of trucks bearing Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Iranian plate numbers, day and night. There are also many cars with Greek plate numbers. So it may be easy to reach to/from Tekirdağ from/to these countries by hitchhiking.
Tekirdağ, especially the downtown area in where almost all the sights are, is fairly convenient to explore on foot. Nevertheless, city has a public transport system based on minibuses, some are public and run by the city council while others are private. In any case, you don’t have to have a ticket beforehand—there are no tickets even if you wish to have—and pay cash to the driver inside the vehicle.
Public minibuses (recognizable by their navy blue colour) have route numbers on the front, but it makes no sense to memorize them since they are running between the otogar and different outlying residential hoods -which are of no interest to the occasional traveller- usually via the city center. The private minibuses usually don’t have route numbers, instead they are all painted different colours according to their routes. The two most important routes for an ordinary traveller would be the Barbaros-Kumbağ line, which is painted in light blue, and Değirmenaltı line which is painted in slightly greenish-yellow (There are actually three different lines using the same slightly greenish-yellow colour and they line up together in pairs at the main stop in the city center. They all do run to the same direction but their terminii are different points. Either carefully read the signs on the front window of the vehicle about where it goes to, or tell the driver the place name you want to go, he will either make an approval gesture (shaking his head downwards) or point to another minibus, which means “that one goes there”. These greenish-yellow minibuses are those exceptional ones to have route numbers and #1 goes into Değirmenaltı, so look for that. The same-colour #3 and #5 also stop at Maxi Mall, which is located at the entrance of the hood).
All minibuses run on a fixed route and schedule, mostly in 10-minute intervals, however the interval frequency drop late at night to once every 30 minutes. The last minibus for most lines is at midnight (3AM for Kumbağ line during July and August)
Main stop for private minibuses is across the street from Rüstem Paşa Mosque. They don’t have any standard stops other than this, they stop wherever a passenger raises his hand to show he/she is going to board or wherever a passenger inside shouts inecek var (pronounced ee-neh-djek vahr) to get off. Public minibuses only stop at standard stops (none of them has an official name) and anyone who is willing to get off next stop should push one of the buttons around the back door to make sure the minibus will stop and the door will open at the next stop.
Fees are standard (1.50 TL within the city borders, 2.50 TL for Kumbağ) and no student discounts available.
Taxis are also available from many stands around the city. Please note that official rate for taxis is twice more expensive than the rate of those in Istanbul.
For the villages and towns surrounding the city (for example Şarköy), you can find busses at the otogar, or minibuses departing from shoreline or some other designated stops around the city.
Hiking/Trekking – Mt Ganos to the southwest of the city offers beautiful trails through its forests and shrublands. Especially, the 20-km quite wide earth road on the side of the mountain through a pine and oak forest occasionally fragmanted by vineyards and the picturesque village of Yeniköy, starting from Kumbağ and leading to Uçmakdere, offers impressive views over the Sea of Marmara and Marmara Islands. It can be hiked without the need of a guide or a map as it is a very clearly obvious road, has water sources located in a reasonable distance away from each other (at 1st, 5th, and 11th kms at the first 12-km section between Kumbağ and Yeniköy, and a couple others at the dryer and less verdant 8-km section between Yeniköy and Uçmakdere; however you can make do with these sources unless at the peak of summer heat), and can be done reasonably in a day (though returning is problematic as Uçmakdere has very little public transportation and offers no accommodation apart from a campground). Note that the local military police (jandarma) in Kumbağ bars access to the road further than 3 km away from Kumbağ during some of the summer weekends, so better done during weekdays (or start very early in the morning, before the road is shut). If having a car at your disposal, and one that is at least compatible with non-surfaced roads (you won't need a 4x4, though), you can do the same route, too, as the road primarily is for vehicular traffic, however little traffic it may have.
Paragliding – Although not widely known, paragliding is also possible on the foothills of Mt Ganos. There is a take-off area near Yeniköy village (about 10 km away from Kumbağ, about 30 km to Tekirdağ) and a landing strip at the Ayvasıl beach, about halfway between the villages of Yeniköy and Uçmakdere. To go there, first, enter the Barbaros-Kumbağ road from Tekirdağ and after about 1 km you left Barbaros behind, follow Naip signs in the fork (to right, there is also a “paragliding area” sign there but only in Turkish), when you left Naip behind follow the left sides twice in the forks and you’ll soon arrive at Yeniköy. Around there you’ll see signs for both take-off and landing areas. Bring your equipments and food and drink with you as you’re highly unlikely to find any once in Yeniköy.
Windsurfing – Tekirdağ’s sea is usually very wavy and windy during summer, so it is a perfect place to windsurf.
Yelken Kulüp (on the west end of the shore promenade, tel +90 282 261 44 66) offers windsurf classes in the summer months.
Namık Kemal University, which has been founded in 2005 with its presidency in Tekirdağ has a faculty of agriculture near Değirmenaltı which accepts exchange doctorate students from around Europe but not offering much else at the moment.
ATMs are mostly located along Hükümet St, the high street of the downtown area. They are either on their own, or located outside the banks (on the exterior walls). Keep in mind that there is no ATM in Kumbağ! (many shops accept credit cards though)
Money exchange is possible both at banks, exchange offices, and jewellery shops located mainly in high street (Hükümet St). Exchange offices are better, as they are not as crowded as the banks are, and also you can see the rates on the electronic boards they usually attach on their windows. Many shops accept only Turkish Lira. In other places, accepted foreign currency is generally limited to Euro or American Dollars, and their rates are usually lower than exchange offices.
Karacakılavuz (pronounced ka-ra-DJA-ka-lah-vooz), a village about 20 km NW of Tekirdağ, produces handmade rugs, carpets, and handwoven bags. The village was settled by Yörük, or nomadic Turkic people from Anatolia after the Ottoman conquest of Thrace (14th century). The villagers still weave the symbols they retained from nomadic times on their handicraft. Karacakılavuz handicrafts can be seen and bought at Provincial Directorate for Culture, which is located in the historical, brown-coloured brick building at about right the midway between Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography and Rakoczi Museum. (Provincial Directorate for Culture (İl Kültür Müdürlüğü) – Barbaros St. 5, tel +90 282 262 60 12 or 261 88 28 fax +90 282 261 43 46)
In the industrial areas surrounding nearby Çorlu (about 40 km) are outlet stores and factory sale shops, many of which offer tax-free/VAT refundable shopping (for foreigners) for textile fabrics. They are cheaper than elsewhere not only because there is no tax added, but also because the sellers are also the producers. Don’t forget to obtain the necessary papers you’ll need to have to get the money you paid for the tax back when you’re leaving Turkey.
You may also buy Tekirdağ raki or wine to bring back home. Tekirdağ raki can be bought at the sale shop of the raki factory (about 2 km west of city centre, on the highway to Keşan/Çanakkale) or any alcohol shop. Wine can also be bought from any alcohol shop too but it is better to buy it from factories scattered around Şarköy-Mürefte area.
Tekirdağ köftesi (meat-ball) is a famous local delicacy. There are even some people visiting the city from Istanbul at the weekends just to eat Tekirdağ köftesi. It is made of fatless meat and some spices added in (don’t worry if you are not used to spices, the Tekirdağ köftesi is not heavily-spiced unlike the Mid-Eastern fashion). It’s given a cylindirical shape and grilled.
As Tekirdağ is a coastal city, it is possible round-the-year to taste the fresh fish. Fish restaurants are mainly scattered around the shoreline promenade. For seafood, you may try Yelken Kulüp (on the west end of shoreline promenade, tel +90 282 261 44 66) or İlhan Restaurant (next to Yelken Kulüp, tel +90 282 261 15 07). Some fish restaurants doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages and state their position by locating big alkolsüz (“alcohol-free” in Turkish) signs above their entrances. It is almost certain that the fish restaurants without such a sign serves alcoholic drinks.
It is also easy to find restaurants offering “national” fast-food like kebab and döner. However, food in the cheap döner restauraunts may be low-quality, but if you are more interested in getting your stomach full cheaply (some döner and tomato slices inside a half-bread sandwich costs 0.50-1.00 YTL) rather than your appetite, they may be worth a visit.
There are also a few American-style fast food restaurans offering pizzas and hamburgers too. Don’t expect to find Mc or Burger King (at least in downtown). The ones you will see are local brands.
Although traditional food in this part of Turkey is mainly dependent on vegetables with little or no meat added, they can be only found inside the households. If you are a vegetarian, you may try pizzerias (all of them has vegetarian pizzas on their menues).
It seems local desserts are of Balkan (Southeastern Europe) origin, as many towns and cities in western Turkey which are predominantly inhabited by descedants of people who immigrated from Balkans to Turkey during 19th and early 20th century take pride in being their “real” origin. Two most noteworthy are höşmerim, also called peynir helvası, which is made of cereals with some cheese dissolved and mixed in it (best to eat with some ice-cream added on top) and Hayrabolu tatlısı (also called Kemalpaşa tatlısı in some other places) which is soft, cookie-like dough rested in syrup.
The national Turkish desserts are readily available in any dessert shop.
There are some hotels around the shoreline promenade and around the high street in downtown. The ones around the shoreline promenade should be better, they at least have a spectacle of the sea. Also downtown hotels may not guarantee a good sleep early in the morning as many buses and cars carrying the locals to their workplaces will be passing nearby.
There are also many hotels, apart hotels (flats for rent for short periods, look for the word kiralık, which means “for rent” in Turkish, on the windows or on the signs along the main street of the town) and pensions in Kumbağ. All of them are in walking distance to the beaches, a few of them have swimming-pools as well. Booking for hotels and pensions in Kumbağ is only needed for weekends during peak season (July-August). Keep in mind that many of them are closed between October and April.
Villa or flat rental is also possible in Değirmenaltı, a hood 8 km east of city center, situated between the shoreline and the highway to Istanbul.
Tourism information office (Turizm Danışma) – Shoreline promenade tel +90 282 261 16 98 fax +90 282 261 20 83
For the website of the city council, click  (available in Turkish and English)
The city’s sole post office is on high street of downtown (Hükümet Caddesi). It is open between 08:30 am and 08:30 pm. There is also a small post office in Kumbağ. It is open until 04:30 pm. In both offices, it is possible to send letters and cards abroad (it might coast a little more in Kumbağ office and reaches its destination at least one day later than Tekirdağ office).
Telephone booths are pretty much everywhere in downtown area and on the shoreline. Telephone cards are available at the post office, newspaper/tobacco kiosks and Türk Telekom shops, in which it is also possible to make a call and then pay cash.
The area code of Tekirdağ (including its environs) is 282. When calling Tekirdağ from out of Turkey dial +90 282.
You can find many internet cafes in the streets leading to/parallel with the high street in the downtown area. If you cannot find, ask a local youngster. All of these internet cafes have speedy DSL connections (some even rival with the internet cafe at the next door by sticking ads which declare their DSL speed on their windows). An hourly connection at these cafes costs about 1.50 YTL. Most also serve some soft drinks and snacks too.
Avoid Aydoğdu Quarter, which is predominantly inhabited by Roma people and recent immigrants from eastern parts of Turkey, especially at night. (It is already out-of-the-beaten-path anyway, not near the shoreline, not in the downtown, don’t get yourself worried unnecessarily, no way you can mistakenly break into the Quarter while sightseeing). All in all, Tekirdağ is generally a very safe city.
National emergency number to call the police is 155.
Don’t swim in the areas near the city center. Unfortunately there are both raw sewage discharged into the sea from several points and occasional chemical/oil pollution caused by commercial harbour activities (It is safe to swim in areas at least approximately 5 km away from the city center towards either direction).
In Tekirdağ, there is a somewhat serious air pollution/smog problem, particularly in the central parts of the city, between November and March, and especially during nights. This is mainly caused by coal combustion for heating. So asthma sufferers should take extra precaution during this time of the year, stay indoors or somewhere out of city centre at nights or avoid visiting at all in winter if possible. However, with the extension of the city-wide natural gas pipeline network, this problem will probably be solved substantially within one or two years, by winter 2009-2010.
National emergency number to call an ambulance is 112.
As a city which is slightly off-the-beaten path, you will encounter less English-speaking people. This is not to mean that nobody in Tekirdağ can speak English, but you may have to look for a little more than the usual in more tourism-oriented towns of western and southern Turkey. And you can also take it on the bright side: you will never come across with a tout in Tekirdağ.
All parts of Tekirdağ and surrounding region is well within the coverage area of all three cell phone line providers of Turkey. The only area without coverage is some parts of Mt Ganos with their disadvantaged geography (being far away from villages, and there are lots of deep valleys in the area which hinder cell phone waves).
There are two consulates in the city.
Here is a quick list of best spots to try hitching and how to get to them: