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2020 Turkish Grand Prix - how to get to the circuit?

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#1 JimmyClark

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 12:12

I need to pass through Turkey in mid-November, so I've decided to extend my holiday and take advantage of the good prices for the Turkish Grand Prix. 


The circuit it in the middle of utter nowhere though, and the official site is very thin on information. Does anybody know *how* to actually get there? In the past, were there special buses from central Istanbul to the circuit? (I'm hoping to stay in old town). Or are there public transport routes I should know about? 


Many thanks for any help!


PS Is anybody else here going? 


#2 FTB

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 14:25

Okay, this seems like a thread I can answer, since I normally live in Istanbul.

Istanbul Park, is indeed, in the middle of nowhere. There are no metro or train stations near, so you will probably try to get there with bus, or by renting a car. 

By looking at the İETT site ( Some of the info about the metro, bus, tram lines, steamboats etc. are here ), it looks like you have to use multiple transport routes ( if you are going from old town, probably metro-bus-bus, or metro-metro-bus ), it looks like metro-bus-bus is a better option, but mind you that you also have to walk between the transport routes ( Also, the buses have their schedules, so they may not be suitable on the time you want to go there - however at the day of event there may be some extra bus routes ).  ( I took Kapaliçarşi in Beyazit as the starting place )

I would say having a car is the best option if you are staying in the old town.


Hope this helps you.

#3 JimmyClark

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 15:43

Thanks for the reply FTB! I don't drive, so the metros and buses will have to be my solution. Hopefully nearer the time I'll find out about special event buses... but otherwise I'll look at the metro routes. 


I love Istanbul old town so I don't really want to stay near the circuit. 

#4 FTB

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Posted 12 October 2020 - 20:16

Well, it won't have any spectators due to the COVID-19 situation in Turkey. So, don't forget to take your money back.

#5 MLC

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Posted 11 November 2020 - 15:43

I can tell you how not to get there.


In 2006, I was traveling in Turkey on business. At the last minute, I realized that I would be in the country for the GP so I quickly made a change of flight plans and flew into Sabiha Gokcen airport (the closest airport to the track) on Saturday night. I was the last person to get my bags as the small airport was practically empty. A call to the hotel (also booked last minute and was the closest to the track) resulted in a car picking me up. I checked in past midnight and went to sleep looking forward to a fun day at the track.


In the morning I woke up and walked down to the lobby, expecting to see what I normally do at a hotel on GP weekend: a bunch of race fans having breakfast and then planning to make their way en masse to the track. There was none of this. No race fans. I kept thinking how can this be the closest hotel to the race track? I asked the gentleman at the front desk if there was a shuttle to the track. After some language issues, he understood I was asking about a bus and he happily pointed me outside. Outside the hotel looked much more grim than it appeared in the dark the night before. There was no pavement in the small parking lot and barely any on the road. Next door was a small petrol station and precious little else.


After waiting for quite a while, a shuttle bus failed to arrive and I walked back inside to check with the front desk. The hotel clerk was very nice and came outside with me and quickly flagged down a bus. It was not a dedicated shuttle to the track, but simply a regular bus with ordinary citizens going about their business. I hopped on board (looking very conspicuous among the passengers dressed in my race fan garb) and the clerk explained to the bus driver where I wanted to go. After driving a few blocks the bus came to a fork in the road and the driver motioned me to exit. We were no where near a multi-million dollar race facility with 60 thousand spectators, so I tried to communicate if this was really where I should get off. Another passenger stood up, spoke to the driver and then motioned me to follow him. I said, "Istanbul Park?" and he nodded affirmatively as we stepped off. The bus rambled down the road to the right and the two of us were left there in the middle of a dusty road heading to the left.


The young Turkish man motioned me to follow him and pointed up the road saying what sounded like, "Istanbul Park." It was difficult to understand him due to my complete lack of the Turkish language, his limited English, and his lack of a tongue. As a consequence, we mostly communicated through gestures - him pointing and motioning me to follow and me making a confused look. As we walked through the rural countryside I kept expecting to crest a hill and look down upon the race complex, but it was just more rolling hills. The small road next to us was empty; devoid of any cars let alone the traffic jam I expected.


Then things got weird.


We walked and walked and walked. Each time I stopped to look backward or question where we were, he confidently said, "Istanbul Park" and pointed down the road. As I said, it was difficult to understand what English he tried to say. At one point he started talking, or rather, gesturing about American military. He made gestures of shooting a machine gun and looked to me, questioning if I understood what me meant. I didn't. Then he started to make gestures chopping at the back of his neck, indicating decapitation. It was surreal. Often he stopped, made a quick call on his cell phone and looked back up the road. Now I was convinced that he was calling his radicalized friends and telling them he has successfully led an American out to the middle of nowhere, and they should meet him so they can claim this fool's head.


I sized up the situation. If things got physical, I was confident I could take him down. I'm 6'6" 220lbs and this guy was scrawny. I wasn't worried about him, but a car full of his friends I was not so sure about. This was the moment I realized I probably made a huge mistake. The walking continued and both us kept looking over our shoulder, up the empty road.


After a very long time, it finally happened. We came over a small rise and I saw in the distance an intersecting road, packed with cars and buses. My companion gestured and proudly exclaimed, "Istanbul Park!" We made it. Once we got closer and I could see the main entrance with a ticket booth, my would-be captor smiled, shook my hand, and made off on his own way. I still don't know what exactly happened, but I had made it. I purchased a general admission ticket and walked inside. Finally, no more barren landscape - I was surrounded by fans, cars on display, and models selling cigarettes. I saw rookie driver Robert Kubica walk by as I made my way to a gravel-laced hill near turns 3-4-5. I was there in time to watch the GP2 race and saw a kid named Hamilton slice through the field to 2nd place after an early spin, and watch F1 cars go around turn 8. Despite the wicked heat, gravel-laced seating, and lack of shade, I had an enjoyable day.


After the race, I stood in line for a taxi. Sadly, no driver wanted to drive me to my nearby hotel. They only wanted fares to Istanbul. It seems most everyone stayed at a modern hotel in Istanbul and rode dedicated luxury shuttle buses or taxis to and from the track. So I grabbed some bottles of water and started my long trek back to the hotel. At least this time I knew the way and knew how long it would be. I checked Google maps once I got back home and estimated 6-7 miles between my hotel and the track. I arrived back at the small hotel before sundown, bought a large Fanta at the petrol station next door, and sat in my air-conditioned room for the first time in some 12 hours.


Enjoy your time at Istanbul Park. It's sure to be an adventure.

#6 Alfisti

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 16:50

Basically exact same thing happened to me at SPa except for the creepy guide. I book a gorgeous hostel in Malmedy, figuring, HOW FAR COULD IT BE FROM THE ENTRANCE? I wake up expecting yeah, like you said, hubub with race fans. NOTHING, just a bunch of hikers and bikers, like what the actual.......


Absolutely NO TAXIs would take us to the track, none, some stupid local law....like ****ing really? In the end started walking and had to hitch hike, just bizzare. 

#7 FTB

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 20:24

I bought a ticket to 2021 edition. Anyone else coming?

Edited by FTB, 05 August 2021 - 20:25.