Edirne – Istanbul
Section 6 of the Sultans Trail runs from Edirne to Istanbul and is about 341km long.
It follows the northern course of an old Byzantine route, through the foothills of the Istrancalar or Yildiz Mountains (Bulgarian: Strandzha), the mountain range at the Black Sea coast. Larger towns along the way are Kirklareli, Pinarhisar, Vize and Saray.
From Saray the Trail moves north towards Ҫilingoz Tabiat National Park to avoid the sprawl of approaching Istanbul. Development of Istanbul’s new airport at the Black Sea coast and urban development rapidly changes the landscape, notably for the final 66km, from Sazlibosna at Lake Sazlidere onwards.
Hotel accommodation will only be found in the larger towns, Kirklarali, Pinarhisar, Vize, Saray and Istanbul. The villages along the way may be able to provide nightly accommodation through the mediation of the village major or “Muhtar”. This accommodation is often offered free of charge, yet a donation of ca 10€ per person per night is appreciated.
In Kirklareli is the Hizirbey Complex (Mosque and Hamam) worth visiting. Pinarhisar has visible remains of Pınarhisar Kalesi a fortification of Byzantine origin. In Vize remains of a Roman Amphitheater are still visible. The lake near Istanbul ‘Alibey Baraji’ is crossed by two major aqueducts that are worthwhile seeing. The waterway enters Istanbul and is still visible at the Valens Aqueduct and feeds the Basilica Cistern at the heart of the city. Istanbul has many historical monuments from all ages, among which the Sultans Trail related Süleymaniye-mosque and the Imperial Topkapı Palace.
How to get there
Edirne has no airport but does have a bus connection to Istanbul Esenler Otogari (leaving every 2 hours, duration 3h 55m, costs 5€-11€).
From Esenler Otogari into Istanbul use Metro M1 (leaving every 5 min, duration 22 min, price 1€). See Metro Istanbul.
From Esenler Otogari to Istanbul Havalimani Airport (IATA code: IST), Havaist bus IST-3, departure every 30 minutes (between 05:00 and 01:30), duration approximately 75 min., depending on traffic, price 16 TL. See IETT
The train from Edirne Şehir to Istanbul Halkali leaves once a day and takes 3h 45m, price 3€-4€. See Seat61
Istanbul has 2 international airports, Istanbul airport (IATA code: IST) on the European side and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (IATA code: SAW ) at the Anatolian side of the city. Former Atatürk Airport does no longer service civil aviation, it is reserved for cargo and military operations.
Istanbul Airport is located 40 km north-west of the city at the Black Sea. It has a taxi connection to the city (duration 30m, price 16€-20) and a HAVAIST shuttle bus to different locations in the city. See Istanbul Airport
For the use of public transport in Istanbul, you need an Istanbulkart, available from the ticket machine at the bus terminal in the airport, 6 TL.
The bus terminal is located in the Airport building at floor -2.
Sabiha Gökçen Airport is located 35km southeast of the city, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. The airport is connected to Taksim square by a shuttle bus Havabus (every 30 min. duration 1h 30m, price 2€-3€).
From Taksim square leaves metro line M2 into the centre (every 5 min., duration 7 min., price 1€/10TL). See www.sabihagokcen.aero
The Map below shows the Trail on Open Street Map.
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The Sultans Trail Digital Information Package contains all GPS-tracks, the full POI-list and addresses of accommodations and more…