What traffic signs in Turkey actually mean

There are a lot of confusing things about moving to a foreign country. Arranging electricity, gas, and water is a pain no matter where you are in the world, but all of a sudden everyone’s speaking a foreign language. Don’t even get me started on the labyrinth of problems when getting a residence permit in a non-EU country. You can find lots of information on the net about how to deal with these issues. There are even companies – expensive but still – that will help you with the oodles of details that need to be handled. But no one talks about this one thing that is very confusing: road signs. Everyone assumes that road signs are international symbols, which are pretty much interchangeable wherever you are. Wrong. Here is a short guide to what road signs really mean in Istanbul.


It looks like your typical stop sign – red octagon. It even has the word stop – dur – written on it. But if you actually stop at this sign, you are in danger of getting rear-ending because this sign does not mean stop. No, it means honk your horn, slow down a tad bit, and then speed through the intersection.

speed limit

You’re probably thinking that this sign indicates the maximum speeds you are allowed to drive in Turkey. Good thing this isn’t a test because that would be the wrong answer. This sign tells you the speed that scaredy-cat drivers who just got their driver’s license will be driving. That’s all.


Aha! You’re thinking. This one you know. It’s an international sign after all. Sorry to disappoint, but no it’s not an international sign here in Istanbul. Instead of indicating that a driver should not enter this road, this sign indicates that a driver should drive this road extremely fast while honking and shouting at any drivers who dare to drive in the opposite direction.


This is an easy one. It’s obviously a one-way sign – even if you don’t understand what tek yön means. But this sign – like most in Turkey – is merely an advice to drivers. Go ahead and drive the wrong direction but be prepared to use your horn!


This one looks like a bus sign and guess what? It is! To be exact this bus sign means that a bus may or may not come by, but we don’t have any idea which bus it will be, where it will go or when it will come. In fact, it may not come at all. (To be completely honest, this is exactly a bus sign but I couldn’t find a picture of a bus stop and I’m not going out in the rain to walk down the hill to take one.)

What are your experiences driving in a foreign country?