Wednesday, May 15, 2024
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D400 Highway – From Datça all the way to the far east of Turkey

The D400 Highway is a 2.057-kilometer (1.278 miles) long road. It starts at Datça, in the Southwestern region of Turkey, and partially runs along the southern coast all the way to the Iranian border point of Esendere, where it connects to Road 16. Along this route, you will pass several large and important cities like Antalya, Adana, Gaziantep, and Şanlıurfa. 

Are you a history buff, foodie, or nature lover? There is something for everyone on this trip.

Antalya is the biggest Mediterranean city in Turkey, and around five million tourists per year visit this beautiful city on their vacations. It’s also Turkey’s golf capital, and there are world-class tournaments every year. In addition, Gaziantep is famous worldwide for its culinary culture, and Sanlıurfa is home to Gobeklitepe, the oldest known collection of man-made structures in the world. 

A glimpse of History

In ancient times, the Lycians lived here, a mysterious population of people about whom very little is known in writing but who have left their mark in impressive rock-cut funerary monuments everywhere in the region.

In addition, with numerous ruins from Roman and Byzantine times, this part of Turkey is rich in cultural heritage.

A great area to explore, especially by motorbike: there is little traffic, hardly any precipitation, the sun is hot, and the wind is cooling.

The D400 is of regional importance for traffic between Turkish and Iranian Kurdistan in the southeast of Turkey. Still, the road has only been developed to a very limited extent due to the mountainous terrain.

The border crossing with Iran is one of the most important between the two countries; it is the leading trade route between the two countries. Even though there are no large cities in the region, almost a million people go through the border yearly.

The Route

Parts of this road are not in the best condition and require some nerves to navigate, but it will all be well worth the effort. The cliffside hairpin corners will make your adventurist heart beat faster and give you an experience that will last a lifetime. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the fantastic scenery you encounter on this route and enjoy this alone time with your bike and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Let’s get started…

Datça – Kaş [290 km]

The tourist town of Marmaris on the way to Kaş
The town of Marmaris on the way to Kaş

The D400 begins in the coastal town of Datça. The first 100 kilometers of the D400 is a secondary route with little traffic. However, the tourist town of Marmaris is located on this part of the route, and it can always be busy. The Datça peninsula is a hilly area, and the D400 is a beautiful route that is well worth a spot on your bucket list. 

Towards the south of Akyaka, you will reach the main road, which runs around the south coast of Turkey. The coastal region is quite mountainous, and the D400 is quite winding. 

Places of interest

  • Ancient City of Kaunos
  • Saklıkent Canyon
  • Ancient Site of Sidyma
  • Ancient City of Xanthos
  • Letoon Sanctuary
  • Ancient City of Patara and Patara Sand Beaches
  • Kaputaş Beach & Blue Cave
  • Anthiphellos anfitheatre

Kaş – Antalya [250 km]

Antiphellos, ancient greek anfitheatre in Kaş
Antiphellos, ancient greek anfitheatre in Kaş

From Kaş, the D400 tracks further east in pretty good road condition, allowing for a smooth and relaxed ride—passing through several valleys before finding itself parallel to the Mediterranean sea.

Some parts of this road offer beautiful islands sights like the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the distance, which is just 2 kilometers away from the mainland of Turkey at its closest point. The whole ride is centered around windy roads that hug the cliffside right between the mountains and the waterfront. 

Places You Should Visit

  • Sunken City Ruins of Simena
  • Kaleköy-Kekova Remote Village
  • Ancient City of Myra
  • St. Nicholas Church & Museum
  • Ancient City of Limyra
  • Ancient City of Rhodiapolis
  • Ancient City of Phaselis
  • Konyaaltı Beach
  • Hadrian’s Gate
  • Ancient City of Thermessos

Antalya – Anamur [255 km]

The road connecting Antalya to Mersin
The road connecting Antalya to Mersin

The D400 runs through the city of Antalya, one of the largest cities of Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea coast. In the urban area of Antalya, the D400 is an important and busy road. However, once you break free of the city, it continues toward the southeast as a highway. 

The middle part of the route from Antalya to Mersin is mainly a single carriageway. However, this part of the coast also has several mountainous passes to enjoy. In addition, it gives you a great view of the island of Cyprus at its closest point along the route. 

Places You Should Visit

  • Düden and Kurşunlu Waterfalls
  • Ancient City of Perga
  • Ancient City of Aspendos
  • Ancient City of Side
  • Manavgat Waterfall
  • Cleopatra Beach
  • Damlataş Cave
  • Alanya Castle
  • Ancient City of Syedra
  • Ancient City of Selinus
  • Ancient City of Anemurium
  • Mamure Castle

Anamur – Adana [295 km]

The urban region in the central south of Turkey is flatter, with major cities such as Mersin, Tarsus, and Adana. The O-50, O-51, and O-52 highways serve this urban area. The D400 runs parallel to it, right through the cities. In Mersin, the D400 runs over an inner ring road and is mainly on one level. The D400 further leads through the southern edge of Tarsus, right through another large city, Adana. 

Places You Should Visit

  • Softa Castle
  • Silifke Castle
  • Kızkalesi Island
  • Tarsus Waterfall
  • Justinianus Bridge
  • Taş Bridge
  • Ancient City of Magarsus Karataş

Adana – Gaziantep 240 km

Adana, Sabanci Mosque and Central Park
Adana, Sabanci Mosque and Central Park

From Adana onward, the D400 runs parallel to the O-52 but is continuously equipped with well-paved lanes until Osmaniye. Towards the east, there is a mountain range to cross after this city, and from here to Gaziantep, the D400 is primarily a single carriageway. When that ends, the D400 runs over an approximately 1,000-meter high mountain pass providing several amazing hairpins turns before entering the city of Gaziantep through the north. 

Places You Should Visit

  • Misis Bridge
  • Yılan Castle
  • Karaçay Waterfall
  • Toprakkale Castle
  • Ancient City of Dülük
  • Gaziantep Castle

Gaziantep – Mardin 295 km

Ancient Zeugma Mosaic, Gaziantep Museum
Ancient Zeugma Mosaic, Gaziantep Museum

Between Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa, the D400 leads through an almost desert-like area. Next, one crosses the river Euphrates. The section between Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa is mainly a single carriageway. The D400 then runs straight through Şanlıurfa. 

After leaving the city behind, the D400 leads through less populated areas, closer and closer to the border with Syria. Eventually, the road runs right next to the Syrian border.

Places You Should Visit

  • Ancient City of Zeugma
  • Rumkale Castle
  • Ancient City of Karkamış 
  • Göbekli Tepe 
  • Balıklıgöl Pools

Mardin – Şırnak 220 km

Cizre bridge, crossing the Tigris
Cizre bridge, crossing the Tigris

At Cizre, you will cross the river Tigris and enjoy the incredible scenery. The D400 is then mainly four lanes to Şırnak, but after that, the road is secondary and runs through the high mountains of the Kurdish region. Here you will find several great mountain passes and a lot of complicated turns that any motorcycle enthusiast will likely never forget. This piece of land will grant you a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys while you drive. 

Places You Should Visit

  • Mardin Castle (Eagle’s Nest)
  • Ancient City of Dara
  • Great Mosque of Mardin
  • Deyrü’z-Zafaran Monastery 
  • Mor Gabriel Monastery
  • Cave Village Şırnak (Mağara Köyü)
  • Cizre Castle
  • Kasrik Bridge

Şırnak – Esendere 290 km

Hakkari city surrounded by the mountains
Hakkari city surrounded by the mountains

Part of the D400 runs almost on the border with Iraq here, although no significant roads are leading into Iraq from the D400. Instead, the D400 follows a spectacular route through the mountains, with deep canyons, and between October to April, snow-capped peaks. At Hakkari, the mountains are up to 4,100 meters high. 

This part of the D400 is a winding and narrow road. However, the D400 follows the river valleys and rises quite slowly from 800 meters to 1,600 meters. The highest point is not far from the border with Iran at 2,100 meters. The easternmost part is partly four-lane. The border crossing is one of the most important ones between Iran and Turkey; on the Iranian side, Highway 16 continues to the city of Tebriz.

Places You Should Visit

  • Finik Castle
  • White Bridge
  • Uludoruk Pass
  • Mor Mountain

A few tips about riding in Turkey

Although strict rules in Turkey determine traffic flow, unfortunately, people living here – especially in cities – seriously violate these traffic rules. In this culture, the motorcycle is not considered an actual vehicle by most drivers, so always be careful and alert while riding here.

Most of the time, drivers will not respect your right of way and usually cut in front of you when they see that you are on a bike. Try not to get into any arguments with locals and report everything to the authorities; they usually try to help if they can understand your language. 

In Turkey, the lane rules keep changing as you ride, and you can easily end up in the wrong lane if you are not paying attention. For example, you might be going on a 3-lane road, and suddenly it can turn into a country road with one lane for each direction. There will be no designated passing lanes most of the time, and you will have to overtake on the opposite side of the road. So, always be ready for that and don’t miss the road signs.

You can party in Turkey, especially on the western side of this route but do not ever drink and ride. The Turkish police always have random checkpoints, and they usually pull all the bikes over at every checkpoint. This also applies to daytime riding; they will pull you over check your documents and protective equipment. However, they won’t hassle you and let you go if everything is in order.

Safety advice

The western part of this route consists of beautiful vacation towns, and you will primarily meet tourists on that part. So, between Datça and Mersin, everywhere is relatively safe, and you don’t need to worry about anything. 

However, on the eastern part of the route after the city of Mersin, the scenery will start to look more and more like the rural areas of the middle east. You will begin moving away from the Mediterranean and ride into the city of Adana. This city has the highest crime rate in Turkey, so beware. 

If you want to ride up towards the Iranian border, you will be entering into much-disputed Turkish-Kurdish territory after the city of Gaziantep. Every town starting from here has military checkpoints at the entry and exits. They will check your documents everywhere. They can be intimidating, especially with the equipment they carry around, but they won’t bother you if everything is in order. 

Most people along this route in Turkey don’t speak any other language than Turkish and Kurdish in the eastern part; therefore, you will most likely need a translator. Also, around this area, always ride in the daytime and remember to taste every food around; this part is actually the country’s culinary capital.

Tankut Basar
Tankut Basar
Tankut Basar is an ARA (American Rally Assoc.) Racing Driver and an FIA Bronze Category License Holder. His passion for driving began with karting like most racers. He started racing internationally at the age of 22. Tankut loves everything car-related and will keep enjoying the drive until the end.

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