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Istanbul lies some 2500 kilometers southeast of London meaning that flying is by far the fastest travel option and the route is well-served with direct flights operated by both country's flag carriers. Adventurous travellers can opt for the 4/5-day train and bus journeys across Europe and through the Balkans.
Eurolines offers trips from London to Sofia in Bulgaria with coaches departing London Victoria Coach Station in the afternoon. Coach changes are usually in Brussels and Frankfurt. This segment takes around 55 hours. Passengers then need to change to a local operator for the connection to Istanbul. The coaches of companies such as Metro Turizm (Metro Plyus) are modern and comfortable and departures are frequent.
Sadly the fabled Orient Express no longer plies this route and nowadays a number of train changes are required to reach Istanbul. The fastest route requires 7 changes and takes just over 60 hours. The journey begins with a morning Eurostar from London St Pancreas to Gare du Nord in Paris. Passengers then have to transfer to the nearby Gare de l'Est to take the TGV Duplex to Munich Hauptbahnhof. From there, a number of options exist to carry on to Budapest, then Bucharest before finally arriving at Istanbul Sirkeci station. Comfortable sleepers are available on all these routes. Trains are ticketed separately making the trip suited for those wishing to make stopovers. Other routes pass through Brussels, Cologne, Prague and then Budapest.
Other than regular daily direct flights operated by British Airways and Turkish Airways, Pegasus Airlines offer direct flights from Stansted and Gatwick to Attaturk Airport. The flight takes around 3 hours and 45 minutes.