Although it does take a certain amount of time, getting to the Gallipoli National park from Istanbul is a lot easier than one might think.
By car (1): The road from Istanbul airport to Eceabat is a dual carriageway most of the way and your itinerary is rather straighforward so you should be able to get to the hotel without any delays or getting lost. You should be able to cover the distance of 320 km in 4 to 5 hours, allowing for a short break in Tekirdag. If you are a small party and you don't want to do the driving yourself you might consider a chauffeur-driven car or minibus. The driver will pick you up from the Istanbul airport or hotel and you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery.
By coach: You might decide against renting a car in Istanbul if the drive down is not your cup of tea. It is perfectly possible to travel by coach to Eceabat as there is a coach leaving the Istanbul bus station (2) nearly every hour throughout the day. The coaches (all top-quality and with a non-smoking policy) cover the distance of 320 km in approximately 5 hours. Refreshments are served on board and a rest stop is made half-way near the city of Tekirdag. Upon arrival in Eceabat you can pick up a pre-booked rental car (3). The Gallipoli Peninsula is the perfect place to venture out with "your own wheels": country roads with limited traffic.
By plane: There are no flights from Istanbul but Borajet flies to Canakkale from Ankara several times a week but be aware that flights land at Canakkale Airport on the Asian side. This means that to reach the Gallipoli National Park you still have to take a ferry to the European side. Also note than the schedules of the flights change frequently and therefore this way of transport cannot be considered as reliable at this moment.
A word of advice: If you are planning to visit all of the three major battlefields you will need your own wheels. Public transport is in its infancy and consists of a few minibus services which are limited to a few runs per day only and once you arrive you will still have to do a good deal of walking to get to the battlefields. Read more at "the gallipoli battlefields".
For those visitors from down-under, who have limited time, and want to visit the Anzac sector only there are alternatives to a rental car. Read more at "the anzac sector".
(1) All major car companies have an office at the modern and efficient Istanbul International airport and if you book your car in advance you should be on the road within 15 minutes. If you rent from the smaller (more economical) rental companies, make sure you agree on the pick-up and drop-off points.
(2) The Istanbul coach station (Esenler Otogar) can be reached from the Taksim area by a free of charge "service bus". From the Sultanahmet area and the Ataturk International airport there is an underground and tram connection. Alternatively you can book a private transfer or take a taxi.
(3) It needs to be said that the Canakkale car rental companies do not offer the service one might expect from a car rental company: Cars tend to be older and English is not widely spoken by their employees. You can arrange to pick up a rental car in Eceabat (town centre) or Canakkale (airport and towncentre).
For those wanting the freedom to organise their own time on the peninsular and not be constrained by a tour itinerary, don't be put off by the prospect of the drive to Gallipoli Houses. Istanbul roads are busy, but no more so than any other large city. If you can arrange to arrive via Ataturk Airport rather than Sabiha Gokcen, you will save yourself an hour on the drive plus the (toll) crossing of the Bosphorous Bridge. The roads are good, signs clear and petrol stations abound. The route is simplicity itself. There is a dual-carriageway now all the way from Istanbul to Eceabat and anyone exercising normal road safety awareness should have no problem at all with the journey. Most importantly - if you have even the slightest interest in the battlefields, go to Gallipoli and make sure you stay at Gallipoli Houses. You won't regret it. (looking forward to our 8th stay later this year)!
Lyn & Keith Edmonds
United Kingdom - March 2012
... What a visit - I would have no hesitation in recommending anyone to "go independent" and visit the Peninsula using The Gallipoli Houses. The drive from Istanbul is very straightforward and the welcome from both of you, not forgetting the cats, is something we will both remember for many years to come. Your central location looking up to Gun Ridge is ideal and the accommodation together your wonderful food left nothing to be desired. The bonus was Eric's in depth knowledge of the events of 1915...
Pete Helmore - GS/OMRS
United Kingdom - April 2009
... The trip to Gallipoli was again very good and made easier with the information that you supplied to me regarding public transport and car hire. Once again the service provided by yourself and your team of staff was fantastic as was the quality of the meals. (excellent). Your hotel would be the friendliest in the world. I would like to thank you for sharing your vast knowledge on all aspects of the Gallipoli campaign ... Anyone wanting a total battlefield experience needs to stay here. ...I will be back ...
Australia - May 2010
Sabiha Gokcen Airport