Eastern Turkey & Black Sea Coast

Last Updated on May 2, 2019

Eastern Turkey and the Black Sea coast are wild, beautiful and best seen on an 11 to 15-day trip by planeand bus or car, or guided tour.

This itinerary covers the Black Sea coast, the Eastern region, and some of the Southeast. It’s a fast and full 11 days, with suggestions for where to spend extra nights if you want to slow down the pace, make it 15 days, and see more.

(For stories of travel in the East, see my Bright Sun, Strong Tea excerpts entitled “Eastern Sacrifice” and “Some People Never Learn.”)

Starting in Ankara or Cappadocia

DAY 1 – Boğazkale to Amasya

Stop to see the Hittite capital of Boğazkale on your way to Amasya, an Ottoman provincial capital ranged along a swift-flowing river in a dramatic gorge.

DAY 2 – Samsun & Trabzon

Descend from mountainous Amasya to the Black Sea coastat Samsun and turn east. Stop briefly to see the sights and have lunch in Ordu or Giresun, reaching Trabzon by nightfall. (Extra night: Giresun)

DAY 3 – Trabzon & Sumela

Day-trip to Sumela Monastery high in the mountains behind Trabzon. Enjoy Trabzon for the remainder of the day.

DAY 4 – Trabzon to Erzurum

The shorter, faster route is through the Zigana Tunnel and via Gümüşhane and Bayburt. The longer, more scenic route is via Rize and Hopa, over Cankurtaran Pass (690 meters, 2264 feet), then via Borçka, Artvin, Yusufeli and the Kaçkar Mountains to Erzurum. (Extra night: Artvin or Yusufeli, though accommodations are basic in both places.)

DAY 5 – Erzurum

See the city. If you came here via Gümüşhane and Bayburt, consider an excursion to the Kaçkar Mountains andYusufeli.

DAY 6 – Kars & Ani

This can be done as a long day-trip from Erzurum if necessary (because accommodations in Erzurum are better), but it’s more leisurely if you stay overnight in Kars.

DAY 7 –Doğubayazıt & Ararat

This also can be done as a long day-trip from Erzurum, but is more leisurely if you stay the night in Doğubayazıt. If you’ve spent last night in Kars, just head south via Igdır to reach Doğubayazıt. Unless you’ve jumped through the hoops of officialdom to get permission to ascend Mount Ararat (the process may take months), you’ll just admire it from afar.

DAY 8 – Lake Van

Plan to spend the night in Van, and see the sights around the lake on your way to and from the city: the Rock of Van, the Urartian ruins at Çavuştepe, the crumbling castle at Hoşap, the 10th-century Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island, the Seljuk Turkish cemetery and ruins at Ahlat, the volcanic lake on Van’s Nemrut Dağı (not to be confused with the Nemrut Dağı near Malatya and Adıyaman: see Day 10). (Extra day: Van, as there’s a lot to see in this region.)

DAY 9 – Van to Diyarbakır

Long drive to Diyarbakır, with a stop to see the graceful Çatakköprü (Malabadi Bridge) east of Silvan. (Extra night:use the time to better explore historic Diyarbakır, its walls and mosques, or for an excursion to Mardin and a nearby Assyrian monastery or two).

DAY 10 – Malatya or Adıyaman (Kahta) & Nemrut Dağı

Use MalatyaAdıyaman or Kahta as a base to visit Nemrut Dağı and nearby sights such as Karakuş, Cendere and Eski Kale (Arsameia).

DAY 11 – Cappadocia (& Ankara)

Drive to Kayseri (4 hours) or Cappadocia (5 hours) or all the way to Ankara (11 hours); or to Adana (8 hours) for a trip along the Mediterranean coast.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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