A Trabzon Travel Guide for First Time Visitors
Any useful Trabzon travel guides should first start with emphasising its uniqueness. Trabzon is hundreds of miles away from time-honoured tourist resorts, yet over the last decade has grown in popularity, as more people flock to discover what makes it stand out when compared to other places in Turkey.
While Trabzon lacks in miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, it delivers in many more ways including city breaks, historical attractions, and hundreds of acres of stunning landscape scenery, that make you wonder if you are in a Swiss alpine resort. It is not only forging ahead in tourism but foreign house sales. Achieving record sales, the real estate market has taken off to new heights as foreigners look to become a proud Turkish homeowner.
Indeed, Trabzon deserves much recognition and, in this article, we aim to help every first-time visitor prepare for their trip by listing what you need to know, where to go, and what to do.
Trabzon Travel Guide
1: Where is Trabzon?
Trabzon is in northeast Turkey. It belongs to the Black sea region, called Karadeniz in Turkish, and is a fertile area because of its weather climate. Fronted by the sea of the same name, it sits a 2-hour drive, (190 Kilometres) from Georgia’s border. The name Trabzon refers to the city, and larger province containing small towns and villages extending inland into the Pontic mountain range. Trabzon sits next to Rize Province, that is Turkey’s tea-producing capital.
2: How to Get to Trabzon
The easiest way is to fly to Istanbul and then catch a connecting flight to Trabzon airport. Sitting on the coastal line, the welcoming sight as you come into land represents Trabzon’s beauty. Airlines flying to the small but efficient airport include Pegasus and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul new airport or Anadolu Jet from the Asian Sabiha Gokcen airport. Trabzon is also well connected to other places in Turkey via the large bus station (otogar)
3: When is the Best Time to Visit?
Trabzon’s weather climate differs from Turkey’s southern and western coasts. From November to March, it receives much rain and even snow which can make getting around to visit main sights like Uzungol difficult. We last visited the region in June and daytimes were perfect for exploring, while nights were chilly. The hottest months are July and August.
4: Where to Stay?
Within the main city centre there are many budget and luxury hotels that serve as an excellent base for exploring sites like Ataturk Pavilion, and the Hagia Sophia. From the main city centre, you can book a tour or travel by car to reach Sumela Monastery 40 kilometres away. Many people book day trips to see Uzungol, a 90 minutes’ drive away but we prefer to book a separate hotel there and stay overnight.
5: Must-Try Food
The Black sea’s unique regional cuisine is worth tucking into for some delicious tastes. Thanks to local fishing trades, anchovies, called Hamsi in Turkish often appear on menus, and there is a specific meatball from the Akcaabat district. A must-try is kuymak, also called muhlama, that is a cheese fondue made with butter and cornflour. When combined when crispy bread, this moorish dish is to die for.
Black cabbage grows in abundance here and often features in salads and soups. Laz Boregi, a tasty snack with layers of filo pastry is like Turkish baklava. Lastly, although pide is a national dish eaten all over Turkey, try the Trabzon version topped with an egg.
6: Nice to Know
Anyone who loves Nutella will love Trabzon because it is Turkey’s leading grower and exporter of hazelnuts. As well as having a famous football team, many Turks still recognise Trabzon as the birthplace of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Additionally, Trabzon’s regional tradition of plateau migration sees families retreat up the mountains in summer to escape the hot weather. While rarely practised by the younger generations, because of work commitments, plateau migration involves living and working off the land. It also features local dances like Horon.
What to Do in Trabzon – Major Attractions
Sumela Monastery: Sitting a short drive away, the 4th century Sumela Monastery captures much attention thanks to its unusual location on a cliff face. This strenuous walk uphill leads to a flight of stone steps descending into a courtyard. Here visitors see how monks lived through the kitchens and bedrooms with stunning views over the protected park. The best part is often said to be intricate frescoes adorning the church’s walls and ceiling.
Ataturk House: This 19th century house served as the base for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when he visited the city. As Turkey’s revered founder, it includes original furniture and some of his personal effects. The house, admired for its white exterior architecture and colourful gardens, is used by many couples for wedding photographs.
Hagia Sophia: Not to be confused with the building of the same name in Istanbul, this 13th century Hagia Sophia is much smaller but equally stunning. Considered an excellent example of Byzantine architecture, the domed interior includes colourful frescoes on the ceiling and walls. On exterior stones, carvings of boats were made by sailors who wanted blessings for their long journeys.
Boztepe Cable Car: Sitting in Ordu district, the Boztepe Cable car is best done on a clear day because it gives you a magnificent view over the Black sea coastline. Restaurants and tea shops are at the station for food and refreshments, while other people go there to see the sunset. There is the optional extra of paragliding your way back down.
Uzungol: As one of the North east’s biggest attractions, Uzungol hosts hundreds of visitors every week. The tradition is to stay in a wooden hotel, built by locals using trees from surrounding forests. The lake itself, a simplistic place of natural beauty, is beautiful to walk around, or you can hire a bike. When staying overnight, book into a restaurant in the morning to eat a traditional Black Sea breakfast.
Extend Your Trip: Worth Doing
Many visitors to the north-east book a guided tour to see all attractions spread out from Trabzon to Artvin. They work out at excellent value for money and solve the problem of ad-hoc and unreliable public transport in some areas. Regardless of whether you travel independently or book a guided tour, we recommend visiting two attractions in the neighbouring Rize Province.
Camlihemsin: Known as one of Turkey’s greenest places, Camlihemsin is for those who like the great outdoors. Discover more about Turkey’s Laz and Hemsin culture as seen in women’s local dress, and regional food. Known for its old Ottoman stone bridges, the stunning Firtina River, running for 57 kilometres at a fast pace is favoured for white water rafting.
Ayder Plateau: Last on our list of recommendations for this Trabzon travel guide is the Ayder plateau, known for old wooden hotels, natural spring women, waterfalls, and adherence to living off the land. Sitting at 1350 metres high, make the detour because it emphasises the plateau culture specific to this region yet rarely talked about in mainstream travel publications.
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