Why Visit Uzungol Lake in Trabzon
Uzungol Lake in Trabzon is a stunning place of natural beauty. Turkey has many such places, but Uzungol stands in a league of its own. Nestled in a mountain valley, few international tourist companies sell package holidays there, yet it makes a roaring trade with Turks and independent travellers. Such is the popularity, tour shops in Trabzon city sell day and overnight excursions to make it easy for people to reach this Turkish haven. Without a doubt, it should be on everyone’s bucket list and here are the reasons.
About Uzungol Lake in Trabzon
The name Uzungol translates into the long lake, an accurate reflection of its picturesque appearance in between two domineering mountain ranges. Sitting 90 minutes’ drive away from Trabzon city centre, it belongs to the Caykara district. Its secluded destination makes it the northeast’s most popular tourist attraction.
It also stands out because despite having no beaches, like the country’s other hotspots, it still hosts hundreds of visitors every day. Its high mountain destination also lends weight to a unique climate when early morning fog sitting on the horizon adds mystery to its ambience.
As well as belonging to the lake, the name refers to the village on the shores. For decades, locals have adhered to regional practices for building their houses. Given hundreds of acres of forests surround the lake, they used wood to build their homes and when tourism took off, built the hotels. It is not unusual to book into an older hotel and see everything handmade from wood, including the doors and headboard. This building style, named Karadeniz architecture, reflects its Black Sea location.
Stretching for 1000 metres and being 500 meters wide in some parts, the whole attraction of Uzungol is Mother Nature’s power and activities embrace this theme. Many people enjoy the laid-back atmosphere by strolling around the lake and enjoying refreshments and food in lakeside cafes. Also visit local souvenir shops to buy handmade dolls, and artisan products or hire cycles or quad bikes to get around.
Explore the Mountain Plateaux
If you are on an overnight trip and have access to transport, it is also possible to head further into the mountains to discover plateaux like Ipsil, Haldizen and Demirkapi. Plateau culture is an integral Black Sea tradition. For many centuries, locals have retreated up to plateaux when the weather got too hot on the coastline because they offered cooler temperatures.
With the advancement of modern-day living in Trabzon, the younger generation rarely practise plateau culture anymore, and instead, locals, travel and history experts are looking to keep it alive by promoting it as an alternative form of tourism.
In mountain plateaux like Demirkapi, expect a basic way of life. Tight-knit communities welcome people to look around, but chances of getting one of them to sell you their hand-built wooden houses is rare. Often without internet or telephone, many plateau locals also make their bread, butter, and cheese, and grow regional specialities like black cabbage.
Best Time to Visit Uzungol
Tourism at Uzungol happens all year round, but the most important thing to remember is that the weather climate differs from places like the Aegean and Mediterranean. We visited in June, and the daytime temperatures were just perfect for exploring but dipped at night-time, so take along warm clothing. If you visit during the winter months, November to March, do not be surprised to see a blanket of snow covering the lake and surrounding mountains.
Do not think life slows down during this period though, because the local council has invested thousands in boosting its winter tourism package. The white covering is also beautiful and hard to ignore. Otherwise, Uzungol is at its busiest in July and August. Also be aware of the rainy season happening in Autumn, which can make navigating the mountain roads and getting there harder.
The Local Cuisine
The local cuisine is to die for. Given the fertile climate and ideal temperatures, fresh and healthy food is everywhere, and the best place to start is with an organic breakfast comprising tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, bread, jams, and copious amounts of tea. Our favourite part of breakfast though is Muhlama, a cheese type fondue.
Other local dishes you will come across is black cabbage soup and hamsi, that is anchovies, a fish in abundance. Otherwise, Uzungol lake is abundant in trout, and many surrounding restaurants serve it. If you head into the plateau regions, expect to taste the best honey of your life.
Also See: If you want to complete a road trip, make a detour to visit Camlihemsin, otherwise known as the greenest place in Turkey. Sitting aside the Firtina river, white water rafting is popular, as are walking tours taking in old Ottoman stone bridges. It is the perfect follow up destination after visiting Uzungol Lake in Trabzon.
Of Interest: Uzungol belongs to the broader Trabzon region and in this travel guide for first-time visitors, we talk about needs to know, advice, hints and tips, getting there, where to stay, when to visit, and what to do.
Sumela Monastery: The other major attraction of Trabzon is the 4th-century Sumela Monastery in Macka national park. This one of a kind, historical gem reflects Christian heritage in Turkey.