(Water temperatures were incorrectly given. Unfortunately no water temperatures are shown in the official Turkish Weather Site. Corrected it using source. http://www.climatetemp.info/turkey/samsun.html)
The local airport is called Samsun-Çarşamba Airport (IATA: SZF, ICAO: LTFH), 23 km from the city centre. There are frequent flights from Istanbul, daily from other big Turkish cities and some international (mainly from Germany) flights in summer.
Buses are a cheaper and slower alternative.
Samsun also has a railway connection with the interior of the country, with passenger trains plying the route between Samsun and Sivas via Amasya back and forth. As with the rest of Turkey, this is the slowest alternative for getting in.
The city has a network of trams, buses, dolmuşes, and taxis.
The city travelcard is called Samkart and can be bought at the main tram stops.
The very modern tramway, with its 21 stations all along the city between its terminii of Gar (mainline train station) and University stations, is possibly the most useful option.
Dolmuş are much more frequent than buses - you can always ask the driver details on where to get off, etc.
Replica of SS Bandırma. This is the replica of the ferry that took Kemal Atatürk from Istanbul to the port of Samsun. Inside, there is a collection of photographs of Atatürk and his comrades. You can also watch a short film.
Atatürk and his comrades. Walking from the bottom of 19 Mayis Blv towards the sea you can see life size models of historical figures; and Atatürk and his comrades alighting from another, partial, replica of the Bandırma at the sea front.
Gazi Museum in Mecidiye is a witness to Atatürk's activities while in Samsun. It collection includes some clothes and personal paraphernalia, purportedly belonging to him.
The Archaeology and Ethnographic Museum near Cumhuriyet Center is dedicated to local history and artifacts, including the golden Amisos Treasure.
Amisos Hill offers a sea view, Hellanistic era tombs, and cafes in pleasant grounds. From the city centre take either number 1 (red) dolmus west to its last stop or tram to Baruthane: then walk up. Alternatively take the cable car from Batı Park.
Kızılırmak Delta. This is the delta plain of Turkey's longest river (1355 km source to sea), Kızılırmak (literally "red river", due to its colour). The delta is great for birdwatching (320 species of birds call there home) as well as for fishing.
Göğceli Mosque, Çay Mahallesi (inside Göğceli cemetery). One of the rare wooden mosques in Turkey, this one dates back to 1206, and its construction does not involve even a single nail (all wooden plates were inserted through each other).
Good for walking or cycling, or you can take a ride in a horse drawn carriage.
In summer locals love to barbeque in the big parks and drink tea from samovars.
Atatürk Park (aka Egg Park as you will see)
Central, small and shady: with the famous statue.
Dogu Park (East Park)
By the sea. There is a lot of tree, basketball and football area and a lot of cafe. From here you could walk up the River Mert.
Batı Park (West Park)
Big, with plenty of kitsch. Also by the sea but the trees have not had much time to grow yet. Take dolmus or tram to Baruthane.
Boat trip. A trip along the coast which takes 2 hours, on a boat named Samsunum ("my Samsun").
Horseriding. There is a course in town.
Fishing. Black Sea is rich in fish varieties.
Beaches. In Samsun Beach, there are nice cafes.
Arts. If you are interested in arts, you will find a thing or two that you might like. There is a very large and interesting opera building with weekly shows.
Festivals. Two festivals are celebrated annually in the city. Some competitions are held during the Bike Festival. On the other hand, concerts of popular singers are to be found during the Festival of OMÜ (Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi, one of the local universities). Both festivals are usually celebrated around the end of June.
Talk to the locals. For a city of half a million there are very few foreigners: so most people will be happy to chat if you want to. Try the sea front, parks or outdoor cafes. No need to feel lonely if you are travelling on your own: just ask one of the many English language schools if their students need any conversation practice - especially if you are a native English speaker they will welcome you with open arms.
Paintball. There is a paintball ground in the locality known as Körfez, somewhat far from city centre.
Go Karting. There is a go kart course in Batıpark (West Park)
Water Skiing. In summer water skiiers are towed around by an overhead circuit, near Dogupark (East Park)
Pide is one of Samsun's delicious 'events' and has four different types available Kapalı, peynirli-yumurtalı (cheese&egg), pastırmalı-yumurtalı (spicy bacon&egg) and sucuklu-yumurtalı (Turkish wurst&egg) although there are some further varieties also possible such as spinach, kavurmalı etc.
The local people all eat pide every Sunday almost ritualistically.
These pides are totally unique to the city, so don't expect to find them anywhere else.
Şehr-i Eskiden (Museum Cafe & Restaurant), Lise Cad. No.32 (Just up from the corner of Lise Cad. and Istiklal Cad., on the right), ☎ (0362) 233 62 08. Eat traditional food, drink Ottoman sherbert and talk about all the old stuff.
Venn Butik Otel, Cumhuriyet Mahallesi Adnan Menderes Bulvarı No.325, Atakum, ☎ +90 362 407-00-01/02/03, . Beachfront hotel.
TTNET wifi at the airport is slower than the local tortoises.
Amasya (3 hours by train or 2 by coach) to the south is a pleasant riverside city with whitewashed houses and plenty of other historic attractions. Train (7.5 TL single) is the nicest way to travel there: after leaving the outskirts of Samsun in the morning the first hour of the journey is the most scenic; peach orchards followed by a steep green river valley. The train is comfortable with plenty of space: but bring your own snacks or drinks as none are served.
Sinop (3 hours) to west is a historic city enclosed by preserved ancient walls on what is the tip of Anatolia's northernmost cape.
Ordu (2.5 hours) to east is on the way to more popular cities and sites of eternally rainy and green Eastern Black Sea.