A major trade centre since times immemorial, and visited by Marco Polo among many others, Trabzon is today the major city of Turkey's northeastern coast.
In medieval times, city served as the capital of Empire of Trebizond, which was ruled by Komnenos family—which also provided several emperors to the Byzantine throne in Constantinople. The longest surviving one of rump Byzantine states, Trabzon was captured by Ottoman Turks in 1461, almost a decade after the Fall of Constantinople.
For general tourist information, the tourist office is located one block to the east of Atatürk Alani square, down Camii Sk., just beyond Hotel Nur. The clerk speaks English very well and provides you with a wealth of information about Trabzon and its surroundings. Before doing anything in Trabzon, go to the tourist office.
Sümela Monastery (Turkish: Sümela Manastırı; Panagia Soumela, "Virgin Mary of Soumela" in Greek) is a spectacular rock-hewn monastery perched dramatically on the narrow ledge of a steep cliff in the forests south of Trabzon. It was built in the fourth century, just before the Roman Empire split into east and west, by two Athenian priests, Barnabas and Sophronius, who, according to legend, found a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave. The monastery's location in this geopolitically tumultuous corner of the globe naturally saw times of trouble and fell into ruin numerous times throughout its history, with its most thriving times falling under Byzantine and Ottoman rule.
The twentieth century, however, was not kind to the monastery. It was abandoned following the chaos and inter-ethnic violence at the end of World War I, and the population transfer of Trabzon's (formerly Trebizond) Greek population back to Greece. Its remote location gave it some sanctuary, but its frescoes still attracted the occasional casually hurled rock by a bored shepherd. The beautiful frescoes today suffer from decades of heart-wrenchingly pointless vandalism by travelers—judging from the various alphabets and names scrawled across these impressive religious works of art, it appears that just about every culture in the world has taken part in the desecration. The buildings themselves have been fairly heavily restored in recent decades, as the Turkish government has stepped in to protect the monastery and to turn it into a museum.
Admission is 8 TL. The simplest way to get to the monastery is by tour, and you can find a tour in town by just asking any other traveler there (no tourist visits Trabzon without seeing Sümela). The monastery lies close to Maçka, about 30 km south of Trabzon, and those preferring to get to the monastery on their own means instead of taking a tour can get to Maçka by taking minibuses heading for Gümüşhane, Erzurum or other destinations south from Trabzon. The rest of the way, approximately 17 km to the actual site of monastery, can be done by dolmuşes from downtown Maçka, which will take you to the entrance of Altındere National Park (Milli Park). Then, the monastery is about half an hour walk away, which can be done through a forest trail, which was recently widened in order to cope with the ever increasing numbers of visitors, or along the tarmac road leading to the monastery. Those approaching with their own vehicles can get as near as 300 meters to Sümela itself, where there is a car-park in front of Hagia Barbara Chapel.
There is a shopping mall near Novotel called Cevahir Outlet, in Yomra town which lies 5 minutes away from Trabzon.
There are nice local meals really worth a try. Especially, pide and köfte are really famous with their taste in Turkey. Pide is kind of pizza which is made with a special bread and cheese. You can also try "kiymali" which is made with meat and served with butter.
You can find a cheep but good place near city center called "Cardak Pide Salonu"
Kuzen is also a good option: no standard kebabs but (for example) delicious wrap-like rolls filled with hot Merkez sausage... It's in Cevdet Akcay sokak next to the modernish shopping mall on the north side of Kahraman Marash Cad.
Another special taste of Trabzon is Akcaabat koftesi which is meatballs. Made with meat, garlic and bread it's very delicious with ayran(yogurt mixed with water) and piyaz (beans,lettuce). There are clean and nice places in Akcaabat town such as Nihat Usta, Keyvan, Cemil Usta, Korfez Restaurant. You can have a walk and drink tea after dinner in Akcaabat Fisher Port.
Another nice place is Harran Kebap , on Kahramanmaraş Caddesi, not far from the main square.
Trabzon has the best bread in the country called Vakfikebir ekmegi. Give it a try, you won't regret it.
Lahmacun ("Laa-mach-june") is a great thing to try, it's like a very thin pizza with mince meat on the top. They are cheap, healthy and taste very nice the only problem is a sophisticated oven is required to cook them so not all restaurants have them, but if they are possible they are well worth getting. You usually order an Ayran (pronounced "i-RUN") with it which is a salt youghurt drink that aids digestion.
All food in Trabzon is cooked to a high hygienic standard, and additionally most restaurants give you free hand wipes to clean your hands before and after eating food.
Try the popular pub Beer Time near the main square.
For those longing for real (European-style) coffee, Keyif Coffee & Tea Store has a huge selection of Tea (listing them by area and even Tea Estate) and first rate Cappachino (3 YTL). They are hidden within the shopping complex Canbakkal İş Merkezi, a few blocks to the west of Atatürk Alani square.
The cheapest hotels are down from Ataturk Square towards the port, but they usually function as unofficial brothels. By European standards the area is safe, however, and the prostitutes quite discreet. Between those hotels, Hotel Erzurum was acceptable and frequented by backpackers.
Some of the upmarket hotels in Trabzon are Zorlu Grand Otel and Novotel. Zorlu Grand Otel is in downtown Trabzon, at Maraş Street. Novotel is some distance out of Trabzon, in Yomra (a town close to Trabzon) but it takes only ten minutes from city centre with a car or dolmuş (bus) to get there.