Difference between revisions of "Van"

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[[Image:Akdamar.jpg|thumb|350px|Armenian Cathedral on Akdamar Island]]
 
[[Image:Akdamar.jpg|thumb|350px|Armenian Cathedral on Akdamar Island]]
'''Van''' (pronounced ''vahn'', like the English word ''one'') is in [[Eastern Anatolia]], [[Turkey]]. It is located on the eastern shore of Lake Van (''Van Gölü''), a salt lake which is locally known as ''Van Denizi'' (“the sea of Van”). Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey.
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'''Van''' (pronounced ''vahn'', like the English word ''one'') is in [[Turkey]].  
 +
 
 +
==Understand==
 +
 
 +
The city of Van stands near the eastern shore of Lake Van (''Van Gölü''), a soda-salt lake also known locally as ''Van Denizi'' (“the sea of Van”). This lake, the largest in Turkey, lies 1640 metres above sea level and is ringed by high mountains, so the area has a harsh continental climate.
 +
 
 +
The region is historically important as the centre of the Urartu and Armenian kingdoms. It later came under the rule of Byzantines, Seljuks and then the Ottomans. The old city, near the lake shore and standing on the Silk Road, was devastated in the wars and massacres of 1915 – 1920. The present-day city has been built some 5 km further east inland. It was further damaged by the earthquake of 2011.
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==
Line 6: Line 14:
 
===By bus===
 
===By bus===
  
Buses leave to most destinations in Turkey. A ticket to [[Diyarbakir]] costs 20 TL (09:00, 12:00 and 23:00, 6 hours), to [[Malatya]] costs 25 TL (08:30, 9 hours) and [[Trabzon]] costs 50 TL (07:30 and 12:00, 12 hours).  
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Buses run several times a day to Ankara (19 hours), Istanbul (25 hours) and all major cities in Turkey, some involving a change to a connecting bus: see Kamil Koc website for times and prices. Buses run from the Otogar, 3 km NW of town centre. Free shuttle buses run from the main ticket offices in the town centre but allow at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
Remember that most departure times are from the Otogar, a few km's out of town. Free shuttle buses run from the main ticket offices in the town centre but remember to be there at least half an hour before the scheduled departure time. As always, check details when buying the ticket.
+
  
Minibuses to [[Dogubeyazit|Doğubeyazıt]] and Yuksekova for border crossings to Iran.
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Frequent dolmuses run from town centre to [[Tatvan]] (100 km, 2 hrs) via the south lake shore, Highway D300. There are no direct services around the north shore. Dolmuses also run north to [[Dogubeyazit|Doğubeyazıt]] (185 km, 2½ hrs).  
  
There are also two buses a day to and from [[Urmia]] in Iran costing only 15 Euros.
+
The border crossing to Iran, 100 km away at Kapikoy / Razi, is open for light vehicles, but (as of 2016) no buses or dolmuses cross by this route. Indeed with the suspension of the rail service (see below), this means no public transport across the border by the direct route from Van. It may be possible to make a private arrangement with taxis, but the simplest option is to travel to Dogubeyazit for transport into Iran via Bazargan.
  
 
===By train===
 
===By train===
  
From [[Istanbul]]’s Haydarpaşa station (on the Asian side) there are trains direct to [[Tatvan]], a town on the west side of Lake Van, two times a week, on Mondays and Fridays. This train (''Vangölü Express'') departs from Haydarpaşa at 10:55PM and calls in a number of cities and towns across Anatolia, including [[Eskişehir]], [[Ankara]], [[Kayseri]], [[Sivas]], and [[Malatya]] among others. According to the timetable all the way between Istanbul and Tatvan takes almost 40 hours (arriving in Tatvan at 2:17PM on Wednesdays and Sundays), frequent and probably long delays discluded. This is the longest (both in terms of miles traveled and time spent inside the train) non-international train journey in Turkey and gives a through panorama of almost all regions of inland Turkey. [[Inter Rail]] pass is accepted in this train. Once arrived in Tatvan, you can take the ferry which crosses the lake to Van.
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Direct trains (the ''Vangölü Express'') run twice a week from [[Ankara]] to Tatvan, on the western shore of Lake Van. The journey is scheduled to take 26-27 hours but is often delayed. There are couchettes and a sleeping car but no buffet. The main stops along the route are [[Kayseri]], [[Sivas]], [[Malatya]] and [[Elazig]]. For details see Turkish railways website at tcdd.gov.tr, but beware that the timetable and the online booking system give different days of running for this service. Note also that Ankara railway station is partially closed for rebuilding until early 2018, with bus replacements to Irmak 60 km east of the city, and altered timings.  
  
International train from [[Istanbul]] to [[Tehran]] (''Trans-Asia Express'') calls in Van once per week (on Thursday evening, around 10pm, as of April 2011), see [http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/tcdding/ortadogu_ing.htm] (note that this link is not up-to-date as of April 2011, despite being the official website, the Van-Tabriz train leaves Van on Tuesday evening, not Wednesday)
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The Vangölü Express usually arrives in Tatvan mid-afternoon, so you should be able to reach Van the same evening – walk 1 km south to town centre to pick up a dolmus. The train back to Ankara departs about 7 am so that will mean staying in Tatvan the night before: there are plenty of hotels and other facilities.
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Until July 2015 there was also a weekly international train from Ankara (the ''Trans-Asia Express'') which continued from Tatvan to Iran, via a ferry across Lake Van, then from Van overnight to [[Tabriz]] and [[Tehran]]. Another train also ran between Van and Tabriz. These cross-border services have all been suspended for reasons variously cited as security and track improvements.
  
Apart from ''Trans-Asia'', there is also another international train service once a week (on Tuesday evening as of April 2011) between Van station and [[Tabriz]] in NW Iran.
+
A high-speed line is under construction from Ankara eastwards, with completion perhaps in 2023. It is also intended eventually to build a railway around the lake between Van and Tatvan. This would actually create an unbroken rail link between Europe and the Indian subcontinent; but this project remains an aspiration, with no firm plans.
  
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
  
There is an airport ('''Van Airport''') located about 5-10 km away from the city. There are flights from [[Istanbul]], [[Izmir]], [[Ankara]] and [[Antalya]].
+
Van (''Ferit Melen'') airport is 5-10 km south of the city, off Highway D300 towards Tatvan. There are regular flights to Istanbul Ataturk, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen, Ankara, Adana, Izmir and Antalya.
Outside the airport there are taxis to the city costing 20 YTL, but you can also walk for the main road where dolmuses stop and take you to the city only for 1 YTL. A new bus run by the municipality now serves the security entrance to the airport (past the taxis and towards the main road).
+
  
To get to the airport from the city centre, dolmuses marked Hava Alani leave nearby Hotel Akdamar (Kazim Karabekir Caddesi). Drive takes about 15 minutes, making weird detour becouse of the major roadworks.
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Transport between airport and town centre:
 +
 
 +
• From just outside the terminal, taxis to the city cost 20 YTL
 +
 
 +
• From the road opposite the terminal, a town bus (prominently marked “Van”) runs twice an hour
 +
 
 +
• Or walk 300 metres to the main road and flag down a dolmus, 1 YTL
 +
 
 +
The ride to town takes about 15 minutes. In town, dolmuses for the airport leave from near Hotel Akdamar on Kazim Karabekir Caddesi.
  
 
===By boat===
 
===By boat===
  
There is a ferry line in the Lake Van, between [[Tatvan]] on the western shoreline and Van on the eastern shoreline.  The ferry going to Tatvan leaves three times a day, morning, noon and evening, though departure times are not fixed. 5TL. It takes four hours to cross the lake.
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The ferry runs three times a day, at variable times, between Tatvan and Van. The lake crossing takes 4 hours. A new ferry was installed in December 2015.
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
Line 36: Line 52:
 
==See==
 
==See==
  
*The '''castle''', located on a high hill towards the waterfront from the town with great vistas over the town and the lake. Take a Dolmus to ''Kale''; if you walk to and around the first small building you reach on the road you can find a path up behind it, otherwise go through the official entrance further down to road towards the water and pay the fee.
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* '''Van Castle''' stands on a 100m-high bluff near the lake shore, with great vistas over the town and lake. Take a dolmus to ''Kale'' (2 TL, 20min), from anywhere in town centre. “Kale” means castle but also refers to the sprawling suburb north of it, so get out at the castle fence before the dolmus dives into the back streets. Or you could, on a cool day, walk 3 km here from the centre, but there’s still another 1.5 km to walk along the lane to the official entrance, and later to walk back. From the entrance a broad track zig-zags up through barbicans to the summit. Locals often take a short-cut, and dodge the 5 TL entrance fee, by slipping through the fence near the dolmus drop-off, and following a rough path up the north side of the bluff. This isn’t altogether safe, and isn’t recommended for visitors.
  
*The ancient Armenian church ('''Ahtamar''' or '''Akdamar''') on a small island in Lake Van is beautiful, the church has recently been re-opened after an extensive restoration, making its impressive frescoes possible to see. Price of the boat ride is fixed at 7.50 TL per person for a return (don't have to take the same boat back, just take as long as you want on the island). Private boat costs 100 TL. A dolmus, signed ''Gevas / Akdamar'', from the minibus otogar in the north-east of the city, to the boat dock which lies 50 km west of the city costs 5 TL.
+
* The ancient Armenian church ('''Ahtamar''' or '''Akdamar''') on a small island in Lake Van is beautiful. Dating from 921, the church has recently been re-opened after an extensive restoration, making its impressive frescoes possible to see. It is possible to take a dolmus (45 min, 10 TL), signed ''Gevas / Akdamar'', from the minibus otogar in the north end of Cumhuriyet Cd (past Besyol Road), to the boat dock, which lies 50 km west of Van. The ferry across to the island costs 10 TL/person with 16 persons or more. A private boat costs 150 TL. A short wait at the docks for more passengers may prove fruitful if you are an independent traveller. You may take the return ferry one hour after your arrival, otherwise additional ferries that can take you later (don't have to take the same boat back, just take as long as you want on the island). Note that if there are only few visitors, there might be only one ferry per day, and you might have to wait a long time or pay a big extra. Cost for entry to site is 10 TL, and the last ferry leaves around 5:30 or 6pm. The last dolmus back to Van is around 7pm.
  
 
* The old city of '''Tuşpa''' a few kilometres west of the city.
 
* The old city of '''Tuşpa''' a few kilometres west of the city.
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 +
* '''Lake Van shore at Iskele pier''' (where the train ferries depart). You can drink tea while overlooking the beauty of the lake and have picnic at Iskele. You can also taste the local fish which lives in Lake Van (inci kefali). Iskele bound dolmus depart at Defterdarlık Caddesi, about 250m north from the crossing of Iskele Caddesi and Cumhuriyet Caddesi, on the left street side. Tell the driver you want to get off at ''Iskele'' (1.5 TL, 20min). (May 2016)
 +
 +
* See the castles in '''Hosap''' (5-10 TL entrance fee, depending on the number of visitors) and '''Cavustepe''' (free). The first one is the better preserved; the latter is much older. You can easily reach both by dolmus as they are one the same route. First take a dolmus with a Yüksekoca sign (departing about every hour from 8am in the front of an office about 200m south from Büyük Asur Otel on Cumhuriyet Caddesi) and tell the driver to stop at Hosap (10 TL, 45 min). Take a dolmus back to Van but get out at Cavustepe Kalesi (5 TL). Hitchhiking also works perfectly because of the friendly people. (May 2016)
 +
 +
* You can also swim in Lake Van. It's clean and safe - but don't swallow! It's soda-salt, so you'll be bouyant. Be aware that many beaches are not 'mixed' for men and women, so ask a local before you head to one.
  
 
==Talk==
 
==Talk==
Line 53: Line 75:
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
  
The city is famous for its '''breakfast halls''' (''kahvaltı salonu''), in which for about 10 lira, you are served a really filling breakfast including locally produced cheese (different types) and honey among many other stuff. The price usually includes an unlimited amount of tea. Look around.
+
The city is famous for its ''breakfast salons'' (''kahvaltı salonu''), in which for about 10 lira, you are served a really filling breakfast including locally produced cheese (different types, including "otlu peynir") and honey, tahini, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, kaymak (similar to clotted cream), and still-warm bread. The price usually includes an unlimited amount of tea. Locals tend to avoid "Breakfast Street", and favor businesses that are just off the main roads. Egg dishes are also prepared upon request, including menemen.
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
 +
There are quite a few bars within the Çarsi (downtown area), but travelers--especially women--should be wary of visiting a pub/restaurant hybrid, as it's typically known as a place to find 'companionship'. 
 +
 +
'''Niçe''' is just off of Maras Street, and offers opera on television, and various western music.  Small, loud, and smoky, Niçe has a great 'dive bar' aesthetic.  Workers are accustomed to the seeing the occasional foreigner, and do their best to accommodate.  In Winter, they serve mulled wine.
 +
 +
'''The Lop Bar''' is between Cumhuriet and Sanat Street, on a second floor walk-up.  There's live music most weekends, a staff that's helpful, large operable windows, and affordable prices.  Be sure to get a 'şişe' (bottle).  Decent cocktails are available.
 +
 +
'''The North Shield''' is tucked away in the back of Tamara Otel (just between Sanat and Maraş Streets).  Upon entering the hotel, head left through a sliding door, down a hall, and up the stairs.  While slightly more expensive than other bars, football matches are generally shown in a British pub reproduction and the air has adequate ventilation.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
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* <sleep name="Hotel Emre" alt="" address="PTT Caddesi" directions="One street west of the main drag of Cumhuriyet Caddesi, one block north of Hotel Yakut" phone="0544 497 47 46" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="30-40 TL per person" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A simple hotel with trivial hot showers in the morning. A little noisy outside during the day, but night is silent and with decent staff. No breakfast and no English, but the location is near everything and it's by far the best budget option after the earthquake.</sleep>
 
* <sleep name="Hotel Emre" alt="" address="PTT Caddesi" directions="One street west of the main drag of Cumhuriyet Caddesi, one block north of Hotel Yakut" phone="0544 497 47 46" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="30-40 TL per person" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A simple hotel with trivial hot showers in the morning. A little noisy outside during the day, but night is silent and with decent staff. No breakfast and no English, but the location is near everything and it's by far the best budget option after the earthquake.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Hotel Ipek" alt="" address="Cumhuriyet Cad. 1. Sokak No: 3" directions="Close to the big downtown mosque, around the corner from the old Hotel Aslan" phone="0432 216 30 33" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="single without/with shower 25 / 30 TL" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Simple basic hotel, a bit noisy but with friendly staff. No breakfast.</sleep>
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* <sleep name="Hotel Ipek" alt="" address="Cumhuriyet Cad. 1. Sokak No: 3" directions="Close to the big downtown mosque, around the corner from the old Hotel Aslan" phone="0432 216 30 33" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="single without/with shower 30 / 35 TL" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Simple basic hotel, a bit noisy but with friendly staff. No breakfast.</sleep>
  
* '''Hotel Asur''' beside the tourist office, offers clean rooms with attached bathroom. Single 60-80 TL, Double 110 TL including breakfast. The staff speak English and are very helpful.
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* '''Büyük Asur Oteli''', beside the tourist office at Cumhuriyet Caddesi 13 Sk. No: 5, offers clean rooms with attached bathroom. Single from 80 TL incl breakfast (might be negotiable if you stay longer), double from 100 TL including breakfast. The staff speak English and are very helpful. Tel. 0432 216 87 92. Web: www.buyukasur.com
  
 
*<sleep name="Otel Bahar" alt="" address="Ordu Caddesi, Carsi Polis Karakolu Ustu" directions="east of Cumhuriyet, near the big green mosque" phone="0539 729 6838" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="60 TL for double room ensuite" lat="" long="">Clean, spacious rooms, nice views of the green mosque on the upper floors, central location, good breakfast and free wi-fi. </sleep>
 
*<sleep name="Otel Bahar" alt="" address="Ordu Caddesi, Carsi Polis Karakolu Ustu" directions="east of Cumhuriyet, near the big green mosque" phone="0539 729 6838" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="60 TL for double room ensuite" lat="" long="">Clean, spacious rooms, nice views of the green mosque on the upper floors, central location, good breakfast and free wi-fi. </sleep>
 
*<sleep name="Merit Sahmaran Hotel" alt="4 star Hotel" address="Yeniköy mevkii. Sahil cad.12 KM. No:60 Edremit VAN" directions="" phone="" url="http://www.meritsahmaranotel.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">Merit Sahmaran Hotel is 4 star hotel near the Van Lake</sleep>
 
*<sleep name="Merit Sahmaran Hotel" alt="4 star Hotel" address="Yeniköy mevkii. Sahil cad.12 KM. No:60 Edremit VAN" directions="" phone="" url="http://www.meritsahmaranotel.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">Merit Sahmaran Hotel is 4 star hotel near the Van Lake</sleep>
 +
*<sleep name="Hotel Sehrivan" alt="" address="Just off Sihke Cd" directions="Just to the south of the mosque in the main bazaar, Lat Long 38.503404,43.394006" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Twin 40 TL" lat="38.503404" long="43.394006">Clean rooms, only 40 TL for a twin single. Very fast wifi access. No breakfast at that price.</sleep>
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==Stay safe==
  
 
==Get out==
 
==Get out==
* [[Iran]] is only 100 kilometres away in the east. It is possible to go by road or rail. (Be sure to have your visa ''before'' you arrive in Van)
+
* The border with Iran is 100 km east at Kapikoy. Currently no public transport takes this route.  
* [[Dogubeyazit|Doğubeyazıt]] to north, which is near another border gate to Iran, the stunning İshak Pasha Palace, and the legendary Mount Ararat&mdash;the highest mountain of Turkey. Doğubeyazıt has fairly extensive bus connections to other destinations in [[Eastern Anatolia]] and is an easily accessible destination from Van. Make sure to take the de-tour to [[Eastern Anatolia#See|Muradiye Waterfalls]], located off the highway leading to Doğubeyazıt from Van.
+
 
 +
* [[Dogubeyazit|Doğubeyazıt]] 100 km north (2 hours by dolmus) has the stunning İshak Pasha Palace, and the legendary Mount Ararat&mdash;the highest mountain of Turkey. If possible, detour to [[Eastern Anatolia#See|Muradiye Waterfalls]], located off Highway D975 between Doğubeyazıt and Van. Doğubeyazıt has good road connections to other cities in Turkey and is the main access point for [[Iran]]. (Get your visa well in advance, there are no visa facilities here.)
  
 
{{outline}}
 
{{outline}}

Latest revision as of 10:38, 25 July 2016

Armenian Cathedral on Akdamar Island

Van (pronounced vahn, like the English word one) is in Turkey.

Understand[edit]

The city of Van stands near the eastern shore of Lake Van (Van Gölü), a soda-salt lake also known locally as Van Denizi (“the sea of Van”). This lake, the largest in Turkey, lies 1640 metres above sea level and is ringed by high mountains, so the area has a harsh continental climate.

The region is historically important as the centre of the Urartu and Armenian kingdoms. It later came under the rule of Byzantines, Seljuks and then the Ottomans. The old city, near the lake shore and standing on the Silk Road, was devastated in the wars and massacres of 1915 – 1920. The present-day city has been built some 5 km further east inland. It was further damaged by the earthquake of 2011.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Buses run several times a day to Ankara (19 hours), Istanbul (25 hours) and all major cities in Turkey, some involving a change to a connecting bus: see Kamil Koc website for times and prices. Buses run from the Otogar, 3 km NW of town centre. Free shuttle buses run from the main ticket offices in the town centre but allow at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

Frequent dolmuses run from town centre to Tatvan (100 km, 2 hrs) via the south lake shore, Highway D300. There are no direct services around the north shore. Dolmuses also run north to Doğubeyazıt (185 km, 2½ hrs).

The border crossing to Iran, 100 km away at Kapikoy / Razi, is open for light vehicles, but (as of 2016) no buses or dolmuses cross by this route. Indeed with the suspension of the rail service (see below), this means no public transport across the border by the direct route from Van. It may be possible to make a private arrangement with taxis, but the simplest option is to travel to Dogubeyazit for transport into Iran via Bazargan.

By train[edit]

Direct trains (the Vangölü Express) run twice a week from Ankara to Tatvan, on the western shore of Lake Van. The journey is scheduled to take 26-27 hours but is often delayed. There are couchettes and a sleeping car but no buffet. The main stops along the route are Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya and Elazig. For details see Turkish railways website at tcdd.gov.tr, but beware that the timetable and the online booking system give different days of running for this service. Note also that Ankara railway station is partially closed for rebuilding until early 2018, with bus replacements to Irmak 60 km east of the city, and altered timings.

The Vangölü Express usually arrives in Tatvan mid-afternoon, so you should be able to reach Van the same evening – walk 1 km south to town centre to pick up a dolmus. The train back to Ankara departs about 7 am so that will mean staying in Tatvan the night before: there are plenty of hotels and other facilities.

Until July 2015 there was also a weekly international train from Ankara (the Trans-Asia Express) which continued from Tatvan to Iran, via a ferry across Lake Van, then from Van overnight to Tabriz and Tehran. Another train also ran between Van and Tabriz. These cross-border services have all been suspended for reasons variously cited as security and track improvements.

A high-speed line is under construction from Ankara eastwards, with completion perhaps in 2023. It is also intended eventually to build a railway around the lake between Van and Tatvan. This would actually create an unbroken rail link between Europe and the Indian subcontinent; but this project remains an aspiration, with no firm plans.

By plane[edit]

Van (Ferit Melen) airport is 5-10 km south of the city, off Highway D300 towards Tatvan. There are regular flights to Istanbul Ataturk, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen, Ankara, Adana, Izmir and Antalya.

Transport between airport and town centre:

• From just outside the terminal, taxis to the city cost 20 YTL

• From the road opposite the terminal, a town bus (prominently marked “Van”) runs twice an hour

• Or walk 300 metres to the main road and flag down a dolmus, 1 YTL

The ride to town takes about 15 minutes. In town, dolmuses for the airport leave from near Hotel Akdamar on Kazim Karabekir Caddesi.

By boat[edit]

The ferry runs three times a day, at variable times, between Tatvan and Van. The lake crossing takes 4 hours. A new ferry was installed in December 2015.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

  • Van Castle stands on a 100m-high bluff near the lake shore, with great vistas over the town and lake. Take a dolmus to Kale (2 TL, 20min), from anywhere in town centre. “Kale” means castle but also refers to the sprawling suburb north of it, so get out at the castle fence before the dolmus dives into the back streets. Or you could, on a cool day, walk 3 km here from the centre, but there’s still another 1.5 km to walk along the lane to the official entrance, and later to walk back. From the entrance a broad track zig-zags up through barbicans to the summit. Locals often take a short-cut, and dodge the 5 TL entrance fee, by slipping through the fence near the dolmus drop-off, and following a rough path up the north side of the bluff. This isn’t altogether safe, and isn’t recommended for visitors.
  • The ancient Armenian church (Ahtamar or Akdamar) on a small island in Lake Van is beautiful. Dating from 921, the church has recently been re-opened after an extensive restoration, making its impressive frescoes possible to see. It is possible to take a dolmus (45 min, 10 TL), signed Gevas / Akdamar, from the minibus otogar in the north end of Cumhuriyet Cd (past Besyol Road), to the boat dock, which lies 50 km west of Van. The ferry across to the island costs 10 TL/person with 16 persons or more. A private boat costs 150 TL. A short wait at the docks for more passengers may prove fruitful if you are an independent traveller. You may take the return ferry one hour after your arrival, otherwise additional ferries that can take you later (don't have to take the same boat back, just take as long as you want on the island). Note that if there are only few visitors, there might be only one ferry per day, and you might have to wait a long time or pay a big extra. Cost for entry to site is 10 TL, and the last ferry leaves around 5:30 or 6pm. The last dolmus back to Van is around 7pm.
  • The old city of Tuşpa a few kilometres west of the city.
  • Lake Van shore at Iskele pier (where the train ferries depart). You can drink tea while overlooking the beauty of the lake and have picnic at Iskele. You can also taste the local fish which lives in Lake Van (inci kefali). Iskele bound dolmus depart at Defterdarlık Caddesi, about 250m north from the crossing of Iskele Caddesi and Cumhuriyet Caddesi, on the left street side. Tell the driver you want to get off at Iskele (1.5 TL, 20min). (May 2016)
  • See the castles in Hosap (5-10 TL entrance fee, depending on the number of visitors) and Cavustepe (free). The first one is the better preserved; the latter is much older. You can easily reach both by dolmus as they are one the same route. First take a dolmus with a Yüksekoca sign (departing about every hour from 8am in the front of an office about 200m south from Büyük Asur Otel on Cumhuriyet Caddesi) and tell the driver to stop at Hosap (10 TL, 45 min). Take a dolmus back to Van but get out at Cavustepe Kalesi (5 TL). Hitchhiking also works perfectly because of the friendly people. (May 2016)
  • You can also swim in Lake Van. It's clean and safe - but don't swallow! It's soda-salt, so you'll be bouyant. Be aware that many beaches are not 'mixed' for men and women, so ask a local before you head to one.

Talk[edit]

Local people mainly speak Kurdish. The national language, Turkish, is also very common. People, especially the young generation, understand some basic English. Do not expect more.

Do[edit][add listing]

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Urartu Halı (handmade carpet), Van edremit yolu 9.km (5 miles after van airport), +904322179765, [1]. If you like to see beautiful handmade carpets and kilims you must stop for free presentation.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

The city is famous for its breakfast salons (kahvaltı salonu), in which for about 10 lira, you are served a really filling breakfast including locally produced cheese (different types, including "otlu peynir") and honey, tahini, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, kaymak (similar to clotted cream), and still-warm bread. The price usually includes an unlimited amount of tea. Locals tend to avoid "Breakfast Street", and favor businesses that are just off the main roads. Egg dishes are also prepared upon request, including menemen.

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are quite a few bars within the Çarsi (downtown area), but travelers--especially women--should be wary of visiting a pub/restaurant hybrid, as it's typically known as a place to find 'companionship'.

Niçe is just off of Maras Street, and offers opera on television, and various western music. Small, loud, and smoky, Niçe has a great 'dive bar' aesthetic. Workers are accustomed to the seeing the occasional foreigner, and do their best to accommodate. In Winter, they serve mulled wine.

The Lop Bar is between Cumhuriet and Sanat Street, on a second floor walk-up. There's live music most weekends, a staff that's helpful, large operable windows, and affordable prices. Be sure to get a 'şişe' (bottle). Decent cocktails are available.

The North Shield is tucked away in the back of Tamara Otel (just between Sanat and Maraş Streets). Upon entering the hotel, head left through a sliding door, down a hall, and up the stairs. While slightly more expensive than other bars, football matches are generally shown in a British pub reproduction and the air has adequate ventilation.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Plenty of hotels around the northern end of the bazaar.

  • Hotel Emre, PTT Caddesi (One street west of the main drag of Cumhuriyet Caddesi, one block north of Hotel Yakut), 0544 497 47 46. A simple hotel with trivial hot showers in the morning. A little noisy outside during the day, but night is silent and with decent staff. No breakfast and no English, but the location is near everything and it's by far the best budget option after the earthquake. 30-40 TL per person.  edit
  • Hotel Ipek, Cumhuriyet Cad. 1. Sokak No: 3 (Close to the big downtown mosque, around the corner from the old Hotel Aslan), 0432 216 30 33. Simple basic hotel, a bit noisy but with friendly staff. No breakfast. single without/with shower 30 / 35 TL.  edit
  • Büyük Asur Oteli, beside the tourist office at Cumhuriyet Caddesi 13 Sk. No: 5, offers clean rooms with attached bathroom. Single from 80 TL incl breakfast (might be negotiable if you stay longer), double from 100 TL including breakfast. The staff speak English and are very helpful. Tel. 0432 216 87 92. Web: www.buyukasur.com
  • Otel Bahar, Ordu Caddesi, Carsi Polis Karakolu Ustu (east of Cumhuriyet, near the big green mosque), 0539 729 6838. Clean, spacious rooms, nice views of the green mosque on the upper floors, central location, good breakfast and free wi-fi. 60 TL for double room ensuite.  edit
  • Merit Sahmaran Hotel (4 star Hotel), Yeniköy mevkii. Sahil cad.12 KM. No:60 Edremit VAN, [2]. Merit Sahmaran Hotel is 4 star hotel near the Van Lake  edit
  • Hotel Sehrivan, Just off Sihke Cd (Just to the south of the mosque in the main bazaar, Lat Long 38.503404,43.394006). Clean rooms, only 40 TL for a twin single. Very fast wifi access. No breakfast at that price. Twin 40 TL. (38.503404,43.394006) edit

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

  • The border with Iran is 100 km east at Kapikoy. Currently no public transport takes this route.
  • Doğubeyazıt 100 km north (2 hours by dolmus) has the stunning İshak Pasha Palace, and the legendary Mount Ararat—the highest mountain of Turkey. If possible, detour to Muradiye Waterfalls, located off Highway D975 between Doğubeyazıt and Van. Doğubeyazıt has good road connections to other cities in Turkey and is the main access point for Iran. (Get your visa well in advance, there are no visa facilities here.)
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