Ayder is a resort town in Eastern Karadeniz region of Turkey, up in the lush Kaçkar Mountains, surrounded by waterfalls.
Take a bus from either Trabzon, Rize or Hopa to Pazar and take a dolmuş from there (45min, at least every hour, daytime, 14 TL). Taxi is also an option which costs 70 TL from Pazar to Ayder.
Beautiful mountain scenery and maybe Hemshin people dancing and playing a peculiar sounding bagpipe.
- Walk from Ayder through the beautiful mountain scenery to the Yaylas (summer villages): One day hikes to Yukari Kavron, Avusor Yaylasi or Huser Yaylasi, returning to Ayder in the afternoon (each takes about 5-7h).
- Yukari Kavron offers a great view. There you will really experience a Turkish alpine village, as opposed to Ayder which is pretty touristic. You can get up to Yukari Kavron, either by dolmuş or walking (3h, about 11km). If you have your own car it may not be possible as the road is unpaved and quite rough with small rivers. Note that transportation is usually only possible in the very high season (Jul, Aug). Until Jun or from Sep there might be no public transportation or the roads being blocked by snow etc. The Yayla might be deserted until Jun and from Sep. From Jun-Sep you can hike from Yukari Kavron easy(ish) to different glacier lakes or even to Olungar and Yusefeli (preferably in Jul and Aug, multi-day hikes, guides or good experience recommended). Sahil pansiyon offers food, tea etc. in Yukari Kavron.
- In Ayder take a dip in the hot spring pool at the local hamam (Kaplıcaları). Hot (45°C) and wonderful after a day's hike. Last entrance 6.30pm, pool (havuz) is 13 TL, private bath is 50 TL (May 2016).
- In Ayder you can walk along the river by taking the road that goes under the bridge in the center of Ayder. Follow the road to the end. Between the big hotel and the small pansion, there is a sign and a very small area to park, and then some steps leading down to the river. Follow this and soon enough you'll be on a path that goes along the river.
- If you want to hike through / see some tea plantations close to Çamlıhemşin: Especially in May and June it is a nice half to full day hiking trip. Go by dolmuş to Çayırdüzü (drop off point is at the bridge close to Hotel Dere in the valley, 8 TL, 30min) and to hike along the mountains with its villages (Çayırdüzü, Topluca) and other small settlements back to Çamlıhemşin, from where you can catch a dolmuş back to Ayder. Depending which track you use (there are many options, depending how high you go up to the mountains), it takes about 4-6 hours.
- Yilmaz Cafeterya, ☎ 0.464.657 21 43. A really sweet family-run restaurant with fantastic soups and Turkish fondue. It's a little more than halfway up the hill on the main street in Ayder (on the left side if you are going up the hill). They speak a little bit of English, and they're friendly as can be. 5-8 TL mains. edit
Note that in high(er) season (May-Mid Sep), accommodation can get expensive and scarce during sunny weekends (Fri, Sat, Sun). Ayder is popular with Turkish and Arab tourists. On weekdays its usually calm. It is reported that during Ramadan it is less busy.
- Zirve Ahsap Otel (No English spoken, slow Wifi available). A Chalet-type pension catering largely for families but also quite suitable for others. It's behind the buildings north of the dolmus stop in Ayder. About 60-80 TL for a single room incl breakfast per night when Ayder is full of tourists, otherwise this can be bargained down especially if you stay longer. Tel. +90 (0)464 657 21 77 and +90 (0)537 408 27 17 (mobile). (All information from May 2016).
- Çağlayan Aile Pansiyon (No English spoken) is located just up the hill from where the minibuses drop you off. There's a dangerous looking DIY ferris wheel right next to it. It doesn't look like much and the rooms are basic and small, with shared bathrooms, mostly squatters. But the staff are really friendly and you're very likely to get the chance to hear them singing and dancing loudly along to the Turkish bagpipe (Tulum) in the evenings. A room with two small beds was 40 TL but you may be able to bargain a bit.
- Altiparmak Otel (Owner speaks a bit English, Wifi didn't worked), close to the dolmuş stop, go down the stairs to the mosque (camii) and turn right. Tel. +90 (0)537 761 42 61. 100 TL for a single room incl breakfast, most probably can be bargained down when less tourists are in Ayder. (All information from May 2016).
- Ayder Doga Resort Hotel. All rooms are decoraten modern wooden design. Hotel is specially designed foreign customers. Tel: +90 (0)533 818 86 18, Email: [email protected], Web: www.ayderdogaresort.com
- During high(er) season every hour from 8am until at least 6pm (maybe also 7 and 8pm), a dolmuş goes via Çamlıhemşin (20 min, 8 TL) to Ardeşen (40 min, 12 TL) and Pazar (45 min, 14 TL). From Pazar (or Ardeşen) you can find regular bus or dolmuş connections to Rize and Trabzon or in the other direction to Hopa and even Batum(i) (Prenskale company). (All information from May 2016).
- For Artvin and Kars: Take the 8am dolmuş and ask the driver to drop you at Ardeşen otogar (arriving around 8.45am). Yeşil Artvin Ekspres has a 9.30am service to Kars (min. 7h, 50 TL) via Artvin and Göle. The same company runs from Ardeşen otogar a service to Ardahan via Artvin at 10.30am. From there it should be possible to connect with 1 or 2 dolmuş to Kars at the same day. Web: www.yesilartvinekspres.com.tr (All information from May 2016).