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Tatvan is a town in Turkey, located on the western shore of Lake Van, which is the largest lake in Turkey.



Summers are hot, averaging over 30°C (86°F) in the daytime, however, due to low humidity levels in eastern Turkey, temperatures are much more comfortable than a humid place. At nights it is common even in the hottest month of the year (August) for temperatures to drop to 12°C (53°F), so be sure to take at least a cardigan, if not something that would keep you warmer. Winters are very cold with temperatures mostly below -5°C (23°F), so take clothes to keep you warm and comfortable.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Normally theVangölü Ekspresi ("Lake Van Express") departs from Istanbul’s Asian station (Haydarpaşa) twice a week on Mondays and Fridays at 10:55PM and arrives in Tatvan station after a 40-hr journey, on Wednesdays and Sundays at 2:17PM. This train also calls at a number of cities and towns across Asian Turkey, including Eskişehir, Ankara, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, and Elazığ among others. Inter Rail pass is accepted in this train. However, as the rail line east of Istanbul is closed, the Vangölü Ekspresi operates only between Ankara and Elazig.[1] See Turkish railway authority’s website [2] for detailed information.

There is also another train from Elazığ, passing Muş on the way, which operate at least once weekly. It arrives at Tatvan at Tuesday evenings.

Train station is in the upper part of the town (northwest of downtown), about 20 minutes walk away from the town centre. It's off the main highway to Bitlis, but its entrance is not immediately visible from the road because of some buildings and trees inbetween—you may have to ask around.

The station lies at the end of a spur line—the main line normally heads straight to the train ferry harbour. All passenger trains to the area do make the de-tour and call at the station, though.

By boat[edit]

Train ferries connect Tatvan with Van, a rather large city located on the eastern shore of Lake Van. These ferries accept pedestrian passengers whether they have a connecting train ticket or not. It takes four hours to cross the lake. If coming from the town center, ask the dolmus driver for "ferryboat".

Ferries crossing the lake depart every day from north of the town center at ~07:00, ~12:00 and ~19:00 (5 TL) (as of June 2012).

By car[edit]

A wide highway which is in a very good condition connects Tatvan with the city of Bitlis lying 20 or so km inland from the lake. In the other direction along the lake the city of Van is 140 km away.

By bus[edit]

Town's small otogar (bus station) is located on the highway to Bitlis, north of downtown, about half an hour's worth of walk from town centre, and not very far from the train station. Dolmuşes are also available to the centre. However, most inter-city bus companies have offices in town centre, too. In fact, most otogar offices are open only during day hours, with most companies prefering to use central offices during the night, which are far more convenient during the day hours, too.

There is at least one daily bus to town from Batman (15 TL, 3.5h), and Diyarbakır. Frequent bus services from Van (20 TL, 2h), i.a. by Vangölü company. There are dolmus from Bitlis.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Tatvan itself is not renowned for its historical or natural gems as it is rather a bleak town of mostly new, concrete development. It mainly serves travellers as a jumping off point to sights further afield.

  • Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dağı). Not to be confused with its much more popular namesake near Adiyaman, lying several hundred kms to the west. This is the mountain you'll immediately notice when you turn your eyes away from the lake, by virtue of being the highest in the area with its summit being 3050 mt above the sea level (the town barely makes it above 1700 metres). A volcanic one, it was the eruption of this mountain that blocked the outlets of surrounding rivers and caused them to flood in and form Lake Van in ancient times. Mount Nemrut has a big crater lake (Nemrut Gölü) inside its caldera. How to get there: (1) With your own transport you can take the road from Tatvan via Çekmece, leading into its caldera. (2) Some hotels and bus companies in Tatvan may provide tours to its summit and the lakes. (3) A taxi to the crater rim and to the lake inside its caldera will probably set you back sth. between 120 and 180 TL incl return and a bit of waiting time for taking pictures. (4) As a budget option, you can hike from small villages (Yumurtatepe, Çekmece) north of Tatvan to the crater rim and the lake inside it. If the weather is not to bad, start early in the morning and take a taxi to the small village of Yumurtatepe (about 1900m altitude, about 8km from Tatvan center, 30 TL, 15 min, you can use e.g. Star Taxi close to the office of Vangölü bus company at Tatvan's main street). From there it takes less than 2h to hike up to the crater rim at an elevation of about 2600m. Getting off the taxi in Yumurtatepe you can spot two white hotel buildings on a hill north of Yumurtatepe. Take the dirt road which lies on the right hand side of this hill (track on the left hand side of the hill brings you in direction of Çekmece, the ascend will be a rather hard scramble). The dirt road will eventually bring you to the road, which leads from Tatvan via Çekmece into the caldera. Follow that road to the crater rim. There, you might, for better views, walk in West direction along the crater rim. After that return to the road and hike into the caldera, leaving at some point the road to a dirt road going to the shore of Nemrut lake. It takes about 2h to walk from the crater rim to the lake and back. Hiking from Yumurtatepe to the lake and back takes about 6h. From Yumurtatepe walk back to Tatvan, soon you'll probably find somebody, who can take you to Tatvan in its car. Alternatively call Star Taxi to pick you up from Yumurtatepe (30 TL). If you hike up to Mt Nemrut take the usual precautions for hiking in the mountains (ideally wear boots and bring a water-proof jacket; take at least 1.5 L water with you, since even in late spring its hard to find water in mountains, in summer take even more). An old map of Mt. Nemrut region (without the roads, including elevation levels) can be found at:  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Lake Van tours. You can join boat tours on Lake Van departing daily from the waterfront. 4 TL/person.  edit
  • Drink Tea with the locals. Take a stroll down the main street on an evening and it's more than likely you will be asked to join some friendly locals for Cay (Turkish Tea). A great way to meet local Kurdish people.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • There is a supermarket called Carrefour inside the big shopping mall in town centre.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

A handful of hotels are located in the town centre along, or just off, the main street (near the post office). Most are clearly sign posted. Most single rooms cost between 40-90 TL. The only truly budget option is Gayda Otel. Altilar Hotel is now closed.

  • Gayda Otel, (On the main road through Tatvan, ~150m past the Carrefour, just after the mosque and footbridge, on the right side of the road), +90 434 827 55 04. Shared bathrooms, semi-dirty toilets, no breakfast, small clean rooms, comfortable clean beds, very nice staff, no English, wifi, safe atmosphere. There is another Gayda Otel that is more modern (50 TL single). If you ask to see it, one of the staff will take you. 20 TL single.  edit
  • Otel Dinç, Sahil Mah. İşletme Cad. No: 09, +90 434 827 59 60. Clean and comfortable midrange option, working Wifi, nice staff, no English. 70-90 TL (single incl breakfast), 110-140 TL (double incl breakfast).  edit
  • Camping by the lakes on Mt Nemrut is also a (free) option. Although the amount of litter can be a bit off putting.


The telephone code of Tatvan is 434 (+90 434 when calling from out of Turkey).

There are numerous internet cafes dotted along the main street in the town centre (some more modern than others) costing 1.50 or 2 TL/hour. There is one just upstairs from office of Van Gölü Seyahat bus company in town centre, open till late at night and very convenient if you're looking into spending your time until your departure.

Get out[edit]

By (mini)bus

  • Frequent (mini)buses to Van (max. 2h, 20 TL, Mai 2016) leave at every full hour during daytime in front of the Vangölü bus company office at Tatvan's main road.
  • Ahlat to north on the northwestern coast of Lake Van, about 45 minutes away from Tatvan by minibus, is, unlike Tatvan, a town of historical importance with some artifacts to see. Its main sight is a large Seljuk graveyard in the wide open steppe, though not as spooky as you might think, with elegant headstones with much stonework.

By train

Trains to Istanbul depart twice weekly - only on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:10AM. If you happen to miss the train of the day, nearest station is in Batman - which has trains to Istanbul the following day (i.e. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). Trains also depart from Batman in the morning (around 9AM). Van Gölü Seyahat has a night bus (at midnight) from Tatvan to Batman which costs 15 TL/person/one-way, arriving at Batman's otogar around 4:30AM. Walking otogar to train station take about one to one-and-a-half hour in Batman. Alternatively, you can take buses to Istanbul directly from Tatvan, but they cost more than double (70 TL/person/one-way) of what the train costs (about 30 TL/person/one-way).

By ferry

Ferryboats leave for Van from Tatvan's "Vangölü Feribot" pier. Schedules can be quite irregular. Usually ferries leave when trains cross the lake. If you speak some Turkish you can call at the TCDD station, Tel. +90 434 827 80 40 [3]. Otherwise ask at your guesthouse to call there.

External Links[edit]

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