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Revision as of 13:47, 7 September 2010 by (talk) (Sleep: camping on Mt Nemrut)

Earth : Europe : Turkey : Eastern Anatolia : Tatvan
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Tatvan is a town in Eastern Anatolia, located on the western shore of Lake Van, which is the largest lake in Turkey.



+12 C (53 F) is common at nights even in the hottest month of the year (August), so be sure to take at least a cardigan, if not something that would keep you warmer.

Get in

By train

Vangölü 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 Elazig among others. Inter Rail pass is accepted in this train. See Turkish railway authority’s website [1] for detailed information.

Train station is in the upper part of the town (northwest of downtown), about 20 minutes walk away from the town centre.

By boat

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.

Ferries crossing the lake depart from north of the town centre.

By car

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.

By bus

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 surrounding cities such as Van, Batman (which costs 15 TL and takes around three and a half hours), and Diyarbakır.

Get around


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). 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 number of lakes inside its caldera, one of which is always warm enough to swim in, thanks to the nearby hot springs. Some hotels and bus companies in Tatvan provide tours to its summit and the lakes. It's also possible to take the tarmac road leading into its caldera. Not to be confused with its much more popular namesake near Adiyaman, lying several hundred kms to west.


  • Lake Van tours. You can join boat tours on Lake Van departing daily from the waterfront. 4 TL/person.


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




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.

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.

Get out

  • Erzurum to the north; Malatya to the west; Diyarbakir, Hasankeyf, and Southeastern Anatolia to the southwest; Van to the east, across the lake (Flag down a dolmus for 10TL). If you have your passport ready with a visa, why not try moving on further east to Iran—which is possibly why you are in Tatvan in the first place anyway.
  • 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.

Trains — 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).

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