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Van 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 largest lake in Turkey.

Get in

by bus

Buses leave to most destinations in Turkey. A ticket to Diyarbakir costs 20 YTL (09:00, 12:00 and 23:00, 6 hours) and to Malatya costs 25 YTL (08:30, 9 hours).

Minibuses to Dogubeyazit and Yuksekova for border crossings to Iran.

There are also two buses a day to and from Urmia in Iran costing only 15 Euros.

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, three times a week. This train (Vangölü Express) departs Haydarpaşa on 20:05 (08:05 pm) 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 42 hours, 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.

International train from Istanbul to Tehran (Trans-Asia Express) calls in Van once per week, see [1].

Apart from Trans-Asia, there is also another international train service once a week (one of the days which Trans-Asia doesn’t call) between Van station and Tabriz in NW Iran.

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. Outside the airport there are taxis to the city costing 20 YTL, but you can also walk 10 minutes 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).

by boat

There is a ferry line in the Lake Van, between Tatvan on the western shoreline and Van on the eastern shoreline.

Get around


  • The castle and old city of Tuşpa a few kilometres west of the city.
  • The ancient Armenian church (Ahtamar or Akdamar) on a small island in Lake Van is beautiful, but the church is currently closed for restoration, making it's impressive frescoes impossible to see. Check around to see if it has opened. Even if it is closed, you may see the outside of the church, though that alone may not be worth the trip and boat ride (30 YTL if less than 12 people, 2.5 YTL if more than 12 people). Buses and taxis are available to drop you at the boat dock. (note: Turkish national newspapers reported that in Sept or Oct 2007, the restoration work of the church has been completed and the place is now open to visitors)




The city is famous for its breakfast halls (kahvaltı salonu), in which for a not-so-high price, 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.



  • Hotel Aslan in the middle of the bazaar, is clean and has friendly staff. A double room with TV costs 14 YTL and a double with en-suite bathroom costs 19 YTL.
  • Hotel Asur beside the tourist office, offers clean rooms with attached bathroom. Single 20-25 YTL including breakfast. The staff speak English and are very helpful.

Get out

Iran is only tens of 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)

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