Tips for the Excursions

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Tips for the Excursions

Trabzon and Black Sea

Getting here: Fly to Trabzon from Istanbul.

How much time? Four to five days is enough to see the area, though you could spend an extra night in Ayder.

Getting around: We recommend flying in and renting a car: it's possible to get around with regional buses, but you'll save time and patience with a car

When to go: June–September is the best season. There is less rain, and the area, particularly the Kaçkar mountains, is blissfully cooler than the rest of Turkey.

Top sights: The Aya Sofia in Trabzon, the Sümela monastery complex, mountain summer villages around Ayder.

By yourself or with a guide? It's easy to see most of the area by yourself, though touring the Kaçkar mountains is best done with a guide.

Kars, Mt. Ararat and Lake Van

Getting here: To save time, fly to Kars from Istanbul and then fly back from Van (or the other way around).

How much time? Four or five days is enough. If you have more time, stay an extra night in Van and do one of the side trips along the lake.

Getting around: Intercity buses are a good option, though you might want to rent a car in Van to see the sights around the lake.

When to go: Because of their altitude, Kars and Van are usually pleasant during the summer, though the sun can still be quite strong. May and June, when the area is especially green and covered with wild flowers, are good months to visit. Winter is cold and dreary in Turkey's east, and many places are inaccessible because of snow.

Top sights: The ruins of Ani, Doğubeyazıt's fantastic Ishak Paş Sarayı, the island church of Akdamar in Lake Van.

By yourself or with a guide? You may want a guide for a visit to Ani, the area around Mt. Ararat, and for some of the sites around Lake Van.

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