Are you a travel enthusiast seeking new destinations to explore? If so, embarking on a Black Sea road trip should definitely be on the top of your travel bucket list! 😉
The Black Sea region of Turkey has a jaw-dropping 1,300-kilometer (810 mi) long coastline along its namesake, the Black Sea. This long stretch of rugged paradise is adorned with picturesque landscapes, lesser-known historical sites, and a certain atmosphere of off-the-grid adventure.
This road trip covers some of the best places in Northern Turkey and the Turkish Black Sea, including Sinop, Amasra, Safranbolu, Kastamonu, Amasya, Samsun, and more.
Besides Turkey’s Black Sea cities, there are also optional stops in national parks, canyons, and ancient archaeological sites for those who have a few extra days (or love nature!)
If you’re ready to see the traditional houses of Safranbolu, learn why Sinop is the Happiest City in Turkey, climb up Kastamonu’s castle, chill on the Turkish Black Sea beaches, stroll along Amasya’s riverfront, and try delicious Black Sea dishes, then you’re in the right place!
Let’s go on an unforgettable journey across the Black Sea 🙂
THE BASICS: Turkey’s Black Sea
Best time to go — Late spring to summer
The best time to visit the Black Sea in Turkey is summer, as well as the ‘shoulder season’ months before and after summer. Therefore, the best months to take this roadtrip are between April to September.
The weather is at its best, the sea has pleasantly warm temperatures, and days are longer. If you visit during the shoulder season (March – April or September – October), you’ll also enjoy less crowds.
Two notes: If you visit in early spring, be sure to double check when Ramadan is happening in Turkey. Our trip coincided with the first week of Ramadan, and many places in smaller cities and villages (where we stopped to get a snack or fill up our car) were closed.
Likewise, early spring might also come with pockets of leftover snow near the road! This was only noticeable when we drove the Sinop to Amasra part of this road trip, but still something to keep in mind nonetheless. 🙂
How many days do you need? — 9 to 14 days
Our entire trip took a grand total of 13 days. Technically you can do this route in as little as 9 days if you do some or all of the following:
- Drive a full day from Sinop to Amasra (i.e. no overnight stop) — this is best done if you have a second driver
- Cut out a second day in Bogazkale
- Skip Sahinkaya Canyon
- Don’t stop overnight in Samsun on the last day (i.e. drop off your rental car and fly, although this is only recommended if you have at least a few hours before your flight)
If you’re not done with this road trip just yet, you can also add even more Black Sea cities at the end of the itinerary such as Ordu, Trabzon, Rize, and so on.
Difficulty — Easy to Intermediate
Thanks to the excellent Turkish roads and infrastructure of the region, driving about 90% of this road trip route was very easy, enjoyable, and straightforward.
You’re probably wondering about that 10%, aren’t you? Don’t worry, we’re getting there. 😉
The only slightly difficult part of this trip was driving through the mountainous area that made up part of the Sinop to Amasra route, or more specifically, the road from Inebolu to Cide.
Although it’s technically the ‘coastal road,’ a good majority of the D010 state road goes through mountains, and oftentime the road is so narrow that there is room for only one car (i.e. you have to be really careful about oncoming traffic). We recommend driving slowly, paying careful attention, and keeping your window open to hear oncoming traffic. While it might sound daunting, there’s a reward for courageous drivers: a gorgeous viewpoint near the entrance to Cide! 😉
Other than that chunk, it’s all smooth sailing from there. The roads in Turkey are in excellent condition, even in tiny villages!
Renting a car
Renting a car in Turkey is very straightforward, and out of the 10 or so times we’ve rented a car here, all of them have been an enjoyable process. 🙂
For this roadtrip, we ended up going to Cizgi Rent A Car for a few reasons. We’ve used them before in Izmir and Antalya, they have a free pickup option from Samsun airport (just make sure to contact them ahead of time with your flight information), and their customer service is excellent. Our car’s back light stopped working in Safranbolu, and their WhatsApp support quickly solved the problem and reimbursed us for the repair.
When renting a car, here are some important things to look for:
- How many total kilometers are included in your rental contact — Our contract with Cizgi had unlimited mileage. The route in this blog post will take about 1,400 km if you visit all of the places (i.e. don’t skip anything).
- Automatic or manual transmission — Automatic will cost a little more
- Fuel level — Some rental agencies ask you to refill to the maximum, while others ask to bring it back as it was (i.e. if it was half full, return it half full or more)
Start and end point — Samsun!
We decided to start and end this road trip in Samsun (a perfect loop!), and there’s actually a reason behind this — Samsun is very convenient. 😅
Perhaps the most important point is that Samsun has plenty of car rental agencies (both at the airport and city center). When researching this road trip, we tried to look at neighboring cities in the Black Sea like Zonguldak or Sinop, but there were only very local agencies that didn’t have much of an online presence (i.e. on RentalCars).
Second, Samsun is one of the cities that constitutes a ‘gateway to the Black Sea’ and as such, the Samsun Airport is very well-connected. There are about a dozen direct flights from Istanbul every day (and other cities like Ankara and Izmir), which is very convenient and flexible.
Of course, you can choose to drive the entire loop that we’ve outlined below, or do a smaller part — it’s completely up to you. 🙂
We took one of the earliest flights from Istanbul to Samsun Çarşamba Airport (SZF) because we wanted to get a head start on our day — if you have a few extra days or want to take it slow, then feel free to choose a flight that works for you.
After arriving at Samsun Airport, go to your car rental agency. There are a handful of car rental agencies right at the airport (you’ll see their kiosks when exiting the arrivals hall), while a few others are located a few minutes’ drive from the airport. Our rental agency (Cizgi) offered a free ride from the airport to their office, but we forgot to write down our flight information (🥲). In any case, there are plenty of taxis outside the airport to take you to the car rental office.
A small note: You can spend a day in Samsun for the first day if you wish, but we saved it for the end of our trip as a way to decompress and get ourselves ready to fly back (plus it’s an excellent ‘buffer’ if your flight back home is later in the day!)
From Samsun, start driving towards Sinop.
SINOP: 1 to 2 days
The first stop on our Black Sea road trip is none other than Sinop. This easygoing city in Turkey’s northernmost region is characterized by rugged nature, nuggets of history, and hearty food. But that’s not all — Sinop was voted the Happiest City in Turkey multiple years in a row! 🙂
If you’re traveling to Sinop in the summer, you’ll also see why it’s called the ‘Bodrum of the Black Sea’ with its sun, sand, and sea trilogy. Let’s check out the city!
What to Do in Sinop
📍 Go to the Top of the Sinop Fortress — Thanks to Sinop’s strategic location, the city needed a fortress to protect the city — which is how the Sinop Fortress came to be. Located in the center of the city, the original fortress spanned a little over 2 kilometers in length and 25 meters in height. You can go to the top for free (check out those views!) and visit the other remnants of the fortress in various parts of Sinop. Check our city guide (link below) for the info.
📍 Visit Arslan Mansion — Once used as a mansion for a wealthy local, the Arslan Torun mansion now houses the city’s ethnography museum and is a treasure trove of beautiful interior design, traditional costumes, and other artifacts from bygone years.
📍 Sinop Prison — Nicknamed the Alcatraz of Anatolia, Sinop Prison held many famous Turkish politicians and writers during its time. Nowadays, the prison was recently reconstructed and turned into a museum.
📍 Statue of Diogenes — Greek philosopher Diogenes was one of the most famous residents of Sinop, and his statue greets everyone who passes through the entrance of the city.
📍 Sinop Archaeological Museum — A well-curated museum with items from Sinop’s history, including the Hellenistic, Roman, Seljuk, and Byzantine periods.
📍 Pervane Medrese — Once used as a theological school, the Pervane Medrese is an excellent example of Seljuk architecture. Nowadays, it’s an open courtyard that’s a lovely place to stop for some coffee and souvenirs.
🍽️ Where to Eat: For some of the best local food, head over to Teyze’nin Yeri Mantı Salonu and try the Sinop Manti. Another good option is Sen Pastaneleri, which has two local dishes — prenses cake and nokul — on their menu.
LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION? We have an entire Sinop City Guide blog post – click here! 🙂
Where to Stay in Sinop
Otel 57 — Otel 57 is well-appointed, in an excellent location, and aptly-named (57 is Sinop’s province code)!
The Hotel: Having undergone a recent renovation, the rooms are very comfortable and come with a spacious balcony. There’s a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning. The hotel is steps away from the Sinop Castle and waterfront, as well as plenty of cafes and restaurants.
Parking situation: While there’s no on-site parking (the hotel is located on a main road), the hotel has an agreement with a nearby parking lot. The front desk employee drove us to the parking lot and parked our car (valet-style). The parking lot is free 🙂
Other excellent options:
- Denizci Hotel — Practically next door to Otel 57, offering sea views and complimentary breakfast. BOOK HERE
- Dolunay Hotel — Located in the historical center, with modern rooms and a public parking lot behind the hotel. BOOK HERE
- Sinop Antik Otel — Located on the road to Sinop’s city center, Antik Otel is especially popular during the summer thanks to its private beach (yes, really!), complete with complimentary sun beds and umbrellas. BOOK HERE
SINOP TO AMASRA DRIVE
Known as one of the most beautiful road trips in Turkey, the Amasra to Sinop drive (or in this case, Sinop to Amasra 😉) is packed with charming seaside towns, gorgeous viewpoints, and hues of blue waves shimmering in the background.
Duration — The Sinop to Amasra drive takes about 7 hours if you drive along the waterfront. You can do it in one day if you switch drivers and/or take frequent breaks (and believe us, there are some awesome villages and towns along the way!)
Due to an abundance of time (and choppy weather), we decided to break this trip into two days: day one was driving from Sinop to Inebolu (3 hours) and the next day from Inebolu to Amasra (4 hours). We highly recommend stopping in Inebolu, as it’s practically the halfway point of the journey.
The road — As we mentioned under The Basics, parts of the road from Sinop to Amasra were a bit challenging. Besides the many winding switchbacks that you’ll need to drive up, some parts of the route are so narrow that only one car can pass at any given time. However, Rough Guide sums it up pretty well: “Beyond Sinop the coast road west is tortuous and slow, but spectacular scenery, unspoiled beaches and small ports offer compensation.”
Places to stop along the Sinop to Amasra drive:
📍 Hamsilos Koyu (15 km from Sinop) — A beautiful little cove that’s very tourist-friendly and has plenty of amenities (spacious parking lot, public toilets, benches to sit, etc). If you’re visiting during the summer season, there are also boats that offer tours around the bay.
📍 İnceburun (22 km from Sinop)— Fun fact: İnceburun is officially the northernmost point of Turkey! There’s a small and picturesque lighthouse that you can access.
📍 Ayancık (58 km from Sinop) — Small town with a lovely beach and fish restaurants along the way.
📍 Inebolu (The half-way point of this drive)— A small quaint town with an Ataturk museum, cafes, restaurants, and a handful of hotels.
📍 Yali / Çayyaka (107 km to Amasra) — There’s a beautiful viewpoint on the D010 road just before you enter Çayyaka (photo above).
📍 Cide (71 km to Amasra) — Be sure to visit Tug Hill Observation Deck (Tuğ Tepesi Seyir Terası) for a beautiful view of Cide! It also doubles as a cafe and restaurant, with soft drinks and delicious food.
Mavideniz Otel — A small, family-run hotel located in the center of Inebolu.
The hotel: A breakfast plate was included in the rate, and we had a room with an unspoiled view of the Black Sea. After exploring the town, we came back to the hotel and had a small problem (the room smelled like smoke, presumably from the hotel’s traditional furnace) and the staff helped us quickly settle into a new room.
Parking situation: the hotel has street parking right in front of the building (time to polish off those parallel parking skills :))
AMASRA: 1 Day
Idyllically perched on a peninsula, Amasra is certainly the definition of a hidden gem amidst the Black Sea. This charming small town is immaculately well-kept while still maintaining its former glory, and the best way to experience it is by walking along the palm-lined seaside promenade before dipping under a stone bridge to explore the castle and historic houses.
What to Do in Amasra
You won’t find many of the typical tourist attractions thanks to Amasra’s small size — so this is the perfect opportunity to relax, take a leisurely stroll around the city, and enjoy the atmosphere!
📍 Amasra Museum — Covering five eras of history — the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Genoese, and Ottoman periods — the Amasra Museum is a must-visit stop for getting acquainted with the history of this region. The exhibits are well-done, with interactive displays, archaeological artifacts, ethnographic items, and even two rooms full of historical sculptures and busts.
📍 Take a Boat Tour — During the tourist season, there are multiple scenic boat tours around the harbor / Rabbit Island — head over to the harbor and you’ll see a few kiosks advertising the tours.
📍 Explore the Old City — Known as the Kaleici Mahalle (Inner Castle neighborhood), this area is full of charming traditional houses and cobblestone streets.
📍 Kemere Bridge — This historical bridge, which was built in the 9th century, connects two parts of Amasra’s Castle and is an attraction in its own right. It’s a lovely place to take a photo or watch the sunset.
🍽️ Try a local delicacy — If you’re visiting the Black Sea, you’ll definitely want to try the local dish — which is fish, of course! There are a dozen fish restaurants in Amasra to choose from, but we went with Gunbatimi Balik. Be sure to go to the second floor to enjoy a gorgeous view of the city.
Where to Stay in Amasra
Our hotel was actually in Bartin, the capital of the province, because we saw this beautiful hotel when searching for accommodations and couldn’t say no. 😊 However, we also included a list of hotels in Amasra as well under ‘Other excellent options’.
Kaf Konak — This hotel is an authentic konak, which is a traditional Ottoman-style mansion. The hotel was immaculately restored in 2010, adding modern conveniences yet keeping much of the original walls, design, and heirlooms.
The Hotel: Honestly, this was one of the best hotels during our entire Black Sea trip! The rooms were absolutely fantastic, with plush bedding, adorable little touches (like a retro radio, embroidered lace towels, etc). There’s an on-site restaurant with a nice mix of local and European dishes, and the complimentary Turkish breakfast was amazing!
Parking Situation: There’s no on-site parking (it is an authentic wooden mansion, after all 😉), there is street parking right across the hotel. The owner’s son helped us park 🙂
Other excellent options:
- Sardinia Otel — A beautifully restored hotel right near the fortress. There’s also a spacious terrace and jaw-dropping views of the bay from the rooms. BOOK HERE
- Kum Butik Hotel — Before we get any further, kum in Turkish means sand. 🙂 This hotel is located in a traditional Ottoman mansion and within a block of the city center and the beach! BOOK HERE
- Amasra Kerem Apart — For those who prefer to have the space and convenience of an apartment, Kerem Apart is within walking distance to the center and has an amazing view from the terrace. As a bonus, there’s free parking for guests. BOOK HERE
SAFRANBOLU: 1 to 2 Days
Safranbolu is one of the most popular cities in the Black Sea, and it’s no wonder why. Once a stop along the Silk Road, Safranbolu has retained many of its traditional Ottoman mansions, as well as a fully-working caravansary (roadside inn) and a cobblestoned Old Town.
Thanks to Safranbolu’s size, the city can easily be seen in one day. However, it’s so picturesque and charming that you might be tempted to extend your stay by a day or two!
What to do in Safranbolu
📍 Walk through the historical bazaar — One of Safranbolu’s top attractions are the multiple bazaars scattered around the historic center. Be sure to get yourself a souvenir or two — the mini wooden houses are especially popular!
📍 Go hunting for Ottoman mansions — Safranbolu is home to more than 2,000 Ottoman-era konak (mansion) houses, each with its own history. The easiest way to get to know these historic beauties is to stay in a konak hotel (see Where to Stay in Safranbolu below), but walking around and admiring the houses is another great idea.
📍 Learn about the History of Kahve at the Coffee Museum — One of our favorite places in Safranbolu! The Coffee Museum is located on the second floor of the historic caravansary (roadside inn). Although the museum might look small at first, it’s a wealth of information (in English and Turkish) and interesting artifacts. Don’t forget to order a coffee from their cafe — they took historic recipes and recreated them for visitors!
📍 Relax at Cinci Hamam — If you’re feeling a little tired from the road trip thus far, then a visit to Cinci Hamam is sure to recharge your batteries! This historic 17th century hamam (Turkish bath) is located right next door to the caravansary (they’re part of the same complex) and is still working. Men and women have separate bathing areas, and there are various spa packages available.
📍 City Museum & Clock Tower — This cheerful yellow building holds plenty of interesting exhibits relating to Safranbolu’s culture and history, including maps, coins, artifacts, photos, handicrafts, clothing, and much more. The Clock Tower is located right behind the City History Museum and features a dozen miniature clock towers from all around Turkey, as well as a larger clock tower that was built in the late 1700s.
📍 Finish off your trip with a panorama at Hidirlik Hill — On your way to the next destination, be sure to stop at Hidirlik Hill and say one final goodbye to Safranbolu! Located on a hill above the city, Hidirlik Hill has a spacious terrace that opens up to a beautiful panoramic view of Safranbolu (great for taking photos!) and a small cafe.
🍽️ Where to Eat: Safranbolu’s strategic location along the Silk Route means that the city has a rich gastronomic history, and you’re sure to find plenty of delicious local dishes! One of the best restaurants in Safranbolu is Safranbolu Zencefil Yöresel Lezzetler because their entire menu is almost all local food — try the Peruhi (Safranbolu-style manti), Bandurma (chicken piled on baked dough), Islama (meat with bread), and Zerde (rice with saffron) for dessert.
Other excellent options include Hanim Sultan for local dishes and Arasta Kahvesi 1661 for coffee and desserts.
Where to Stay in Safranbolu
Gunes Konak Otel Safranbolu — İf you’ve ever wanted to stay in a traditional Safranbolu house, here’s your chance, as Gunes Konak is an absolutely adorable konak (historical mansion). The hotel is situated on a quiet street and overlooks the city’s Old Town, which means you’ll get a ton of amazing views.
The Hotel: Our room (Deluxe Double Room) was well-appointed, with traditional design and a spacious sitting nook under the window. That nook became my favorite part, as I would drink my morning coffee and watch the sun set during our two days here! The hotel is also very small (i.e. peaceful) and is run by a very friendly owner that we had the chance to meet and talk to.
Parking situation: Street parking, although it’s absolutely ideal: Gunes is located on a quiet side street (i.e. almost nobody drives by), and you have a view of your car from your room’s window. 🙂
Other excellent options:
You really can’t go wrong with booking a hotel in Safranbolu, because they’re all amazing! Here are some places to get you started:
- Hilton Garden Inn Safranbolu: For those who prefer the comforts of an upscale hotel (spaciousness, parking, WiFi, pool, etc), the Hilton Garden Inn is an excellent choice. It’s located in the ‘new’ city center (as opposed to the Old Town), but you can reach Safranbolu’s historic center with a quick 5-minute taxi ride. BOOK HERE
- Akbulut Konak: Perfectly situated between the new city center and the Old Town, Akbulut retains many of its elegant historic charms with a modern twist. Plus, the breakfast is absolutely epic! BOOK HERE
- Gulevi Safranbolu: This hotel is actually made up of three Ottoman mansions (16 total rooms) and has a distinct boutique hotel feel — and a ‘secret garden’ out back! BOOK HERE
DRIVE FROM SAFRANBOLU TO KURE DAGLARI NATIONAL PARK (1.5 hours)
After exploring the city, it’s time to get back on the road — thankfully, there are plenty of interesting attractions on the drive from Safranbolu to our next destination!
Travel tip: If you’re short on time, you can do this part and visit Kure Daglari National Park (below) in one day if you wake up early.
Note: All of the following places are located within 2 kilometers from each other. If you decide to do this road trip without a car (i.e. visiting only the major cities by plane or bus), you can still take a taxi and visit the following places.
📍 Crystal Glass Terrace — Just outside of Safranbolu is this glass canyon with jaw dropping views of the river and canyon below. Entrance is 20 TL for adults, and there is also a cafe and zipline in the tourist complex.
📍 Tokatli Kanyonu — If you have some free time, you can also explore the aqueduct and canyon below the glass terrace.
📍 Nostalji Gezi Evi — Translated to ‘Nostalgia Travel House,’ this traditional mansion is full of interesting retro items from bygone years, including motorcycles, books, coins from around the world, and other vintage goods. There’s also a cafe with a terrace. 🙂
KURE DAGLARI NATIONAL PARK: 1 Day
Küre Mountains National Park (in Turkish, Küre Dağları Milli Parkı) is one of 45 national parks in Turkey, and one of the most popular in the Black Sea region. The park covers an area of more than 93,000 acres, although only a fraction is available to the public — which we’ll explore today!
Horma Canyon — The first stop is Horma Canyon, which is accessible thanks to a 3-kilometer wooden trail. You’ll walk through lush forests, above flowing rivers, and be treated to a natural pool at the end of the walk. Entrance is 16 TL for adults and 8 TL for children.
After exploring Horma Canyon, you can take a taxi or dolmus back to the parking lot (or walk!). From there, it’s about an hour drive to our next destination…
Çatak Canyon Observation Deck (above)— Located some 450 meters above ground, the Çatak Canyon Observation Deck (Turkish: Çatak Kanyonu Cam Seyir Terası) offers visitors the chance to see beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding forest and canyon. Follow Google Maps for the observation deck until you reach a parking lot. From there, it’s a 1 kilometer walk to the deck. If you’re hungry, be sure to pack a picnic lunch, as there are open-air eating areas at the tourist complex.
Where to Stay near Kure Daglari NP
Kanyon Park Otel
The Hotel: A wonderfully cozy hotel complex with stand-alone ‘mini cabins’ and an on-site restaurant. Best of all, the hotel is a short ~15 minute drive to the Kure Daglari NP. 🙂
Parking situation: There’s plenty of available parking inside the hotel complex, and we parked ‘behind’ our cabin.
KASTAMONU: 1 Day
While Kastamonu might look like an ordinary city at first glance, it turned out to be one of the most charming and memorable places during our road trip — and we’re sure that you’ll love it as well. 🙂
Kastamonu is one of those cities that is often overlooked, yet offers so many delights and surprises to those who take the time to visit and get to know it. Kastamonu’s historical charms and an atmosphere of undeniable authenticity sets it apart from the mainstream tourist cities.
What to do in Kastamonu
📍 Climb to the top of Kastamonu Castle (above) — The diamond in Kastamonu’s crown is none other than the historical castle, which was built in the 12th century and still retains many of its original features. While the hike up is a bit challenging due to the elevation (and slopes), the view of the city is worth it! We recommend visiting just before sunset for the best experience. Entrance is free.
📍 Learn Kastamonu’s History at the City Museum — This cheerful yellow building… Just kidding, if you’ve been reading this whole blog post, you might have noticed that we copied the intro from Safranbolu’s city museum 😉
But really, Kastamonu’s city museum definitely deserves a visit! While not translated to English, you can easily spend an hour or two looking at the exhibitions (just be sure to have Google Translate open!) Just behind the museum is a Clock Tower with an excellent view of the city.
📍 See the Traditional Ottoman Mansions — One of life’s greatest pleasures is enjoying a quiet stroll in a new place, and Kastamonu is just the place to do so. Some of the best-preserved houses can be found in the Akmescit, Ismail Bey, and Hepkebirler (center) neighborhoods.
📍 See the Home Tombs — One of the most unusual attractions in Kastamonu are the Ev Kaya Mezarları, which literally translates to Home Rock Tombs. These tombs were built by Paphlagonians in the 7th century BC and are known as the oldest rock tombs in the province. There are stairs that go to the tombs, as well as a board with information. Google Maps doesn’t have a marker for these tombs, so click here for the coordinates.
📍 Go People Watching at Nasrullah Square — Visit the main square of Kastamonu to experience the local atmosphere, enjoy some tea at a traditional café, and see the impressive Nasrullah Mosque. Stop by Erdem Sepetçioğlu to buy some delicious goodies as souvenirs.
🍽️ Where to Eat: Kastamonu has many delicious specialities, including banduma (pieces of boiled chicken placed on lavash and topped with sauce and crushed nuts), etli ekmek (gozleme-style bread with bits of pastrami inside), elma eğşisi (a cold drink from boiled wild apples), and cekme helva.
We especially recommend eating at Penbe Han, which is a restored caravansary from the 15th century. The menu features plenty of local dishes (including those listed above) and a wonderful atmosphere — if the weather is good, enjoy your food in the garden. Likewise, Eflani Konağı is another great option for local food, especially their banduma.
Where to Stay in Kastamonu
Lidya Otel — One of our favorite hotels during the trip! Besides being one of the top-rated hotels in Kastamonu, it’s run by a very nice and hospitable family 🙂
The Hotel: The hotel has 20 rooms in total (16 standard + 4 family rooms), which were comfortable and very spacious. Breakfast was included. A cute fun fact: Each of the rooms is named after a city or town in Kastamonu province. It’s located on a quiet street and just a short 5-minute walk to the city center.
Parking situation: There’s some street parking in front of the hotel (valet), as well as a free parking lot across the hotel. We dropped off our car in front and the owner reparked it in the parking lot. We met some other hotel guests from Poland who were traveling around Turkey in a large campervan-style car, and they had no problem parking either — the parking lot is spacious!
OTHER EXCELLENT OPTIONS:
-Uğurlu Konakları — A typical Ottoman mansion with modern rooms. While it’s located close to Kastamonu’s city center, the hotel is on a quiet street. BOOK HERE
– Park Dedeman Kastamonu — The creme de la creme of hotels, Park Dedeman has absolutely everything you could ever want in a hotel, including a lounge, fitness center, terrace, in-house restaurant, pool, hammam, and spa! BOOK HERE
DRIVE FROM KASTAMONU TO BOGAZKALE
& Route Notes
After Kastamonu, it’s time to hit the road again 🙂
Unfortunately, the drive from Kastamonu to our next destination (Bogazkale) is a bit uneventful and bland, although you’ll get to see plenty of Anatolian steppes and farmland. The approximate driving time from Kastamonu to Bogazkale is around 4 hours.
If you have a flexible schedule, you can drive from Kastamonu to Ankara (the capital) and spend a few days there. The driving time from Kastamonu to Ankara is about 3.5 hours, and then it’s another 2.5 hours from Ankara to Bogazkale. We didn’t go to Ankara on this trip, but it’s certainly a possibility if you would like to do so — just look for hotels with parking.
Likewise, you can stop at Ilgaz Mountain National Park (Turkish, Ilgaz Dağı Milli Parkı) along the way, but there’s not much to see. The area is popular with skiers, and in early April, there was still snow when we visited.
BOGAZKALE: 1 to 2 days
While very much under the (tourist) radar, Boğazköy-Alacahöyük National Park is one of the most significant historical archaeological sites in this part of Turkey. The park is actually made up of two ancient cities — Boğazköy and Alacahöyük — which were among the most important Hittite settlements. While it’s written as Boğazköy-Alacahöyük Milli Parkı (Bogazköy-Alacahöyük National Park), it’s actually two separate parks that are 35 kilometers apart.
We spent most of our time at the Boğazköy site (in Bogazkale), since it was a short drive from our Airbnb. The Alacahöyük site is about a 30-minute (35 km) drive from the first park.
Since Google Maps doesn’t show to locations very well, here are the coordinates for both sites:
Boğazköy is best visited by car, as you’ll be driving around a very large area. There are about 6 parking spots where you can park your car and go exploring on foot, including the famous lion statues, the mysterious Potern tunnel, the remnants of the city walls, and the King’s gate.
The site has plenty of informational signs in multiple languages (including English), but you can also buy an informational book from the gift shop if you want to get the full story. It’s written by a German professor who took part in the original excavations of the archaeological site, and we’re really glad that we bought it!
After visiting the park, we opted to stay at an Airbnb because there was very little choice in terms of hotels and accommodations. We found this apartment and recommend it — the host is friendly, there’s plenty of space, and there’s a laundry machine. 🙂
The next day, you can either go straight to the next destination (Amasya) or stop by the second archaeological site (Alacahöyük). When you drive from Bogazkoy to Amasya, you’ll see signs for Alacahöyük along the highway — follow them and they’ll lead you to the site.
AMASYA: 2 Days
With its meandering canal splitting the city in two, charming antique houses, and soft green mountains in the background, it’s easy to imagine Amasya as a city fit for a fairytale.
One of Turkey’s most underrated cities, Amasya is famous for many things, including its juicy apples, beautiful waterfront houses, and remnants of the Pontic Kingdom. Its laid back atmosphere reminded us of Amasra, its houses were similar to those in Safranbolu, and it has a well-preserved castle like that in Kastamonu. In short, Amasya has a little bit of everything from our trip!
What to do in Amasya
📍 Marvel at the Charming Antique Houses — These well-preserved wooden structures, called Yaliboyu, are adorned with intricate carvings that evoke a sense of nostalgia and offer a glimpse into the city’s rich architectural heritage. There are dozens of yaliboyu along Amasya’s waterfront, and the best way to see them is with a relaxing stroll parallel to the river. Some of these houses have also been converted into hotels — check the ‘Where to Stay in Amasya’ section for some of them!
📍 Hike up to the King Rock Tombs — One of the first things you might notice in Amasya are the imposing tombs carved into the mountainside. They’re known as the Tombs of the Kings of Pontus, and consist of five ancient burial chambers that were created more than 2,000 years ago. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and have a bottle of water for the hike up!
📍 See the City from Amasya Castle — Make your way to Amasya Castle and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city below. This historical fortress offers a unique perspective on Amasya’s layout, the winding river, and the surrounding landscapes. It’s a great spot for capturing breathtaking photographs! You can either take a taxi or your own car, although the drive up can be daunting for some.
📍 Check out the Sabuncuoglu Medical and Surgical History Museum — This was our personal favorite, as it’s such a unique museum. Set in a historical building from the 1300s, the museum is mostly dedicated to the work of Şerafeddin Sabuncuoğlu, a local surgeon and physician who pioneered many groundbreaking treatments in the Ottoman empire.
📍 Go Back in Time at the Amasya Archeology Museum — One of the most well-curated museums in the region, the Amasya Archeology Museum has more than 24,000 artifacts, including shipwrecks, gold jewelry, mosaics, and even mummies. The collections are beautifully exhibited, and everything is translated in English. 🙂
🍽️ Where to Eat: Amasya is known as the City of Apples, and as such, you’ll find anything and everything with apples 😁 Be sure to try the apple tea — it’s like a mug of coziness!
Other local dishes include the Amasya doughnut (made with poppy filling), Helle soup (rice and butter soup), and Bakla Dolması dolma with beans).
You can try these delicacies at Amaseia Mutfagi, which has a whole menu with local dishes. Other great places include Çörekçi Galip for Amasya doughnuts and Emin Efendi Konakları. We also recommend the Amasya Anadolu Mantı Evi, which has a small but delicious menu of manti from different regions.
Where to Stay in Amasya:
Ziyagil Konağı — This sweet family-run hotel made our trip to Amasya even more special because it’s a traditional yaliboyu house!
The Hotel: This hotel has kept much of its original charm, including the beautiful wood carvings and windows. The rooms are comfortable, and the breakfast is delicious and homemade.
Parking situation: You’ll need to drive a narrow back road to get to the hotel (drive very slowly 😅), but there’s free parking about 5 minutes from the hotel. The owner helped us repark our car to the parking lot.
Other excellent options:
- Sarıkonak Boutique & Spa Hotel Amasya — Absolutely luxurious! One of the only hotels in Amasya with a spa and hammam. BOOK HERE
- Uluhan Hotel — Be sure to book the Suite room and you’ll have a balcony with views of the river and city! BOOK HERE
- Bayezid Han Konak — Another authentic Amasya-style house 🙂 The hotel is exceptionally decorated with elements of luxury and comfort. Note: This hotel is adults only – be sure to keep this in mind if you’re a family traveling with kids. BOOK HERE
(Optional) VEZIRKOPRU: 1 Day
After saying Hoşçakal to Amasya, it’s time to hit the road again. 🙂
This next stop is optional — if you have an extra day and want to enjoy the Black Sea region’s beauty, you can stop at Vezirkopru and visit the Şahinkaya Canyon via boat tour. If not, you can skip this section and go straight to Samsun.
Here’s a quick overview of the drive:
Amasya to Vezirköprü: 77 km (1 hour 10 mins)
+ Şahinkaya Canyon 20 km (30 min)
TOTAL = 100 km (2 hours)
Amasya to Samsun: 126 km (2 hours)
If you decide to visit Vezirkopru, you can stay overnight. We booked Tarihi Taşhan Otel & Restoran and were pleased with the comfortable and spacious room. It’s also located in an old caravansary and has street parking right outside of the hotel 🙂
After settling in, take the car and drive to Şahinkaya Kanyonu. There will be a large parking lot, and a little bit below there’s a pier where the tour boats are parked. The tour takes about 1 hour and costs 80 TL per adult.
(Optional) SAMSUN: 1 Day
Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the trip! 🎉
You have two options when driving to Samsun: you can either drop off the rental car and go straight to the airport (if your flight is soon), or drop off your car and head into the city for one day (i.e. fly out the next day).
Some places to visit in Samsun include Atatürk Park, taking a stroll along the waterfront, going to the Bandırma Ferry museum, seeing the Clock Tower, and taking the cable car to Amisos Hill.
Where to Stay in Samsun
Osmanlı Paşa Otel- Konaklama
The Hotel: Located within walking distance to the center, Osmanlı Paşa Otel has very comfortable and clean rooms and a very friendly owner — we spent our last evening drinking tea and chatting with him about Samsun’s nature and tourist attractions. 🙂
If the hotel has no availability, be sure to email him — he has another hotel nearby.
Phew, that’s it!! Congratulations, you’ve just taken the trip of a lifetime around Turkey’s Black Sea!! We hope this guide was helpful in planning your trip. 🙂
PHOTO CREDITS: Horma Canyon by Cems77 | Sahinkaya Canyon by Assyrtiko