With its meandering canal splitting the city in two, charming traditional houses, and soft green mountains framing the background, it’s easy to imagine Amasya as a city fit for a fairytale. In fact, Amasya is a recurring favorite on lists showcasing the ‘Best Fairytale Cities’ in Turkey and Europe!
One of Turkey’s most underrated cities, Amasya is famous for many things, including its juicy apples, beautiful waterfront houses (called yaliboyu), and remnants of the Pontic Kingdom. Its laid back atmosphere reminds us of Amasra, its houses are similar to those in Safranbolu, and it has a well-preserved castle like that in Kastamonu. In short, this city has a little bit of everything — and traveling to Amasya is perfect if you want to see the ‘real’ Turkey but are short on time!
This travel guide will go over everything you need to know before you travel to Amasya, including how to get here, things to do in Amasya, foods to try, some of the best Amasya hotels and accommodations, travel tips, and much more.
AMASYA: The Basics
Why visit Amasya? What is Amasya known for?
From beautiful traditional houses to crispy apples, a fascinating history of princes and sultans, and beautiful nature, there are many reasons to visit Amasya! Here are some to get you inspired:
🏯 Amasya Houses: The city is renowned for its Yalıboyu Evleri, traditional Ottoman-era wooden houses that are built along the Yeşilırmak River. In fact, it’s even in the name — Yalıboyu means waterfront and Evler means houses. These gorgeous white-and-brown houses are an iconic feature of Amasya and definitely a must-see during your trip!
👑 The City of Princes & Intelligentsia: Amasya is often referred to as the ‘City of Princes’ due to its historical importance as a residence for Ottoman princes. Many of these princes’ houses are preserved and can be visited.
🏛️ Rock Tombs: Amasya’s cliffs are adorned with ancient rock tombs that date back to the Pontic Kingdom. These tombs are carved directly into the rock face and provide a glimpse into the region’s ancient past.
🍎 Apples! The city is famous for its production of high-quality apples. The region’s climate and soil make it ideal for apple cultivation, and the city holds an annual Apple Festival.
How many days do you need in Amasya?
You’ll definitely need at least one day to see the main sights of Amasya, although two is a better idea if you prefer a slower pace.
Amasya regional specialties
Apples — 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!
Toyga Çorba — Toyga Soup is a hearty and flavorful appetizer that’s made with strained yogurt and cracked wheat, and given its tangy flavor with a hint of mint and butter.
Amasya Çöreği — Known as the “Amasya doughnut,” this is a flaky dough stuffed with crushed poppy and walnuts.
Bakla Dolması — A traditional Amasya recipe, “stuffed broad beans” are made by taking dolma leaves and filling them with beans, lentils, and vegetables. It’s especially served during weddings and holidays in Amasya.
Now that you’ve become acquainted with Amasya’s cuisine, it’s time to try some dishes! Some of our favorite restaurants in Amasya include Amaseia Mutfagi (literally, ‘Amasya Kitchen’), which has a beautiful view of the Yeşilırmak River (go to the second floor and get a table there!), many local dishes, and a cute retro-inspired theme. 🙂
Other excellent choices include Amasya Anadolu Mantı Evi, which is famous for serving Manti from different regions (including Amasya manti!) as well as local dishes like Bakla Dolmasi and Keşkek. Both Ahmet Doğla Meşhur Amasya Çörekçisi, a cute vintage-style shop, and Çörekçi Galip sell the famous Amasya doughnuts (Amasya Çöreği).
Apples! — Again with the apples. 🙂 You’ll find plenty of souvenirs that have an apple theme, including dried apple tea, apple coffee, and even apple-scented kolonya (scented hand sanitizer).
Samovar — Locals from Amasya love tea so much that samovars have become part of the city’s cultural handicrafts. You can find samovar masters (called semaverci) in the city’s old bazaar.
Metalworking — Similarly, you can find metal and copper crafts in the Bedesten Kapalı Çarşı.
How to Get to Amasya
By Airplane — Amasya has its own dedicated airport called Amasya Merzifon Airport (code MZH). However, it only serves two flight routes: one from the ‘big’ Istanbul Airport (IST) via Turkish Airlines, and the other from the ‘smaller’ Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) via Pegasus Airlines.
Traveling to Amasya by plane is an excellent idea if you’re planning a quick weekend trip or if you’re looking for the most convenient option. The trip from Amasya Airport to Amasya city center takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour (depending on traffic) and there are shuttles that are coordinated with flight arrivals and departures. Click here for more information (please use Google Translate, as the page is in Turkish).
By Bus — Amasya is reachable from dozens of destinations, especially along the Black Sea. There are regular buses to Amasya from Samsun, Ordu, Trabzon, Rize, Kastamonu, and Safranbolu, among others. Likewise, there are also bus routes from major cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Göreme/Kayseri (Cappadocia), and Konya.
By Car — Amasya is a great destination to add to your Black Sea itinerary, as it’s very accessible by car and along the route from Ankara to many Black Sea towns.
Amasya is also one of the main destinations on our 2 Week Black Sea Road Trip Itinerary — click the link to read more and get inspired!
Otherwise, we recommend RentalCars if you’re planning to rent a car in Turkey or want to go on short day trips from Amasya.
Getting Around Amasya
Thanks to the city’s linear layout (i.e. it’s lengthy but not very wide), Amasya is very walkable. The majority of Amasya’s tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other, except for Amasya Castle. The distance from Amasya city center to Amasya Castle is about 3 km (1.85 mi) and takes about an hour to hike up. To avoid the climb, you can take a taxi to the bottom of the castle and walk up the 150 or so steps to the entrance.
Likewise, Amasya bus station is about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the city center, while Amasya airport is about 45 km (28 mi). If you’re planning to travel to Amasya airport, you can take the special airport shuttle (see above) or a taxi.
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.
Most of the traditional Amasya houses go back to the 19th century and are characterized by their two to three-story architecture, brown-and-white exteriors, and adjacency (houses built side-by-side to each other). Many houses have courtyards or gardens in the back, as well as overhanging bay windows that gave the owners extra space.
Some of these houses have also been converted into hotels — check the ‘Where to Stay in Amasya’ section and you can stay in one!
Otherwise, you can see the inside of a yaliboyu by visiting the Hazeranlar Mansion (which houses the Ethnography Museum) or the Sehzadeler Museum (with wax figures of princes from Amasya).
See the Amasya Clock Tower
While not very interactive (i.e. you can’t go inside), the Amasya Clock Tower is still a lovely sight to see during your stroll around Amasya. The Clock Tower was used as a watchtower in ancient times, but nowadays there’s a stationary store on the first floor. 🙂
Hike up to the King Rock Tombs
One of the first things that you’ll definitely notice when arriving in Amasya are the huge tombs carved into the mountainside. These are the Tombs of the Pontic Kings, which were chiseled into the limestone walls way back in 300 BC. Although there were originally 20 or so tombs, there are only five on display (i.e. those you can walk inside).
The King Rock Tombs of Amasya were originally used as burial grounds for the region’s first kings, although later on they were ‘repurposed’ into prisons. Around the 14th century, two hamams (Ottoman public baths) were added nearby.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and have a bottle of water for the hike up — it’s short but fairly strenuous!
See the City from Amasya Castle
There’s no better view of the city than from the top of Amasya Castle — in fact, you’ll see the winding river as it cuts through the city, hundreds of houses, and the rugged mountains hugging the surrounding landscapes. Don’t forget to take your camera!
Amasya Castle’s history goes back thousands of years, and it was attacked (and rebuilt) many times during the reign of the Persians, Romans, Pontus, and Byzantine Empire. However, the castle lost its military significance at the end of the 1800s.
Amasya Castle is made up of eight levels (really!) that are ‘built into’ Harşena Mountain. Even the famous Ottoman travel
blogger writer Evliya Çelebi, who visited the castle in the mid 1600s, noted the castle’s original architecture: “The castle has 41 towers with five corners. There are palaces, arsenals, storehouses, water cisterns, and waterways descending to Tozanlı Water… The castle is full of caves.”
You can hike up the 3-kilometer path, take a taxi, or drive your own car, although the winding 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.
Of special interest are the dozens of illustrated diagrams that show Sabuncuoğlu’s treatments and the herb garden (outside) where he grew plants for his holistic medicine. Entrance is 15 TL / person.
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 (with apple motifs, of course!), and even mummies. The collections are beautifully exhibited with modern placards, videos, and diagrams — and everything is translated in English. 🙂
Where to Stay in Amasya
This sweet family-run hotel made our trip to Amasya even more special because it’s a traditional yaliboyu house! Located on the ‘quieter’ side of the river (the city center is on the other side), 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 by the family’s matriarch.
Best of all, the hotel is just a 3 minute walk across the river to the city center, and there’s a souvenir bazaar a few doors down.
Sarıkonak Boutique & Spa Hotel Amasya
Absolutely luxurious! Sarikonak is one of the only hotels in Amasya with a spa and hammam. The rooms are well-appointed, with direct views of the river and city. There’s also an outdoor terrace that opens up to the river, as well as an indoor swimming pool!
Bayezid Han Konak
An absolutely beautiful traditional house that’s been lovingly restored to its former glory! Bayezid Konak is a boutique hotel in Amasya with just 18 rooms that are well-appointed, clean, and spacious.
Besides the delicious breakfast every morning, the hotel regularly hosts dinners with live music (and has a cute cat at the front desk :)).
Note: This hotel is adults only, which is something to keep in mind if you’re a family traveling with kids.
Located near the famous Amasya Clock Tower, this hotel is the perfect example of hospitality. It also has one of the best views of the river from the Suite room!
Photo Credits: Amasya Castle – Kültür Portalı | All hotel photos are from the respective hotels