While still very much under the radar, a trip to Sinop (Turkey) should definitely be part of your Black Sea itinerary.
This city is a wonderful mix of rugged landscapes that are ubiquitous to the Black Sea, a unique cuisine full of hearty dishes and comfort food, a small-town atmosphere with a big heart, and the place where you’ll find the happiest locals in Turkey (seriously!)
If you’re planning a trip to this charming city, be sure to take our Sinop city guide along! This Sinop travel guide includes everything you need to know, including transportation, accommodations in Sinop, what to see and do, and much more.
SINOP: The Basics
Why visit Sinop? What is Sinop known for?
There are many reasons to travel to Sinop, including its hearty Black Sea cuisine, Greek influences, being surrounded by natural beauty, and a history that goes back more than 2,500 years. Oh, and did we mention it won the title of ‘Happiest City in Turkey’ for a few years in a row?
😊 Happiest City in Turkey: According to TURKSTAT (the Turkish Institute of Statistics), the city with the highest level of happiness was Sinop. The city’s life satisfaction rate was 77%, and with delicious food, stunning nature, and a laidback atmosphere, it’s no surprise why. 🙂
🍴 Delicious Cuisine: From meaty dumplings covered in garlic yogurt and walnuts (Sinop manti) to fresh-out-of-the-oven puff pastry (nokul), corn soup, and a famous local dessert called Princess cake, Sinop’s local dishes are a welcoming breath of fresh air from traditional Turkish food.
🏛️ An Interesting History: Sinop’s history goes back more than 2,500 years, and was settled by the Colchians, Greeks, Romans, and Turks. Interestingly, Sinop also has its roots in Greek mythology, as it was named after the Greek goddess Sinope. The city is famous for being the birthplace of Greek philosopher Diogenes (one of the founders of Cynicism), and a statue in his honor can be found near the center.
🌊 Sun, Sand, and Sea! Sinop is playfully called the ‘Bodrum of the Black Sea’ by locals thanks to its 175 kilometer coastline. While that’s quite a long coastline, you don’t need to go far to enjoy the beaches in Sinop — there are plenty along the outer peninsula! Best of all, these beaches are within a short drive from Sinop’s city center.
How many days do you need in Sinop?
If you’re on a short timeframe, then one day is enough to get a good feel for Sinop and visit the main tourist sites. If you prefer to take it slow, then we recommend at least two days to take in the atmosphere of Sinop, add a few museums to your itinerary, and maybe even go on a day trip to a nearby beach in the region.
Of course, if you’re visiting during the summer, you could easily spend a few days relaxing on one of the many beaches around the peninsula!
Sinop Regional Specialties
Sinop Manti (above)— Sinop has its own spin on the manti — called Sinop manti! — which consists of meaty dumplings (mantı) topped with garlic yogurt, chopped walnuts, and a dash of pepper flakes. While it’s especially excellent for long winter days, Sinop manti is sold all year ‘round!
We found that the best place to try Sinop manti is at Teyze’nin Yeri Mantı Salonu, which is famous for this dish. 🙂
Nokul — If Sinop manti is a famous main course, then nokul is a popular snack! These circular-shaped puff pastries are usually stuffed with meat, cheese, or nuts and served whole or cut into pieces. Nokul can be found in most bakeries and makes for an excellent snack break between visiting tourist attractions.
Princess Cake — A product of Şen Pastanesi, the princess cake has been a staple in Sinop cuisine for more than 55 years. The dessert is made by placing light cream between two cookie-like wafers, covering it with chocolate, and sprinkling the result with peanuts.
The Sinop province is rich with handicrafts, and uses materials like wood, steel, linen, and more.
Wooden boats (kotracılık) — What seems like an innocent souvenir has quite an interesting story: once upon a time in 1950, two bored inmates at the Sinop Prison decided to take up a hobby and carved a few wood ships. Popularity of this handicraft grew, and after they were released, the two men started to teach their craft to locals. Nowadays, you can find wooden boats of all colors and sizes in shops along Sinop’s waterfront.
Steel knives — Although it started as a hobby in the late 1800s by one local grandpa, the art of steel knifemaking has continued down for four generations in two Sinop families. Steel knives are a popular souvenir from Sinop, but be careful if you only have carry-on luggage!
Hand-stitched linen — Known locally as Mahrama, a long piece of linen is hand-stitched with colorful motifs and shapes. You can also find Peşkir, which are similar to mahrama but used as a face or hand towel.
How to get to Sinop
By Airplane — There are direct flights from Istanbul International Airport (IST) to Sinop Airport (NOP). The flight is a little over 1 hour in duration, and there are daily departures in the morning and afternoon.
From Sinop airport, it takes about 15 minutes (7.5 km) to get to the city center by taxi. You can also take the airport bus, which is serviced by Metro Turizm. Click here for information about the airport shuttle, including price, stops, and more.
By Bus — There are dozens of bus routes to and from Sinop, including cities in the Black Sea region (Samsun, Bartin, Kastamonu, Safranbolu, among others), as well as Ankara, Istanbul, Eskisehir, and more. For hardcore adventurers, there are even direct buses to Antalya, Mersin, Bodrum, Izmir, Canakkale, and many others!
By Car — Sinop is an excellent stop as part of a Black Sea Road Trip itinerary — in fact, our first visit to Sinop was by car. 🙂
Getting Around Sinop
Sinop is an extremely walkable city, and you won’t have any problem getting around. Most of the tourist attractions in Sinop are within a 1-kilometer radius from the center and are easily accessible.
The only instances where you might need to use a taxi is to go to/from the airport (if not renting a car), or to explore the Sinop peninsula and its beaches. There are a handful of taxi stands near the city center, especially near the main square (Uğur Mumcu Meydanı).
What to Do in Sinop
Here are some of the best places to visit in Sinop:
Go to the top of Sinop Fortress
Sinop has a very strategic location, as it’s located on a peninsula that juts into the Black Sea — with excellent views in case any invaders decided to attack. Sinop Fortress was built exactly for this reason in the 7th century (BC) in order to protect the city.
The walls of the original fortress / castle are well-preserved and stretch out 2,050 meters in length and 25 meters in height. You can visit the top of the fortress for free, and there’s a small cafe at the top.
Explore Sinop Prison
Nicknamed the ‘Alcatraz of Anatolia,’ many famous politicians and writers were imprisoned in this historical prison. Originally built in 1887 as a castle, the bastions were turned into a dungeon, and eventually the entire building was turned into a prison. The building has 28 wards and could hold up to 50 people, although it closed down in 1999 and was opened as a museum a year later. At the moment, Sinop Prison is under construction, although it is expected to open in the next year or so. This museum is free for holders of a valid Türkiye Museum Pass.
See the Statue of Diogenes
As mentioned in the introduction, Diogenes was one of the most famous residents of Sinop — so much that he even got a statue! Diogenes was a Greek philosopher known for his unconventional lifestyle, as he famously rejected social norms and chose to live in poverty.
The statue is located at the entrance of the city and depicts Diogenes holding a lantern and standing next to his dog, which is a tribute to the story of him looking for an honest man. Right across the statue is the Sinop Prison. 🙂
Get to Know Sinop’s History at the Arslan Torun Mansion and Ethnography Museum
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live during the 19th century in Turkey, here’s your chance. 🙂
The Arslan Torun Mansion, which spans two floors and a basement, also doubles as Sinop’s Ethnography Museum. The wooden mansion is beautifully decorated in colorful designs, arched doorways, and original motifs, along with antique furniture and figured dressed in traditional clothing. Most of the signs are in Turkish and English. This museum is free for holders of a valid Türkiye Museum Pass.
Explore the Pervane Medrese
Located in the heart of the city, Pervane is a beautifully-preserved madrasa (theological school) that’s part of the Alaaddin Mosque. The original structure was built in the 13th century by the Seljuks and is an excellent example of that period’s architecture — look out for the intricate stone carvings and geometric patterns while strolling in the courtyard.
Nowadays, the Pervane Medrese serves as a tourist complex, with small cafes, souvenir stops, and restaurants. If you’re looking for traditional handicrafts, this is an excellent place to buy souvenirs like woven textiles.
Enjoy the Beaches of Sinop
Sinop has dozens of beaches around its 175-kilometer coastline. If you prefer something close to the center, Karakum Beach is a fantastic choice — it’s only a 10-minute drive from the city center and has soft black sand.
If you have a car, then we also recommend visiting Akliman Beach (12 km from center), Sarıkum Beach (28 km), or Büyük Gerze Beach (37 km).
See the Pasha Bastion
Located on the outer peninsula of Sinop, this bastion (Paşa Tabyası) was constructed in the 19th century to protect the port during the Crimean War. The bastion is in the shape of a half-moon and consists of 11 cannon beds, arsenals, and cellars.
Where to Stay in Sinop
When looking at hotels in Sinop, you really can’t go wrong with Otel 57. The hotel is well-appointed, in an excellent location, and aptly-named (57 is Sinop’s province code! 😉).
Having undergone a recent renovation, the rooms are very comfortable and come with a spacious balcony. Our favorite part was the minimalist boho-style design, especially the calming pastel blue and beige aesthetic. Other bonuses include a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning, and the location — Otel 57 is steps away from the Sinop Castle and waterfront!
If you’re traveling to Sinop on a road trip, good news— the hotel has an agreement with a nearby parking lot, where you can park your car for free. 🙂
Sinop Mola Otel
Located along the waterfront, Sinop Mola Otel is another excellent choice. The rooms are spacious and quiet (thanks to the double-glazed windows), there’s a complimentary Turkish-style breakfast every morning, and it’s close to everything.
If you’re looking for a hotel with a view, this is definitely it — the views of the harbor are unbeatable!
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. The hotel is also eco-friendly, has an on-site restaurant, and an indoor/outdoor pool.
Vira Otel Suites
Perhaps the most luxury hotel in Sinop (it has 4 stars!), Vira Otel Suites offers jaw-dropping views of the Black Sea and a beach with cabanas.
OTHER GREAT ACCOMMODATIONS IN SINOP:
Otel 117 — A clean and spacious hotel with standard modern rooms. Located in the city center and an excellent value for your money. BOOK HERE →
Denizci Hotel — Practically next door to Otel 57, Denizci Hotel offers sea views and complimentary breakfast, plus a friendly English-speaking staff. BOOK HERE →
Dolunay Hotel — Located in the historical center, with spacious rooms and a public parking lot behind the hotel. BOOK HERE →