Erzurum is a city in Eastern Anatolia, and is the hub for visiting eastern Turkey.

Understand edit

Erzurum is the highest major city (population: 767,848 according to 2019 census) in Turkey, situated at an altitude of about 2000 metres above sea level. Combined with its relative distance to the sea, this makes the climate of the area one of the harshest in Turkey. Its hemiboreal climate, featuring temperatures of around -20°C during the long winter nights (and often no warmer than -10°C during winter days), rainy summers around 25°C in the day time and chilly at night, is likely the city's largest touristic obstacle.

The city hosted the international 2011 Winter Universiade (“university olympic games”) [1].

Get in edit

By train edit

The Doğu Express runs daily from Ankara to Erzurum, departing at 18:00 and arriving 20 hours later around 14:00. This train continues to Kars, taking another 4 hours. The return train leaves Kars around 08:00 and Erzurum around noon. There are couchettes and a buffet. The main stops along the route are Kayseri, Sivas, and Erzincan, for details and reservations see Turkish Railways[dead link] website.

There's also a "tourist" version of this train, running daily year-round. It makes long stops for sightseeing eastbound at İliç (for Kemaliye), Erzincan and Erzurum; the westbound train calls at Erzurum around 02:00 then makes long stops at Divriği and Bostankaya. You're tied to the train schedule without flexibility of stopover. The accommodation is in standard sleeping cars, which have been purloined from the conventional train, so the travel experience on that has been degraded.

A high-speed railway line is under construction from Ankara towards Erzurum and Kars. This greatly reduced journey times when the first section to Sivas opened.

  • 1 Erzurum railway station (Erzurum Garı) (At the northern end of city centre).

By plane edit

2 [dead link] Erzurum Airport (ERZ IATA) (10 km from city center). Daily flights from Istanbul (by Onur Air, Turkish Airlines, and Pegasus) and direct flights from Izmir, Ankara, and Antalya. In winter, there are also flights from Russia and Ukraine.    

By bus edit

Most bus services use Erzurum Otogar, which is about 10 km away from the city centre. Take a local bus or taxi to the centre.

As of 2022, buses from Trabzon in the north, on the Black Sea coast, take around 4½ and cost 180-200 TL, while buses from Diyarbakır in the south take a little more than 6 hours and have the standard fare of 230 TL.

Get around edit

Map of Erzurum

Erzurum is a pretty small city, and you can cover most of it by foot, unless you are thinking of heading out and around the city, in which case, most public buses and taxis will be able to get you there.

See edit

Seljuk-built Twin Minarets Madrasah—the iconic building of the city—in the morning
  • 1 Twin Minaret Madrasa (Çifte Minareli Medrese). Built as a theological school a few years before 1265, it takes its name from the two fluted minarets that crown the monumental façade.    
  • 2 Yakutiye Medrasa, Lalapaşa, +90 442 235 1964. Built in 1310, this Madrasa (religious college) has fine stonework and is now an ethnography museum. Adult 20 TL.    
  • 3 Citadel of Erzurum (Erzurum Kalesi). Situated on the top of the hill in the middle of the city centre. The 3 TL admission fee allows you to explore the grounds as well as to climb up the minaret/clock tower, and visit the citadel masjid. It's worth the effort to climb up the clock tower as it gives you a commanding view of the city and the surrounding mountains.  
  • 4 Erzurum Grand Mosque (Erzurum Ulu Cami).    
  • 5 Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (Lala Mustafa Paşa Camii).  

Do edit

  • In summer you can hike up to the top of Palandöken (3,150 m above sea level) for fantastic views. There is a road (first paved up to some of the hotels, then a dirt road) up to the very top, but it is possible to take shortcuts when hiking. There are no marked trails, but the directions are clearly visible. It is good to start early to allow time to enjoy the views.

Buy edit

  • Oltutaşı (Oltu stone in Turkish) — This is a kind of jet which is extracted only in Oltu, a town near Erzurum. It is mostly chipped into jewelry, with different levels of quality and correspondingly different levels of prices. Look around in Erzurum. Taşhan is the best place to shop for Oltutaşı and it is also an interesting traditional building.
  • Silver — In jewelry shops in the center or on Taşmağazalar street, fancy authentic silver jewelry can be found.

Eat edit

Stockbreeding is widespread in the region, and there is little chance to cultivate vegetables and fruits in this high and cold land. Therefore traditional food is mainly dependent on meat.

The city is also known for different types of local cheese that is hard to find elsewhere in Turkey.

Kadayıf dolması — A must-taste local dessert of Erzurum cuisine. It is made from kadayıf, a sweet pastry that is lots of thin fibres of flour put together. Walnuts are stuffed in the kadayıf and the stuffed kadayıf is first fried, then cooled and finally ready to serve with addition of a sweet sauce. It may be sampled in virtually every restaurant in Erzurum, but some of the best can be tried in a specialist restaurant, Muammer Usta

Döner — Typical Turkish döner is really made well and should be tasted in Hacı Baba Restaurant (10AM-10PM) İsmetpaşa Cad. No : 15, +90 442 234 40 33.

Cağ kebap — local kebab of Erzurum, that you can have in Gelgor Restaurant. It is made with lamb meat and the preparation is like döner, but unlike döner, instead of a vertical axis, the meat is cooked on a horizontal axis.

Güzelyurt Restaurant — A very nice old restaurant right in the city center on Cumhuriyet Caddesi. You can have a good Turkish meal with some Turkish raki and enjoy the atmosphere. [2]

Hmmburger — A very tiny small hamburger place. Hamburgers are really delicious.

Coffeebox — A local coffeeshop, with various pasta options and nice coffees.

Drink edit

Sleep edit

  • Renaissance Polat Hotel. Four stars hotel. 220 rooms. TV satellite. +90 442 232 00 10
  • Yeni Cinar Hotel (close to Istasyon Caddesi). Clean, small rooms with enough light. Staff doesn't speak English but is helpful. Close to the city center. 30 TL per night for a single room (huge, double bed) in May 2010. 50 TL for a double ensuite (September 2013)€.
  • Arı Otel (close to Yeni Çınar Hotel). Rooms have shower inside but the toilets are shared out on the corridor. Friendly and helpful staff but they can't speak English. single room with ensuite toilet and shower for 50 TL (May 2017). No breakfast..

Connect edit

There is 4G in Erzurum from all Turkish carriers. There's a mobile signal along the main east-west highway through the district but lots of dead spots. 5G has not yet reached this area.

Go next edit

  • Doğubayazıt, Kars, Sarıkamış, Van, and Iran are nearby and further eastward destinations. Buses run by Star Ağrı Doğubayazıt heading for Doğubayazıt (170 TL, 2022, 4 hrs) depart daily at 12:00, 15:00 and 17:00 on weekdays, and at 12:00 and 15:00 weekends.
  • Hopa on the border with Georgia is around 5 hours away by bus. A Yeşil Artvin bus leaves from outside the Yeşil Artvin offices next to the Yeşil Artvin Otel three times a day, there is no need to travel to the Otogar outside of the city to catch the bus. The journey takes around 5 hours and costs 190 TL (2022). It is possible to book the bus online but turn up early to collect your actual ticket from the bus company office. The journey is a beautiful one, descending from around 2000 m to sea level through different landscapes.
  • For more Seljuk-era architecture, head west to Divriği with its UNESCO World Heritage listed Great Mosque. A daily train from Erzurum call at the town's station.
  • Trabzon, to the north of the Pontic Mountains is the main sea- and airport in eastern Turkey.
Routes through Erzurum
AmasyaErzincan  W   E  → Horasan (    N) → Doğubayazıt
TrabzonTorul  N   S  Ends at  
Ends at   (W   E) ← Artvin ←  N   S  → Bingöl (    W / E) → DiyarbakırMardin
AnkaraErzincan  W   E  KarsEND

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