Kayseri is a city in Central Anatolia, 350 km southeast of Ankara. In 2021 the population was 1.2 million. Kayseri is a sprawling industrial city, with a mixture of trades such as furniture, and has a university. It governs Kayseri Province, which borders the very touristy Cappadocia, so many visitors pass through but don't linger.
"Kayseri" refers to Caesar Augustus (Octavian, 63 BCE-14 AD, the first Roman Emperor), and similar names were given to several towns across his growing empire. It had previously been called Mazaka (Մաժաք in Armenian) and sat on a ridge outcrop of Mount Argaeus, the volcano now known as Erciyes. The town was astride the trade routes east-west and north-south, and along these also came a succession of conquering armies. The Seljuks only held it from 1178 to 1243 but left the greatest legacy, in the citadel and several mosque-medrese complexes. The later Ottomans kept these in good repair, so they are the principal tourist sights in Kayseri.
Get in edit
By plane edit
1 Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR IATA), Mustafa Kemal Paşa Blv, ☏ . Flights from Istanbul take 80 min: Turkish Airlines fly every two hours from IST and twice a day from SAW, and Pegasus have four flights daily from SAW. Sun Express fly several days a week from Adana, Antalya, Gaziantep and Izmir. Flights from Europe usually involve a change in Istanbul. The airport is 5 km north of city centre and is the main landing point for tours of Cappadocia, with direct transfers - a board outside Arrivals lists official rates for various destinations. Buses run downtown every 30 min, routes 101 and 271.
By train edit
Trains run three times a day from Ankara to Kayseri, taking 7 hours. There are couchettes but no sleeping car; some trains have a buffet but never rely on it. They continue east to Sivas (another 4 hours) then diverge:
- via Malatya and Elazig to Tatvan (the Vangölü Express), with dolmus connections to Van, for the train to Tabriz and Tehran.
- via Malatya to Diyarbakir and Kurtalan (the Guney Kurtalan Express);
- via Erzurum to Kars (the Dogu Express)
The single fare from Ankara in 2022 is 87 TL. For timetables and online tickets see the Turkish railways website[dead link].
From Adana Erciyes Ekspresi runs once a day, taking six hours to Kayseri.
2 Kayseri Garı the railway station is central on Kocasinan Blvd.
A high speed railway from Ankara is under construction, supposedly for completion by 2026, though this date seems optimistic. The new line and railway station are 10 km north of the city, further out than the airport. The Ankara-Sivas high-speed line opened in 2023 but takes a new route far from Kayseri.
By bus edit
Buses from Ankara run hourly round the clock and take 5 hours, for a single fare in 2022 of 120 TL. Many of them start in Istanbul, a 11 hour journey for 400 TL. They may continue to Gaziantep (6 hours), Adana (5 hours) or Malatya (5½ hours).
3 Kayseri bus terminal (Kayseri Şehir Terminali), Osman Kavuncu Blv. It is 6 km northwest of town centre, a modern building but cold in winter. There's toilets (coins needed), an Internet café, left-luggage storage, cafes, hairdresser, ATMs and some overpriced shops - there's better value and choice in the shopping centre 200 m west. To get downtown use the tram from the adjacent stop. Fares (8.50 TL as of May 2023) can be paid by a debit or credit card. Taxis wait on the east side of the terminal.
Whenever the high speed railway arrives, the bus terminal will relocate north near to the new railway station.
By road edit
From Ankara follow O-21 motorway onto D300, reckon 3 hours. D300 continues from Kayseri to Malatya and the far east of Turkey. From Adana follow O-21 onto D805.
Get around edit
A network of trams and buses are operated by the municipality. Timetables can be found on their website.
Tram T1 runs from İldem (northeast) along the central spine of Sivas Boulevard to Organize Industrial Zone (west).
Tram T2 runs from Talas (southeast) onto Sivas Boulevard then turns west as far as Cumhuriyet Meydanı (Republic Square).
Tram T3 follows the T1 route west of the centre, and heads north to the present bus terminal and Nuh Naci Yazgan University, then east to the new bus station and YHT railway station (both under construction). A further extension to the airport is probably years away.
Tickets for trams and buses must be bought beforehand from kiosks. Kart38 is a travel smart card with a reduction on standard fares.
- The clocktower stands at the main city crossroads at the north foot of the castle.
- 1 Kayseri Castle, Nami Toker Cd 2. 24 hours. It was first documented circa 240 AD and extended and repaired ever since, since invading armies kept attacking. What you see now is only the 15th century citadel, the inner bastion of an extensive fortified city. Free.
- Archaeology Museum (within castle). Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. It has moved into the citadel from its previous site just south. The small but impressive display majors on Neolithic and Hittite culture. Adult 20 TL.
- Castle walls of stout basalt line Park Blv north of the castle, Seyyid Burhanettin Blv east, and İnönü Blv south. You can't walk on them, but they indicate the former extent of the castle.
- Ulu Camii the Great Mosque is by the bazaar 200 m southwest of the castle. It's 13th century.
- Hunat Hatun Complex just east of the castle is a 13th century mosque, tomb, medrese and hamam, well preserved and still in use. It was commissioned by Hunat Mahperi Hatun, wife of the Seljuk Sultan Kayqubad I. He'd defeated her father at Alanya, but the peace deal was that he married Hatun, who converted to Islam.
- Tomb of Zeynel Abidin is at the north edge of that complex on Sivas Blv. It was built in 1886 over Abidin's modest original 15th century grave.
- 2 St Gregory the Illuminator Church (Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Ermeni Kilisesi), Necip Fazıl Blv. Closed. Half the population of Kayseri were Armenian Christians, until driven out by pogroms and massacres in the early 20th century. This Armenian Church was founded in 1191; the present building is 19th century and has been still in use for services, but visitors in 2022 found it locked and guarded by a hostile watchman.
- Virgin Mary Church (Meryem Ana Kilisesi) is across the street west from St Gregory. It was built some time in the 19th century and has variously been a city storage depot, police station, mosque and sports centre. It's now a library and you can look in for free.
- Ethnographic Museum, Mevlevi Cd 38 (200 m south of castle). Tu-Su 08:30-17:30. Exhibition of town life in restored Ottoman houses.
- Atatürk House Museum opposite the Ethnographic Museum is the mansion where Atatürk stayed during his time in Kayseri. It's open Tu-Su 08:30-17:30, free.
- National Struggle Museum (Milli Mücadele Müzesi), İnönü Blv 72 (200 m south of castle). Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. The Turks regrouped east of Ankara as the Greeks advanced in the war of 1920-22. This museum in a former school depicts local events in what became the War of Independence.
- 3 Seyid Burhanetdin Mezarligi is a large cemetery with many historic tombs and monuments, such as the pepperpot Doner tower.
- Çifte Medrese ("Twin Seminaries") are two adjoining 12th century religious complexes facing the castle, north side across Park Blv. They're named for Sultan Gıyasettin and his sister Gevher Nesibe. The latter medrese was a hospital, and contains her tomb. Kurşunlu Mosque was built in 1573 by Mimar Sinan.
- Seljuk Civilisation Museum, Tekin Sk 13 (300 m north of castle), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Museum of the Seljuk era, interactive and suitable for children. Adult 4 TL.
- Football: Kayserispor play soccer in Süper Lig, Turkey's top tier. Their home ground is Kadir Has Stadium, sponsored as RHG Enertürk Enerji Stadium (capacity 32,800) 3 km northwest of town centre. The town's other team Kayseri Erciyesspor had a spell in Süper Lig but folded in 2018.
- Şirin Aquapark is 5 km east of town on D300. It has cold dirty water and they only open a few of the slides.
- Mount Erciyes is 15 km south of town, a volcano of 3917 m. It's dormant not extinct, and probably hasn't erupted for several thousand years. The mountain resort area is a further 10 km south and in winter has skiing. There is insufficient lift capacity for the crowds so there are long lines for short ski runs and for every other facility. In summer you can use the lifts to access mountain trails, but the approach to the summit is only for experienced mountaineers.
- Bazaar: Kayseri Kapalı Çarşı is southwest side of the castle. It's worth exploring even if you're not shopping.
- Supermarkets are mostly east in the residential areas flanking Sivas Blv.
- Handwoven carpets are the major touristic merchandise in Kayseri, but they can be expensive especially if they're silk.
- Meat specialties such as pastirma need to be eaten up before you head home, as most other countries prohibit casual meat imports.
- Pastırma is a local specialty: dried, salted beef covered with çemen, a caraway paste. It's served as a spicy starter, as a component of main dishes, or as stuffing for börek.
- Elmacıoğlu İskender Kebap, Millet Cd 5 (southeast foot of castle), ☏ . Daily 08:30-22:00. This place specialises in İskender kebap: slices of döner kebab meat topped with hot tomato sauce over pita bread and slathered with melted sheep's milk butter and yogurt. It's named for its 19th century inventor İskender Efendi of Bursa, not for the city of İskenderun.
- Kaşık-La, Osman Kavuncu Blv 370 (200 m west of bus station), ☏ . Daily 10:00-21:00. It is 6 km from the centre but close to the bus station and Ommer Hotel. Here the specialty is Mantısı: minced meat wrapped in strips of dough and boiled, then served with a sauce and yoghurt. This is trad Kayseri home food and seldom served in restaurants. The place gets very mixed reviews.
- Bolulu Hasan Usta[dead link] is a chain of coffee and dessert cafes. They have three outlets in town: on Istasyon Cd towards the railway station, on Ahmet Paşa Cd northeast of the castle, and within Hunat Çarşısı department store off Sivas Blv.
- Gilaburu is the local name for Viburnum opulus, known in English as guelder-rose and in Slav countries as kalina. It's a shrub with clusters of small, intensely red fruit. The juice is acidic and works as a palate-cleanser, but is mildly toxic - larger draughts cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Since it's more like "nasty medicine" than a cocktail, all sorts of improbable health benefits have been claimed for Gilaburu.
- Bars around the historic centre are JJ within Wyndham Grand Hotel, Rafineri, Karman, Class Bar and City Pub.
- Kocasinan Blv has a budget to mid-price strip of hotels just outside the railway station. West to east these are Konak Kayseri[dead link] (pretty basic), Imamoglu Pasa Hotel[dead link], My Liva, Lifos Otel, Newway, Nuzhet, and Novotel and Ibis (below).
- 1 Novotel Kayseri, Kocasinan Blv 161, ☏ . Smart business hotel near the railway station, part of Accor chain. B&B double 900 TL.
- Ibis Kayseri is next to Novotel and run by the same chain, slightly cheaper.
- 2 Bent Hotel, Atatürk Blv 40, ☏ . Clean reliable place near town centre. B&B double 800 TL.
- KLAS Atalay[dead link] 200 m south of Bent Hotel is a basic place, occasionally clean.
- Büyük Hotel, İnönü Blv 55 (200 m west of museum), ☏ . Great value choice for town sights. B&B double 800 TL.
- 3 Setenonu 1892 Hotel, Setenönü Cd, ☏ . Converted Ottoman mansion near the main sights. B&B double 900 TL.
- Ommer Hotel, Osman Kavuncu Blv 425 (opposite bus station), ☏ . Big modern place next to the bus terminal, overheated in winter, pricey for what you get. B&B double 1500 TL.
- Wyndham Grand, Tekin Sk 2 (next to Twin Medrese facing castle), ☏ . It's certainly big enough, a stonking-great modern hotel dominating the view north of the castle. Reasonable reviews for comfort and service. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 4 Radisson Blu, Sivas Cd 24, ☏ . Slick modern hotel, probably your comfiest choice in town. B&B double 1500 TL.
Kayseri and its surrounding highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Nov 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next edit
- Cappadocia west is a fantastical moonscape, with Göreme its main town.
- Ankara northwest is the sprawling modern capital, but with many sights clustered round its ancient core.
- Sivas is on the route to the far northeast of Turkey, and like Kayseri is modern but with a collection of historic buildings.
|Routes through Kayseri|
|Konya ← Nevşehir ← Junction (S) ←||W E||→ Darende → Malatya|
|Ankara ← Hacıbektaş ←||W E||→ Sivas → Elazığ|
|END ← Ankara ←||W E||→ Sivas → Kars|