district and town in Karabük Province, Turkey

Safranbolu is a town in the Western Karadeniz region of Turkey, about 200 km north of Ankara and 100 km south of the Black Sea coast, with a population in 2022 of 52,999. Its well-preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



This town is on a trade route to the Black Sea, and takes its name from the saffron grown locally. 18th / 19th century merchants, a quarter of them ethnic Greeks, prospered from trade and built mansions. The most successful had two: their winter residence was in Çarşı, down in a gully sheltered from the mountain winds. Their summer homes were further north among the vineyards (Bağlar) on the slopes. A new district of Kıranköy or Yenişehir appeared on the ridge to the west in the 20th century.

Meanwhile all over Turkey, historic neighbourhoods were being demolished by developers or wrecked by earthquakes. Safranbolu was among the first townships to appreciate the heritage value and tourist income to be gained from its old town, and took care to protect it. It also rebuffed urban sprawl from the ugly steel town of Karabük 10 km west. It's therefore one of the best preserved Ottoman-style towns in the country, yet is very accessible from the major cities.

Get in


By road from Ankara is 220 km. Follow E89 north onto E80, turn east then north on D755 via Karabük. Summer weekends you'll be in a stream of city dwellers' vehicles heading the same way.

Buses from Istanbul run hourly and take about 7 hours via Gebze, Adapazarı, Duzce, Bolu, Gerede and Karabük, for a fare in 2024 of 450 TL. Buses from Ankara run every couple of hours and take 2 hours 45 min. The main bus lines are Safran, Metro Turizm and Flixbus (formerly Kamil Koç). Frequent local buses and dolmuşes ply between Karabük and Safranbolu.

1 Safranbolu Otogarı the bus station is on Adnan Menderes Blv one km south of town centre and 2 km from the old quarter. The onward dolmuş ride may be included in your bus ticket, enquire when booking.

The nearest railway station is in Karabük, 10-15 km southwest. For years this was cut off from the national network but in 2024 the line has partly reopened: four regional trains run daily along the northern section between Karabük and Zonguldak on the coast, taking 3 hours. On the southern section from Ankara, Karaelmas Express is a weekly "Tourist Train" which makes a long stop at Karabük for sight-seeing in Safranbolu then continues to Zonguldak, but there's no word on when regular trains might re-start.

Get around


Dolmuses shuttle the 2 km between the old town, new town centre and bus station. You need wheels to reach outlying sights such as the cave or aqueduct; these are within range of a taxi.

Çarşı is the charming old town, full of Ottoman merchants' villas in various stages of restoration.
  • 1 Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) was built as a Greek Orthodox church around 1660, and converted to a mosque in 1956.
  • 2 Cinci Han was the principal caravanserai, built in 1645. In the 21st century it was converted into a hotel, but this venture has flopped. So you may or may not find it open to look around, for the price of a cup of tea in the courtyard.
  • Koprulu Mehmet Paşa Mosque next to Cinci Han was built in 1661 AD.
  • Hamamönü Sokak is the scenic street north of Cinci Han, lined with old buildings and named for its historic hamam.
  • 3 Eski Çarşı is the atmospheric old bazaar that gives its name to Çarşı district. It's accessible 24 hours.
  • İzzet Paşa Mosque west side of Eski Çarşı was built in 1796. It's a smaller replica of Nuruosmaniye Mosque in Istanbul, commissioned by İzzet Mehmet (1743-1812), the local boy who rose to be Grand Vizier 1794-98. Then he was exiled, and his tomb is in Manisa.
  • City History Museum is in an old mansion at Kale Altı Sk 19, open Tu-Su 09:00-17:30.
  • 4 Kaymakamlar Gezi Evi, Hıdırlık Sk 6. Daily 09:00-17:30. Mansion converted into an ethnography museum.
  • Hıdırlık Tepesi is a viewpoint on the hill at the top of Hıdırlık Sk. The octagonal tomb is that of district governor Hasan Paşa (d 1845).
  • Bağlar (literally "vineyards") is a suburb 2 km north of Old Town, centred on Köyiçi Sk. It's where prosperous Ottoman families had their summer homes, and some have been turned into hotels such as Safir Konak (see Sleep). It later became a "dormitory area" for Karabük so there are many modern buildings, and it's not as scenic as Çarşı.

Further out

İncekaya Aqueduct
  • 5 Bulak Mencilis Cave. Daily 09:00-17:00. Large karstic cave, you explore about 400 m. From the parking lot to the entrance involves many steps up a boardwalk. Adult 100 TL.
  • 6 İncekaya Aqueduct spans Tokatlı Canyon. Commissioned in the 1790s by Izzet Mehmet Paşa, it has one main arch and five auxiliary, 116 m long. Park free in the municipal lot, no need to pay for the glass viewing deck.
  • 7 Taş Teras ("stone terrace") is a dramatic viewpoint above Sırçalı Canyon, a slab of rock projecting over the precipice. Reach it by the dirt road above Düzce village 13 km northeast of town, park and walk on as soon as this becomes too bad to drive. Camping is permitted.
  • 8 Yörük is a historic village 15 km east off D030, a miniature and much less touristy version of Safranbolu.
  • Turkish baths: Cinci Hamam is 50 m north of Cinci Han and was built at the same time. It's still in use.
  • Hike down Tokatlı Canyon from İncekaya Aqueduct towards town. You don't want to hike back up, so organise a ride at both ends.
  • Football: sorry! Kardemir Karabükspor played soccer in Süper Lig until 2017 but have been in financial and sporting freefall ever since. If Turkish soccer had a 23rd tier they'd be in the 28th, and if you go along to watch, there's a risk they'll drag you onto the pitch to make up a team.
Streets of Old Town
  • Lots of little supermarkets in New Town, Şok and BIM are the main chains.
  • Gift shops line the alleys of Old Town.
  • New town junction of Adnan Menderes, Kaya Erdem and Sadri Artunç Cd has a cluster, including Hacı Erol 1967, Urfa Sofrası, Çeşn-i Mekan, Hanzade and Köfteci İBO.
  • Safrantat, Kaya Erdem Cd 37, +90 370 725 1044. Daily 08:00-23:00. Patisserie at the new town junction, selling lokum and all the trad Turkish desserts. If you buy a gift box, keep an eye on how much is going into it - some customers get a lot of box and not much lokum.
  • Çarşı old town places are Kadıoğlu Şehzade Sofrası, Hanim Sultan, Topçuoğlu, Eyvan Yöre Mutfağı, Zencefil Yöresel Lezzetler, Taşev and Tuzcuhan.


  • Cafes and restaurants serve alcohol.
  • Wine is produced in the hills around town.


Cinci Han
  • 1 Zalifre Hotel, Araphacı Sk 77, +90 370 725 4718. Smart downtown hotel. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • 2 Saffronia 1900, Kaya Erdem Cd 19, +90 370 415 1900. Welcoming, clean and comfy. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • 3 Havuzlu Asmazlar Konağı, Beybağı Sk 18, +90 370 712 1444. Charming old mansion, havuzlu means the pool in its centre. B&B double 3000 TL.
  • 4 Gulevi Safranbolu, Hükümet Sk 46, +90 530 243 0045. Delightful place in a knock-through of three 18th century mansions. No air-con, pet-friendly. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • 5 Baglar Saray Otel, Sadri Artunç Cd 102, +90 370 725 5078. Modern hotel done in retro style. B&B double 3000 TL.
  • 6 Safir Konak, Sadi Yaver Ataman Meydanı 1, +90 501 267 2347. Trad konak showing its age. The restaurant often has live music and noisy parties. B&B double 2500 TL.



Safranbolu, Karabük and their approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of March 2024, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next

  • Amasra to the north is another historic town, with the added bonus of nice beaches and plenty of sea views.
  • Kastamonu to the east has a larger old town than Safranbolu, though not as well preserved.

Routes through Safranbolu
Ends at   (N / S)  W   E  KastamonuAmasya

This city travel guide to Safranbolu is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.