I’m happy to tell you about a city that’s very different to me. Kars, one of the first cities to embrace me on the most beautiful journey of my life, amazed me when I first saw it. I also learned how the cold of the East would be, minus 17, let alone the streets, buildings, the friendliness of its people, thanks to Kars. Explaining the beauties that Kars has does not fit on the pages; you also need to go and see, but I will try to tell you the places to visit in Kars in this blog post.
As you know, Kars is one of the coldest cities in the northeast of eastern Anatolia. So (you remember from geography lessons) the winters are long and harsh, and the summers are mild. Kars, which has a continental climate, although it has steppes, is covered with pine trees along the length of Sarikamis. Kars is such a place that the sun rises from here first in Turkey and the first snow of the year falls here. How strange, isn’t it?
A Brief Information About Kars
Kars is a huge place that still bears traces of the dozens of cultures it hosts. It was home to many civilizations in its time. This host is so reflected in the city that when you explore the city, you can see traces of Ottoman, Russian and Armenian architecture one by one.
The conservatory located in this city, which gives importance to art and culture, is one of the important conservatories of Turkey. At the same time, the city also has a dense student population. It was a coincidence that I was a guest at the home of two Conservatory students with Couchsurfing in Kars. Kars has also mentioned his name quite a lot in many films and novels. Kars, which has a rich culture, also save these cultures. For example, it is possible to see the ‘tradition of lover’ that has been going on for centuries in the city. In other words, you can see a lot about art, painting, dance, as well as Ottoman, Russian, Armenian architecture
Transportation To Kars
You can use highway, airline and railway to get to Kars. Istanbul is always given as an example, which is a trademark of travel writings, and I will do so. 1535 kilometers between Istanbul and Kars. According to Google Maps, this means a driving distance of about 17 hours. So if you want to drive to Kars, you have a long way to go.
The flight distance between Istanbul and Kars is quite short. You can go from Istanbul to Kars in about two hours. From Kars, you can also find flights to provinces such as Ankara, Kayseri, Izmir, Antalya.
Journey Of The Orient Express
Another road that you can reach Kars passes through the railway. In fact, if you are going to make a tourist trip to Kars, this is the way you should definitely choose. From Ankara, you can reach the city by direct train and witness the beauty of nature on the road. In recent years, especially in winter, the photos of the Orient Express that adorn Instagram have not escaped your eyes.
If you want to go to Kars with the Orient Express, you should know that this journey will take 24 hours if you are lucky and do not encounter any delays, and you should prepare accordingly. I mean, I’m talking about getting enough food, drinks, books by choice, something to listen to or watch. Of course, if you want to take an instagram photo with led lights, tons of slippers and pajamas, it’s separate, but there’s really no need for such movements. Instead, give yourself to watching the kind of sights that you will pass through the glass, you will not regret.
Accommodation On The Eastern Express
The train has three types of journeys: pulman, couchette coach and sleeper.
- That’s the Pulman, the bed-free wagon where you spend your entire journey on the couch.
- Couchette, rooms with bunk beds on mutual double seats and can accommodate four people.
- That Sleeper is a two-seater, where the seats can be turned into beds.
If you are traveling in a couchette coach and sleeper, things such as sheets, pike, pillows are specially packaged. So you just bring your personal hygiene supplies with you. Inside the compartments are also panels that allow you to adjust the temperature. So you don’t have to worry about being cold. If you are wondering how the beds in the couchette coach are, the photo of melike reading the book below can give you an idea.
Accommodation In Kars
Although Kars is not very luxurious in the center, there are many hotels. I think the hotel that attracts the most attention among them is the Katerina Palace. Located right next to the river, the hotel has a truly enormous image.
You can click here and check Airbnb rentals around Kars. If you are looking for a uniqe place to stay or traveling with family and friends Airbnb offers quite affordable prices. If you click the link above and make a reservation, I may may earn a commission without no additional cost for you. Hope you enjoy your stay!
Places to Visit in Kars
What will add even more flavor to a beautiful journey is exploring where you are going. So go prepared for pleasant walks on your way to Kars. I’m finally starting the list of places to visit in Kars.
Kars Castle (Kars Kalesi)
Kars Castle is the first place among the places to visit in Kars with its ease of transportation and beauty. Kars Castle, which you can reach on foot from the center of the city and watch a huge view of Kars, is one of the places you must go. The castle, built in the twelfth century during the Seljuks, was restored to its glory with additions in the Ottoman period. And it allows you to see the entire city from the hill in its glory.
At the same time, there are beautiful structures at the foot of the castle. For example, masonry mansion, called Namik Kemal House, where Namik Kemal wrote his first poems; Karahanoglu Stone Bridge, built on the Kars stream under this house by the order of Sultan Murad III, and Mazlumaga Bath, which Russian writer Pushkin visited frequently in 1829 and included in his diaries, are a few of them.
If you walk along the street where there are old mills on the edge of Kars stream, you can also see the old Conservatory Building, also called the Physician’s House.
Kars has also witnessed thousands of years of history because it is home to many civilizations. In fact, the first museum in Kars was established in 1959 in a small area to display items on the Ani Ruins, but as the number of artifacts found later increased, finally in 1978, the present Museum of Kars became the last.
Although the Kars Museum is a small museum within walking distance of the center, Kars tops the list of places to visit, given that it is home to many artifacts, including dinosaur bones dating back 65 million years. Admission to the museum is free and the museum is closed Monday.
Fethiye Mosque, located in the center of Kars, has a very different appearance than the mosques you have seen before due to its architectural features. Already this building was built by the Russians as a church; it was later converted into a mosque. I’d say don’t leave without seeing this mosque within walking distance of the center.
Archaeological Site of Ani
Located in the Ocakli Village, 42 km from Kars, named after “An”, the earth goddess of the Urartu, the ruins of Ani are one of the first places that come to mind when it comes to places to visit in Kars. The city is located on the Silk Road, the most important trade route of the time, and at the entrance gate of Anatolia. In addition to its commercial importance, Ani ruins are also very important from a religious point of view.
Mentioned in the epics as “The City With 1001 Churches”, this city was home to many religions. When you start to visit this place, you will be very surprised to see the churches, cathedrals, mosques together. The first mosque built by the Turks in Anatolia, the first inscription written by the Turks in Anatolia and the first Zoroastrian temple in Anatolia are located here. In addition, Arpaçay, where the city of Ani is located, serves as a natural border between Turkey and Armenia.
How is it possible to go to Kars and return without seeing Sarikamis? Sarikamis, which has a separate beauty in winter and a separate beauty in summer, is home to both the martyrdom of Sarikamis and the mountains of Allahuekber. Sarıkamış, where the most beautiful yellow pine forest is located, is 60 km from Kars. That’s why having a private vehicle to visit here makes your job a lot easier.
If you go to Sarıkamis in the summer, you can immerse yourself in nature with the greenery of pines, and you can be enchanted by the splendor of Baltic architecture buildings dating from the Russian Tsarist era. If you go in winter, you can go on a discovery walk among the pine trees, accompanied by bird chirps; you can taste the pleasure of skiing on the crystal snow ski slopes. Although the pistes of Sarıkamış are small, they are often preferred because of the snow structure. While you are in Sarikamis, visit Sarikamis Culture House, Railway Cer Workshop, Sarikamis Martyrdom.
Cildir Lake, which I have listed among the places to visit in Kars, is located 70 km from Kars and within the borders of Ardahan, is the second largest lake in Eastern Anatolia. In winter, you can experience a completely different experience at the Cildir Lake Festival, which is held on a completely frozen lake; you can participate in the Lover Festival. Cildir Lake doesn’t leave in the lurch summer visitors , either. In summer, you can witness the harmony of green and brown around Cildir Lake and spend time intertwined with nature on the lake side.
I rode my bike from Kars to Cildir Lake. Especially after Arpacay, the views up to the lake were really worth seeing. It had been a quiet and peaceful journey through the badlands. And when it got dark, we took refuge in a restaurant called Atalay’s place by the lake. There’s probably still. In fact, if you go, say hello to me.
Although we planned to sleep in a tent on the shore of Cildir Lake, we went to the stove section of the restaurant and slept inside when the air temperature dropped at night.
At the same time, if you go east of the lake, you can reach Yildirimtepe Village half an hour away, and Devil’s Castle from there. By the way, the castle is called The Devil’s Castle because the valley in which it is located is very steep and the rock on which it stands is steep. When you get to the village, you have to get out of your car and walk a little to see this structure. Make sure that, the sights behind you as you climb to the castle will make you forget your fatigue.
Kuyucuk Bird Sanctuary
Another place to visit if you come this way is the Kuyucuk Bird Sanctuary. The bird sanctuary is home to about 182 bird species, including endangered birds, and many bird species can be observed, from migrating waterfowl in the fall to birds of prey.
After visiting and seeing places to visit in Kars, if you go to Cildir Lake and still have time, you can also consider crossing into Georgia. Aktas border crossing is only 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kars center and only 40 minutes from Cildir Lake. In addition, it is enough to have only your identity with you to pass to Georgia. I crossed from Kars to Georgia on my bike tour. I only spent one day here, but I still saw Ahilkelek Village, the first big village after the border. It looks more or less like as follows.
Kars, which contains so much beauty, history and nature, is worth going and seeing, accumulating valuable memories, walking its streets, climbing its rocks.