Ease back into exploring: A superb road trip in the Turkish Black Sea region
If you want to immerse yourselves in an environment of unequalled natural beauty and enjoy a long drive on the open road, the Black Sea region may exactly be what you’re searching for! With its unique, stunning natural beauty, rich cultural landscape whose history extends some hundreds of years, and delicious food opportunities, the Black Sea region offers you a chance to explore Türkiye’s hidden gems.
Replace your tires, stock up on snacks, and fasten your seat belts because this will be a challenging yet enjoyable read!
Surely, this road trip will be a long one stretching along the coast of the Black Sea, and Sinop is a brilliant first destination to kickstart it!
The Black Sea province of Sinop is one of the oldest settlements in Türkiye, having been inhabited by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Turks throughout its vast history. The city has a humid, subtropical climate that enables several plant species to grow, thus creating a magnificent landscape to enjoy each season.
On your road trip, you should first visit the Fortress Prison, or Anatolian Alcatraz, located in İnceburun. It dates to the 7th century BCE and was converted by the Ottomans into a prison. One of this prison's most popular inmates was the author Sabahattin Ali. He wrote his famous works Kuyucaklı Yusuf and Aldırma Gönül during his time here.
Boyabat Castle is another famous landmark of Sinop that looks exactly like an Ottoman castle, though it actually dates back to the Late Roman period. Located uphill, it lets visitors get a panoramic view of the whole city.
If you are a foodie, you must make time to try Sinop mantı. Unlike the other types of Turkish mantı, which are generally served with yoghurt and sauces of sorts, this one is served in half with yoghurt, with or without garlic, and in the other half with crushed walnuts. You will not regret stopping on the open road to eat Sinop mantı and get plenty of energy!
Amasya is another astonishing stop on the route with its unique cultural history. Mount Harşena and the rock-cut tombs of Pontus kings are the most popular attractions to visit in this Black Sea city. Mount Harşena has been inhabited uninterruptedly by different civilizations since the Bronze Age, while the rock-cut tombs of Pontus kings were built by carving a set of limestone rocks following the Hellenistic style.
To make your trip even better, we recommend you try its local cuisine and especially Amasya buns and toyga. Amasya buns are made by filling the paste with hash. Toyga, on the other hand, is a special soup made with cracked wheat, yoghurt, and black-eyed peas.
Tokat's history dates to the Hittite civilization. Later it came under the control of the Byzantine Greek Empire of Trebizond and then the Seljuks. Its multilayered culture is visible through the historical buildings of the city. The most distinguished ones include Seljuk caravanserais, especially Mahperi Hatun Caravanserai. It was built by Mahperi Hatun, wife of one of the rulers of the Seljuks, Kayqubad I, in 1238.
Other important landmarks of Tokat are its castles. Tokat Castle, an ancient citadel dating to the 5th century, was a sanctuary for Christians migrating from Pontus. Later, the Byzantines invaded the castle until the famous Dânişmend Gazi took it over again. Another famous castle in Tokat, Niksar Castle, was also built by the people of the Pontus kingdom. It’s believed to have taken its final shape in the Roman period.
The last stop on your must-see list for Tokat must be the famous Ballıca Cave, which UNESCO enlists as a world heritage. The view from the cave is the number one reason for hikers and travellers to see this stunning cave located in the centre of the Ballıca Nature Park.
And of course, the food! After hiking along the park, you should make a stop to enjoy the delicious Tokat kebab.
A long tunnel where you start to worry whether you'll see the light at the end or not is one of the most precious moments of a long road trip! Eğribel pass, between Giresun and Sivas provinces, offers travelers a magical experience. This tunnel connects the Central Anatolian region to the Black Sea, and it is commonly believed that once you go through the tunnel, the seasons just change.
Giresun offers some incredible views to those who sit upon its hills and mountains, a set of beautiful plateaus where you can immerse yourselves in nature, and a few magical waterfalls. In the city, there is also an island called Giresun Adası or Giresun Island, which is one of the largest Black Sea islands. Believed to have served as a place of worship for the famous Amazon warriors, the island simply mesmerizes its visitors with its unique, stunning set of cultural and historic heritage values.
Also, on your road trip, you must be sure to visit Kuzalan Waterfalls and Kümbet and Kulakkaya plateaus and enjoy the pastoral views they offer from over the mountains. Don't forget to add visiting Giresun and try its hazelnuts which Giresun is famous for!
The D010 coastal highway to finally arrive in Trabzon
Having started your road trip in Sinop, you can finally arrive at Trabzon after passing through the Black Sea city of Giresun using the D010 highway.
Trabzon has some excellent historical sites to see, including Altındere National Park, one of the most fantastic parts of the city. The valley, which accommodates the park, is a perfect suit for climbing, trekking, and hiking. There, you can visit Sümela Monastery, an ancient site in the park which was initially built as an Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Since it is situated uphill, a cotton-like blanket of clouds will be there to welcome you.
Before you leave Trabzon, you should make a stop near Uzungöl to taste delicious seafood dishes and the famous Trabzon bread as you enjoy the view. Thanks to its picturesque scenery, visiting Uzungöl has recently become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Black Sea region.
If you are a food enthusiast, you should also visit Akçaabat and try the tasteful meatballs that bear the name of the district. No matter where you go in Trabzon, you’re sure to fall in love with its rich and delicious local cuisine.
Known as Türkiye's tea factory, Rize has a fascinating landmark to enchant every one of its visitors. There, you can visit the actual tea factory that opened in 1947 and creates a unique experience for tourists who are eager to learn about tea agriculture in Türkiye.
An Ottoman bridge that dates to 1696, Şenyuva Bridge stands over Rize’s Fırtına River and composes a must-see destination. Located in Çamlıhemşin, it is the largest and oldest bridge in the whole region. Another significant landmark of Rize’s Çamlıhemşin district is Palovit Waterfall. Its waters falling from about a height of 15 metres create a terrifyingly beautiful scenery, which you should be sure not to miss out on.
Your last destination in Rize must be Ayder Highlands. Its evergreen forests and green pastures interest hikers and photographers and are generally compared with the Alpine pastures.
For a magical end to this long-lasting road trip, Artvin offers a perfect last stop! Its Borçka Karagöl National Park is perhaps the best place to visit to observe the wildlife in the Black Sea region. There, you can see Borçka and Şavşat lakes creating a mystical ambiance right at the park's centre.
Once you visit Artvin, you should also give its local specialties a try, tasting fish dishes or kuymak, a local food made by melted Kolot cheese produced in the East Black Sea region. Don’t forget to take a sip from your Turkish tea, freshly picked from the beautiful tea gardens of the region.
To learn more about the Black Sea region, click here.