Van Mini Guide
Where is the Town of Van?
Van is a town in eastern Turkey on the shores of Lake Van and close to the borders of Iran and Armenia. It has been named the ‘Pearl of the East’ due to the beauty of the surrounding area.
How Would I get There?
You can travel to Van by long distance coach from most cities in Turkey including Ankara
, but beware this is a very long journey due to the isolation of the area and the limited bus service. If you get as far as Tatvan, you can take the train-ferry service over Lake Van, it takes around 4 hours. The easiest way to get to Van is to fly from one of the major cities in Turkey to Ferit Melen Airport just outside of town and take a taxi or dolmus bus from there.
What is There to see in the Town?
Take a walk in Dabbagoglu Park to get a feel for the town and its culture, you can see Hazreti Omer Mosque and visit the Archaeological Museum. Just a little outside of town, catch a dolmus and go to the very unusual Van Castle built by the kingdom of Urartu between 7th and 9th century BC, there you will also find ancient inscriptions by Xerxes the Great. From there you must explore the shores of Lake Van it is almost magical with its mountains and waterfalls. Look out for the small islands too and the caves formed at different times in history.
What’s the Food Like?
The town is famous for its street breakfast. The traditional breakfast consists of herb cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes served with honey and bread and lashings of tea, as much as you can eat and drink!
Any Shopping Tips?
Visit the Bazaar and treat yourself to some handmade jewellery or a Kilim carpet. The town is famous for its production of natural dyes and silversmithing.
Watch out for the Van cats… These unusual cats are bred in the town and well known for their fluffy white fur, eyes of different colours and love of swimming!
Van is a fascinating and very picturesque part of south eastern Turkey. There’s so much to do there if you like outdoor sports, from canoeing and kayaking on Lake Van to visiting the Armenian Cathedral on an island in the lake. It’s tempting to consider hiring a car and travelling across the border into neighbouring Iran although caution is recommended.
Nearby too you’ll find Mount Ararat, legendary final resting place of Noah’s Ark with a very compelling outline of a potential fossilised ship at the summit. From there the views are breath-taking.