After a few days in Istanbul we decided to go on a road trip in Northern Turkey to explore the beautiful but not so well known Trabzon and Rize provinces in the Black sea region.
Car rental in Trabzon
We took our rental car in Trabzon airport. Even if I had concern about driving in Turkey we opted for this option as we found it more convenient to explore the area around Trabzon and Rize. Indeed there are tours taking you to places to see in Trabzon and Rize but you are less free as if you rent a car. Self drive in Turkey was easier as expected but I would recommend to rent a 4Wheel car as som of the sights are accessible only by offpiste roads escpecially in the Rize province.
Northern Turkey road trip itinerary
Trabzon and Rize are the most beautiful destinations in the Black sea region of Turkey. And definitely a suprise for everyone who thinks that Tukey is only Istanbul and the beaches of the south.
Things to see in Trabzon Province
After we rented our car, we decided to go directly see the Sumela monastery. This was our first stop of our Northern Turkey road trip. It is a bit of a detour from the other things to see in the Trabzon Province but it is totally worth it.
The Sumela monastery or Monastery of the Virgin Mary is one of the oldest monastery in the world. It was was built in 1360 and a Unesco world site. It is nestled on top of a mountain and really a truly unique site you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Tip : At the entrance they will sell tickets to enter the site but also to visit the monastery. You don’t need to buy the ticket to visit the monastery at teh entrance you can decide to do it later at the entrance.
Also there is a parking next to the entrance. You do not have to park your car there and take the minibus. You can go up with your own car. There is another parking from which you can continue by foot.
After Sumela monastery, we decided to go to Uzungöl. It was a 3,5 hour drive but if you go to Uzungöl from Trabzon it is only 2,5 hour drive. The road is very easy drive until there.
In Uzungöl we spent the night at Inan Kardesler Hotel. They have 3 hotels in Uzüngol, one next to the mosk with an amazing view over the lake as well as two other on the other side of the lake. It is a family company from Uzüngol and I can really recommend their hotel.
Enjoy the lake in Uzungöl, rent a bike to go around or just take a stroll. Don’t miss the mosk and the traditional houses. Also there is a newly opened Uzungöl museum that belongs to the Inan family. You can there learn about the region over the years : agriculture, flora and fauna, coutumes, and there is even a traditional house rebuilt to the original. Worth a visit!
Demirkapi village and balik lake / Aygir Gölu
From Uzüngol you can take a little trip to the nearby lakes and villages. It is really cute and remembered me a lot to the mountain villages in Austria or Switzerland.
Stop for a Turkish tea at one of the view point by the river in the typical village of Demirkapi! After this you can drive up to the two lakes : Balik lake or Aygir Gölü. From Demirkapir the road goes offpiste. It is a bit rocky but you don’t need a 4wheel.
The best view over Demirkapir is from the little house with the swings!
Also don’t forget to buy local honey from endemic plants along the road. You will find several merchants selling and it is very cheap.
Things to do and see in Rize Province
After 2 days in the Trabzon province, we drove to the Rize province. We did not stop in Rize city but went directly to the countryside and stayed in Ayder village. It took us a 3 hours drive from Uzüngol.
Activities in Rize
If you are interested in some activities there are many options for rafting and ziplining along the way to Ayder on the Coruh River once you go out the highway. We didn’t had time to do those activities in Rize but we met many people who did! Definitely one of the things to do in Rize.
There are plenty of things to do in Rize. Actually more than in Trabzon so I would suggest you to plan to stay at least 3 days in the Rize province to enjoy the lush vegetation, many rivers and waterfalls.
Below some of the things to do in Rize and to add to your road trip itinerary.
Ayder village is a typical mountain village. It has the cutest mountain houses. You will find plenty of little shops and restaurants on the main street. When in Ayder, rest on the grass in the middle of the village and watch the life happens, For a little bit of adrenaline, take the zip line at the top of the mountain. It is a great place to stay if you want to explore the area and take some day trips to the other places to see in the Rize region.
To access Ayder, you will need to pay the entrance to the national park that is 6TL per car.
Our hotel : We stayed at Haşimoğlu. The only hotel that is directly situated by the river so that you can have the sound of rushing water to fall asleep and wake up with a beautiful view. Don’t miss to order the Muhlama, for breakfast. It is melted cheese that is a speciality of the region.
For your day trips, make sure to have a 4wheel car as some places are not accessible with a normal car.
Day trips from Ayder village
As day trip, or before you arrive to Ayder vilage as it is in the below valley, you can go to see Şenyuva Bridge, Zil castle, some historical arch bridges, palovit waterfall, Badara amd Gito Highlands (you definitely need a 4wheel for this one). This can be done in one day.
Also, if you have more time and a 4wheel, head over another day to Pokut and Sal highland.
To watch the sunset, a great place is : Huser! You can drive 2 hours from Ayder to get there.
There is also a one day tour taking you to all these places but I would recommend to plan longer to enjoy it truly.
Northern Turkey road trip in Turkey
As you can see there are definitely many places to see in Trabzon and Rize. Definitely plan some times to see all the fabulous places that are truly unique and surprising in Turkey. Unfortunately we did not had the time to explore the sea side but it seemed that the North of Turkey is not a beach destination anyways as the water is cold and the current are strong. Therefore, after these few days on this Northern Turkey road trip, we went south of Turkey to relax by the beach in Fethiye at Hillside Beach Club.