Jason and I have talked about doing a Black Sea Road trip throughout the North East area of Turkey ever since we moved to Turkey, but it has never happened in the last 4 years of living here. On HIS birthday, Jason surprised me by setting aside some dates, finding tickets, renting a car, and making a ‘let’s go’ plan! So in less than 10 days before leaving, we finalized our itinerary and booked all our lodging for 12 nights. It was a little stressful but we made it happen!
***Spoiler: It turned out to be an amazing time, to say the least.
COVID-19 has not made 2020 fun for anyone, even us living the expat life in Turkey, and traveling in the midst of the virus meant we had to be extra careful and mindful of our exposure. You can check out some of our other travels during COVID times to Kalkan this past summer.
Samsun is the largest city, an important shipping port, and the traditional provincial capital of the Black Sea region of Turkey. We learned it was supposedly the home to the legendary Amazon warriors. According to Greek legends, these women warriors were famous for wielding bows and arrows and using double-headed axes for fighting in battles.
Samsun, like the rest of Turkey, has passed through the hands of many empires. One of the oldest names it holds is Amisos given by Miletusians (Miletus), which was one of the Ionian city-states, between 760-750 BC.
Unfortunately, most of Samsun was burnt to the ground by Genoese raiders in the 1400s. So, even though it is very old, there is not much old architecture left to enjoy.
Regardless, this city will always have a special in the republican history of Turkey. Samsun is the location of the start of the War of Turkish Independence in 1919 by the republic’s founder, Kemal Atatürk. The most famous symbolic monument in the town is a bronze statue depicting equestrian Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Read on to know what you should see and do in Samsun, Turkey:
1.Amazon Warrior & Twin Lions Statues:
- Located near Bati Park in Baruthane along the seafront, the twin gold lion and Amazon warrior statues are hard to miss. A man-made canal runs through the center of the park. Supposedly, the park has lots of activities for children such as go-carting and play areas as well as plenty of wide shaded areas for picnicking. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there wasn’t much open. For a small fee currently 5 lira, you can also visit the nearby Amazon village.
2. Black Sea Coastline
- 14 kilometers of seaside…. just enjoy a long beautiful walk (hopefully if it’s not too windy!)
3. Amisos Hill and Gondola/Cable Car:
- The first settlement in Samsun, formerly known as Amisos, was around 750 B.C. by the Milesians, a Hellenic civilization. While I didn’t see any ancient tombs, I heard there were some scattered along the walking path to see.
- At the top of the hill, a cafe with a stunning view of the sea waits for you to enjoy a cup of tea, or even a meal. The cable car is right beside the cafe. A quick 5-minute ride takes you down to the park close to the twin lions.
4. Onur Park/ Downtown
- Sandwiched between the seaside and downtown is a beautiful city park perfect to enjoy a chat with a friend or a well–equipped park for the kids. The Onur Anıtı positioned in the middle of the park depicts the equestrian Turkish founder, Ataturk, riding a horse.
5. All the Museum: (Unfortunately most do not have lots of English translations.)
- Bandirma Ship Museum – Entrance Fee: 5 TL – I wish we would have seen this one! The ship is a replica of the original ship that was destroyed in the 1920s. The ship reminds the visitors of Mustafa Kemal’s journey to the city in 1919 at the start of the War of Independence.
- Samsun City Museum – Good museum to learn about the city’s history. Even though most signs do not have English, there are supposedly audio guided tours recorded on a device in multiple languages.
- Archeological and Ethnographic Museum and, right next door, the Atatürk Museum
Our other tips for this area:
- For our road trip, we flew from Izmir to Ankara on Pegasus Airlines and drove a rental car from Ankara to Rize- stopping in Amasya, Samsun, Ordu, and Trabzon along the way.
- Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines have daily flights from Istanbul to Samsun. No direct flights from Izmir unfortunately.
- Bus service is frequent and convenient to Samsun, especially with the Ulusoy company.
- Park Inn by Radisson Samsun: Although it is in the next town over and not in the hussle and bustle of Samsun, we really enjoyed staying here. The hotel has high standard, a great room service menu, and a friendly staff making it one of my favorite hotels we stayed at on our 2 week trip (and we stayed in 7 different places!).
- no special recs (because we order room service at Park Inn and it was fantastic) but this is the side location we stopped at downtown at a local place a grabbed some pide for the road.
- If you are looking for a few extra stops, west-bound Sinop is the highest point along the Black Sea Coastline of Turkey.
- On the way to Ordu is a town called Giresun. It’s another easy little stop if you want to spend some more time experiencing the Black Sea Region.
Overall, Samsun is a must-see location for Turkish history buffs but otherwise, I would say a full-day visit (or 2 if you have kiddos that nap) should be sufficient. You can explore Samsun with us over on our Following The Funks YouTube Channel via our Samsun video and see what all we did in our late afternoon/ morning visit!
Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:
- Do you want to travel to Samsun now?
- Have you traveled to Samsun before?
- If so, what did you love? What did we miss?!
Check out our other locations on this road trip! This is just a piece of our 8 part video and blog post series of our road trip.
- SPOILERS: Instagram highlights
- My top 5 tools video for how we planned our travels – VIDEO
- Part 1: Explore Ankara, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 2: Explore Amasya, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 3: Explore Samsun, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 4: Explore Ordu, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 5: Explore Trabzon Part 1, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 6: Explore Rize ParT 1, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 7: Explore Rize PART 2, Turkey – VIDEO
- Part 8: BSRT FINALE! Explore Trabzon Part 2, Turkey – VIDEO