Discover the best top things to do in Van, Turkey including Lake Van, Akdamar Island, Holy Cross Church, Van Castle (Van Kalesi), Hosap Castle (Hosap Kalesi), House of Van Cats, Ancient Urartian site of Cavustepe (Sardurihinilli), Muradiye Selalesi, Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Old Van.
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4.5 based on 176 reviews
The largest body of water in Turkey, this triangular shaped lake contains salt water that is unsuitable for drinking or irrigation. The only life form that can survive in the water is a species of Freshwater fish called darekh that has adapted to live in a saline environment.
We stayed for six nights in Van and had 3 separate day tours booked so we wanted a bit of relaxation time the in between days. So we headed to the beach. The closest was Divan Beach, Edremit. We got a taxi there as not sure how often the buses were but buses do run to there. But good job as we arrived and the taxi driver was in deep conversation with the reception area. Finally they found somebody who spoke excellent English and explained it was ladies day. But would not be a problem, they would make a private beach for us! We waited whilst they opened up some gates, sorted out loungers and umbrellas. Bear in mind not a sandy beach though, stony, so beach shoes to swim in are recommended. So although my husband could not use the lovely pool they have, we had a very relaxing day, just us with direct access to swim in the lake. The food is fantastic. And if you go not on ladies day, you can use the pool which has various slides. There are toilets and changing rooms and the lemonata and cherry juice were free. Just helped yourself.
4.5 based on 210 reviews
This island located in the salty Lake Van is home to the Church of the Holy Cross and some Armenian monastery ruins.
The boat trip across is great. May have to wait a while for other people to turn up to fill the boat but opposite the road a lovely restaurant for "cay" and toilets. Short crossing to the island and the church is stunning. Lovely relief on the outside and the inside is cooling.
4.5 based on 101 reviews
Located on the Akdamar Island in Lake Van, this Cathedral is significant because it is the only surviving medieval Armenian church in which most of the wall paintings are still intact.
This marvelous Armenian Church can only be reached by boat to the small island it occupies. The external carvings are really superb and the interior while not comparable is extremely attractive and interesting. A must-see attraction which when I visited, was enjoyed by just 2 people!
4.5 based on 151 reviews
Yet another interesting castle, but with really splendid views.As well as the masonry features, there are also mudbrick towers with timber revetment. Apart from the castle, there is also the platform of a Urartian temple, some of the blocks weighing circa 40 tons. There is a really good view over the old city of Van which was destroyed in World War I.
4.5 based on 50 reviews
Easy to get on your own to get a van and being dropped off near Hoşap. Beautiful but right now it is being restored so you can not access every part. I met no guard as the castle was open, just a few employees that were really friendly. To go from Hoşap to çavustepe, you can ask the locals and they will kindly help you getting a bus, plus they always smile!
4 based on 55 reviews
This "research institute" was founded in 1992 with the goal of protecting the Van Cat from gradual extinction. This makes for an interesting visit if you're into cats. They ARE cute!
4 based on 38 reviews
Çavuştepe is over 2000 years old so don't arrive expecting substantial remains. What has been excavated along the ridge top can be tricky to interpret - for instance we assumed initially that the carefully finished stone work was modern infill, but the guide told us it was in fact the oldest work.
When we visited in September 2014 we were not allowed to continue beyond the temple foundations. And archeological dig was in progress - and apparently some of the archeologists had been upset by visitors climbing on fragile walls and destroying them.
So please when you visit stay on the paths and leave the ruins for others to appreciate after you.
A visit to Cavustepe can easily be combined with a trip from Van to Hoşap We visited on a day trip from Van organised by Alkans travel in Van. Having a guide is essential. Our guide from Alkans was Aysel who was a personal friend of the site caretaker. I feel we benefited greatly by having the site interpreted for us by these two experts.
4 based on 38 reviews
Lovely waterfall and popular with newlyweds for photos. So look out for bride and grooms everywhere. Walk across a wooden suspension bridge from the car park to get excellent views from a cafe across from the waterfall.
4 based on 15 reviews
Cumhuriyet Caddesi of Van is the area for shopping and eating. There are some restaurants which serve traditional Turkish food, and you can enjoy shopping here, too. There is a big AVM, bookstores, and sweets shop. Worth visiting and spending your day here. There are some money exchange along the road, but they don't accept JPY.
4.5 based on 7 reviews
Two main shopping streets full of modern shops in this city rebuilt since the earthquake - lots of pleasant parks to sit and drink tea and watch Turkish life - the older part houses things like the cheese market, breakfast shops and everyday life going on as normal in the backstreets - largely Kurdish part of this lovely modern city - well worth a visit.
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