Best way from Istanbul to Kars?
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Jul 15, 2008 9:41 AM Last Post By: patchaja
Jul 2, 2008 2:58 PM
I'm exhausted from piecing together information about trains and buses and flights and dolmuses. Can anyone tell me the best way to get from Istanbul to Kars? I've looked at flights to Erzurum and Trabzon, as well as a few flights to Kars itself. How easy is it to get to Kars from any of the nearby bigger cities? Is it worth the extra 50 YTL or so just to fly straight to Kars? Am I right in assuming that there is no overnight bus - it's over 20 hours by bus, right? I've only got 5 days, and I want to get the Kackars in for a couple of days, too, and I need to get to Batumi in Georgia by the end of day 5. Should I head to the Kackars first and then do my border trip from Kars to Batumi instead of going directly to Kars from Istanbul? (Any hints about that border trip would be greatly appreciated, too.)
Jul 3, 2008 5:30 AM
Jul 3, 2008 6:05 AM
2OK, new computyer, new try.
1first my hickup; you overclearly show to not even have searched nor read a decent guidebook.
2.this route to enter GEo is Unwise: the daft easy, usual route is the through bus all the way IST(via Ankara-Samsun-Trabzon, can join at any point)-HOPA-Batumi-Tbilisi (total cost 50 US$/single), and some buses on to either Baky or Yerewan. yes, thats along ride, but Türk buses are quite good. choice of several companeis like Ulusoy and metroturizm.
3.UNless you have a special craving to see Kars, forget this way: NO direct bus into GEO from there, that means local bus/dolmusj to Hopa-and hop-ons. You loose at least 1 full dayby doing so.
4.can cut off most of bustrip by some cheap flite IST-Trabzon (airport just along main road east=ro Hopa via Rize), or even batumi-some flight there is considered domestic Türk
Jul 8, 2008 3:58 PM
3I love turkish trains, they are slow and empty after Ankara, there is a direct Istanbul Kars train but it takes two nights.
Last summer I traveled by bus, direct from Istanbul to Tbilissi. 30 dollars. I decided to get off in Batumi after 30 hours drive. The bus didn't do too many stops. There was at least an hour wait at the turkish-georgian border. There are several cheap decent hotel in Hopa. From Hopa you could try to talk and hitchhike a truck stopping in town or a car, but there are minibuses to the border and minibuses going from the border to Batumi (20 minutes), they can take turkish currency.
In 2005 there was a turkish Metro bus running twice weekly from Kars to Tbilissi, via Borjomi.
Yolun acik olsun
dada helping in Goreme, Kappadokya.
ps : Hotel in georgian is "Sastumro" and it is "Gastiniza" in russian.
Jul 15, 2008 9:38 AM
4Actually, while Kars itself isn't much to look at, it's a fascinating insight into a very different Turkey to the western, more touristy areas, and Ani (the ancient Armenian capital) is incredibly atmospheric. If you hire a car and drive around the countryside for a couple of days you can have a fantastic time... Gorgeous countryside and the opportunity to explore some Kurdish villages. The local bus to Hopa is really not that bad either, but you do need the whole day - an early start will have you at Hopa by 6pm, across the border and (by taxi) to Batumi from Sarp by 8 or 9pm, depending on whether or not you need a visa at the border (EU nationals do not require a visa).
There are buses from Istanbul to Kars; I imagine they take about 20 hours or so.
The Hopa / Sarp border crossing is a bit chaotic especially at the end of the day, when Georgian day-trippers are all queuing to get home. My Australian boyfriend had to queue for about 2 hours to get a visa issued at the border. However as an EU citizen, my passport was just stamped at the border post. However it's no real trouble really, just bring along a book and some water.
FYI - We travelled to Kars via Safranbolu, Ankara, and Amasya. From Amasya you can get an overnight bus to Kars. This is a somewhat roundabout route though, and of interest only if you want to see those cities!
Jul 15, 2008 9:41 AM
5PS forgot to mention - the bus trip from Kars to Hopa does offer some beautiful scenery as it goes through canyons, mountains etc.
Also they'll tell you that the bus takes 6 hours, but in reality it's closer to 8 or 9.
Guess you have to weigh up your options...
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