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Northeastern Anatolia

If you've a soft spot for far-flung outposts, make a beeline for Turkey's northeast. Despite its wealth of attractions and awe-inspiring landscapes, this region is still only beginning to be touched by tourism. Particularly outside the Turkish summer holidays, you may have precipitous gorges, expansive steppe, soaring mountains and highland pastures to yourself. No wonder the region is prime territory for trekking (in the Kaçkar Mountains and, when it's open to climbers, on Mt Ararat), skiing and white-water rafting.

A historical frontier land, the northeast is chock-full of evocative relics of bygone empires. Don't miss the haunting ruins of medieval Armenian Ani. A little exploring will turn up Georgian and Armenian churches; Seljuk, Mongol and Ottoman mosques, medreses and palaces; and spectacularly perched castles at almost every turn. For urban vibes, Kars is a relatively cultured staging post in this region of mountain solitude and moody skies above the steppe.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northeastern Anatolia.