While many visitors flock south to the Mediterranean or west to the Aegean, Turks know the Black Sea (Karadeniz) is equally deserving. Surprisingly lush and subtropical, its coastal cities are backed by terraced tea plantations fading into a mountainous hinterland. After Amasra's seaside-holiday vibe and Trabzon's big-city buzz, you can relax in pint-size fishing villages, or head inland to alpine yaylalar (mountain pastures). The spectacular coastline also makes for a scenic route across Turkey to other parts of Anatolia.
This is a historic region, scattered with the legacies of empires that ebbed and flowed like Black Sea waves. Castles, churches, monasteries and architecturally important mosques recall the days of the kings of Pontus, the Genoese and the Ottomans. Queen Hippolyte and her tribe of female Amazon warriors supposedly lived here, and the seafront chapel at Yason Burnu (Cape Jason) marks the spot where Jason and his Argonauts passed by.