One of the pioneers in Turkey to realise that preserving the old town can actually contribute to the community through increased tourism while the traditional buildings, perceived as unpractical leaky shambles, were being abandoned and knocked down elsewhere, Safranbolu's success story later inspired many others in the country to polish up their historic districts lucky enough to have kept a level of authenticity.
Buses from Istanbul take about 6 hours and half and cost 30-35 TL. Bus companies like Safran, Metro and Flixbus (formerly Kamil Koç) have modern and comfortable fleets with prices ranging from 40-57 TL. Buses from Ankara take around 3 hours and cost 15-20 TL. If you want to go by car from Ankara, it is 220 km.
The nearest railway station is in Karabük, 10-15 km southwest. This is cut off from the national railway network: the south part of the line from Ankara might re-open in 2023 and then again might not. The north part re-opened in 2021 and four regional trains run daily from Zonguldak on the coast, taking 3 hours to Karabük.
Dolmuses regularly drive the 2 km between the old town (Çarşı) and the new town center, which is where buses are likely to let you off or pick you up. Once in the old town, everything is reachable by foot. Additionally, some intercity buses might drop you off in the nearby steel down of Karabük. From there you'll have to find a dolmus into Safranbolu.
Safranbolu is famous for its Ottoman houses both in Çarşı (old town) and the neighbourhood of Bağlar (literally "orchards"), and qualifies as a UNESCO World Heritage sight.
Mencilis (Bulak) Cave which is 3 km from city center, worth to see since it is the 4th biggest cave in Turkey.
Take a look (and a tea?) inside the Cinci Hanı, a massive hotel in the center of the old town. Wandering around the city you will take in much, but to see inside the houses, head to one of the historic homes open to the public. Kaymakamlar Müze Evi is located just above Bastoncu Pansiyon, to the south-east of Cinci Hanı. Keep walking up the hill, and take in some beautiful views at Hıdırlık Tepesi.
- 1 Sırçalı Kanyonu (15 km northeast, past the village of Düzce). The highlight is the Taş Teras ("stone terrace"), a wide, flat rock protruding from the cliff over the canyon, known as the "Turkish Trolltunga".
- 1 Hike down the canyon. The canyon sports beautiful cliffs. 1 hour. ₺5.
- 2 Incekaya Su Kemeri. An old aqueduct north of Safranbolu past the village of Incekaya. Ask around to get there. There are also some organized tours that go there in the morning.
- 3 Yörük. A historic village 15 km east. A mini-sized and much less touristic version of Safranbolu.
Traditional tablecloths and souvenirs from Arasta Bazaar.
- Safrantat. Try their saffron flavoured lokum (Turkish delight) in their main factory in Kıranköy, Safranbolu.
- Adanadan Dürümce, Kaya Erdem Cad. 40 (in the new part of the town—catch a dolmuş up the hill, the restaurant is on your right after you get off at the first stop). An excellent restaurant featuring the cuisine of southern city of Adana and the southeast on the menu. Kebabs, mushroom (mantar), tasty freshly prepared ayran, and menengiç coffee (made of roasted seeds of turpentine tree, Pistachia terebinthus) are the main specialities.
- 1 Baglar Saray Otel. Has a capacity of 42 rooms and 120 beds. 39 of the rooms have standard quality and 3 of them are ensuite. Huge bathrooms with hot water and a hair drier, a minibar, a phone that is open to the abroad and a television. Safranbolu Baglar Saray Otel shows historical marks and at the same time and it has an unlimited modern service understanding.
- 2 Bastoncu Pansiyon & Kafeterya, ☏ . One of the cheaper options. It is clean and homely, with excellent meals. The owner speaks Japanese and English, and can help plan your onward trip. Call them for a free pickup from the bus station. 25 TL per person for dormitory, rooms are 50 TL without bathroom, 90 TL with..
- 3 Safir Konak Safranbolu, Baglarbasi Mahallesi, Koyici Meydani Arslanlar Cd., No. 2, Baglar, ☏ . Nine rooms, all of which have DSL internet connection, cable TV and telephone. Breakfast included. From €65.
- 4 Rasitler Bag Evi Safranbolu, Baglarbasi Mahallesi, Degirmenbasi Sokak No. 65, Baglar, ☏ . A 280-year-old Ottoman Mansion in the orchards with a huge garden and five authentically decorated rooms, all of which have central heating, Wi-Fi internet connection, bathroom and hair drier. Lastly renovated in 2012. Price includes traditional breakfast including a variety of home made jams, pastries,organic fruits and vegetables from the Mansion's garden. Lunch and dinner can be prepared upon request. Owner speaks English. They also offer a free shuttle service from the Safranbolu Bus Terminal. From €60 for two people.
- 5 Gulevi Safranbolu, Hukumet Sokak 46 (in the old quarter), ☏ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: noon. Housed in three adjacent mansions all dating back to 18th century. DBL BB incl. VAT €90-200.
Safranbolu, Karabük and their approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Amasra to the north is another historic town, with the added bonus of nice beaches and plenty of sea views.
- Kastamonu to the east is a riverside city, with an old town much larger and historically important than Safranbolu, though not as well preserved or visited.
|Routes through Safranbolu|
|Ends at (N / S) ←||W E||→ Kastamonu → Amasya|