It is the largest city on the Turkish Black Sea coast.
Samsun has a special place in the republican history of Turkey, as this is where the republic's founder, Kemal Atatürk, set foot to start the War of Independence in 1919.
Samsun is a long sprawling city which extends along the coast between the Kızılırmak ("Red River") delta to the west and the east the Yeşilırmak ("Green River") delta.
In the city center and close to the seashore is the city's main square, Cumhuriyet Meydanı, north and south of which are Kazımpaşa Caddesi and Cumhuriyet Caddesi.
The city is growing fast: land has been reclaimed from the sea and many more apartment blocks and shopping malls are being built. Industry is tending to move (or be moved) east, further away from the city center and towards the airport.
Samsun has a humid subtropical climate, like most of the eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey.
Spring temperatures can vary by over 10 degrees from one day to the next. Summers are warm and humid, and the average maximum temperature is around 27 °C (81 °F) in August. Winters are cool and damp, and the lowest average minimum temperature is around 3 °C (37 °F) in January.
Precipitation is heaviest in late autumn and early winter. Snow sometimes occurs between the months of December and March, but never more than a few centimeters of snow falls in the city, and temperatures below the freezing point rarely last more than a couple of days.
The water temperature, as in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast, is always cool, fluctuating between 8–20 °C (46–68 °F) throughout the year.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
- 1 Samsun-Çarşamba Airport (SZF IATA, Samsun Çarşamba Havaalanı), Çınarlık Bld., Girişi Pk (23 km east), ☏ . There are frequent flights from Istanbul, daily from other big Turkish cities and some international (mainly from Germany) flights in summer. The tramway does not yet reach the airport but if you do not want to pay for a taxi there are buses to the city centre and to Bafra for the Kızılırmak Delta.
- 2 Bus Station (Samsun Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz Şehirlerarası Otobüs Terminali, Samsun Otogarı), Şht. Korhan Ekiz Blv (W 5 km). Servises (shuttle buses) no longer run between the downtown offices and the bus station. The E5 is probably the best bus to the city center. There are also frequent dolmuşes (2.50 TL) from the bus station to Cumhuriyet Meydanı. Expect a taxi between the bus station and the center of the city to cost 27 TL.
Samsun has a railway connection with the interior of the country, with passenger trains plying the route between Samsun and Sivas via Amasya back and forth. As with the rest of Turkey, this is both the slowest and cheapest alternative, though also the most comfortable, as trains are equipped with spacious seats, usually mostly empty, and equipped with outlets and toilets.
The rail line is closed for upgrading as of 2019.
- 3 Railway Station (TCDD Gar), Fuar Cd. (Center).
The city has a network of trams, buses, dolmuşes, and taxis.
The city travelcard is called Samkart and can be bought at the main tram stops and some shops. It can be used on buses or trams but not dolmuş.
Frequent trams run along the city parallel to the coast, between 19 Mayis University and the stadium, and the tramway will be extended to the airport. Only the main tram stations sell travelcards or tokens.
There are four numbered Dolmuş routes within the city and they are much more frequent than buses - you can always ask the driver details on where to get off, etc. The adult daytime fare is 3 TL cash (Samkart not accepted, Jan 2018). There are also larger dolmuş with higher fares for destinations a little outside the city.
The automated bike rental stands owned by the council along the seafront are out of service; however there are private bike rental shops, mainly in Atakum. The central seafront is very easy and pleasant to cycle along.
Cedit Neighbourhood: escape the traffic, walk downhill and enjoy the views
This walk is short and downhill but steep in parts. There is very little traffic and the neighbourhood is friendly, but there are no cafes or tea shops (if you find one please add it) until the end. To reach the start of the walk take dolmuş route 3 (that is a green dolmuş) upwards away from the coast. Get off at the last stop, which is a dolmuş turning area. With the high school on your right walk away from the main road past the "no entry for vehicles" road sign. Pausing to enjoy the view of the city, follow 114. Sokak signed round to the left. With the fence on your left (do not take photos of the military area) walk to the end of 114. Sokak then down the steps of Bingöl Sokak and left into Çimenli Caddesi. Follow Çimenli Caddesi past Cedit Park, which is really just a small children's playground but has benches where you could eat your sarnies. At the mosque turn left into 121. Sokak, walk a few metres back uphill then immediately right into Hakkari Sokak. At the end of Hakkari Sokak go straight on past the bus shelter and along the path that becomes Serasker Sokak. Turn right down Bozüyük Sokak and at the end of the street onwards down the steps a little to your right. At the bottom of the steps turn left and follow Ebusuud Effendi Caddesi all the way to the end then onwards down the track with the wall on your left. On reaching a couple of houses do not follow the track sharp right away from the wall but instead go down the steps between the 2 houses. Follow these steps all the way down to the main road. This is the end of the walk. To return to the city center stay on this side of the road and take a number 1 (red) dolmuş, which you will see on your right. Alternatively take the dolmuş in the opposite direction the short distance to Amisos Tepe or Batı Park.
If you are feeling energetic enough to do the walk in the opposite direction, that is uphill from the junction of Bafra Caddesi and Gençlik Caddesi, note that the steps you need from the main road are those off Bafra Caddesi next to the wall, the tiny steps off Gençlik Caddesi far from the wall just lead to a house.
Kürtün River Valley: countryside in the city, walk downhill and enjoy the views
This walk is almost all downhill but there are a few steps across a narrow footbridge. There is little traffic but there are no cafes or tea shops(if you find one please add it) until the end. To reach the start of the walk at Çatalarmut take dolmuş route 3 (that is a green dolmuş) upwards away from the coast. Get off when the dolmuş turns right just before the junction of Şehit Korhan Ekiz Bulvarı and Fatin Rüştü Zorlu Caddesi, which is a roundabout with a large statue of a pheasant (ask for "sülün heykeli"). If you are coming from the coach station this is a bus or taxi ride of less than 5 minutes. From the roundabout walk uphill along Fatin Rüştü Zorlu Caddesi and immediately left into 182. Sokak. At the end of the street you will see Çatalarmut Cemetery in front of you. Turn right along Babacan Sokak past Çatalarmut primary school on your left. Enjoying the views down into the valley on your left continue along Babacan Sokak past several new apartment buildings, and the water tower away above to your right. Eventually the road diverts briefly from the valley edge, so follow the road round to the right and turn immediately left into 248. Sokak. At the end of this road you will see another cemetery in front of you. The road down hill sharp left is a cul-de-sac (çıkmaz) marked with a no-entry sign. So fork left down Adalı Halil Caddesi and follow it winding right down to the floor of the valley, above which the mewing of buzzards can sometimes be heard. Continue through a small village. Cross the bridge over the small Kürtün River and turn right along 551. Sokak. Follow this road to the end and continue along a short track and path with the river to your right. After about 200 m you will see a narrow raised footbridge over the river. Cross the footbridge and walk up the small road away from the river and then left into the wide but quiet Balipaşa Sokak. If you wish you can take the first left for a short detour back down to the riverside, along and up again. Otherwise follow the road all the way down to Güzel Sanatlar tramstop. Do not cross the tramway here, or at the nearby underpass unless you are visiting the university faculty. Either return to the city center by tram or continue along the road, keeping the tramway on your left, for a few hundred meters and cross the main highway by the bridge and relax in the large Batı Park by the sea.
- Replica of SS Bandırma. This is the replica of the ferry that took Kemal Atatürk from Istanbul to the port of Samsun. Inside, there is a collection of photographs of Atatürk and his comrades. You can also watch a short film.
- Atatürk and his comrades, 19 Mayis Blv. Walking from the bottom of 19 Mayis Blv towards the sea you can see life size models of historical figures; and Atatürk and his comrades alighting from another, partial, replica of the Bandırma at the sea front.
- Amisos Hill (From the city centre take either number 1 (red) dolmus west to its last stop or tram to Baruthane: then walk up. Alternatively take the cable car from Batı Park.). offers a sea view, Hellenistic era tombs, and cafes in pleasant grounds.
- 1 Mosque (Büyük Camii).
- 2 Mosque (Kursunlu Camii).
- 3 Göğceli Mosque (Mezarlık Cami), Terme Caddesi (Cemil Şensoy Cd.) (Çay Mahallesi in Çarşamba, a town a little further east (~30 km), inside Göğceli cemetery, (Göğçeli Mezarlığı)). One of the rare wooden mosques in Turkey, this one dates back to 1206, and its construction does not involve even a single nail (all wooden plates were inserted through each other).
- Bedestan (Tarihi Bedestan Çarşısı), Namık Kemal Cd.
- 4 Gazi Museum, Gazi Cd., in Mecidiye (Center). A witness to Atatürk's activities while in Samsun. The collection includes some clothes and personal paraphernalia, purportedly belonging to him. It also includes a number of old photographs and maps.
- 5 Archaeology and Ethnographic Museum, 19 Mayıs Blv No:5, (near Cumhuriyet Center). Dedicated to local history and artifacts, including the golden Amisos Treasure.
- 6 City Museum, Fuar Cd., Kale Mh.. So new, the tobacco still smells good.
- Sea front — Good for walking or cycling, or you can take a ride in a horse drawn carriage.
- Boat trip. A trip along the coast which takes 2 hours, on a boat named Samsunum ("my Samsun").
Atakum Beach is long, free and sandy and has nice cafes across the small road from the beach. However there is little shade and children and weak swimmers should beware of the variable depth, especially when there are waves.
Fener Beach is women only, has a small daily charge and is suitable for small children in that the water is shallow, it has shade and showers and is sheltered from waves. It is open 08:00-18:00 in summer. Access by public transport involves crossing a busy road, so unless you are staying at the Sheraton you may prefer to take a taxi if you have small children.
Bandırma Beach was closed for renovation as of 2014.
- Talk to the locals. For a city of half a million there are very few foreigners: so most people will be happy to chat if you want to. Try the sea front, parks or outdoor cafes. No need to feel lonely if you are travelling on your own: just ask one of the many English language schools if their students need any conversation practice - especially if you are a native English speaker they will welcome you with open arms.
In summer locals love to barbeque in the big parks and drink tea from samovars.
- Atatürk Park (aka Egg Park) (Central). Small and shady: with the famous statue.
- East Park (Doğu Park) (By the sea.). There are a lot of trees, basketball and football areas and a lot of cafes. From here you could walk up the River Mert.
- West Park (Batı Park) (Take dolmus or tram to Baruthane). Big, with plenty of kitsch. Also by the sea but the trees have not had much time to grow yet. Has cable car to Amisos Hill.
- 7 Çakırlar Korusu (Take the westward tram to Üniversite stop. Walk across to the minibus station and as it is only a few minutes drive most minibuses will pass Çakırlar Korusu. Ask the driver to tell you where to get off. You will see it on the other side of the road: be careful as traffic does not stop for the crossing. To return to the city flag down any public minibus passing the main gate. Or if you have your own transport it is right next to the main road (see map by clicking blue square above) and well signed.). Small nature reserve with boardwalks over wetland forested with ash and elm. Picnic and sports area, restaurant and toilets. Free.
- Arts. If you are interested in arts, you will find a thing or two that you might like. There is a very large and interesting opera building with very cheap weekly shows.
- Go Karting. There is a go kart course in Batıpark (West Park)
- Fishing. The Black Sea is rich in fish varieties.
- Horseriding. There is a course in town.
- Paintball. There is a paintball ground in the locality known as Körfez, somewhat far from city centre.
- Wakeboarding. In summer water skiiers are towed around by an overhead circuit, near Dogupark (East Park)
- Festivals. Two festivals are celebrated annually in the city. Some competitions are held during the Bike Festival. On the other hand, concerts of popular singers are to be found during the Festival of OMÜ (Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi). Both festivals are usually celebrated around the end of June.
If you are a walker or cyclist heading onwards towards villages with fierce unruly dogs you can buy pepper spray in hunting shops here: let us know if it works.
There are plenty of modern hospitals if you need a quicker or cheaper op than you can get at home. Many doctors and dentists are women if that is important for you, but not all have good English.
Pide is one of Samsun's delicious 'events' and has four different types available Kapalı, peynirli-yumurtalı (cheese&egg), pastırmalı-yumurtalı (spicy bacon&egg) and sucuklu-yumurtalı (Turkish wurst&egg) although there are some further varieties also possible such as spinach, and kavurmalı.
The local people all eat pide every Sunday almost ritualistically.
These pides are totally unique to the city, so don't expect to find them anywhere else.
Fried anchovies are delicious in winter.
Tea: always but not only after anchovies. If you find the tea too strong then "çay açık olsun" is the phrase you need.
If arriving by air internationally (direct, or via Istanbul and you have not yet cleared customs) you will need to walk across to the terminal on your right to collect your baggage, and buy duty-free alcohol if you wish.
- 1 Ozanlar Saz Evi. Tiny teashop where you can drink tea or Turkish coffee, and on weekend evenings listen to the musicians jamming under the picture of local saz player made good Orhan Gencebay
There are some hotels close to the beach, for example Hotel Serra.
You can "couchsurf" or there are plenty of small hotels near Ataturk Park (get off your bus or tram at Cumhuriyet Meydan). Or try the "öğretmenevi".
- 1 Hotel Serra (Serra Otel), Liman Mah. Rıhtım Bulv. No:3 (next to the port entrance), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A favourite with sportspeople.
Sheraton or Hotel Amisos.
- Wi-Fi at the airport is slower than the local tortoises.
- Amasya (SW 90 km - 3 hr by train or 2 by coach, Train (out of service until some time in 2020 for track relaying) is the nicest way to travel there: after leaving the outskirts of Samsun in the morning the first hour of the journey is the most scenic; peach orchards followed by a steep green river valley. The train is comfortable with plenty of space: but bring your own snacks or drinks as none are served.). — to the south is a pleasant riverside city with whitewashed houses and plenty of other historic attractions.
- Bogazkale (SW 310 km). A town close to Hattuşaş, which was once the capital of Hittite Empire, indigenous people of Anatolian highlands
- Ordu (NE 175—km (2½ hours)). On the way to more popular cities and sites of eternally rainy and green Eastern Black Sea
- Sinop (3 hrs to west). An ancient fortified port city jutting out on a peninsula into Turkey's northernmost tip
- Sivas (7 hours by train (out of service until late 2019 for track relaying) to the south). An important city in Turkish history, today relatively small, but with a lovely Madresa complex, and a gateway to Central Anatolia.
- Trabzon, Trabzon Province. (3½ hours by car, 6 hours by bus). — with its seaside view badly ruined by the Black Sea Highway, is still an important historical city, that is great fun to explore. The main city of the northeast has a lot to offer a visitor, and is the place to stay when traveling to the stunning Sümela Monastery. Take a tour to Lake Uzungöl
- Kızılırmak Delta bird reserve Kızılırmak (literally "red river", due to its colour). The delta is great for birdwatching.
|Routes through Samsun|
|Sinop ← Kızılırmak Delta Bird Reserve ←||W E||→ Ordu → Trabzon|
|Ends at ←||W E||→ Trabzon → Poti|
|END ←||N S||→ Merzifon → Merges with|