Kars, in north-eastern Turkey, is the capital and largest city of the Kars province in Eastern Anatolia. The city lies within 70km of the Armenian border, which is closed, and is the closest large town in range of the Georgian border, which is open.
Places to visit
Kars Castle is visible from everywhere in the city and stands impressively upon the hill and the views on offer over the town are worth the leg work to get there. On the walk from the main town towards the castle some beautiful Armenian churches, now converted into mosques, are waiting to be discovered. Kümbet Camil being the most impressive of the remaining structures. The Taş Koprü bridge is a place that locals regard as a tourist attraction, to us however it was just a bridge. You can make your own mind up.
We would also recommend visiting the Aşıklar Evinda (‘lovers house) a local community culture hall that we were lucky enough to be invited to by our host. We felt privileged to witness the Aşik Kültürü (Lovers’ Culture) event during our time in Kars. Local Saz musicians, playing improvised versions of old Turkic tales, enthralled us not only with their school but also their hospitality and pride in their cultural heritage.
Areas of interest nearby
Most visitors to Kars are drawn there due to its close proximity to the ancient abandoned ruins of the Armenian city of Ani, only 45km outside of the city.
Read out guide about the wondrous sight of Ani by following the link.
It is connected by motorway (E691) to Erzurum to the west and to Ardahan in the north by lesser roads. The city has an airport that has daily flights to Ankara and Istanbul. There is also a train service that connects the city to Erzurum.
Many eateries can be found in and around Prof Dr Metin Sözen and Küçük Kazım Bey Cad in the centre of town. You can get a good feed for between TL8–15.
West towards Erzurum
The key to hitch-hiking out of Kars is to get to the bypass (E697 / D965) that runs around the south of the city. From the corner of Erzurum-Kars Karayolu and A.Gaffar Okkan Blv you will have no problem getting a lift.
The problem is getting there however. We stayed with a local and he was able to flag down a bus for us going along Davut Aksu Cd in the centre of town. Its destination was şube şefligi a factory complex on the edge of town.
North towards Ardahan
The city road Hüseyin Atak Blv that runs north out of the city is a good bet. This road connects to the Ardahan-Kars Karayolu (E697 / D965) the bypass that runs north to Ardahan.
Hitchhiking to Ani
We were lucky as they guy who took us from near Ardahan to Kars offered to take us to Ani on the way, so we didn’t have to worry about hitchhiking to Ani from Kars, but there shouldn’t be any problem anyway!
Take Celal Aras Cd from the centre and follow it until Ardahan-Kars Karayolu. Cross the road and start hitchhiking, you are on the road to Ani now. There are some villages on the way so somebody might take you with and if not you can always count on local tourists going to visit Ani as well.
(Click to enlarge)
Visit our Turkey country guide for more information!
written by: Jon