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Erzurum is a city in Eastern Anatolia, and is the hub for visiting eastern Turkey.
Erzurum is the highest major city in Turkey, situated at an altitude of about 2000 metres over the sea level. Complemented with the distance to the sea, this makes the climate of this area the harshest in Turkey with the temperatures in long, heavily snowy, and bitterly cold winter regularly below -30°C at nights. Wet summers in Erzurum are around 30°C in the day time and is chilly at night time, although temperatures dropping down to freezing point during summer are becoming rarer and rarer each year, probably with the advance of the global warming.
Erzurum is one of the most conservative cities in Turkey and is a stronghold for religious sects (including the Gülen movement). It is also one of the poorest and least developed cities with hardly any house standing and suffering from a low infrastructure.
Direct trains run daily from Ankara to Erzurum, departing at 6 pm and arriving 20 hours later around 2 pm. This train continues to Kars, taking another 4 hours. The return train leaves Kars around 8 am and Erzurum around noon. There are couchettes, a sleeping car and a buffet.
Erzurum Airport 10 km from city center.
Daily flight from Istanbul (by Onur Air, Turkish Airlines, and Pegasus) and direct flights from Izmir, Ankara, and Antalya.
In winter, there are also flights from Russia, and Ukraine.
Most bus companies stop at the Erzurum Otogar, which is about 1 km away from the main city centre. It is a walkable distance to town, or you can take the public bus to/from the Otogar. Update mid 2015: new bus terminal is well outside the town, near the airport, and not walkable distance to center. Local busses commute frequently on day time. Old Otogar is currently a construction yard of what looks like a shopping center in making.
Erzurum is a pretty small city, and you can cover most of it by foot, unless you are thinking of heading out and around the city, in which case, most public buses and taxis will be able to get you there.
What to see
Citadel of Erzurum - The Citadel of Erzurum is situated on the top of the hill in the middle of the city centre. The YTL 3 admission fee allows you to explore the grounds as well as to climb up the minaret/clock tower, as well as visit the citadel masjid. It's worth the effort to climb up the clock tower as it gives you a commanding view of the city as well as the surrounding mountains. However in October 2013 the tower was closed to visitors and there's nothing else to see to make it worth the admission.
Ski in Palandöken ski resort, which is only 10 minutes away from city centre by public bus. Take G-5, it's going close to Palandöken (2000m walk up the hill) on weekdays and directly to the ski area on weekends. A Taxi is about 20-25 TL. Each hotel has its own lifts and slopes. This is not a big ski area.
Stockbreeding is widespread in the region, and there is little chance to cultivate vegetables and fruits in this high and cold land. Therefore traditional food is mainly dependent on meat.
The city is also known for different types of local cheese that is hard to find elsewhere in Turkey.
Kadayıf dolması — A must-taste local dessert of Erzurum cuisine. It is made from kadayıf, a sweet pastry that is lots of thin fibres of flour put together. Walnuts are stuffed in the kadayıf and the stuffed kadayıf is first fried, then cooled and finally ready to serve with addition of a sweet sauce. It may be sampled in virtually every restaurant in Erzurum, but some of the best can be tried in a specialist restaurant, Muammer Usta.
Döner — Typical Turkish döner is really made well and should be tasted in Hacı Baba Restaurant on Emniyet Caddesi.
Cağ kebap — local kebab of Erzurum, that you can have in Gelgor Restaurant or Ye Gör restaurant. It is made with lamb meat and the preperation is like döner, but unlike döner, instead of a vertical axis, the meat is cooked on a horizontal axis.
Güzelyurt Restaurant — A very nice old restaurant right in the city center on Cumhuriyet Caddesi. You can have a good Turkish meal with some Turkish raki and enjoy the atmosphere.
Hmmburger — A very tiny small hamburger place. Hamburgers are really delicious.
Coffeebox — A local coffeeshop, with various pasta options and nice coffees.