Van Lake Express: Enjoy The Landscape From Ankara To Tatvan

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Traveling by train is becoming more and more popular in Turkey.  When you travel by train, the route just becomes the most important part of your adventure. Can you deny?

Eastern Express is the most famous train route for travelers in Turkey. However, due to the high-demand, it is almost impossible to find tickets. So, for people looking for a new adventure, Express Van Lake has become the new route. If you are an adventurer, we highly recommend you to take this route to enjoy the vast and ravishing landscape for 25 hours. But make sure that you know all the useful details before you set off.

The route and the tickets of Van Lake Express

Van Lake Express is a two-way route between Ankara and Tatvan twice a week. It goes through Central Anatolia, starting from Ankara, passing through Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Elazığ, and finally arriving at Tatvan. On contrary to its name, the train actually does not go to Van. The final destination of this journey is Tatvan, Bitlis where you will see the magnificent Lake Van. We have to tell you that it is not only Lake Van that will ravish you, but also the landscape of the whole route.

So, considering that Eastern Express is turning into a difficult route to take due to its high-demanded and sold-out tickets, you might think about the tickets for Van Lake Express. No need to worry, for now. It is still possible to find a wagon-lit in the train.

You can easily buy the tickets online on the TCDD website or on the mobile application of TCDD. Search for Ankara – Tatvan train stations. There are three types of tickets to buy; Pullman, Covered Couchette, and Wagon-lit. The pricing also depends on your age and status. If you buy the tickets online, you do not need to print it. Upon buying online, you receive an e-mail, which you can show on the train if you are asked.

Which direction to choose for the best sightseeing

Compared to Ankara-Tatvan direction, Tatvan-Ankara direction is more favored. Tatvan-Ankara train leaves at 7:55 and you will be able to see Elazığ, Bingöl, Malatya, Muş, and some other Eastern towns during the daytime. On the contrary, Ankara-Tatvan train leaves at 11:00 and it gets dark when you pass through those beautiful natures. People usually prefer to do one way by flight as it might be too exhausting to do both ways with the train.

You can buy a flight ticket to Van, so you can see around the city and enjoy delicious Van cuisine. Then you can take the ferry to Tatvan, which is the unique experience of this adventure. This is where you are going to take the train that will be your home for the next 25 hours.

When to Go

The best period for this route is in May and June because it is the time to have the best green view on the way, to see the migration of the fish in Van Lake, and to be able to go to Akdamar Island with the local ferries. However, we have to accept that every season has its own beauty and charm.

What to see, do and eat in Van

This route offers you magnificent views on the way to Tatvan and natural beauties around Van Lake, which will amaze you. Along with nature, Van is a city that relies on a long history whose remnants are still all around the city.

You can Van Museum to know more about the history of the city. The history also reveals itself with the Van Fortress, Hoşap Fortress. When you are done with the historical places, go and get lost in nature. Muradiye Waterfall is among the must-see beauties of Van.

If you plan to spend a few days in Van, you are highly recommended seeing the Travertines in Dereiçi. They are only 35 km away from Başkale in Van. The Travertines look somehow like the ones in Pamukkale, Denizli.

If you are in Van, you cannot avoid the amazing and famous Van breakfast. Believe it or not, you will never forget that breakfast you will have in this city.


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