Lake Van ferry terminal                               Population: 66,000

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On paper Tatvan has everything going for, with its location on the shores of Lake Van and its mountainous backdrop. Close up, however, its charms tend to evaporate like the waters of the lake on a hot summer’s day.

For whatever reason, the town has quite literally turned its back on the lake. The crumbling waterside promenade is bereft of alluring cafes and restaurants, their place taken instead by a large and unattractive military base.

From the promenade, however, you might catch a glimpse of the town’s other great missed opportunity: the Lake Van ferry that plies back and forth to Van and would provide an unforgettable cruising opportunity if only anyone could ever come up with its timetable (I'm now hearing that a cargo ferry travels to Van at 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm but have yet to confirm this).

Before the 2011 Van earthquake there had been talk of a new high-speed trans-lake ferry. Those plans are on the backburner now. 

In the meantime Tatvan’s single most spectacular sight is the noisy coming home to roost of the town’s many thousands of jackdaws who hunker down for the night in the trees right opposite the new high-street shopping center and around the military base facing the Kardelen Hotel.

For all its drawbacks Tatvan is still the best kicking-off point for an excursion to the local Nemrut Dağı.

Don't leave town without: dining on tasty büryan kebap, a local pit-baked kebab usually only available until early afternoon. You'll see it hanging from hooks in restaurant windows.


Kardelen Hotel. Tel: 0434-827 9500

Hotel Dilek. Tel: 0434-827 1516

Transport info

Buses travelling between Diyarbakır and Van pass through Tatvan; you can pick them up in the high street in front of the bus ticket offices. 

Dolmuşes to Ahlat and Bitlis leave from in front of the high street shopping centre.

It would be great to be able to report the timetable for the ferry across the lake to Van. In theory this is timed to coincide with the arrival of trains from Ankara. In reality it appears to operate completely at random. 

Day trip destinations




El-Aman Hanı

Nemrut Dağı (Mt Nemrut)


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