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How To Travel To Ani, Turkey


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tamiko Lamm



Welcome to Ani, a hidden gem in Turkey that offers a captivating journey through history and culture. Situated on the eastern border of the country, Ani is an ancient city known for its rich historical significance and stunning architectural wonders. As you explore the once vibrant metropolis, you’ll be transported back in time to the medieval era, when Ani served as the capital of the Armenian kingdom.


Ani, also referred to as the “City of 1,001 Churches,” was once a bustling center of trade and religion. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and curious travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences.


Upon setting foot in Ani, you’ll be greeted by the remnants of an impressive ancient city that once stood proud. From towering fortified walls to majestic churches and palaces, Ani’s architectural marvels are sure to leave you in awe. Each structure tells a story of the city’s past and the civilizations that once thrived within its walls.


As you wander through the vast open-air museum, you’ll encounter well-preserved churches adorned with intricate stone carvings, such as the Cathedral of Ani and the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents. These architectural masterpieces reflect the unique blend of Armenian and Byzantine influences that define Ani’s cultural heritage.


One of the highlights of visiting Ani is the opportunity to witness the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Perched on a plateau overlooking the Arpa River, Ani provides a striking vista of the Turkish and Armenian borderlands. The combination of the city’s ancient ruins and the stunning natural scenery creates a truly immersive experience.


Whether you’re an avid history buff or simply seeking an extraordinary travel experience, Ani is an incomparable destination that will transport you to another time. As you explore the city’s ruins, immerse yourself in the enigmatic atmosphere and unravel the mysteries that lie within. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through history and discover the hidden treasures of Ani, Turkey.


Getting to Ani, Turkey

Reaching Ani, Turkey is an adventure in itself, as the ancient city is located in a remote and picturesque region. While the journey may require a bit of planning and navigation, the reward of visiting this historical gem is well worth it.


The nearest major city to Ani is Kars, which is approximately 45 kilometers away. The most convenient way to reach Ani is by flying into Kars Airport, which offers both domestic and international flights. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or arrange for a private transfer to Ani. The journey takes around 1 hour and allows you to enjoy the scenic drive through the countryside.


If you prefer to travel by train, you can take a domestic train to Kars from major cities like Istanbul or Ankara. The train ride is comfortable and offers a unique way to experience the Turkish landscapes during your journey. Once in Kars, you can arrange for a taxi or join a guided tour to reach Ani.


For those who enjoy road trips, renting a car is a great option. The drive from Kars to Ani takes approximately 1 hour and allows you to have more flexibility in exploring the region at your own pace. However, it is essential to note that the roads leading to Ani may not be well-maintained, so caution and proper navigation are advised.


If you prefer a guided experience, you can join a tour that includes a visit to Ani. There are several tour operators in the area that offer day trips or multi-day tours to Ani and the surrounding region. This option allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the expertise of a local guide who will provide insights into the history and significance of Ani.


It’s important to note that Ani is located in close proximity to the Turkish-Armenian border. Before planning your visit, be sure to check the travel regulations and visa requirements for crossing the border, as they may vary depending on your nationality.


Once you arrive at Ani, you can explore the ancient city on foot. The ruins are spread across a vast area, so wearing comfortable shoes and being prepared for some walking is recommended. There are also guided tours available on-site that provide in-depth information about the historical significance of each structure.


Prepare yourself for a journey through time as you embark on the adventure of reaching Ani, Turkey. Whether you choose to fly, take the train, drive, or join a guided tour, the experience of exploring this ancient city will leave a lasting impression.


Best Time to Visit Ani

Ani is a city with a rich historical past and enchanting landscapes, making it a remarkable destination to explore year-round. However, choosing the best time to visit Ani can greatly enhance your experience and ensure favorable weather conditions during your trip.


The ideal time to visit Ani is during the spring and autumn months, from April to June and September to November, respectively. During these seasons, the weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The landscapes come alive with vibrant colors, offering a picturesque backdrop to the ancient ruins of Ani.


In spring, Ani is adorned with blooming wildflowers and lush greenery, creating a visually stunning environment. The weather is usually comfortable, allowing for leisurely exploration of the ruins without the scorching heat of summer. Additionally, spring brings fewer crowds, making it a perfect time for a more peaceful and immersive experience in Ani.


Autumn is equally captivating, as the surrounding landscapes transform into a tapestry of warm hues. The weather remains pleasant, and visitors can enjoy clear skies and cooler temperatures. The autumn foliage adds a touch of magic to the already enchanting atmosphere of Ani, making it a favorite time for photographers and nature enthusiasts.


Winter in Ani can be quite cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing and occasional snowfall. While the city’s mysterious ambiance and the possibility of seeing Ani covered in a layer of snow may appeal to some, it’s important to note that some sites may be inaccessible during the winter months. However, if you don’t mind the cold and want to experience Ani with fewer tourists, winter can be a unique time to visit.


Summer, from June to August, can be quite hot in Ani, with temperatures often reaching over 30°C (86°F). The heat can be challenging, especially when exploring the extensive ruins under the sun. However, if you plan to visit during this time, it is advisable to start your day early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the peak heat of the day. Additionally, staying hydrated and wearing sunscreen and a hat are essential. Despite the heat, summer is still a popular time to visit Ani due to the long daylight hours and the possibility of attending cultural festivals and events.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Ani depends on your personal preferences and the kind of experience you seek. Whether you choose the mild climate of spring or autumn, the winter wonderland of winter, or the vibrant energy of summer, Ani promises an unforgettable journey through time and history.


Top Attractions in Ani

Ani is a treasure trove of architectural wonders and historical landmarks, offering visitors a glimpse into its glorious past. As you explore the ancient city, be prepared to be amazed by the stunning attractions that have earned Ani its reputation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are some of the top attractions in Ani:

  1. Cathedral of Ani

    The Cathedral of Ani, also known as the Church of Holy Redeemer or Fethiye Mosque, is one of the most iconic structures in Ani. Built in the 10th century, this impressive cathedral boasts a combination of Armenian and Byzantine architectural styles. Adorned with intricate carvings and ornate interiors, the cathedral is a testament to Ani’s grandeur as a medieval capital.

  2. Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents

    The Church of St. Gregory is a masterpiece of Armenian architecture, known for its unique design and intricate stone carvings. Built in the 11th century, this church is dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of the Armenian Church. Its exquisite facade and graceful arches make it one of the most photographed landmarks in Ani.

  3. City Walls

    The fortified walls of Ani stand as a testament to the city’s former grandeur and strategic importance. These massive stone walls, with their watchtowers and gates, once encircled the entire city, stretching for more than 6 kilometers. Walking along the city walls provides a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes and highlights the immense scale of Ani’s fortifications.

  4. Church of St. Gregory of the Abughamrents

    This church, dating back to the 10th century, showcases the distinct style of Armenian architecture. Adorned with intricate murals and delicate stone carvings, the Church of St. Gregory of the Abughamrents is a true marvel to behold. Its secluded location and serene ambiance make it a favorite among visitors seeking tranquility.

  5. Palace of the Bagratuni Kings

    The Palace of the Bagratuni Kings stands as a tribute to the royal past of Ani. Though now in ruins, the remnants of this once majestic palace offer glimpses of the grand halls and opulent courtyards that were the center of power during Ani’s golden age. Exploring the palace complex allows you to imagine the royal life that once thrived within its walls.

These are just a few of the countless attractions awaiting you in Ani. As you wander through the ancient city, be sure to explore the numerous churches, monasteries, and other remnants of the past that showcase the rich history and architectural splendor of this remarkable destination.


Where to Stay in Ani

While Ani itself does not offer accommodation options, there are several nearby cities where you can find comfortable places to stay during your visit to the ancient city. Here are some recommended areas to consider:

  1. Kars

    Kars is the nearest major city to Ani, located approximately 45 kilometers away. It serves as a convenient base for exploring Ani and offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. In Kars, you’ll find a mix of modern hotels, boutique guesthouses, and cozy bed and breakfasts. Staying in Kars allows you to experience the local culture, enjoy delicious cuisine, and visit other attractions in the area, such as the Kars Castle and the Kars Museum.

  2. Agarak

    Agarak is a small village located in close proximity to Ani. It is known for its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings. While you won’t find luxury resorts or large hotels in Agarak, you can find charming guesthouses and rural accommodations that offer a more rustic and authentic experience. Staying in Agarak provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local village life and enjoy the tranquility of the countryside.

  3. Igdir

    Igdir is another city that offers accommodation options for visitors to Ani. Located approximately 75 kilometers from Ani, Igdir is known for its friendly hospitality and welcoming atmosphere. There are a few hotels and guesthouses in Igdir that provide comfortable amenities and easy access to Ani and other nearby attractions.

When choosing where to stay, consider the proximity to Ani, your preferred level of comfort, and the type of experience you want to have. While Kars offers more amenities and services, Agarak and Igdir provide a more rural and authentic atmosphere.


It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability and secure the best rates. Additionally, consider checking online travel websites and reading reviews from previous guests to make an informed decision.


Remember, the true highlight of your visit to Ani is exploring the ancient city itself. Wherever you choose to stay, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural wonders of Ani, creating memories that will last a lifetime.


Local Cuisine in Ani

Exploring the ancient city of Ani also means indulging in the local cuisine and savoring the flavors of the region. The culinary traditions in and around Ani are a delightful blend of Turkish, Armenian, and Eastern influences, resulting in a diverse and mouthwatering experience for food lovers.


When it comes to local cuisine in Ani, you can expect a variety of dishes that showcase the rich culinary heritage of the area. Here are a few must-try dishes:

  1. Manti

    Manti is a classic Turkish dish that consists of small dumplings filled with minced meat, such as beef or lamb. These dumplings are typically served with a garlic-infused yogurt sauce and a drizzle of melted butter, creating a creamy and flavorful combination. Manti is a beloved dish that can be found throughout Turkey, and trying it in Ani is a must.

  2. Lahmacun

    Lahmacun, also known as Turkish pizza, is a favorite street food in the region. It consists of a thin, crispy dough topped with a mixture of minced meat, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and a blend of spices. Lahmacun is often enjoyed by rolling it up and adding fresh vegetables, herbs, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s a delicious and satisfying snack that is perfect for a quick bite while exploring Ani.

  3. Sarma

    Sarma is a traditional Armenian dish that features grape leaves wrapped around a flavorful filling of rice, ground meat, herbs, and spices. These stuffed grape leaves are then gently cooked until tender, resulting in a delicious appetizer or main meal option. The combination of savory rice and aromatic herbs makes Sarma a comforting and flavorful dish that represents the culinary heritage of the region.

  4. Baklava

    No culinary journey is complete without indulging in a sweet treat, and Baklava is a dessert that should not be missed. Baklava is made by layering thin sheets of filo pastry with a mixture of crushed nuts, such as pistachios or walnuts, and sweetened with a syrup or honey. The result is a mouthwatering pastry with a perfect balance of crunchy and sweet flavors. Enjoy a piece of Baklava as a delightful way to end your meal in Ani.

In addition to these dishes, be sure to sample other local specialties, such as kebabs, pide (Turkish pizza topped with various ingredients), and a variety of mezze (appetizers) that showcase the flavors of the region. Don’t forget to accompany your meals with traditional Turkish tea or try Ayran, a refreshing yogurt-based drink.


While there are no specific restaurants within Ani itself, nearby cities like Kars offer a wide range of dining options where you can experience the local cuisine. From casual eateries serving traditional dishes to fine dining establishments offering a fusion of flavors, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to satisfy your taste buds.


Embrace the culinary heritage of Ani and savor the diverse flavors that the region has to offer. It’s a delicious way to immerse yourself in the local culture and create lasting memories of your journey through this ancient city.


Cultural Etiquette in Ani

When visiting Ani, it is important to be mindful of the cultural etiquette and customs of the region. By respecting the local traditions, you can enhance your experience and show appreciation for the local culture. Here are some cultural etiquette tips to keep in mind while exploring Ani:

  1. Dress Modestly

    As Ani is a historically and culturally significant site, it is recommended to dress modestly out of respect for the local customs. This means avoiding revealing or provocative clothing, particularly when entering religious sites or interacting with locals. Opt for clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, and always carry a scarf or shawl to cover your head if necessary.

  2. Greet with Respect

    When interacting with locals, it is polite to greet them with respect. Traditional greetings in Turkey include a handshake, especially between people of the same gender. Additionally, it is customary to address older individuals or those in positions of authority with honorific titles like “Hocam” (teacher) or “Bey” (Mr.) or “Hanım” (Mrs.). Use formal language when speaking to show respect.

  3. Remove Your Shoes

    When entering someone’s home or a revered religious site, it is customary to remove your shoes as a sign of respect. Pay attention to signage or observe if others are doing the same. Keep in mind that wearing socks or having clean and odor-free feet is essential, as you may be asked to remove your shoes in certain locations.

  4. Observe Religious Customs

    Ani has a rich religious heritage, and it’s important to be respectful of religious customs. When visiting churches or mosques, dress modestly and follow any instructions provided by the religious authorities. Avoid loud conversations or disruptive behavior, and always ask for permission before taking photographs inside religious sites.

  5. Show Courtesy and Politeness

    Politeness and courtesy are highly valued in Turkish culture. Use “please” and “thank you” when interacting with locals, and be mindful of your tone of voice. Additionally, it is customary to offer a small gift or a token of appreciation when invited to someone’s home. Remember to accept hospitality graciously and express gratitude for any kindness extended to you.

  6. Respect the Sacredness of the Ruins

    While exploring the ancient ruins of Ani, it is important to treat them with respect. Do not climb or sit on the ancient structures, as this can cause damage to the fragile remains. Avoid littering and take care not to disturb or remove any artifacts. By showing reverence for the archaeological sites, you contribute to their preservation for future generations.

By observing these cultural etiquette guidelines in Ani, you can ensure a positive and respectful interaction with the locals and the cultural heritage of the region. Remember, embracing the local customs and traditions is an integral part of experiencing the true essence of Ani and its historical significance.


Essential Travel Tips for Ani

Planning a visit to Ani, Turkey? Here are some essential travel tips to help you make the most of your adventure in this ancient city:

  1. Research and Plan Ahead

    Prior to your trip, do some research on Ani’s history, attractions, and cultural significance. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the ancient city and create an itinerary that suits your interests. Planning ahead will ensure that you make the most of your time in Ani and don’t miss any important sites.

  2. Check Visa Requirements

    Be sure to check the visa requirements for entering Turkey before your trip. Depending on your nationality, you may need to obtain a visa in advance or be eligible for a visa on arrival. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of entry.

  3. Currency and Cash

    The official currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY). Make sure to have some Turkish Lira with you for small purchases and transactions in Ani. While some establishments may accept credit cards, it is advisable to carry some cash, especially when visiting more remote areas.

  4. Pack Accordingly

    When visiting Ani, pack comfortable footwear as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking on uneven surfaces. Additionally, pack lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the season, while keeping in mind the need to dress modestly in certain areas. Don’t forget essentials such as sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent.

  5. Stay Hydrated

    Ani can get hot, particularly during the summer months. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially while exploring the ruins. Carry a water bottle with you and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Consider bringing electrolyte packets to replenish minerals lost through sweating.

  6. Respect Local Customs

    As mentioned in the cultural etiquette section, respect the local customs and traditions when visiting Ani. Dress modestly, remove your shoes when required, and be mindful of religious practices and customs. Showing respect for the local culture will make your experience more enjoyable and help foster positive interactions with the locals.

  7. Be Prepared for Remote Conditions

    Ani is located in a remote area, so be prepared for limited amenities and services. It’s a good idea to carry essentials such as a small first aid kit, snacks, and a refillable water bottle. Keep in mind that there may be limited or no Wi-Fi or cellular coverage in certain areas.

  8. Engage with Local Guides

    To gain a deeper understanding of Ani’s history and significance, consider hiring a local guide. They can provide valuable insights and stories that will enhance your visit. Engaging with locals and learning from them will make your experience richer and more memorable.

  9. Be Mindful of Safety

    While Ani is generally a safe place to visit, it’s important to take standard travel safety precautions. Keep your valuables secure, be aware of your surroundings, and follow any safety guidelines provided by local authorities. Inform yourself about any current travel advisories or safety concerns in the region.

By following these essential travel tips, you’ll be well-prepared to explore the wonders of Ani and create an unforgettable journey through history. Embrace the ancient city’s atmosphere, immerse yourself in its storied past, and open yourself up to the remarkable experiences that await you in Ani, Turkey.



Ani, Turkey is a captivating destination that beckons travelers with its rich history, stunning architecture, and intriguing cultural heritage. As you wander through the ancient city, you’ll be transported back in time, encountering awe-inspiring ruins and experiencing the grandeur of a bygone era.


From the magnificent Cathedral of Ani to the intricate carvings of the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents, the architectural wonders of Ani will leave you in awe. The panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes add to the enchantment, creating a truly immersive experience.


While visiting Ani, it’s important to respect the local customs and cultural etiquette. Dress modestly, remove your shoes when required, and show courtesy towards the local traditions. By doing so, you’ll have a more meaningful and respectful interaction with the locals and the ancient ruins.


Consider the best time to visit Ani based on your preferences. Spring and autumn offer mild weather and vibrant landscapes, while summer brings long daylight hours and the possibility of attending cultural events. Winter can be a unique time to visit, albeit with colder temperatures and potential site closures.


When planning your trip, keep in mind that Ani itself does not have accommodation options. Nearby cities like Kars, Agarak, and Igdir offer a range of places to stay, catering to different budgets and preferences. Book your accommodation in advance and explore the local cuisine, which showcases the flavors of Turkish, Armenian, and Eastern influences.


Remember to pack essentials, stay hydrated, and be prepared for the remote conditions that Ani offers. Engage with local guides to deepen your understanding of the city’s history and significance.


As your journey through Ani comes to a close, you’ll carry with you memories of the ancient ruins, the hospitality of the locals, and the enchantment of a destination that truly transcends time. Ani, Turkey, awaits your exploration, promising an unforgettable adventure through history and culture.