Artvin is a city located in the east of the Black Sea region, near the border of Georgia. It's famous for its bulls which are the symbol of the city. About 55% of Artvin's land is covered by forest. It's truly a lush stomping ground, with magnificent plateaus (called "yayla", where people settle and that are perfect for escaping the heat in the summer), fields of tea, and waterfalls aplenty.
There are many places to visit in the city center and its surrounding areas, but you also have to travel all around. There's just so much to see and do in places like Borçka, Şavşat and Arhavi.
There's a special variety of corn bread along the Black Sea, as well as dishes like pilav covered with Hamsi (also called European anchovy), kale dishes, fried pickles, a cheesy corn/breakfast fondu kind of dish called muhlama, and many other local foods.
There are paths to hike along, rafting and canoeing facilities in the Çoruh River. There are many accommodation options, like hotels and local houses for camping, staying in a yayla or in the city center. Local houses might be a more off the-beaten-path experience with the great hospitality of local residents.
Day 1, Şavşat
Sahara Karagöl National Park Şavşat
There are two Karagöl lakes in Artvin, one in Şavşat Karagöl and the other in Borçka Karagöl. Karagöl National Park, one of 40 national parks in Turkey, is divided into two separate areas: Karagöl and Sahara Plateau. Sahara Plateau has a wide range of green land and famous cold springs.
Karagöl in Şavşat is about 80 km. to Artvin city center, and the drive is easy as the roads are relatively newly paved. Renting a car is quite simple. There were 11 kinds of fish in the lake as well as the local carp. The non-carp fish were brought by an officer who worked there at the time, and they have adapted to the lake.
There is a beautiful trail that can be walked comfortably around the lake, and it's a nice easy stroll that won't tire you out. There are also tables and picnic areas dotted around if you feel like taking a break.
You're going to need an SUV with four-wheel-drive vehicle of some sort to get up to Arsiyan. The whole region is surrounded by lovely little lakes, Girls' Lake, Floating Lake, Ciz Lake, Heart Lake, and Taurus Lake. The most famous among them is Lake Mezra, which has a number of floating islands. These islands have no connection with the bottom of the lake. They are floating on the lake surface with natural platforms and ponds on them. If you want, you can make your way out to the islands yourself and be completely alone with nature, nobody within what seems like a million miles. 😊
Day 2, Borçka (Machakheli, Karagöl), Kafkasör
The Machakhlistskali River crosses between George and Turkey and features spots of true beauty. Machakheli means handwriting in Georgian and is named for Camili Village in the center with 5 villages around it as if they were 5 fingers. This region is still largely Georgian culturally, which can be seen in the cuisine.
Machakheli is the only UNESCO registered bio-reserve area in Turkey. It's also the only place in Turkey which plays host to the particular Caucasian bee species. This bee species can mine deeper into flowers than most other species and therefore can collect the sweetest nectar. They can collect more pollen and produce 1.5 times more honey than the average honeybee.
Lake Karagöl, Borçka
A green colored board-walk path brings you up to a waterfall through winding forest treks. It is located within the Machakheli borders and is 1,550 m above sea level.
The lake is rich with endemic vegetation and surrounded by massive, magnificent trees. There is a path that you can walk 2,450 meters around the lake, which is about 25 meters deep.
You can rent a boat to visit the lake. There is also a restaurant at which to relax and get a bite to eat.
After Borçka Karagöl, you can go to Kafkasör Plateau close to the center of Artvin. Kafkasör Plateau has an altitude of 1,250m and holds a cultural tourism and art festival every July. Bungalows are offered on the plateau for accommodation. In addition, the plateau has some healing spring waters called Cıskaro, Yalnızhasan and Acısu. It is commonly believed that these spring waters are good for some skin diseases in humans and animals.