Often overlooked, Kastamonu is a small bustling city split in half by a river. It’s got a long history and has several historical monuments. The same Ottoman architecture that made Safranbolu famous is found in Kastamonu, although in a much more urban setting and with much less restoration.
Kastamonu was founded by ancient Greeks as Timónion (Τιμόνιον) historically in the Paphlagonia (Παφλαγονία) region. The modern name is derived from Kástra Komninón (Κάστρα Κομνηνών), which is the original name of the city’s castle built by a branch of the Byzantine royal family, Komninós (Κομνηνός). The city was also the birthplace of Greek rebetika composer Yovan Tsaous (Γιοβάν Τσαούς / Yovan Çavuş) in 1893.
To get to Kastamonu, it’s possible to take a bus from Istanbul, which usually takes about nine hours. It’s only four hours from Ankara. The Kastamonu Otogarı (bus terminal) is located on the outskirts of town. You have to take a taxi or a dolmuş into the city center. Once in the city center, it’s fairly easy to get around on foot. Day trips to İnebolu are possible from the bus terminal.
I stayed at the Otel Mütevelli, right in the heart of the city along the river. The hotel was only 50TL per night for a single room. The price and location couldn’t be beat, the breakfast was decent, and the staff was helpful and friendly. The rooms, however, left a lot to be desired.
Also, do yourself a favor and get a box of çekme helva. It’s a delicious melt-in-your-mouth Turkish sweet very similar to pişmaniye.
One restaurant I can recommend was Eflanili Konağı. It’s set in a restored Ottoman home and also has tables in a wonderful garden in the backyard. They serve cuisine typical of Kastamonu. Try the banduma, a tasty turkey dish.