19 Cities Near Istanbul – Best Places Beyond Istanbul

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Post author Mehmet

Written by our local expert Mehmet

Mehmet is digital nomad who was born in Istanbul, Türkiye and now calls the Balkans region his home-office.

Heading to Istanbul and wondering about cities close to Istanbul that you can check out? Or maybe you’re already enjoying the city and looking for a quick getaway to mix things up? You’re in luck because there’s plenty to see and do just a short distance away.

Istanbul’s got its own charm with all the history and buzz, but let me give you the lowdown on some cool spots nearby. These places aren’t just your average tourist stops; they’re like secret escapes that’ll add a whole new layer to your Turkey trip.

Think about chilling by a quiet lake, exploring a cozy village, or getting a quick history fix in a town that’s not overrun by tourists. These cities close to Istanbul are easy to reach and make for perfect day trips or even a quick overnight stay. So, grab your map, and let’s get planning. There’s a bunch to see just a short distance away from Istanbul, and it’s all just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Turkey Travel Blog_12 Cities To Explore Near Istanbul

Join us as we take you on a journey through captivating cities near Istanbul that will leave you awestruck with their natural wonders, historic landmarks, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals.

Get ready to pack your bags and discover the hidden gems of Turkey!

Introduction to Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, is one of the world’s great metropolises. It straddles Europe and Asia, making it a truly unique destination. And while Istanbul is an amazing city to explore, there are many other beautiful cities near Istanbul that are worth a visit.

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, consider a day trip to any of these gorgeous nearby cities:

1. Edirne: The Gateway To Thrace

Most beautiful mosques in Turkey - Selimye Mosque - Edirne

Edirne, located in Thrace on the northwesternmost tip of Turkey, was once the Ottoman capital. The city’s rich history is reflected in its architecture, with beautiful mosques, bridges, and palaces dotting the landscape. Edirne is also known for its cuisine, especially its delicious pastries.

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, Edirne is the perfect place to kick back and soak up some Turkish culture. And, since it’s only a few hours away from Istanbul by car or train, it makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway.

2. Şile – A Lush Greece Coastal Paradise

Beaches in Istanbul - Aerial view near the river in agva sile istanbul turkey_Depositphotos_214962880_S

Şile is a beautiful coastal town located just an hour outside of Istanbul, making it a great day trip idea. The town is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, and lush green hills. Şile is the perfect place to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. There are a number of small hotels and pensions located in Şile, as well as a few restaurants and cafes.

The town is also known for its historic lighthouse, built in the 1800s. The lighthouse is still in use today and can be seen from miles away. Other popular attractions include the Şile Castle ruins, which were built during the Byzantine era, and the nearby İzmit Bay.

Şile is also home to a number of hiking trails and nature walks, making it an ideal destination for outdoor adventurers.

3. Bursa: Home Of The Ottoman Empire

View of historical Cumalikizik village - Bursa, Turkey
Cumalikizik village in Bursa

Bursa was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and it shows – the city is filled with beautiful Ottoman architecture. From the grandiose Green Mosque to the intricate Bursa Ulu Cami, there are plenty of stunning buildings to admire. The city also has a lovely old town, and its position in Turkey means that it gets plenty of sunshine – perfect for days spent exploring.

Bursa was also the home of Sultan Mehmed I, who established the Ottoman Empire in 1299. He founded his palace here, and it stands today as a testament to Bursa’s place in history. There are plenty of other historical sites to explore around the city, including the ancient Greek city of Prusa and the Ottoman tombs at Mount Uludag.

Historic Mosque decoration 14 th century - Bursa Turkey
Historic Mosque

The food scene in Bursa is also worth exploring – this is where you’ll find some of Turkey’s best kebabs. Other local dishes include sarma (stuffed vine leaves), güvec (slow-cooked stews) and tavuk göğsü (chicken pudding). As for shopping, there’s plenty to choose from – from traditional textiles to modern malls.

All in all, Bursa is a city close to Istanbul that offers a great insight into Turkey’s rich past and its culture today – with plenty of things to see, do and eat.

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4. Iznik: Ancient City Of Churches

Mihrimah Sultan Mosque Istanbul City

Iznik is an ancient city located in northwestern Turkey. The city was once the capital of the Byzantine Empire and is home to a number of churches and other religious sites. Visitors to Iznik can explore the city’s history and see its many beautiful buildings and monuments.

The city was founded in the 4th century BC and is home to some of the world’s oldest Christian churches. The city also contains a number of important Ottoman monuments, including the 16th-century Green Mosque, which is one of the most famous mosques in Turkey. Iznik also has several ancient tombs, as well as an old palace and fortifications.

Iznik is known for its stunning ceramic tiles, which were used to decorate the walls and ceilings of the churches. The tiles are particularly associated with the Church of St. Sophia, which was built in 527 AD and features a large dome covered with Iznik tiles. The church is still used for religious ceremonies today. Other notable sites include the nearby archaeological site of Kültepe and a museum dedicated to traditional crafts such as pottery-making and weaving.

5. Çanakkale: Step Back In Time

Day Trips From Istanbul - Try Canakkale Troy Horse Turkey

Canakkale is a city located in northwestern Türkiye known for its stunning architecture, friendly people, and delicious food. It is the administrative center of the Canakkale Province and the largest city in the Marmara Region. The city has a population of 131,743 as of 2020. Canakkale is located on the Dardanelles Strait, which separates Europe and Asia. The city is known for its historical sites, including the ruins of Troy and the Gallipoli battlefields from World War I.

If you are looking for a city to explore beyond Istanbul, Çanakkale should definitely be on your list. Here are some of the best things to see and do in this lovely city:

  • Visit the archaeological site of Troy: this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the ruins of the ancient city of Troy, which was famously besieged by the Greeks in the Trojan War
  • Stroll through Çanakkale’s old town: this charming area is full of narrow streets lined with traditional Turkish houses. Be sure to try some of the delicious street food!
  • Visit Gallipoli National Park: this national park commemorates the World War I Battle of Gallipoli, which took place on the shores of Çanakkale
  • The Canakkale Naval Museum: the museum chronicles the history of the Turkish navy from its early days to modern times. Visitors can see exhibits on naval battles, shipwrecks, and maritime exploration
  • Canakkale Archaeological Museum: one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The museum houses artifacts from the Bronze Age, including pottery, weapons, and jewelry. Visitors can also see replicas of the Trojan Horse and ancient Greek ships

6. Tekirdag: From Sea To Plate

Tekirdağ_City near Istanbul Turkey

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul but still want to be close to the city, Tekirdag is the perfect place for you. This small city is located on the Sea of Marmara and is known for its fresh seafood. There are plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch your own dinner. Tekirdag is also home to some beautiful beaches, so it’s also the perfect place soak up the sun.

For the adventurous, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Kayaking and fishing on the Sea of Marmara or exploring the city’s many historical sites and museums. If you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, you can go hiking in the nearby forests or enjoy a soothing dip in one of Tekirdag’s thermal baths.

If all that exploring makes you hungry, Tekirdag offers some delicious eats. From seafood mezes to freshly made Turkish pide (flatbreads), Turkish lahmacun (thin-crust pizzas), and even baklava (flaky pastry filled with nuts and honey), there’s something for everyone here. And if seafood is your thing, you can sample some of the freshest fish around at one of Tekirdag’s many fish markets. Just make sure to bring your own bag!

No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for, Tekirdag has it all. With its beautiful beaches, tasty food, outdoor activities, and rich history, this small city truly has something for everyone. So come explore Tekirdag – from sea to plate!

7. Gallipoli: Where History Meets Nature

Things To Do In Gallipoli - The Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial

Gallipoli is a beautiful city located in the province of Çanakkale, Turkey. The city is situated on the Gallipoli peninsula, which is also known as the site of the famous Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. Today, Gallipoli is a popular tourist destination due to its rich history and stunning natural scenery.

Some of the most popular historical landmarks in Gallipoli include the Anzac Cove, where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed during the Battle of Gallipoli; the British Cemetery, which contains the graves of over 2,000 British soldiers who died during the battle; and Chunuk Bair, one of the main battlefields.

Things To Do In Gallipoli - Reasons To Go To Gallipoli - Tombs

Today, Gallipoli remains an important pilgrimage site for Australians and New Zealanders who come to honor their fallen countrymen who fought here. It is also home to a variety of monuments erected in memory of those who died or were injured during the battle. Visitors can explore these sites, as well as take part in various local festivals that celebrate the city’s rich history and culture

For those interested in nature, Gallipoli is home to several parks and beaches. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Park is a great place to relax or take a walk, and Şehitlik Beach offers stunning views of the Dardanelles Strait.

In addition, Gallipoli is home to a number of beautiful beaches.

8. Eskişehir – Once An Ottoman Empire Military Base 

Eskisehir, Turkey : Colorful Odunpazari District

Eskişehir is one of the most lovely and historical cities near Istanbul. It is located in the northwest of Turkey, and it takes about two and a half hours to get there by car. The city has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire when it was called Pessinus.

In more recent history, Eskişehir served as an important military base during the Ottoman Empire. Today, Eskişehir is known for its lively nightlife, its many parks and gardens, and its universities. There are also a number of interesting museums in the city, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which houses artifacts from throughout Turkey’s history.

9. Yalova – Hot Springs

Cities close to Istanbul -Yalova

Yalova is a beautiful city located just outside of Istanbul. It is known for its hot springs, which are said to have therapeutic properties. The city also has a number of beautiful parks and gardens. If you’re looking for a place to de-stress and enjoy nature, Yalova is the perfect place for you.

The city is home to some of Turkey’s most beautiful natural scenery, with the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus Strait providing plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Yalova also has a large number of cultural attractions, including museums and historical sites such as the Yeni Mosque and the ruins of ancient Troy.

There are also several markets in Yalova where you can buy local produce and souvenirs. Yalova also happens to be a great destination for foodies, too, with many restaurants serving up traditional Turkish dishes.  its nightlife scene; there are plenty of bars, clubs, and cafes to check out when you’re looking to let loose.

Map Of Cities Near Istanbul

Here is a map of he best places worth visiting.

More Historic Places To Check Out After Istanbul

If you’re still looking for where to go after Istanbul and my other suggestions did not hit the mark – here are a few more cool spots to check out, all within a few hours’ drive or a short ferry ride away.

10. Lake Sapanca

Just under 2 hours east of Istanbul, Lake Sapanca is perfect for a peaceful day out. You can enjoy picnics, bike rides, or even a bit of fishing by the lake.

11. Bozcaada

This Aegean island is a bit further, around 5 hours plus a ferry ride. Known for its relaxed atmosphere, it’s great for beach hopping and vineyard visits.

12. Şarköy

If you’re up for a 3-hour drive, Şarköy offers a less crowded beach experience and is ideal for a serene day by the sea.

13. Uludağ

A 3-hour drive away, Uludağ is a top choice for skiing in winter and transforms into a hiking and camping paradise in summer.

14. Izmit

Just an hour and a half from Istanbul, either by car or train, Izmit blends Roman and Ottoman history, perfect for a quick historical escape.

15. Tekirdağ

Head west for about 2 hours, and you’ll find yourself in Tekirdağ, a haven for wine lovers. Don’t miss the Rakoczi Museum.

16. Bolu

About 3 hours away, Bolu is a nature enthusiast’s dream with its forests, lakes, and thermal springs.

17. Kefken & Sardala Bay

Both about 3 hours away, they are known for their peaceful beaches and scenic hiking trails.

18. Cumalıkızık

Near Bursa and roughly 2 hours by car, this village is a throwback with its cobblestone streets and traditional Ottoman houses.

19. İğneada

A bit of a drive at 4 hours, but İğneada’s small town unspoiled beaches and dense forests are well worth the journey.

Wrap Up On Closest Cities To Istanbul

Exploring beyond Istanbul is a great way to gain insight into the culture of Turkey. From ancient ruins and beautiful beaches to buzzing cities, there are so many captivating sights to be discovered near Istanbul.

Whether you’re after a relaxing day out in nature or an exciting night on the town, these cities close to Istanbul will enhance your vacation to Türkiye – without a doubt. So why not plan your next trip and add some of these amazing places to your itinerary? You won’t regret it!

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