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11 Day Trips From Istanbul That Will Impress
You’re unlikely to find a quiet moment during your time in this bustling city, which is fantastic in some ways but can be quite overwhelming in others. For that reason, you might be thinking about taking a quick day trip from Istanbul and going somewhere perhaps a little quieter or somewhere different to see another side of the country. Am I right?
A short ferry ride from Istanbul will take you to a chilled-out island archipelago, which seems like it’s a hundred miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city! If you’re going on a weekend trip to Istanbul and you’d like to see something else in the area than markets and architecture, this is arguably the best place to go.
There are several islands, but the largest is Buyukada. Here you’ll find a museum that talks about the islands’ history and plenty of opportunities for swimming and beach time in the summer months.
Ferries leave from either Kabatas or Besiktas, and you’ll arrive at the island paradise in less than one hour. Be sure to check the ferry schedule according to the time of year, as these are less plentiful during the winter months, though there are daily ferries, even during winter, making this one of the best year-round options for day trips in Istanbul.
If you crave nature and quiet spaces, then Belgrad Forest is for you. Known locally as Belgrad Ormani, here you’ll find around 5000 hectares of trees, walking trails, streams, small bridges, and a beautiful, natural feel. If the city’s noise and constant heat are too much for you, here you’ll find the total opposite.
Edirne used to be the entire Ottoman Empire’s capital, and it’s packed with history and beautiful green spaces. You’ll find buildings listed here, with stunning architecture, and the Old Town is certainly worth a visit. Nods to the Ottoman Empire are everywhere, and the Selimiye Mosque is one of the most beautiful you’ll see.
Just north of central Istanbul is Anadolu Kavağı, a fishing town on the shore of the Bosporus in Istanbul’s Beykoz district. Its name literally meaning “Anatolia control post” in Ottoman Turkish; it served as a checkpoint as early as the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Nowadays, it’s still a military post, but also a traditional fishing town.
This is a wonderful one-day trip from Istanbul’s city center, a welcome getaway from the hustle and bustle. In Anadolu Kavağı, you’ll find amazing seafood restaurants, the old Genoese fortress known as Yoros Castle, and a beach that offers swimming. There’s also a ferry to the European side of the Bosporus several times a day.
If you’re visiting Istanbul in the summer months, you might want somewhere to chill out and cool off from the heat. In that case, head to the north of the city and keep going until you hit the coastal resort of Kilyos.
You’ll find beach parties in the summer, yet the overall feel is chilled and really enjoyable. Be sure to stay late and stay for one of the incredible sunsets.
While Bebek is actually in Istanbul, it’s’s far enough away from the center for it to feel like it is a day trip. You can reach Bebek from Taksim or Besiktas via the bus, though you should know that in traffic, it might take you an hour or two to arrive, depending upon the time of day you go. This part of the city isn’t linked by the Metro yet.
Bebek is a chilled out seafront region, which is quite affluent too. You can see both the old and new Bosphorus bridges, and you’ll notice locals fishing along the banks of the Bosphorus. Enjoy a seafood meal here if you love fish, as some of the best in the city are to be found along this stretch of water.
Gallipoli Historical National Park
North of Istanbul, you will find the Gallipoli Peninsula, with stunning sea views. The main reason to come to the National Park is to pay respects to the soldiers from WWI.
Here you will find a beautiful memorial from the First World War. Set on a clifftop overlooking the sea, this area certainly gets you thinking, and it’s’s dedicated to not only the Turkish soldiers but allied forces from Australia and New Zealand.
Uludag National Park
Located very close to the city of Bursa, Uludag is Turkey’s premier ski resort, situated at Uludag National Park. It is open all-year-round and has some gorgeous natural spaces to explore.
Don’t expect this to be a budget day out, as Uludag is known for being quite pricey, especially during the winter. However, you won’t regret it when you’re among the unforgettable scenery. Uludag is a few hours’ drive away from Istanbul, one of the best Turkey day trips from this megacity, so you can make it there and back in one day if you set off early.
Located only about two hours south of Istanbul, the historic city of Bursa is easily one of the best day trips from Istanbul. Set in the foothills of majestic Mount Uludag, it is famous for its beautiful architecture and historically significant sites. Still a vibrant Turkish city, Bursa used to be the largest silk trade center in the Byzantine and later the Ottoman Empires. In the 1300s, it was the Ottoman Empire’s first capital.
This rich history is still very much visible all over Bursa in the form of magnificent mosques, especially the 14th-century Great Mosque with its twenty domes and the iconic Green Mosque. The centuries-old Silk Bazaar is a major highlight, too, now housing numerous boutiques, tea bars, and coffee houses. Other not-to-miss attractions on your day tour from Istanbul to Bursa include the Karagoz Museum and the Irgandi Bridge with all its shops.
If you love history, then you have to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Troy. Home to the Temple of Athena and the outer walls of the city of Troy, this is a place where you can hear the echoes of the past. The area is also very green and natural so that you can feel peaceful here, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
If you want to learn more about the battle of Troy, head to the nearby city of Çanakkale, where there is a Trojan horse monument, from the 2004 film Troy. You’ll also find the imposing Kilitbahir Fortress here, which is a must for history buffs.
Although it is possible to visit the coastal city of Çanakkale on Istanbul day tours, it is better to go there on weekend trips from Istanbul. The drive from Istanbul to Çanakkale takes more than 4.5 hours, so you’ll want to stay at least one night there to make it worth the commute. Situated on the Dardanelles Strait in the region of Marmara, Çanakkale offers a bit of everything.
First and foremost, this is the gateway to the WWI battlefields of Gallipoli, which we have described elsewhere in this post. It is also close to the Troy archaeological site. In this vibrant seaport itself, you can enjoy unique seafood dishes, sample local wines and relax at wonderful beaches. In short, Çanakkale is a fantastic destination for a weekend or (very) long day trips from Turkey’s largest city.
In truth, there are countless more places you could consider going from Istanbul on a day trip, although the other would require a lot more travel time.
Most of the tourist places near Istanbul we’ve mentioned above are within a few hours of the city at most, making them the best options for seeing a little more of the area and having a break from the hustle and bustle. Others, however, can be visited on a long one-day tour from Istanbul but are best done on a weekend trip.
More Turkey Travel Ideas
- The Do’s And Don’ts To Visiting Turkey
- Best Places To Visit In Turkey For Every Type Of Traveler
- Best Nightlife In Istanbul
- Tourist Scams To Avoid In Istanbul