25 Epic Day Trips From Istanbul In 2024 That Will Impress

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

Dive into this guide for the prime Istanbul day trips, showing you the best spots around. Wondering the best way to get there? Whether it’s a car or a bus, I’ve got tips.

Beyond the bustling streets of Istanbul, there’s much to do, from exploring national parks to wandering through historic cities and sites. Full-day trips are your ticket to really experience the area, offering a unique way to see everything before heading back to Istanbul. T

his isn’t just any guide; it’s your insider’s look at making the most of your travels, packed with all you need for unforgettable Istanbul day trips.

  1. Anadolu Kavağı
  2. Bebek
  3. Belgrad Forest
  4. Bostanci
  5. Bursa
  6. Çanakkale
  7. Cappadocia
  8. Edirne
  9. Gallipoli Historical National Park
  10. Gölcük
  11. Iznik
  12. Kilitbahir Fortress
  13. Kilyos
  14. Konya
  15. Polonezköy
  16. Princes’ Islands
  17. Safranbolu
  18. Sapanca Lake
  19. Sile & Agva Beaches
  20. Tekirdağ
  21. Termal
  22. Town Of Troy
  23. Uludag National Park
  24. Vize
  25. Yalova & The Thermal Springs

If you’re visiting Istanbul, you will not be short on ideas on what to do around Istanbul, considering the city’s plethora of options. 

You’re unlikely to find a quiet moment during your time in this bustling city, which is fantastic in some ways but can be pretty 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?

The good news is that you can take several different day trip options from Istanbul and be back in time for bed. Check out our recommendations for where to go from Istanbul on day trips below!

Best Day Trips From Istanbul

Turkey Travel Blog_Day Trips From Istanbul

Embarking on day trips from Istanbul unveils a world beyond its bustling streets. Dive into our 2024 guide for the most incredible day trips from Istanbul.

These side trips from Istanbul range from serene seaside escapes to historical expeditions. 

A Bosphorus cruise introduces the tranquil Heybeliada, a seaside town offering a slice of peace. For an unforgettable journey, a trip to Ephesus, including round-trip flights, promises an amazing day.  From the Asian side of the city with its hidden gems to the Sariyer district of greater Istanbul, each destination enriches your Istanbul itinerary, blending adventure with cultural discovery.

We’ve categorized these day trips from Istanbul by duration short, half-day, full-day, and possibly longer—it’s essential to consider travel time and what there is to do at each destination. Generally, travel times can significantly affect whether a trip is feasible.

This categorization considers typical interests and activities at each destination, along with the assumption of starting from central Istanbul. Travel times can vary based on the mode of transportation and traffic conditions, especially for places closer to Istanbul where boat or road traffic can significantly impact journey times. For the longer trips, especially those involving historical or natural exploration, staying overnight can provide a more relaxed and immersive experience.

Best Short Trips From Istanbul

1. Bebek

What To Eat In Turkey - Turkish Food - Balik Ekmek

While Bebek is in Istanbul, it is far enough away from the center to feel like a day trip. You can reach Bebek from Taksim or Besiktas via the city bus, though you should know that in traffic, it might take 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 relatively 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 to eat fish, as some of the best in the city are to be found along this stretch of water.

2. Polonezköy

Polonezköy, also known as Adampol, is a unique village founded by Polish settlers, just an hour’s drive from Istanbul. It’s a popular spot for weekend trips from Istanbul, offering a refreshing green escape from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul.

Things To See And Do In Polonezköy

  • Nature Walks: wander through the lush green paths surrounding the village
  • Historical Churches: visit the village’s churches reflecting its Polish heritage

3. Bostanci

Bostanci - Short Day Trips From Istanbul

On the Asian side, just around the coast from Kadikoy, you’ll find Bostanci, a waterside district that’s pretty fun but also relatively calm and undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Istanbul in this guide. 

You can easily walk from Kadikoy and have a great view of the Prince’s Islands. During the sunny weather, you’ll see people sitting on the huge waterside rocks, so grab a coffee and have a calm stroll.

Once you get to Bostanci, there’s a funfair if you want a little extra excitement, but if not, sit and enjoy the view with plenty of fresh air coming your way.

These are just four spots where you can easily break away from the madness and enjoy Istanbul’s beautiful scenery. You might think this is a city of old buildings, but it’s also packed with green spaces and stunning views.

4. Kilyos

Day Trips From Istanbul - Kilyos, Burc Beach. Istanbul
Burc Beach

If you visit Istanbul in the summer, you might want somewhere to chill out and cool off from the heat. In that case, head to the city’s north 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 enjoyable. Be sure to stay late and stay for one of the incredible sunsets.

5. Anadolu Kavağı

Just north of central Istanbul is Anadolu Kavağı, a fishing town on the shore of the Bosporus in Istanbul’s Beykoz district. Its name means “Anatolia control post” in Ottoman Turkish; it served as a checkpoint as early as the Roman and Byzantine Empires. It’s still a military post and a traditional fishing town.

This is a wonderful day trip from Istanbul’s city center, a welcome getaway from the hustle and bustle, in Anadolu Kavağı, fantastic 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.

Best Half-Day Trips From Istanbul

6. Princes’ Islands

Day trips from Istanbul - Price Islands Turkey

A short ferry ride from Istanbul will take you to one of the chilled day trips from Istanbul you can find.

This chilled-out island archipelago 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 want to see something else in the area other than markets and architecture, this is arguably the best place to go.

There are several islands, but the largest is Büyükada. 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, though there are daily ferries, even during the winter months, making this one of the best year-round options for day trips in Istanbul.


7. Sile & Agva Beaches

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

Just an hour from Istanbul, Sile Beach makes a great choice to get your feet wet along the Black Sea Coast. Though it is part of a rocky beach, it also has some sandy sections and a unique coastal landscape that residents of Istanbul seem to prefer. The village of Sile is fun to explore as it’s an idyllic fishing village, home to a lovely seafront and many seafood restaurants.

Just a little further along, you’ll find the beach town of Agva, home to the golden sands of Agva Beach. It’s a lovely, off-the-beaten-path beach day destination!

8. Belgrad Forest

Day Trips From Istanbul - Belgrad Forrest Dam

Belgrad Forest is for you if you crave nature and quiet spaces and want a day trip to Istanbul. Known locally as Belgrad Ormani, you’ll find around 5000 hectares of trees, walking trails, streams, small bridges, and a beautiful, natural feel here.

If the city’s noise and constant heat are too much for you, you’ll find the total opposite here.

The other plus point is that to get to Belgrad is just a 40-minute drive from the center of Istanbul. So, anyone trying to figure out where to visit near Istanbul for nature will have their answer right here!


9. Kilitbahir Fortress

As I just mentioned, Kilitbahir Fortress is an unforgettable day trip idea from Istanbul.

The historic fort is located on the European side of the Dardanelles Strait in the Çanakkale Province of Turkey.

Built by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1463, its strategic position was intended to control naval traffic in the strait and complement the Cimenlik Castle on the opposite shore.

Things To See And Do At Kilitbahir Fortress

  • Explore the Fortress: Wander through the main tower with its clover-shaped design and the various smaller towers and walls.
  • Stunning Views: From higher points in the fortress, behold panoramic views of the Dardanelles Strait, the Aegean Sea, and Çanakkale shore.
  • Historical Exhibits: Discover exhibits showcasing the region’s rich naval and military history.
  • Walk the Walls: Experience a soldier’s perspective by walking along accessible sections of the fortress walls.
  • Visit Nearby Attractions: Explore the historic Gallipoli Peninsula and its significant sites from the Gallipoli Campaign.
  • Local Cuisine: Relish in the local dishes at nearby restaurants or cafes.

Getting To Kilitbahir Fortress From Istanbul

Reaching Kilitbahir Fortress from Istanbul involves a mix of road travel and a ferry crossing:

  1. Drive or Bus to Eceabat or Çanakkale: either drive for 4 to 5 hours from Istanbul to Eceabat or take a bus, where the journey takes approximately 5 to 6 hours
  2. Ferry Crossing: from Eceabat, embark on a short ferry journey to Çanakkale. This scenic route takes about 25 minutes
  3. Drive or Taxi to Kilitbahir Fortress: once in Çanakkale, the fortress is a brief 10-minute drive or taxi ride away
  4. Direct Ferries from Lapseki: an alternative route involves a ferry from Lapseki directly to Kilitbahir, which might be quicker for those driving from Istanbul

Always check ferry schedules in advance to allocate ample exploration time at the fortress for a smooth trip.

10. Sapanca Lake

Sapanca Lake is a serene freshwater lake about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Istanbul, making it one of the ideal road trips from Istanbul for nature lovers.

Things To See And Do At Sapanca Lake

  • Boat Rides: enjoy incredible calm waters with a peaceful boat trip
  • Maşukiye Village: visit this nearby village known for its natural beauty

11. Gölcük

Located near Bolu, Gölcük offers a picturesque lakeside setting surrounded by dense forests. About a 3-hour drive, it’s suitable for those looking for a 1-day escape from Istanbul.

Things To See And Do In Gölcük

  • Lake Views: the main attraction is the scenic beauty and tranquility of the lake
  • Nature Walks: explore the surrounding forests with well-marked paths

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Best Full-Day Trips From Istanbul

12. Iznik

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 several 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 several important Ottoman monuments, including the 16th-century Green Mosque, one of Turkey’s most famous mosques. Iznik also has several ancient tombs and 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 sites of Kültepe and a museum dedicated to traditional crafts such as pottery-making and weaving.

13. Edirne

Most beautiful mosques in Turkey - Selimye Mosque - Edirne

Edirne used to be the entire Ottoman Empire’s capital, packed with history and beautiful green spaces. You’ll find stunning buildings on this one-day trip from Istanbul with stunning architecture, and the Old Town is worth visiting.

Nods to the Ottoman Empire are everywhere, and the Selimiye Grand Mosque is one of the most beautiful you’ll see.

14. Gallipoli Historical National Park

Things To Do In Gallipoli - The Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial

You will find the gorgeous Gallipoli Peninsula, with stunning sea views north of Istanbul. 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 dedicated to not only the Turkish soldiers but allied forces from Australia and New Zealand.

15. Uludag National Park

Day Trips From Istanbul - 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 gorgeous natural spaces to explore.

Uludag is a few hours’ drive away from Istanbul, one of the best Türkiye day trips from this megacity, so you can get from Istanbul to Bursa and back in one day if you set off super early. 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.

16. Yalova & The Thermal 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 several 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 many 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 is also a great destination for foodies, too, with many restaurants serving traditional Turkish dishes. Its nightlife scene; there are plenty of bars, clubs, and cafes to check out when you’re looking to let loose.

17. Bursa

Cities InTurkey - Bursa, Turkey

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.

Historic as it was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire in the 1300s, it is still a vibrant Turkish city. Bursa was the largest silk trade center in the Byzantine and later the Ottoman Empires.

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 Bursa day trip include the Karagoz Museum and the Irgandi Bridge, with all its shops.

18. Troy

Archaeological Site Of Troy - UNESCO Turkey

If you love history, you must 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.

19. Çanakkale

Day Trips From Istanbul - Try Canakkale Troy Horse Turkey

Situated on the Dardanelles Strait in the region of Marmara, Çanakkale offers a bit of everything. Although visiting the coastal city of Çanakkale on Istanbul day tours is possible, going there on weekend trips from Istanbul is better.

The drive from Istanbul to Çanakkale takes more than 4.5 hours, so you’ll want to stay at least one night to make the commute worthwhile.

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, you can enjoy unique seafood dishes, sample local wines, and relax at beautiful beaches. In short, Çanakkale is a fantastic destination for a weekend or (very) long day trip from Turkey’s largest city.

20. Termal

Termal is located in the Yalova Province in northwestern Turkey. It’s renowned for its natural hot springs and therapeutic thermal baths. Termal has been a destination for medicinal purposes since Roman times, and its waters are said to have healing properties, particularly for rheumatic diseases, digestive maladies, and neurological disorders.

Attractions And Activities In Termal

  • Thermal Baths: experience the famous thermal baths which have been operational since ancient times. There are both modern spas and ancient hamams (Turkish baths) where you can enjoy these therapeutic waters
  • Sultan’s Mansion (Sultan Köşkü): a historical building where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, stayed during his visits
  • Termal Park: a relaxing spot with beautiful greenery, walking paths, and sitting areas
  • Gökçedere Dam: a peaceful place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the region
  • Termal Mosque: a historic mosque with beautiful architecture
  • Visit Local Tea Gardens: enjoy traditional Turkish tea in one of the many tea gardens in the area
  • Walking and Hiking: engage in refreshing walks through the lush forests of the region

Getting To Termal From Istanbul

You can travel from Istanbul to Termal in Yalova through various means:

  1. Ferry from Istanbul to Yalova: take a ferry from either Yenikapı or Pendik in Istanbul to Yalova Ferry Terminal. The journey typically lasts about an hour. If you’re planning a day trip, it’s advisable to check the return ferry schedules beforehand.
  2. Drive from Istanbul to Termal: rent a car in Istanbul and take a short drive to Termal, covering a distance of approximately 100 km (around 62 miles) in about 1.5 to 2 hours. This route often includes crossing the Osmangazi Bridge
  3. Bus from Yalova to Termal: after arriving in Yalova via ferry, take a local bus or minibus (dolmuş) to Termal, a short 20-30 minute ride
  4. Taxi or Private Transfer: for a more comfortable journey, opt for a taxi or a private transfer from Yalova to Termal

21. Tekirdağ

Tekirdağ_City near Istanbul Turkey

Tekirdağ is a coastal city on the northern shoreline of the Sea of Marmara. About a 2-hour drive from Istanbul, it’s a popular destination for beach trips from Istanbul and offers a lovely promenade, historical mosques, and a rich culinary scene, especially seafood.

Things To See And Do In Tekirdağ

  • Rakoczi Museum: dive into the history of the region and its ties to Hungary
  • Seafront Promenade: enjoy a relaxing walk along the coast

22. Vize

Vize is located in Kırklareli Province and boasts ancient ruins. As a day trip from Istanbul to the Black Sea region, it takes roughly 2 hours to reach Vize.

Things To See And Do In Vize

  • Byzantine Fortress: explore this ancient structure overlooking the town
  • Roman Amphitheater: witness the remnants of Vize’s Roman past

Best Longer Side Trips From Istanbul

23. Cappadocia

Food in Cappadocia, Turkey

Many people dream of visiting Cappadocia. Unsurprisingly, the place is like a walking fairy-tale, and it’s the best place to take a hot air balloon ride for the first time or devour an excellent Turkish breakfast with a view that will take your breath away.

We’ve listed this one last, as it is usually a trip that’s best done over an extended weekend but can be done in as little as two days with a direct flight and package tour.

Because one day, Cappadocia day trips are impossible, package tours from Istanbul to Cappadocia are usually 2-day affairs, with one night in a boutique hotel. However, you can find longer tours, but you’ll obviously pay more for these. Overall, the general length is an overnight stay.

You will be doing a lot of traveling in a very short amount of time. The good thing is that it is a short flight between Istanbul and Cappadocia it is only 1 hour, with some travel time from the airport to the site. Overall, it shouldn’t take you more than 1.5-2 hours to get there and then the same to get back.


24. Safranbolu

City Of Safranbolu - UNESCO TURKEY

Safranbolu is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It’s renowned for its well-preserved Ottoman-era houses and architecture, making it one of the best day trips from Istanbul for history enthusiasts. The town provides a glimpse into the architectural style and urban structure of the Ottoman period.

Things To See And Do In Safranbolu

  • Historic Houses: explore the iconic Ottoman-era houses and mansions
  • Arasta Bazaar: shop for local crafts, especially saffron, from which the town gets its name
  • Kaymakamlar Museum House: a traditional Ottoman house turned into a museum

25. Konya

Cities in Turkey - Konya, Beysehir stone bridge view in town.Historic stone bridge on Beysehir lake

There are regular domestic flights from Istanbul to Konya every day, and this is a direct journey that only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Konya is a romantic place, the kind that would entice poets and dreamers alike. Unsurprisingly, Mevlana Rumi, the famous Sufi poet and whirling dervish, wrote his heartfelt verses here in the 13th century. The Mevlana Museum, which is decorated with beautiful roses and houses the tomb of the renowned poet, should undoubtedly be your first stop.

Its Semahane houses a museum of religious artifacts from the time period. For an evening walk and a cup of Turkish tea, visit Alaeddin Tepe Park.

The Tile Museum and the Museum of Wooden and Stone Carving represent the other fine arts in Konya, ensuring that all art lovers have a great time!


Can you make a day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia?

While technically, you can get there and back in a day, it makes more sense to spend at least one night in Cappadocia. Trust us – you’ll want to!

Can you take a day trip To Ephesus from Istanbul?

Again, while you technically can get there and back in a day if you fly, it’s better to plan on spending the night to make the most of your time in Ephesus and not spend a whole day traveling.

Can you visit Pamukkale from Istanbul in a day?

This destination is too far to reach easily in a day, so an overnight is needed for this trip.

What is the best day trip from Istanbul?

Princes Islands – not only is it completely different from the city’s hub, but it’s easy to get to and a day trip you can take year-round.

Is a day trip to Anza Cove possible from Istanbul?

Yes, a day trip to Anzac Cove from Istanbul is possible, but it’s a long day, given the distance and travel time involved. Anzac Cove is located on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Due to its role in the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I, it is a significant site with an Anzac commemorative site for Australians and New Zealanders.

Wrap Up In Day Trips From Istanbul

In truth, there are countless more places you could consider going from Istanbul on a day trip, although the others would require a lot more travel time.

Most of the best places to visit near Istanbul we’ve mentioned above are within a few hours of the city, 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.

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