|

11 One-Day Trips from Istanbul That You Can’t-Miss! (2023)

Have you been wondering about day trips from Istanbul? I’ve got you covered!

The Art of Living in Turkey contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See my Disclaimers for more information.

Welcome to Istanbul, a city that bridges two continents and holds so much culture, history, and opportunity for endless exploration!

If you’re a traveler seeking to venture beyond the typical tourist spots for the best day trips in Turkey, you’re in for a treat.

As an experienced resident of Turkey since 2019 and being an avid explorer myself, I’m excited to share with you some extraordinary day trips that will lead you off the beaten path.

While Istanbul’s grandeur is undeniable, the surrounding districts hold hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

From Istanbul, day trips are totally doable and worth it!

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, these day trips will satiate your thirst for unique experiences.

For those yearning to connect with nature, there are multiple stops on this list that will make your soul sing.

Or if architectural wonders captivate your imagination, venture to Bursa with its awe-inspiring Ottoman architecture and historical landmarks that have stood the test of time.

Go witness Turkey’s diverse beauty and gain a deeper appreciation for its rich heritage as you enjoy one or many of these day trips from Istanbul.

Let’s embark on this journey together and explore 11 places near Istanbul to visit by car. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

5 Must-Have travel accessories

  • Stay safe and hands-free with this Phone holder mount. This one is great because it can be attached to the dashboard or the windshield.
  • Every car in Turkey should have an Emergency Kit in it but bringing your own ensures that you have the essentials if anything goes wrong.
  • If you decide to fly, this Universal Phone Holder protects your neck and allows you to enjoy your favorite shows.
  • These luggage tags are incredibly helpful. I have also used metal ones but those bend out of shape so easily.
  • Never be surprised at the airport with luggage that’s too heavy with this portable handheld scale.

11 Day trips from Istanbul

Iznik Gol at sunset with a tree in the forefront

1. İZnİK

Embarking on a trip from Istanbul, you will discover the enchanting allure of Iznik, or as in ancient times known as Nicea. It is a hidden gem nestled in the Turkish countryside.

Located approximately 130 kilometers southeast of Istanbul, this historical city offers a captivating blend of Byzantine and Ottoman treasures, all set against the backdrop of the stunning Iznik Lake.

Upon arrival, visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage by exploring iconic landmarks such as the grand Ayasofya Mosque, the ancient city, and the Roman Theater.

A leisurely walk through the charming streets reveals remnants of centuries-old city walls and quaint Ottoman-era houses. To truly appreciate Iznik’s beauty, a serene boat ride on the shimmering lake is a must.

Don’t miss: My favorite spot is the Tomb of Abdulvahap Sancaktar. So it is a tomb and there is a mosque but there is also a spot you can picnic and have the most incredible view of the city.

It is especially lovely if you do sunset time and grab a tea. It’s so peaceful and worth the drive up the hill.

How to get from Istanbul to İznik: It is about 126km from Kadıköy or about an hour from Istanbul.

While there is a bus you could take, the best option is renting a car and driving there.

Plus it will give you the flexibility to explore once you’re there.

check out DiscoverCars for your next car rental

Will with Muhlama at Şelale Restaurant

2. Sapanca

For travelers seeking respite from the bustling cityscape of Istanbul, a day trip to Sapanca offers a refreshing escape into nature’s embrace.

Situated approximately 130 kilometers east of Istanbul, this picturesque town is nestled around the tranquil Sapanca Lake, surrounded by verdant hills and lush landscapes.

Visitors can embark on a nice walk along the lakeshore, soaking in the serene atmosphere and capturing breathtaking views.

Sapanca also offers the opportunity to explore the iconic Masukiye Village, where cascading waterfalls and vibrant flora create a postcard-worthy setting.

Adventurers can embark on exhilarating hiking trails through the nearby Kartepe Mountain, reveling in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Don’t miss: Masukiye Şelale Restaurant is magical, especially during the warm days of summer.

While you are eating/drinking, you can sit at a normal table or at one that is in the stream of cold water from the mountains. It was quite a lovely experience.

How to get from Istanbul to Sapanca: the most convenient option is a scenic drive allowing you to soak in the beautiful scenery.

You can take a train as well but it is a bit complicated to get there. The problem is their website isn’t in English but can easily be solved by using the Google Translate extension.

A day trip to Sapanca promises an enchanting blend of natural beauty, tranquility, and rejuvenation, providing a delightful contrast to the urban energy of Istanbul.

man fishing with princes' islands in the background

3. Princes’ Islands

If you are looking to escape the bustling streets of Istanbul and still stay in Istanbul, I recommend a day trip to the Princes’ Islands, an idyllic archipelago just a ferry ride away.

Located in the Sea of Marmara, these islands (Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kınalıada, and 5 much smaller ones) are a haven of tranquility and charm.

As car-free zones, they offer a refreshing retreat where horse-drawn carriages and bicycles rule the roads.

Visitors can explore the islands’ picturesque streets lined with elegant Victorian-era mansions, boutique shops, and lovely ice cream stands.

Be sure to visit the historic Aya Yorgi Church, a beloved pilgrimage site perched atop Buyukada, offering breathtaking views of the sea.

If you’re looking for a good beach, the time at Madam Marta Koyu on Burgazada is lovely. It is a public beach and easily reached from Kadıköy.

Don’t forget some water shoes as most beaches are really hot and/or small pebbles that can be painful to walk on.

Pro Tip: tiny jellyfish that overtake the water don’t have stingers as they do in many places. You will see kids playing with them.

For a taste of leisure, relax on the island’s pristine beaches or savor a delightful seafood meal at one of the waterfront restaurants.

Don’t miss: I am a huge fan of buildings so one of my favorite things was to walk around Buyukada and see some of the really old buildings that had been restored. But the beaches are nice too.

How to get from Istanbul to the Princes’ Islands: They are approximately 20 kilometers southeast of Istanbul, and the best way to reach them is by ferry from Kabatas, Kadıköy, or Bostancı.

Here are the timetables for some of the ferries.

cat laying down on wooden chair on a brick street

4. Bursa

A captivating day trip awaits travelers visiting Istanbul: the vibrant city of Bursa, known as “Green Bursa” for its lush surroundings and rich history.

A Bursa day trip is special as it will transport you back in time. I have so many local friends who absolutely adore doing short trips here.

The city boasts magnificent architectural wonders like the grand Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) and the exquisite Yesil Cami (Green Mosque), showcasing the remarkable craftsmanship of the Ottoman era.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the sprawling Bursa Grand Bazaar, a bustling marketplace where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.

For nature enthusiasts, take a cable car ride to Mount Uludağ and see breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, especially during winter when it transforms into a popular ski resort.

They also are known for their thermal baths. These are probably most refreshing in the winter months when it’s chilly outside.

Don’t miss: Especially during summer one of the things that is so fun to see is the peppers and eggplant that is hanging from all the balconies.

They are being dried so they can be used during the winter when they aren’t as available. The color they add is so stunning.

How to get from Istanbul to Bursa: It is approximately 230 kilometers south of Istanbul. One option is to take a ferry from Pendik to Yalova and then a bus to Bursa.

You could also rent a car and even combine it with a day trip to Termal/Yalova.

a sand beach in Turkey on a beautifully sunny day

5. ŞİLE

Nestled along the picturesque Black Sea coast, Sile beckons travelers with its charming beaches and serene ambiance, making it an ideal day trip from Istanbul.

This quaint fishing town offers a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Visitors can explore the historic Sile Castle, a magnificent fortress that dates back to the Byzantine era, offering panoramic views of the sea and surrounding landscapes.

The town is also renowned for its sandy beaches, where sun-seekers can bask in the warm rays and dip their toes in the refreshing waters of the Black Sea.

Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the lively Sile Promenade, lined with vibrant cafes and seafood restaurants serving delectable local delicacies.

Don’t miss: I hope to go soon but according to friends, Peacock Beach is a stunning sand beach. It is a paid beach but many of the ones worth seeing will be.

In the reviews, people complain about prices but these prices are actually quite normal. Fear not.

How to get from Istanbul to Şile: It is located approximately 70 kilometers northeast of Istanbul.

While you can take a bus ride IMO it is an excessively long ride making it an unecessarily long day.

By bus, it can take 3 hours whereas if you have a car it is only 1 hour. My recommendation is to rent a car and enjoy the extra time at the beach!

check out DiscoverCars for your next car rental

selimiye mosque and statue of its architect Mimar Sinan

6. EDİRNE

For travelers seeking a glimpse into the rich history and architectural marvels of the Ottoman Empire, a day trip to Edirne, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, is an absolute must.

Edirne boasts a treasure trove of cultural and historical sites. The city is home to the magnificent Selimiye Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its awe-inspiring dome and intricate tile work.

The Edirne Palace, a former residence of Ottoman sultans, offers a fascinating glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the empire’s rulers.

Don’t miss the grandeur of the historical Uzun Köprü (Long Bridge) spanning the Tunca River, showcasing remarkable architectural prowess.

A day trip to Edirne promises an immersive experience in Ottoman history, with its grand mosques, palaces, and centuries-old bridges, leaving visitors in awe of the empire’s glorious past.

They also have an impressively preserved old town with houses from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Being a fan of buildings, this always sounds so appealing to me.

If you’re there during the summer you should definitely check out Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival. It even holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest consecutively held sporting event in the world. That’s a feat right there!

Don’t miss: For most places, I recommend a place to see but for Edirne, their food is something you don’t want to miss. Because it is so close to the Greek and Bulgarian borders, its food has its own unique flavor.

I’m not a liver person but if you are, they are known for their liver dishes. They are also known for Hardaliye which is a grape drink with black mustard seeds.

How to get from Istanbul to Edirne: Located approximately 240 kilometers northwest of Istanbul. To reach Edirne, travelers can opt for a comfortable bus ride or a scenic train journey from Istanbul, both offering delightful vistas of the Turkish countryside.

a Forest scene

7. Belgrad Forest

While it is technically still within Istanbul this tranquil oasis is perfect for an escape from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul life.

This verdant forest offers a welcome respite from busy urban life. Spanning over 12,355 acres, Belgrad Forest is a haven of lush greenery, winding trails, and serene picnic spots.

This forest, Belgrad Ormani in Turkish, is composed of nine different nature parks.

  • Ayvat Bendi Nature Park
  • Bentler Nature Park
  • Falih Rıfkı Atay Nature Park
  • Fatih Çeşmesi Nature Park
  • Irmak Nature Park
  • Kirazlıbent Nature Park
  • Kömürcübent Nature Park
  • Mehmet Akif Ersoy Nature Park
  • Neşet Suyu Nature Park

Nature lovers can explore the diverse plants and animals while enjoying a leisurely hike or bike ride on its well-maintained paths.

The forest is also home to historical landmarks such as the Belgrad Palace, an Ottoman-era mansion with captivating architecture.

Pack a great picnic lunch, get some good grounding in as you let your feet touch the earth, and explore all the green!

A day trip to Belgrad Forest offers an opportunity to reconnect with nature, enjoy some outdoor activities, and find solace in the tranquil beauty of Istanbul’s green lung.

Don’t miss: Keep your eyes out for the historic ruins that are scattered about. There some

How to get from Istanbul to the Belgrad Forest: Located just 15 kilometers northwest of central Istanbul but can prove a little tricky without a car. If you want to stick to public transport, I definitely recommend using the Marmaray (if necessary) to the M2 to the 48D bus. ENJOY!

Sunset in Yalova

8. Termal Hot Springs

For travelers in search of relaxation and rejuvenation, a day trip to Termal from Istanbul is the perfect escape.

Termal is renowned for its thermal spas and hot springs, offering a blissful retreat from the city’s fast pace.

Visitors can indulge in therapeutic treatments, soak in mineral-rich pools, unwind in the serene surroundings, or enjoy a luxurious resort.

Termal also boasts historical landmarks, including the centuries-old Ottoman-era Sultan’s Bath, which showcases stunning architecture and a glimpse into the region’s past.

A day trip to Termal promises a soothing experience, where visitors can immerse themselves in the healing waters and find tranquility amidst natural beauty, making it an ideal respite for body and mind.

Don’t miss: Honestly, the best thing here is the thermal pools. Kick back and enjoy! My favorite is to do it with a cold beer in hand but you do you!

How to get from Istanbul to Termal: Located approximately 80 kilometers southeast of Istanbul.

To reach Termal, you can take the Marmaray to Pendik then a short ferry ride across the water to Yalova, unfortunately, once you get to Yalova there is no public transportation.

I recommend renting a car but then you can also explore the area. You might even combine it with a day trip to Bursa.

The Limak Thermal Boutique is my top luxury stay with a beautiful spa.

Not only do they have great amenities but you’re also surrounded by such beautiful nature.

Check Prices & Availability

A cat standing on a ledge looking for some attention

9. Polonezköy

Nestled on the outskirts of Istanbul lies the enchanting village of Polonezköy, beckoning travelers with its rustic charm and natural beauty.

Polonezköy, founded by Polish immigrants in the 19th century, exudes a unique cultural atmosphere with its wooden houses, colorful gardens, and charming streets.

Visitors can explore the Polonezköy Nature Park, a lush sanctuary boasting hiking trails, picnic spots, and a diverse collection of plants and animals.

The park is also home to the historic Resurrection Church, an architectural gem that stands as a testament to the village’s Polish heritage.

Polonezköy is also popular among locals for a serpme Turkish Breakfast. For a hanging-out-at-my-best-friend’s-place kind of vibe try Zeynepp Restaurant.

Mari’s House is also well-loved in Polonezköy.

A day trip to Polonezköy promises an escape into a serene natural setting while discovering the unique cultural heritage of this Polish-inspired village, making it a delightful retreat for nature enthusiasts and culture seekers alike.

Don’t miss seeing: Polonezköy Nature Park. It was declared a nature park in 1999 and is actually the largest nature park in Istanbul.

How to get from Istanbul to Polonezköy: Located just 30 kilometers east of Istanbul. If you have a good size group of people, I recommend renting a minibus for this adventure. If not, renting a car will still be easier. Otherwise, it is 3 different buses.

When you rent the minibus for the day you will have them to drive you around. A group of friends and I did this and spent the day grilling out and exploring. It was a blast!

Looking for something to do in Istanbul? Check out this review of some private day tours in Istanbul.

Rocky seaside walkway with a beautiful view of the sea.

10. YEŞİlkÖy and FLORYA

The charming neighborhoods of Yeşilköy and Florya are technically a part of greater Istanbul but they are worth a day trip.

Because they are located along the Marmara Sea, these coastal districts offer a refreshing escape from the city center.

Yeşilköy boasts a picturesque marina where visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade, lined with charming cafes and seafood restaurants.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Yeşilköy Atatürk Mansion, a historical building that once served as a residence for Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Just a stone’s throw away, Florya beckons visitors with its golden sandy beaches and vibrant seaside atmosphere.

The Florya Atatürk Marine Mansion, another historic landmark, offers a glimpse into the city’s glamorous past.

A day trip to these coastal neighborhoods promises a perfect blend of relaxation, seaside charm, and cultural exploration, providing an unforgettable experience for all travelers.

Don’t miss: Istanbul Aquarium in Florya. This aquarium is the biggest thematic aquarium in the world. It is cool because you can wander through and see different fish from different geographical regions.

They have approximately 1,500 different species and a special themed route of 1.2 km. Definitely worth seeing if you’re into aquariums. Kids love it too!

How to get from Istanbul to Yeşilköy and Florya: Located approximately 25 kilometers west of Istanbul. This day trip is easily accessible by way of the Marmaray. You will walk everywhere around and won’t need a car at all!

A small harbor with small boats

11. Rumelİfenerİ and Garipçe

One of the best day trips in Istanbul is a scenic journey to Rumelifeneri and Garipçe, two charming villages nestled along the Bosphorus.

These picturesque destinations offer a tranquil escape from the urban buzz. Rumelifeneri is home to the historical Rumeli Feneri Lighthouse, an iconic landmark that offers panoramic views of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea.

The village itself exudes a quaint charm, with its narrow streets, traditional houses, and a tranquil tea garden where visitors can savor Turkish tea while taking in the views.

Just a short drive away, Garipçe beckons with its idyllic fishing village atmosphere.

You can wander through the village, explore its traditional wooden houses, and indulge in freshly caught seafood at the waterfront restaurants.

A wonderful day trip to these enchanting villages promises a blend of natural beauty, cultural immersion, and a tranquil atmosphere.

It will definitely be a memorable escape from the busy, noisy city center.

Don’t miss: The Castle of Rumelifeneri allows you to take in the panoramic views as well as smell the heavenly scent of the water on the wind.

If you want to enjoy some fish on the coast, check out Salas Barınak Balık.

How to drive from Istanbul to Rumelİfenerİ and Garipçe: Located approximately 40 kilometers north of Istanbul city center. The best way to reach Rumelifeneri and Garipçe is by car so that you can enjoy the picturesque coastal route and then explore afterward.

If you don’t want to do a car, much like the Belgrad Forest, you can take the Marmary to the M2 to the end of the line and catch and then catch a bus but because it is so far out of the city center, once you’re there, there won’t be as much public transportation.

Check car rental prices and availability

Save Money 728x90

A few other day trips to take

Troy

The city of Troy is located in northwestern Turkey. Here you can discover the legendary city of the Trojan War and explore the ruins, including the famous wooden Trojan horse monument. This is the movie prop from the 2004 movie Troy.

To get from Istanbul to Troy it is about. a four-hour drive. The benefit of this trip is you could go home a different route than you came and encircle the Sea of Marmara.

You could even combine this with the gorgeous Gallipoli Peninsula and make a weekend out of it.

Gallipoli Peninsula

The sites of the Gallipoli Peninsula hold great significance in World War I history. Visit the battlefields and memorials to pay tribute to the soldiers who fought there. The moving Gallipoli Battlefields, ANZAC Cove, and Lone Pine Cemetery are some great attractions in Turkey. Don’t miss the Gallipoli Historical National Park.

To get from Istanbul to Gallipoli Peninsula it is a 4 ish hour drive. It is quite close to site of Troy and could easily be combined if both were of interest to you.

hot air balloons in Cappadocia

Weekend trips from Istanbul

The cities in this list are often included as a day trip but in my opinion, these places to visit really require more than one day.

They are kind of close but not close enough to make it worth it in my opinion. They are, however, definitely worth seeing! There are also a lot of options if you’re looking for tours from Istanbul.

Ephesus

For a day trip to Ephesus, it is about a 5-hour drive. If you’re not interested in renting a car, you can always book a two-day Ephesus and Pamukkale Trip.

If you really wanna do it in one day, this one-day Istanbul to Ephesus trip is a good option.

You will fly from Istanbul to Izmir and back the same night. These tours include round-trip flights from Istanbul.

Cappadocia

To get from Istanbul to Cappadocia I definitely recommend flying. It is the easiest for sure. If you don’t want to handle all the details, you can join a two-day tour and hit all the main sites.

FAQs About Best Day Trips from Istanbul

What is the best day trip from Istanbul?

The best day trip from Istanbul depends on what you hope to accomplish. The variety in the above trips will cover just about anything!

Is 4 days in Istanbul too much?

Whether 4 days in Istanbul is too much entirely depends on what you hope to see and the pace at which you want to see things. After living here for 4 years I still haven’t seen all of it!

How safe is Istanbul for US citizens?

You can read the full article about safety in Turkey but personally, as a single woman, I have never felt unsafe in Turkey. I can’t say the same about living in America.

Can you island-hop from Turkey to Greece?

Yes! You can island hop from Turkey to Greece. During the pandemic, it was all closed down but it is open again. Many locals and foreigners alike do it for a weekend vacation. There are a lot of options out of Kusadasi, south of Izmir.

Istanbul Day Trips for the win

While there is so much do in Istanbul, sometimes you just need to escape. Taking a short trip opens up a world of possibilities for travelers.

Whether it’s exploring historical landmarks, indulging in natural beauty, immersing in cultural heritage, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the outskirts of Istanbul offer a diverse range of destinations to suit every interest.

From the charming villages along the Bosphorus to the tranquil forests, thermal spas, and scenic coastal towns, each day trip provides a unique experience that complements the vibrant energy of Istanbul.

With the convenience of renting a car, you will have the freedom to go wherever you want to and see all the things.

Whether discovering historical sites, enjoying outdoor activities, or simply escaping the city’s hustle and bustle, a one day trip from Istanbul is an enriching experience that adds depth and variety to any itinerary.

Read More:

Turkey vacation basics

When I plan a trip these are the websites I use. Hope they help you plan your next adventure as well!

FLIGHTS: I am a huge fan of Skyscanner and WayAway.

VISAS: You can use the free e-visa portal here but for a few extra dollars you can use iVisa and someone else will handle any issues that may come up.

E-SIM: When I traveled to SE Asia I discovered e-sims and I’m never going back. Airalo has been easy and cheap!

TRAVEL INSURANCE: I use TravelInsurance.com for my trips abroad.

CAR RENTAL: I have loved working with Discover Cars when I rent cars in country.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS: I have used these transfers many times and they are always great. If you’d like more options, I also recommend GetTransfers.com as they allow you to compare companies.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on Booking.com.

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: You can browse GetYourGuide’s website to find just the tour you’re looking for!

Similar Posts