There are many day trips from Istanbul you can take to break up your visit and give you the best overview of this stunning part of Turkey. Istanbul is loud, busy, packed with history, and full of so many incredible things to see and do, but sometimes you just need a break from the madness and a day trip does just the trick.
I’ve stayed in Istanbul for long periods and visited on countless occasions—I love it, but a day out always provides a refreshing pause.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that Istanbul is my favorite city on the planet; I don’t think I’ll ever be able to visit enough times. The city itself is incredible, but sometimes, you just need to stretch out without banging into someone, breathe in some fresh air, and just ‘be’ – taking a couple of Istanbul day trips is always a good idea.
The good news is that once you’ve left Istanbul for the day and returned, you’ll be raring to see even more of the city. It has that kind of effect on people; I think I’m addicted to it.
Best Day Trips From Istanbul
I previously lived in Turkey for several years, mostly on the south coast. However, my husband is Turkish, and he has family in Istanbul, so, every winter time we go and stay for around a month at a time. It’s one of the best times of year for me – I love this city, and it always surprises me in the best ways possible.
Having visited so many times, I’m still finding amazing, new things to see and do. However, I know how crazily busy this place can get, and sometimes, just one day out is the best way to recharge your batteries and dive back in. So, to help you do just that, I’ve compiled a list of the best one-day trips from Istanbul you can enjoy without traveling too far.
1. Büyükada, Princes’ Islands
One of the most popular day trips from Istanbul, if not THE most popular, is the Princes’ Islands, and Büyükada in particular. This is the largest of these beautiful islands, which sit in the Sea of Marmara, 17.6km/10.9 miles away from Istanbul. You won’t see many cars on these islands, if any, as most people get around either by horse-drawn carriage, bicycle, or on foot.
You can see just how much of a refreshing change of pace this is from the hectic vibe in the city and it doesn’t hurt that it’s an easy trip from Istanbul. The ferry ride takes around 1.5 hours, depending on the service you choose, and the scenery is stunning.
Once in Büyükada, you can spend time on the beach, shop, go hiking, including the popular trail to Aya Yorgi Monastery, or simply enjoy a guided tour of the island, which includes your ferry ticket. Click here for tour details.
Distance from Istanbul: 17.6km/10.9 miles
Getting There: The public ferry runs year-round. Click here for ferry details.
Best Tour from Istanbul: A guided walking tour of Büyükada is a great way to see more. Click here for tour details.
Must-Do Activities: Hiking, walking, beach time, shopping.
Where to Eat: Fresh seafood is a must here, but you can find authentic Turkish cuisine very easily. Secret Garden Restaurant is one of my favorite spots.
Termal is another of the popular day tours from Istanbul, where you can immerse yourself in natural surroundings and completely relax. Located in Yalova, Termal is famous for its hot springs, which are said to offer fantastic health benefits. However, a walk around Termal Park can be just as healing for the soul, as you’re held in the arms of Mother Nature.
The Sultan’s Mansion is another top spot in this area, as well as Gökçedere Dam. However, most people visit Termal to enjoy the hot springs, and you can choose to extend your stay at one of the spa hotels if you choose; I stayed at Vital Thermal Hotel & Spa and it was a wonderfully peaceful experience. Click here to learn more.
Distance from Istanbul: 110.7km/68 miles
Location: Termal, Yalova
Getting There: Driving is the easiest option, by taking the Anadolu Otoyolu/O-4, however, you can also take the bus, which runs once per day and takes just over 2 hours.
Must-Do Activities: Spend some time in the hot springs, walk, and eat local food.
Where to Eat: I loved my visit to Gölova Et Mangal, which served the most delicious grilled meats, salads, and meze.
One of the most popular day trips from Istanbul by car is to the huge city of Bursa. The former first capital of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa is a wonderful mix of old and new. It’s also a very green city, with huge mountains in the backdrop – the contrast in colors is beautiful. Bursa is also very close to Uludağ, which is one of the biggest and best ski resorts in Turkey.
The Grand Mosque of Bursa is one of the highlights of this huge city, as well as the Grand Bazaar, and the Bursa City Museum, where you can learn more about its rich and vibrant past. You’ll find that Bursa is a pretty modern city too, and there’s a large university here which gives it a modern-day vibe.
Out of all the Istanbul day trips, this is probably one of the easiest and most popular to take. While traffic may hold you up going in and out of Istanbul, if you set off early, you shouldn’t have many problems.
Distance from Istanbul: 157km/97 miles
Location: Bursa City
Getting There: You can drive easily by taking the Anadolu Otoyolu/O-4 and Gebze-Orhangazi-İzmir Otoyolu/O-5. Bus services are very regular. Click here for bus details.
Best Tour from Istanbul: The full-day trip from Istanbul to Bursa with a cable car ride is a fantastic choice, and you’ll get to see a lot during your visit. Click here to book. You can also take a trip that includes a visit to Mount Uludağ; click here for more details.
Must-Do Activities: Take a walking tour, eat local food, visit Uludağ, sightseeing.
Where to Eat: Bursa is famous for the delicious İskender kebab, and the best place to try this is Kebapçı İskender.
If you’re looking for places to go near Istanbul that don’t require you to drive, but allow you to still catch a break from the hustle and bustle, I’d highly recommend Florya. This place is still actually in Istanbul, but it feels like it’s far away, and it’s a beautiful spot to enjoy some coastal views.
Located in Bakırköy, Florya is around half an hour’s journey from Taksim and is connected by public transport. Once there, you can sit on the rocks and enjoy the view, swim, walk, dine, and shop at Florya Mall, which has a large play area for kids.
This is definitely a day trip for the entire family, and if you can stay until after sunset, you’ll see that this is also a vibrant spot for nightlife. This is one of my favorite places outside the main city.
Distance from Istanbul: 23km/14 miles from Taksim Square
Location: Şenlikköy, 34153 Bakırköy/İstanbul
Getting There: Due to the traffic, it’s not a good idea to drive. Instead, take the Metro from Taksim to Yenikapı and then switch to the Marmaray which has a stop at Florya. The whole journey will take around 45 minutes. There are buses and taxis, but traffic is an issue. Click here for Metro details.
Must-Do Activities: Walking, dining, shopping, swimming.
Where to Eat: Check out Sazeli to have a taste of some traditional Turkish meat dishes. They have a gorgeous leaf garden and spectacular sea views.
5. Belgrad Forest
Set in 5000 hectares of total peace and tranquility, Belgrad Forest is one of the most romantic day trips from Istanbul, and it’s a must-do for anyone who loves nature. It isn’t the easiest place to get to via public transport, but it’s without a doubt worth the time and effort. You’ll be transported from city life to ultimate R&R upon arrival.
Looking out for countless types of flora and fauna and wildlife, and simply walking through the canopy of trees is such a beautiful experience. If you visit during the fall months, the orange and brown hues are stunning. You’ll also see remains of aqueducts that date back to Byzantine times, and there’s an easy hiking trail to follow for those who wish to explore further.
Distance from Istanbul: 21.5km/13 miles from Taksim
Location: Mithatpaşa, Eyüpsultan/İstanbul
Getting There: You can drive by following the Büyükdere Cd road, however, traffic can be a problem. Alternatively, take the Metro from Taksim to Darussafaka, and then a taxi for the remaining 20 minutes to Belgrad Forest. Click here for Metro details.
Best Tour from Istanbul: Getting to Belgrad Forest on your own steam can be tricky. Thankfully, I found the Outdoor Nature Experience tour which took the stress out of organizing the day. You’ll also get to visit Rumeli Fortress along the way. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Walking, wildlife spotting, enjoying nature.
During the summer months, one of the best day trips from Istanbul is Şile, which is a Black Sea fishing village, and a top spot for the freshest seafood. I’m not the biggest fish fan, but I dined here, and you could say, I’m converted.
You’ll find that this small village gets quite busy during summer weekends and public holidays, as locals escape the city and head to the crystal clear waters to swim. However, if you arrive early enough, you’ll be able to find space on the beach. The fact that locals love this place so much should tell you a lot about how beautiful it is.
I really enjoyed taking a sunset walk along the port and passing by the fishing boats. The Şile lighthouse offers amazing views and the whole area is definitely one of the places to visit near Istanbul to add to your list.
Distance from Istanbul: 86km/53.5miles from Istanbul
Location: Şile, İstanbul/Türkiye
Getting There: Public transport is very long-winded, so you’re best to drive. Follow the O-7 and the journey should take around 1 hour 20 minutes.
Best Tour from Istanbul: If you’re into adrenaline spots, the Ziplining Tour is a great choice. Click here for more details.
Must-Do Activities: Walk, enjoy the views, visit the lighthouse, and eat seafood.
Where to Eat: I had amazing seafood at Rokethane Kafe and the views were fantastic too. There is also a great children’s menu, so it’s a great place to visit as a family.
Edirne is a historic city in the northwest of Turkey that’s around 2.5 hours away by car. It’s one of the most unique day trips near Istanbul to take, and you’ll learn a lot about the history of the area, especially during Ottoman times. The city was the former capital of the empire in 1363.
Selimiye Mosque is a major highlight, which dates back to the 16th century, designed by famous architect Mimar Sinan. I loved walking around the Kaleiçi area, with its colorful houses and winding streets. This is a great place to sip Turkish coffee and watch the world go by, and you can also shop for souvenirs to take home.
Overall, I highly recommend Edirne to history fans, as the sheer amount of architecture is mind-blowing.
Distance from Istanbul: 239km/148 miles
Location: Edirne Merkez, Edirne
Getting There: It’s best to drive to Edirne as public transport will take around five hours. Simply follow the Avrupa Otoyolu/O-3, and your journey should take around 2.5 hours.
Best Tour from Istanbul: I took the Edirne Day Trip From Istanbul and it was a great way to see the area without the stress of driving. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Walk around and admire the architecture, and head to the riverside to take in the scenery.
Where to Eat: Gazibaba Meyhanesi is a great place to enjoy some authentic cuisine, and they also have live music several nights a week. While the menu isn’t huge, what they do offer, is made well indeed. The lamb cutlets were delicious, and I had several mezes beforehand.
Most people think that the ancient city of Troy is in Greece, and it used to be, but it’s now in modern-day Turkey. Located just outside of the city of Çanakkale, you’ll find the wooden Trojan horse used in the 2004 film ‘Troy’ with Eric Bana and Brad Pitt, displayed for all to see. This place completely blew me away, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Day trips from Istanbul to Troy are tiring but totally worth it. I took a full-day tour because I didn’t want to deal with driving or public transport and it turned out to be an excellent decision. I saw the horse, the city walls, and several ruins, and I learned so much from the knowledgeable guide. Click here to learn more and book.
Çanakkale itself is one of the best places to visit outside Istanbul, and this coastal city is also famous for the WW1 Gallipoli battlefields. You can also visit here via a day tour from Istanbul; click here for details.
Distance from Istanbul: 258km/160 miles
Location: Troya Antik Kenti, Truva altı sokak, 17100 Tevfikiye/Merkez/Çanakkale
Getting There: You can drive in around 5 hours, but it’s a much better idea to take a day tour like I did.
Best Tour from Istanbul: A Çanakkale tour, which includes Troy and Gallipoli, is tiring but so worth it. Click here for details.
Must-Do Activities: Troy is all about admiring history, but you should make time to visit Gallipoli if you can. Çanakkale itself is a vibrant city, with great food, nightlife, and shopping.
Where to Eat: Limani Cafe & Restaurant is a great option if you want to enjoy a delicious meal with a stunning view. It’s a fantastic place to try authentic Turkish food as you can see the dishes already cooked on display and choose what you like.
9. Anadolu Kavağı
One of the easiest places to visit from Istanbul is Anadolu Kavağı, which is strictly speaking still within Istanbul; it’s located at the narrowest stretch of the Bosphorus Strait. If you want to be transported back in time to when things were much simpler, this small and charming fishing village is the place to go.
There’s also a lot of history here, including Yoros Castle, which dates back to Byzantine times and offers beautiful views over the sea. I thought this was a pretty romantic spot and a great place for photographs. Of course, the biggest pull is the old wooden houses that take you back to days gone by, and the lush green landscapes all around.
Distance from Istanbul: 40km/25 miles
Location: 34825 Beykoz/İstanbul
Getting There: The ferry departs from Beşiktaş six times per day and takes 1 hour 20 minutes. Click here for ferry information.
Best Tour from Istanbul: You can take a guided tour of the Bosphorus Strait, which heads past Anadolu Kavağı. This is a great way to see the area from a different viewpoint. Click here to learn more.
Must-Do Activities: Walk around and enjoy the views, head to Yoros Castle, and breathe in the sea air.
Where to Eat: Being so close to the sea, this is a great spot for seafood. Ceneviz Balık is a small but high-quality restaurant to try, where fresh catches are cooked right in front of you.
10. Thrace Vineyard Route
There are four main spots around Istanbul that are famous for wine production, namely Gelibolu, Şarköy, Kırklareli, and Tekirdağ; the Thrace Vineyard Route links all of them and shows you some of the most beautiful countryside you’ll ever set your eyes on. While it’s possible to do a day trip from here, it probably falls into the weekend trips from Istanbul category if you want to fully do it justice.
As you follow the route, you’ll not only get to see different vineyards, but you’ll also see stunning scenery, including mountains and coastal views. If you want to stay overnight, which isn’t a bad idea, I’d highly recommend you book accommodation as soon as you have an idea of your itinerary; this is an extremely popular route, and you don’t want to be disappointed.
Distance from Istanbul: The locations that form the Thrace Vineyard Route are all within 2-3 hours of Istanbul.
Getting There: You’ll need to drive along this route, or take a guided tour (see below).
Best Tour from Istanbul: If you want a taste (pardon the pun) of this route but don’t want to drive, you can take a full-day wine tour in Kirklareli, which includes part of the route.
Must-Do Activities: Enjoy the scenery, learn about wine, and, of course, sample some wine too.
Where to Eat: Volkan Et Mangal Kır Lokantası is a fantastic barbecue restaurant in Kirklareli, part of the route. In the summer months, you can eat outside and enjoy the fresh air.
The best place to soak up the sun, enjoy the sea, and let your hair down at a beach party is Kilyos on the Black Sea coast, also known as Kumköy. This is one of the best day trips from Istanbul in the summer months. Burc Beach and Suma Beach are where you’ll find most of the action, and the waters here are calm and shallow, with golden sand.
If you visit just for the day, make sure you stay long enough to watch the sunset, as it’s quite spectacular. However, it’s not all beach parties; Kilyos is a pretty laid-back place, and you can explore the winding streets if you get fed up with the beach.
You’ll notice that during weekends and public holidays, Kilyos does get crowded with city dwellers seeking relaxation, so make sure you set off early.
Distance from Istanbul: 57.5km/35.7 miles
Location: 34450 Sarıyer/İstanbul
Getting There: You can drive in just under an hour, by following the O-7 road. Alternatively, you can take Metro to Haciosman and then a taxi for the remaining 20 minutes of the journey; overall it should take no longer than just over one hour.
Must-Do Activities: Enjoy the beach, take part in a beach party during the summer months, and explore the town’s winding streets.
Where to Eat: Well-known for its excellent appetizers, Kayıkhane is not to be missed. With friendly staff and spectacular sunset views, this is a great place to head for a snack or something more substantial. Click here for directions.
The beautiful town of Iznik is famous as the home of Iznik tiles, notably seen in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. However, it’s about far more than that; this is a truly stunning place to visit, packed with history and beauty. The best way to see this area is to take a private tour from Istanbul; that way you’ll have the services of a guide to help you learn more. Click here to book.
For me, this is one of the most fun day trips from Istanbul because it offers something totally different and you’ll learn a lot. The sunsets are also mind-blowing; I wasn’t expecting to see something so beautiful. There are many old mosques to explore, and the winding streets are like a maze.
Distance from Istanbul: 143km/89 miles
Location: Iznik, Bursa
Getting There: You can drive in just over two hours by following the O-4 and O-5 roads. You can also take a bus from Ümraniye on the Asian side of the city. Click here for bus information.
Best Tour from Istanbul: A day tour is a great way to explore the rich history of Iznik. Click here for details and to book.
Must-Do Activities: Walk around the streets to take in the old architecture, eat delicious Turkish food, and learn about the history of the area from a guide.
Where to Eat: İznik Eftalya Restaurant is a top spot for kebabs; make sure you try their Adana Kebab and the many different meze on offer.
Polonezköy is one of the many popular day trips from Istanbul and provides something a little different from everything else on offer. In 1842, a group of Polish people set up a community on the Asian side of Istanbul, far down toward Beykoz. The town is a wonderful blend of Polish and Turkish culture, and it’s a great place to escape for a few hours.
Around the village, you’ll find lots of walking trails that are packed with nature. The green landscape around here will have you thinking that you’re far, far away from any major city when in reality, you’re quite close; I was surprised at how different this area felt from the other areas close to Istanbul itself. Pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely day of exploring the area.
Distance from Istanbul: 38.5km/24 miles
Location: 34829 Beykoz/İstanbul
Getting There: You can drive by heading over the Bosphorus toward the Asian side and following the Polonezköy Yolu.
Best Tour from Istanbul: The Full Day Istanbul Poland Village Tour is a great way to not only see the area but to learn more about the Polish community in Istanbul. Click here for information.
Must-Do Activities: Enjoy nature on one of the many walking trails, check out the old churches, and mingle with the locals.
Where to Eat: I had breakfast at Halim Et & Kahvalti and it was a fantastic spread – it set me up for the day, but they also do fantastic meat dishes as part of their daytime and evening menus.
14. Sapanca Lake
Nature lovers should be sure to head over to Sapanca Lake, which is a beautiful freshwater lake just over two hours away from the center of Istanbul. It’s amongst the best day trips from Istanbul in winter as this area turns into a true feast for the eyes as the colder weather sets in. I visited in the fall, and the orange color of the leaves was simply stunning.
Nearby, you’ll also find the adorable village of Masukiye with small houses set into the forest. It’s like something out of a fairytale – I half expected Little Red Riding Hood to go skipping past. There’s so much to see and do here, and you can purchase some locally-produced honey to take back home with you; it’s some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Distance from Istanbul: 152km/94 miles
Location: Sapanca Gölü
Getting There: You can drive by following the Anadolu Otoyolu/O-4, which will take around two hours. You can also take the bus to Sakarya bus station, and then take a taxi for the remaining 15 minutes to Sapanca itself. Click here for bus information.
Best Tour from Istanbul: The Sapanca Lake and Masukiye Tour is a great full-day out, and you’ll see so much of the area in a short space of time. Click here for information.
Must-Do Activities: Take a boat trip on the lake and take in the stunning scenery. Visit Masukiye and explore the natural setting.
Where to Eat: I had dinner at Menzara and I can certainly say it was one of the best meals I had on that trip, with the most amazing view to enjoy at the same time. I’d highly recommend this place.
One of the best cities to visit near Istanbul is Tekirdağ, famous for wine, raki, and delicious Köfte, or meatballs. This is a top city for foodies, and I found some fantastic restaurants around. It’s also packed with small shops and markets selling delicious local goods, so make sure you allow enough time for a spot of food shopping.
A short distance away from the city center you’ll find Barbare vineyards, where you can learn about, and sample some wine. However, in the center itself, there are some great things to see, including Rüstem Pasha Mosque, and the beautiful local beach where you can sit, drink some Turkish çay, and gaze out at the horizon. It’s one of the most relaxing things to do.
Distance from Istanbul: 146km/90 miles.
Getting There: You can drive in just over two hours by taking the Avrupa Otoyolu/O-3 and E84. You can also take the bus in a similar amount of time. Click here for bus information.
Must-Do Activities: Shopping, sightseeing, eating delicious local produce, checking out the architecture.
Where to Eat: Etoba Restaurant is a great choice for both international and local dishes; if you have a picky eater in your group, you’re sure to find something to suit all your needs here.
Best Day Trip Tours from Istanbul
The great thing about Istanbul isn’t just how much there is to keep you occupied while you’re there, but it’s also very well connected to other towns, cities, and villages, meaning there are many tours you can take. Let’s sum up some of the best:
1. Troy Full Day Tour From Istanbul: You’ll need to get up early for this one, as it picks up around 6 a.m., but you’ll see so much of the ancient city of Troy and the iconic wooden Trojan horse. You’ll also go on a ferry ride on the Dardanelles Strait. Return time depends on traffic, but it will be a long day and a late evening. Click here for more details.
2. Bursa Tour With Lunch & Cable Car Ride: Bursa is a wonderful city, and this trip will show you a brief glimpse of it. This is another long tour, lasting for 13 hours with a very early pickup, but you’ll get to go on the cable car at Uludağ and enjoy a delicious traditional meal. As far as day trips from Istanbul by bus go, this one shows you a lot. Click here for more details.
3. Princes’ Island Tour: The Princes’ Islands feel a world away from the city, so a trip here is a definite must-do. I like this trip because it not only includes Büyükada, but the smaller island of Heybeliada too. You’ll have free time to explore, before heading back to your hotel around late afternoon. Click here for more details.
4. Guided Day Trip to Sapanca and Masukiye: I’ve already raved about how amazing these two locations are, so this tour is definitely on the list of must-do’s. This is another long day, with the trip lasting for 13 hours, but you’ll get to see a great deal. You’ll get free time in both Sapanca Lake and Masukiye, as well as Kartepe Mountain. Click here for more details.
Day Trips Around Istanbul: FAQs
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about the best day trips around Istanbul:
The most popular day trip from Istanbul is to the Princes’ Islands. It’s very easy to jump on the ferry from either Karaköy, Beşiktaş, Eminönü, Kabataş, or Kadıköy and enjoy a day on the largest island, Büyükada. You can also cruise around the smaller islands if you choose.
You can see the main highlights of the city in around three days, but you’ll certainly not see everything. If you want to throw in some day trips around Istanbul, you’ll need at least a week, and possibly even ten days if you want to tick off more things on your itinerary in the city.
You can take many day trips from Istanbul with a car, and the most popular ones include Bursa and Çanakkale, which is close to the ancient city of Troy.
You can take several trips from Istanbul by train but probably not in a day. Trains can often run one or two services per day in some cases, and that would make returning on the same day challenging, especially when you factor in station changes.
There are some stunning places just a stone’s throw away from Istanbul, including the breathtaking Princes’ Islands and Belgrad Forest, which feel like you’ve been transported to another world.
You can take a full-day trip from Istanbul to Bursa and see some of the top sights, including the beautiful Grand Mosque of Bursa. The journey will take just under two hours either way.
Çanakkale, which is where you’ll find the ruins of Troy, is close to Istanbul, at around a 3.5 hours’ drive. This is a very popular day trip from Istanbul, and although you’ll need an early start, it’s more than worth the effort.
There are many day trips you can take from Istanbul, including the popular Princes’ Islands, Belgrad Forest, Bursa, Çanakkale, and Troy. You can also book trips that take you further afield for perhaps a night or two, including Cappadocia, Ephesus, and Pamukkale.
Bursa is the closest major city to Istanbul, at just under two hours’ drive away.
While you will find day trips from Istanbul to Cappadocia, it’s worth mentioning just how far away these two locations are from one another. You won’t see very much in Cappadocia if you’re taking flights from Istanbul to Nevşehir, a bus, and then the same back again. If you want to see Cappadocia, it deserves at least a three-day trip alone.
As if there isn’t enough to do in the middle of the city itself, there are many day trips from Istanbul that will enhance your time even more. This city never stops surprising me, and it wasn’t until after the first few times of visiting that I realized just how many trips there were further afield. Since then, I’m always heading off for a day of exploration whenever we visit this amazing city.
I really can’t explain in words just how much of a must-visit Istanbul is. In my opinion, everyone should visit at least once, (even though once is simply not enough). Now you know about the different trips you can take around the area, you can start to plan your time. So, where will you go first?