14 day trips from Istanbul

Bursa

Are you in Istanbul and looking to explore the region for a day? Here are the 14 excursions from Istanbul we recommend!

To visit Istanbul is to immerse yourself in 2,000 years of history, via Byzantium and Constantinople. The only city in the world to be located on two continents, Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading tourist attractions.

The city’s exceptional character sometimes leaves the surrounding area out in the cold. Yet there are many excursions from Istanbul. Some even take place in its vast municipality!

Here are the fourteen day trips from Istanbul that Generation Voyage has selected for you!

1. Cruise on the Bosphorus

Dolmabahçe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – UygarBB

📍 Departure from Eminönü

🚊 Reachable by streetcar (several stops)

📷 Things to see and do: toy museum, mosques, local atmosphere

The best-known excursion from Istanbul is the Bosphorus cruise. It’s best to take the longest route possible. The Bosphorus is home to numerous Ottoman palaces, including the Dolmabahçe.

There’s also the fortress built by Mehmet II a few days before the capture of Constantinople in 1453. The further you get from Istanbul, the more the buildings give way to nature. If you have the chance, stop off at a village on the riverbank to spend some time before heading back to Istanbul.

2. Cruise on the Golden Horn

 Baie de la Corne d'Or d'Istanbul et vue sur la mosquée de Souleymaniye

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Nikolay Antonov

📍 Departure from Eminönü

🚊 Reachable by streetcar (several stops)

📷 Things to see and do: toy museum, mosques, local atmosphere

A cruise is a classic day trip from Istanbul. The one on the Golden Horn is the least well-known. Yet it’s a major historic passage, an estuary with an eventful history. It was here that the Byzantines set up their shipyards and the famous chain protecting the city, which was bypassed by the Ottomans.

On the agenda: a day to admire the banks of the Golden Horn, with its mosques, the Galata Tower and its more or less ancient houses. An escape for a few hours.

3. Kadıköy

Kadıköy

Photo credit: Shutterstock – okanozdemir

📍 Istanbul’s Asian side

🚇 Reachable by metro (several stops)

📷 Things to see and do: toy museum, mosques, local atmosphere

So close to Üsküdar and yet so far away… Kadıköy is also an excursion from Istanbul located on the Asian side of the city. While Üsküdar is rather traditional and conservative, Kadıköy is quite the opposite. With its lively neighborhood, numerous cafés and bars, Kadıköy is like a small village that’s always awake.

As you stroll around, you’ll come across some beautiful mosques. Time permitting, you can also visit the Toy Museum for a playful moment. But it’s above all for its festive atmosphere that people come to Kadıköy. Those who love a good time will be delighted.

The century-old Baylan patisserie will delight your taste buds if you’re feeling peckish. Finally, for those seeking peace and quiet, Kadıköy is always bustling and noisy.

4. Üsküdar

Tour de Léandre

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Victor Jiang

📍 Istanbul’s Asian side

🚇 Reachable by metro (several stops)

📷 Things to see and do: Leander Tower, Nakkaştepe Park, numerous mosques

Ancient Constantinople is a huge city, and some day-trips from Istanbul can take place within the city itself! This is particularly true of the Asian side of the city, which is very different from the European side. Üsküdar is a good example.

The ancient Chrysopolis is symbolized by the Leander Tower, located on the Bosphorus just a few meters from the mainland. Now a tourist attraction, you can enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee here.

In Üsküdar itself, don’t miss the Nakkaştepe Park, where you can see the bridge from one bank to the other, or the beautiful mosques.

5. Discovering the Belgrad forest

Forêt de Belgrad

Photo credit: Shutterstock – yilmazsavaskandag

📍 25 kilometers

🚗 By car: 40 minutes

📷 Things to see and do: hiking, jogging

A sublime place, the Belgrade Forest is the locals’ favorite excursion from Istanbul. The green lung of Istanbul’s metropolitan area is an immense expanse of deciduous trees. It’s the ideal place to enjoy a walk in the fresh air.

For Sunday joggers, Belgrad Forest is also perfect for jogging, as it never gets really hot thanks to the protection offered by the trees.

6. Princes’ Islands

Burgazada

Photo credit: Shutterstock – muratart

📍 19 kilometers

⛴️ By boat: between 50 minutes and 1h30, depending on the boat chosen from Eminönü

📷 What to see / What to do: Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, breakfast depending on the time of day, cyclo tours

A day trip from Istanbul is recommended, as the Princes’ Islands are too numerous to visit in one day. So it’s time to make a choice! Firstly, if you arrive early enough and on an empty stomach, each island offers an idyllic setting for breakfast.

As for the rest, the largest island is Büyükada, offering the most places to visit and some great cycling. The other islands, notably Heybeliada and Burgazada, are smaller, less crowded and quieter. And always with cycling as a physical activity!

7. Kumköy

Excursions depuis Istanbul : Kumköy

Photo credit: Shutter

📍 33 kilometers

🚗 By car: 1h10

📷 What to see / What to do: go to the beach for a relaxing day out

The shores of the Black Sea certainly offer some great day trips from Istanbul. Kumköy is one of them. On the program, little effort: beach, relaxation, terrace! That’s for the summer season.

For the rest of the year, Kumköy is a very pleasant town, far from the urban hustle and bustle of the Istanbul megalopolis. A moment of escape and silence that we really appreciate!

8. Anadolu Kavağı

Excursions depuis Istanbul : Anadolu Kavağı

Photo credit: Shutterstock – mrtcnkrpnr

📍 35 kilometers

🚗 By car: 1h10

📷 Things to see and do: Joshua Hill, Yoros Castle, the banks of the Bosphorus

This excursion from Istanbul takes you to the banks of the Bosphorus. Anadolu Kavağı is known for its proximity to Joshua Hill. For some Muslims, the hill is home to the tomb of the prophet Joshua. A mausoleum is dedicated to him. What’s certain is that it offers a fabulous panorama and that the mausoleum and its mosque are superb.

On the other side of town, don’t miss a visit to Yoros Castle, a well-preserved Byzantine edifice. Finally, from Anadolu Kavağı, you can enjoy a short cruise on the Bosphorus.

9. Şile

Şile

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Serkant Hekimci

📍 80 kilometers

🚗 By car: 1h40

📷 Things to see and do: lighthouse, castle, beach, seaside promenade

A popular day trip from Istanbul for locals at weekends, Şile boasts an exceptional location. Situated on the shores of the Black Sea, Şile boasts a huge, beautiful beach close to the city’s old lighthouse. As well as swimming, it’s an ideal place for a stroll, a coffee or a cocktail.

In addition to its lighthouse, Şile offers a number of architectural treasures, not least its castle, or rather what’s left of it, a tower planted on a rock! An exceptional view awaits you from the building. A middle-class town, Şile is also home to some beautiful houses, which definitely confirms that it’s a pleasant town to stroll around.

10. Izmit

Izmit

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Resul Muslu

📍 100 kilometers

🚗 By car: 2h

📷Sightseeing / activities: Seka Park, Gayret Gemi Museum, downtown tour

Little known, Izmit took advantage of its seaside location to build a major port. A large city, Izmit is best appreciated by strolling through the large Seka park and visiting the Gayret Gemi museum, dedicated to a former warship.

Finally, take a stroll through the city center to soak up the atmosphere of a Turkish city, rarely visited by foreigners. This day trip from Istanbul is perfect for an authentic stay.

11. Ağva Merkez

Ağva Merkez

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Nedim Ardoğa

📍 110 kilometers

🚗 By car: 2h10

📷 Things to see/do: the beach, hiking, pedal boats

Here’s an excursion from Istanbul designed for relaxation. The seaside resort of Ağva Merkez lets you unwind and spend a quiet day. On the program: stroll along the seafront and swim in the Black Sea, discover a charming town center with cafés and terraces.

Ağva Merkez is also the place where the Koca River flows into the sea, which can be explored by pedalo. Its banks are also the perfect place to sip a cocktail in fine weather.

12. Iznik

Excursions depuis Istanbul : Iznik

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Resul Muslu

📍 140 kilometers

🚗 By car: 2h20

📷 What to see / What to do: Saint Sophia Mosque, Iznik Museum, Castle, Istanbul Gate, a stroll through the city center

Once known as Nicaea, Iznik is often overlooked on day trips from Istanbul. However, Iznik has preserved some of its jewels, such as the Sainte-Sophie mosque, formerly a church, and its castle. The city’s museum provides an opportunity to learn more about the city, particularly in Nicene times.

The Porte d’Istanbul, the ancient entrance to the walled city, is well preserved. It is the starting point for a stroll through the city center, where you can appreciate the local atmosphere. Many ruins can also be seen, some even dating back to the Roman Empire.

Last but not least, Iznik’s lakeside location allows you to stroll along the water’s edge and even take a dip!

13. Bursa

Excursions depuis Istanbul : Bursa

Photo credit: Shutterstock – muharremz

📍 150 kilometers

🚗 By car: 2h30

📷Sightseeing / activities: the Great Mosque, green mausoleum and mosque at Muradiye, Uludağ cable car, Cumalikizik, Silk Museum, Bazaar, Kozan Han

Another former Ottoman capital! Here, too, you can admire the genius of the Ottoman architects of the time, with the Great Mosque, as well as what is commonly known as the Green Mausoleum and its mosque, in a complex dedicated to mausoleums, Muradiye. This building houses the remains of Sultan Mehmet I.

The town is also very close to Cumalikizik. A Unesco World Heritage site, this village has remained unchanged for 500 years. Everything is intact and remarkably well preserved. Bursa is also famous for its proximity to the Uludağ mountain and its ski resort, which can be reached by one of the world’s longest cable cars, almost 9 kilometers long!

14. Edirne

Excursions depuis Istanbul : Edirne

Photo credit: Shutterstock – sukran ilgin

📍 240 kilometers

🚗 By car: 2h30

📷 What to see / What to do: Selimiye and Burmese mosques, Sultan Bayezid II complex, Meric Bridge, Great Synagogue, Bazaars

This excursion from Istanbul takes us to the former capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne. Formerly known as Andrinople, Edirne boasts a wealth of Ottoman architecture. These include the Selimiye and Burmese mosques, as well as the Meric Bridge.

The most impressive building is the Sultan Bayezid II complex, now transformed into the Health Museum. A 15th-century masterpiece. Edirne is also home to Turkey’s most beautiful synagogue. Finally, don’t hesitate to shop in one of the city’s three bazaars.