7 Best Day Trips from Istanbul | Complete Guide


The city of Istanbul is an architectural wonder and a cultural gem. It has plenty to offer for visitor of every taste. And that to not only within the city, but also around it. From historic sites to beautiful lakes to ski resorts, it has every mood covered.

So if you want get out of the bustle of the city, here is the list of best day trips from Istanbul.



1. Bolu

Travel time 1 way(Till Bolu City) – 3.5 hours(263 KMS) Bolu is the most scenic day trip from Istanbul. The whole Bolu province is filled with dense forests, fauna and gorgeous scenic beauty. Bolu also has great hot spring facilities. This day trip is one of personal favorites. The three most famous tourist places in Bolu are:

Seven Lakes National Park(Yedigöller National Park)

  • Here you find seven small lakes in a valley formed as the result of a landslide: Buyukgol (Big Lake), Deringol (Deep Lake), Nazligol (Elegant Lake), Kucukgol (Small Lake), Sazligol (Reedy Lake), Seringol (Cool Lake), Incegol (Thin Lake)
  • These 7 lakes are at different height points but connected with each other on foot. The area is one of the best known trekking places around Istanbul. If somebody wants to rest for a little bit, there are small cabins owned by the Turkish forest department which is free to enter.
  • The entrance fee to the park it not fixed as it depends upon the type of vehicle and the number of visitors.
  • The park also offers facilities like fire pits and tables for picnickers. Fishing is also available between April and September.

Abant Lake

  • This is one of the most beautiful and famous lake in Turkey. This is one of the most scenic day trips of Istanbul. It is just around 30 KM’s drive from Bolu.  You can walk the seven-kilometer area around the lake and soak in the breathtaking views. Horse carts are also available here if you don’t wish to walk.

Kartalkaya Ski Resort

Kartalkaya is a beautiful ski resort located in Bolu. The resort provides facilities for skiing and other snow activities and sports. You can even plan for staying here for a day for a weekend away in the snow.

2. Çanakkale and Gallipoli Peninsula

Travel time 1 way by car(Approx): 4.5 hours(300 KMS)

Gallipoli Peninsula

  • The Gallipoli Peninsula is the site of Gallipoli Campaign, which is one of the most famous and important campaigns in the war of Turkish independence. This war was fought between the Ottomon(who ruled the region today known as Turkey) and the Entete Powers(Britain, France and Russia), during the world war I. This war was finally won by the Ottoman empire and it led to the start of Turkish war of independence.
  • This beautiful peninsula is now to home to a museum which houses the war relics and the fascinating stories of that campaign. The peninsula also houses the cemetery’s of the fallen during this war. If you are into history, you will find this place really interesting. Plus the views are great!


  • The town of Çanakkale is the the nearest center to the two very famous historical sites, Troy and Gallipoli Peninsula. This is a very beautiful small seaside town. It is great place to visit on the weekends and just relax. This town has a charming waterfront area filled with cafes and restaurants. It is great place to watch the sunset while you sip your drink.
  • Other things to do in this town include Dardanelles Straits Naval Museum. This museum houses a small collection of war relics and artifacts from the both the Gallipoli battles and earlier Ottoman era. There is also the gigantic Kilitbahir Fortress, which was used as strategic defense post by the Ottomans. It is must visit when in Çanakkale.

3. Troy

Distance: 350 KMs, about 5 hour 30 mins drive
  • The archaeological site of Troy is supposedly the site of the famed Trojan War from Homer’s Iliad, which pitted the Greeks against the city of Troy.
  • Apart from this, this is also a multi-layered site of various trading cities that dates from the early Bronze Age right up to the Byzantine period. Thus, it has huge importance for archaeological understanding on the contact between the ancient Mediterranean civilizations and it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1998.
  • Due to the number of ruins from different eras here, this site can be difficult to navigate. And thus investing in the audio-guide when on tour here is a good idea to make sense of what you’re seeing). The main highlights, include the Troy VIII’s outer walls and nearby fortifications of Troy VI, Greco-Roman Temple of Athena, the ruins of the fortified town of Troy VI and Troy II’s megarons.
  • Overall, Troy is a fascinating site for anyone who loves history. If you are short on time to stay in Canakkale overnight, there are many tour operators running day tours from Istanbul.

4. Princes’ Islands

Distance: About half an hour via ferry
  • The Princes islands are a cluster of 9 islands in the Sea of Marmara. Just half an hour ferry ride away from the city’s bustle, this is one of best day trips from Istanbul
  • The ferry ride to the island provides gorgeous coastal scenery. The unique and famous thing about these islands are the horse drawn carriages, as the islands are mainly car free.
  • Heybeliada and Büyükada island are the two most popular islands.
  • Heybeliada Island offers beautiful spots for swimming and sunbathing and also the Hagia Triada Monastery, which was built in 1844.
  • Büyükada Island is home to the Monastery of St. George and the Museum of the Princes’ Islands.


5. Bursa and Mt Uludag

Distance: 150 KMs, about 2 hour 30 mins drive(There is a ferry ride involved to get the car across the river)


  • Bursa is a modern industrial city with a very intriguing historic core. The city is surrounded with the tall and beautiful peaks of the Uludag mountain. This city was the first capital of Ottoman Empire.
  • The best things to do in Bursa include the mammoth Ulu Camii (grand mosque). This is the city’s focal point and is built with 20 domes on its roof. Then there’s Bursa Citadel which is home to the tombs of Sultans Osman and Orhan, founders of the Ottoman Empire. The most pretty mosque in Bursa is Yesil Camii, with intricate tile work and calligraphy on show.

Uludag Mountain

Well known as favourite of mountain and winter tourism, Uludag Mountain is the biggest center place of winter and nature sports in Bursa, Turkey. Also called as Olimpos Mountain, Uludag is 2543 meter high. If you want get out of the bustle of the city and surround yourslef with scenic and icy mountains, this is the day trip from Istanbul that you can’t miss.



6) Sile and Agva

Distance: 80 KMs, about 1 hour 30 mins drive

  • Sile is primarily a fishing village on Turkey‘s Black Sea Coast. It’s gorgeous sweep of white sand makes the locals flock here for a day at the beach, which then turns Sile it into a resort town during summer.
  • Other things to do in Sile apart from the beaches include a 14th century castle and a lighthouse that dates back to the Ottoman era. Overall it’s a great day trip.
  • The nearby resort town of Agva, is surrounded by quaint and spectacular coastal scenery. This town also provides many sunbathing options.

7. Full day Bosphorus Cruise

  • Cruising the Bosphorus for half a day can be great idea if you don’t want to far from the city. The Bosphorus slices Istanbul placing the city into two continents, Europe from Asia. Cruising bosphorus offers very scenic views of the beautiful and contrasting architecture of both continents. You will be able to see the city’s famous skyline view of mosques and palaces from the best viewpoint.
  • There are many tour operators covering different places in the full day itineraries. Generally these cruises travel upto the village of Anadolu Kavagi.
  • You can even choose to cruise in the other direction, till the Golden Horn. You can see sights like 18th-century pavilion of Aynalikavak Kasri,  Türbe of Eyüp (tomb of the Prophet Muhammad’s standard-bearer) and the hill in Eyup which is full of ornate tombstones and has magnificent views over the water.

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