10 Cities Near Istanbul That You Need to Visit!

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Written By Sean Lau

Co-Founder of The Turkey Traveler. Globetrotter, Adventurer, and Frequent Traveler to Turkey!

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If you want a break from the bustling streets of Istanbul and its chaotic atmosphere, there are plenty of cities near Istanbul for you.

Whether you are looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle into nature or just want a change of scenery, you’ll find a wide variety of places near Istanbul that are worth visiting.

Many of these destinations are the perfect day trip from Istanbul, but some might require you to stay a few days (maybe a weekend) to fully appreciate their beauty and charm.

Without further ado, here are ten amazing cities near Istanbul to visit!

Planning a trip to Istanbul last-minute?

Make sure you book your tours, places to stay, and airport transfers ahead of time to ensure availability!

Here is our recommended airport transfer in Istanbul:

  1. Airport Shuttle From Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gocken International Airport (SAW) (Super affordable!)

Here are our recommended tours in Istanbul:

  1. Luxury Bosphorus Strait Cruise At Sunset (A must-do In Istanbul)
  2. Whirling Dervishes Show (Unique experience!)
  3. Historical Turkish Bath Experience
  4. Istanbul Food And Culture Tour

Here are our recommended places to stay in Istanbul:

  1. Magnuara Palace Hotel (Gorgeous hotel in the historic centre!)
  2. Pera Palace Hotel
  3. Cheers Hostel (Budget hostel near the Blue Mosque!)

What Are The Cities Near Istanbul Worth Visiting?

1. Bursa

View of Bursa

Perhaps the most famous city near Istanbul is Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire Located only around 2 hours from Istanbul by bus, Bursa is a very popular Istanbul day trip.

This city has many attractions that make it worth visiting, from its historic mosques and bazaars to its breathtaking views of nature.

It is situated at the foot of Mount Uludag, an extinct volcano that stands 2,543 meters above sea level. During the winter, visitors can enjoy skiing in one of the best ski resorts in Turkey.

During the warmer mountains, the hiking trails in Uludag National Park explore the stunning lakes framed by lush forests and deep valleys.

Though visitors typically come here to explore the nature, Bursa has plenty more to offer.

It is often recognized as a smaller Istanbul, so visitors can avoid the chaos and still enjoy all the rich culture Turkey is known for.

Don’t miss the Grand Mosque when you are in Bursa. It was built in 1399 by Sultan Bayezid I and is an exemplary example of Ottoman architecture with its unique 20-dome layout and fine woodcarving. It is considered one of the best mosques in Turkey!

Another spectacular attraction in Bursa is the Koza Han. Completed in 1491, the Koza Han was one of the biggest and more spectacular caravanserais in Bursa.

Because of Bursa’s strategic location on the Silk Road, Koza Han is magnificent in style and elegance.

Nowadays, it has a mosque in the center and several cafes, eateries and gift shops. This is one of the best places to purchase some Turkish souvenirs.

With a unique mix of historic landmarks, monuments and outstanding natural beauty, Bursa is truly worth visiting.

It is also one of the nearest cities to Istanbul, so visitors should definitely add it to their itinerary if they are spending quite a few days in Istanbul.

2. Kumköy (Kilyos)


If you are looking for a small towns near Istanbul on the seaside where you can enjoy swimming in some of the best Istanbul beaches, then Kilyos (historically known as Kumköy) is ideal for you. This is the nearest city to Istanbul on our list and can be easily reached on a day trip.

Located on the Black Sea Coast, Kilyos is known for its long coastline and picturesque beaches, providing ample opportunity for swimming, sunbathing and other watersports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Only about an hour’s drive from Istanbul, travelers can easily do a day trip from Istanbul and still have plenty of time to enjoy everything Kilyos has to offer.

The seaside town is extra popular during the summer days, when you can find tons of beach clubs with music and a lively atmosphere. There are plenty of delicious seafood restaurants on the coast where you can have dishes like trout and calamari while you sip on a nice cocktail overlooking the Black Sea.

📚Read More: Can You Swim In The Black Swim?

3. Edirne

Mosque in Edirne

Edirne is a beautiful city located approximately 3 hours from Istanbul near the border with Bulgaria. Because of its long travel time, it is best to visit Edirne from Istanbul as a weekend vacation, rather than a day trip, and it’s the perfect place to relax in and escape the crowds of tourists in Istanbul.

The city of Edirne is one of the most impressive cities in Turkey. As the former capital of the Ottoman Empire, the city is home to many impressive Ottoman buildings.

The most important landmark in Edirne is unquestionably the Selimiye Mosque. Dating back to 1574, its massive size and stunning four minarets make it a truly breathtaking sight.

The interior of the mosques uses Iznik ceramic tiles, a type of tile iconic to the Ottoman Empire and the same tile used to adorn the interior of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

The Selimiye Mosque and its complex has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their significance to both Islamic culture and Ottoman architecture. It is simply something you can only appreciate in person.

Don’t miss out on the Sultan Bayezid II Complex, another UNESCO Site in Edirne. It is home to the Bayezid II Mosque, but perhaps what is most famous for is the medical treatment facilities. Visitors can learn about the history of Islamic medicines and Ottoman treatments.

4. Çanakkale

Trojan Horse in Çanakkale

Çanakkale is a city located about 4 hours away by car, approximately halfway between Istanbul and Izmir. Though one of the furthest places on this list, Çanakkale is simply a city you mustn’t miss.

Its unique geographical location between two bodies of water, the Dardanelles and the Marmara Sea, provides some of the most stunning views and interesting history in all of Turkey.

Perhaps the most famous thing about Çanakkale and the region is the nearby ancient ruins of Troy, which can be visited by guided tours or independently.

This legendary city served as an important historical battleground between Greeks and Trojans in the 8th century BC. Visitors can explore the remains of Troy or take a tour through its open-air museum featuring archaeological finds from Hellenistic and Roman eras. 

The city of Çanakkale also has plenty to offer, from winding narrow streets to a plethora of historical attractions, such as the Cimenlik Castle.

It was built in 1462 by Mehmet the Conqueror to protect the Ottoman Empire in the Dardanelles. Just right across the Dardanelles, visitors will also find Kilitbahir Castle, another fortress built around the same time. Both of these castles are now museums and offer spectacular sea views.

Çanakkale has plenty of history, but even non-history lovers can admire the more relaxed atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle, and even take some boat tours to the nearby islands, especially if you are coming from Istanbul.

5. Şile

Beach in Şile

Şile is a stunning seaside town located on the northern outskirts of Istanbul. Due to its strategic position at the entrance of the Black Sea and its proximity to Istanbul, this charming coastal town makes for an ideal destination for anyone looking for a tranquil getaway from the bustling city life.

It is surrounded by lush green hills, rolling pastures and farmland which give Şile its own unique character and charm. 

The town of Sile has approximately 10 kilometers of gorgeous Black Sea coastline, perfect for those that are looking to go swimming, relax on the golden sand beach, or just indulge in the atmosphere. Combined with the numerous small villages that dot its landscapes, Sile is one of the best cities to visit near Istanbul.

Şile also boasts numerous resorts and beach clubs that make for perfect holiday spots with their luxurious amenities like spas and swimming pools – perfect for unwinding after a day spent exploring all that this picturesque region has to offer.

6. Eskişehir

Aerial view of Eskişehir

Eskişehir is slowly becoming one of the most popular destinations in Turkey. The name Eskişehir literally translates to “Old City” in Turkish. But surprisingly, the city is full of modern infrastructure such as hip cafes and cool restaurants, mostly thanks to its huge student population.

This small city of around 800,000 residents is about a 4 hours drive from Istanbul, perfect for a weekend getaway. Its vibrant mix of modern-day amenities and traditional charm is something that attracts many visitors from all over the country.

When you are visiting Eskişehir, make sure you don’t miss the historic Odunpazarı district. Though the name of the city translates to “Old City”, there aren’t many historic buildings left. All of them are now situated in the Odunpazarı district, which stands as a living testament to the city’s Ottoman past.

Eskişehir also has plenty of recreational options available for guests looking to enjoy their stay. The city is divided by the Porsuk Stream, which has created numerous riverside parks complete with picnic areas and playgrounds. The most famous of which is Kanlıkavak Park, so don’t miss out when you are there.

Eskişehir is also home to a variety of wellness facilities, including some traditional hammams (Turkish Baths). They offer a perfect opportunity to relax after a day spent exploring the city’s most popular tourist attractions. The nearby areas are also home to natural hot springs, so there is no reason why you won’t feel completely relaxed after visiting Eskişehir!

7. Bolu

Yedigöller National Park near Bolu

Bolu is a stunning and picturesque city located in the Black Sea region of Turkey, approximately 3 hours away from Istanbul. The city is known for its breathtaking landscape, with lush forests providing a serene atmosphere for a rejuvenating hike.

Looming over the woods are the snow-capped mountains, which provide some of the best skiing in the country during winter months. The scenic countryside surrounding Bolu boasts crystal clear lakes and flowing rivers, making it perfect for boating and fishing activities.

Visitors mustn’t miss the Yedigöller National Park when visiting Bolu. Translating to “Seven Lakes” National Park in English, the National Park is home to pristine lakes, unique flora and fauna, waterfalls, hiking trails, and our favorite, hot springs.

If you are looking for a getaway near Istanbul where you can reconnect with nature, Bolu is a no-brainer.

8. Tekirdağ

Road to Tekirdağ

Though one of the closest cities to Istanbul (only about 2 hours away), Tekirdağ is often overlooked when planning a getaway from Istanbul.

This seaside city in the Marmara region of around 200,000 residents might not have nice beaches like the ones you’d find near the Black Sea or Aegean Sea, but visitors will find the contrast between its rolling hills and the glistening waters of the Marmara Sea nothing less than mesmerizing.

Tekirdağ offers outdoor enthusiasts a wide variety of activities in its lush natural environment. Whether you want to go hiking on Mount Ganos, diving in Ayvasıl, paragliding in Uçmakdere, camping and caravaning in Yeniköy, or visiting Güneşkaya and Güngörmez caves in the Saray district, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Tekirdag.

And when you are tired of exploring the gorgeous landscapes of Tekirdag, there are plenty of amazing restaurants in the city to replenish yourself. Tekirdag is known for “köfte”, or Turkish Meatballs.

The flavors and tenderness of the köfte in Tekirdag are some of the best in the country. Of course, if you wish, there are plenty of amazing seaside restaurants where you can take in the beauty of the Sea of Marmara.

9. Kocaeli

Izmit Clock Tower
Izmit Clock Tower
Ormanya Park

If you’re in Istanbul and want to visit some hidden gems nearby, then Kocaeli, also known as İzmit, is just a stone’s throw away at 106.8 km South of the city on the Asian side.

It’s most notable for its historic attractions, such as the remnants of ancient walls and a Byzantine fortress. Another famous attraction is iconic Izmit Clock Tower, a symbol of the city’s rich heritage.

If you want to discover archeological treasures, The Kocaeli Museum is a treasure trove of wonders.

But perhaps you’re looking for nature outside Istanbul, in which case you may enjoy the lush Seka Park and Ormanya Park, which offer lush green landscapes and refreshing tranquility.

Sapanca Lake is another beautiful nature spot for those seeking a picturesque escape.

10. Sakarya

Sapanca Lake

Sakarya is another one of the lesser known cities close to Istanbul and is a hidden gem that should be on your radar.

This charming city, just 159.9 km away from the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Most people venture here to see the remnants of the ancient town of Adapazarı, where you can walk in the footsteps of civilizations long gone. History lovers will also find the Sakarya Archeology and Ethnography Museum, insightful and interesting.

It’s also very close to Kocaeli, mentioned above, and so you can take a trip out to the beautiful Sapanca Lake and its surrounding verdant landscapes from here.

And let’s not forget about the beloved Atatürk Mansion, a historical gem that pays homage to the founding father of modern Turkey.

Map Of The Major Cities Near Istanbul

Final Thoughts on Cities Near Istanbul

These are just a few of the places to visit near Istanbul for a quick getaway or day trip.

Whether you’re looking for an all-out adventure, or simply some time to relax and reconnect with nature, these cities will provide everything you need, and at least one should be added to your Istanbul itinerary.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out and explore!

5 thoughts on “10 Cities Near Istanbul That You Need to Visit!”

  1. Hello,
    I am traveling to Istanbul in January. Which one is nice to Visit Bursa or Sapanca؟

    Please note that I am carrying a baby (6 months old).

    • Both Bursa and Sapanca are beautiful places near Istanbul, but Sapanca is mostly known for its outdoor activities, which you might find not as fun in the cold of January. Personally, we would recommend Bursa in January over Sapanca.

  2. Hello we are visiting Istanbul in june but not planning to stay more than 3 days . which other cities do u recommend to visit next to istanbul for the remaining of ,if we will drive from and back to Istanbul .
    thank you

  3. hey me and my fiance are planning on visiting istanbul for 6 days and 5 nights before heading to macedonia! We would love to to engage and visit more local villages and ‘be with the locals’, but we also would like to go to a beach thats not too far away from istanbul that we can wind down with the same vibe as antalya ? what do you recommend?


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