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10 Best Day Trips from Istanbul [with Directions]

10 Best Day Trips from Istanbul

Turkey is filled with treasures, whether it's breathtaking natural wonders or impressive evidence of the country's rich past. So take the opportunity to crown your Istanbul trip with a memorable day trip to the surrounding top destinations.

On this page, we reveal the best day trips from Istanbul and give you a short overview of the top things to do at each location. Some of them are perfect for a 1 day tour, others are more suitable for a 2- or 3-day trip.

Let’s discover them together!

Cappadocia

1. Cappadocia

Let’s start our list with the most popular destination in Turkey: Cappadocia. With its fairy chimneys, dramatic valleys and hot air balloons floating in the air, it’s a magical destination and ideal for an unforgettable day trip.

Visit the UNESCO heritage site Goreme Open Air Museum and admire the famous rock-formations shaped by volcanic eruptions. Discover underground cities, made-man cave dwellings and rock-cut chapels from the Christian and Byzantine times. But the ultimative highlight for most visitors is taking part in a spectacular hot air balloon tour over the stunning natural landscape of Cappadocia. Horse riding and Quad bike safaris are also popular activities.

Since Cappadocia is in east-central Anatolia, it is best to book a flight with at least one-overnight stay.

Tip: Our partner Istanbul Welcome Card offers day trips from Istanbul to Cappadocia, including airport transfers, round-trip flights and 2 nights in a 4 star hotel. Best of all, you can make your Cappadocia trip totally unique by adding only activities and tours you like, instead of having to follow a fixed itinerary.

Book your Istanbul to Cappadocia Day trip now!

Pamukkale Hierapolis

2. Pamukkale & Hierapolis

This destination offers both natural and historical attractions! The dreamlike Pamukkale in Denizli southwestern Turkey is one of the most visited destinations. It’s not surprising, as the UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site enchants with snow-white travertine terraces and turquoise thermal springs. Take amazing photos of the “Cotton Castle”-formations and have a dip in the thermal pools, whose waters are said to have healing properties.

But that's not all! Since Pamukkale is located in the ancient city of Hierapolis, you can admire the Roman ruins of the ancient city, including a necropolis and a remarkable amphitheater from 200 BC. There is also the Hierapolis Archeology Museum with excavation funds from the region. Other activities include paragliding and hot air balloon rides, during which you can enjoy an incomparable view of this extraordinary site...

Ephesus

3. Ephesus

Day trips to Ephesus from Istanbul are also among the favorites of many visitors to Istanbul. We can think of many reasons why! The well-preserved Greco-Roman city, a UNESCO heritage site and the largest open-air museum in Turkey, is scattered with spectacular historical gems. 

Wander the ancient streets and explore the Greco-Roman ruins. Marvel at the impressive Great Theater and the 2nd-century Library of Celsus. Discover ancient temples and bathhouses and see what has survived of the Temple of Artemis, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Nearby are also the Isabey Mosque and the House of the Virgin Mary, a Catholic place of pilgrimage for Christians.

Ephesus is situated on the Turkish Aegean coast near Selçuk, about 80 kilometers south of Izmir. We recommend day trips with roundtrip flights, which are well suited for a 1-day trip from Istanbul.

Troy & Gallipoli

4. Troy & Gallipoli

Are you fond of history? A day trip to the Çanakkale region, 5-6 hours from Istanbul, will lead you to not one, but two historical sites. 

Walk in the footsteps of Achilles, Hector, Paris and Helen in Troy, while discovering one of the most famous archaeological sites and the place where the legendary story of the Trojan Horse is said to have taken place. While exploring the ancient city of Troy, you can see sights such as 3,700-year-old city walls and a replica of the Trojan Horse. Archaeological excavations, begun in the 1870s by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, are still in full swing. Marvel at remains of several cities from Troy I-Troy IX, dating back to before 3500 BC. 

In Gallipoli, visit the WWI battlefields and commemorate the fallen soldiers at the Commonwealth cemeteries and war memorials. See the site of the ANZAC landings of World War I and gain insight into the fateful events that took place here. 

To explore both sites, it is best to plan a 2-day trip.

Princes’ Islands

5. Princes’ Islands

If you are looking for a peaceful, relaxing day trip, the idyllic surrounding of the Princes’ Islands is the perfect choice. This haven of tranquility is located just 20 km from the center of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara. 

The most popular Princes’ Island is Büyükada, followed by its smaller but greener and quieter neighbor Heybeliada. Both are easily accessible by ferry ride from Kabataş, Eminönü or Beşiktaş.

The fairy tale cruise across the majestic Bosphorus to the islands is an epic journey not to be missed. Once there, you will be greeted by unspoiled nature, the sound of silence and many attractions, such as charming churches, Victorian wooden mansions and gorgeous beaches. No wonder, swimming is one of the top things to do in the Princes’ Islands. Since cars are banned from the islands, the best way to explore them is on foot or by bike.

Find more information in our complete guide to Princes’ Island.

Tip: For a day trip to the Princes’ Islands, we recommend the Princes' Island TourIt includes a ferry ticket as well as a 30-minutes sightseeing tour in Büyükada.

Buy your Round-Trip ticket to the Princes’ Islands online here.

Bursa

6. Bursa

Curious about the Ottoman Empire? Then there is no better place to visit than Bursa! The Ottoman Empire’s first capital is packed with remnants of the past that bear witness to the glory of Ottoman times. 

Soak up the region’s rich history with a visit to famous landmarks such as the 14th century Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) and the historical Koza Han building inside the Bursa Silk market, once the center of silk trade. Admire the sumptuous decorations of the Green Mosque (Yeşil Cami) and Green Tomb and learn about the heyday of the city. Don’t miss discovering the local eateries and restaurants where you can savor the traditional Turkish cuisine. 

Bursa is located near Istanbul and is therefore an ideal destination for a full or half day trip. The city can be reached in about 2 to 3.5 hours by ferry and bus/car.

Edirne

7. Edirne

Another great way to immerse yourself in Turkish history is on a full-day trip from Istanbul to Edirne. Delve into a city rich in history and culture, which was in fact the second capital of the Ottoman Empire. 

Take in the many monuments of the city, such as Sinan Eski Cami (Old Mosque), Üç Serefeli Cami and Beyazıt Külliyesi. Pay a visit to Selimiye Mosque built by the famous master builder Mimar Sinan who considered it its masterpiece. Stroll through the old streets and discover the Ottoman heritage of Edirne, while learning about the city’s role in the Ottoman Empire. You can also find great places for shopping at the Ali Paşa Covered Bazaar and Selimiye Arastası. If you visit the city in June or July, be sure to attend the annual  Turkish Oil Wrestling Tournament. 

Edirne can be reached in about 2.5 hours and makes for a quick and easy day trip from Istanbul.

Sile & Agva

8. Sile & Agva

Nature lovers will love this day trip from Istanbul! Şile and Ağva are wonderful destinations for a quick escape to nature. Here, in the sleepy Black Sea region, visitors can take in the peaceful surroundings. 

Start your day in Şile, a lovely fishing village on the western Black Sea coast, known for its historical lighthouse, Şile castle and pristine nature. Then head to Ağva, which delights with its dramatic coastal scenery, beautiful rivers and lush forests. Both coastal villages are famous for its fish restaurants and sandy beaches. Should you visit during the summer months, you will be surprised at how crowded the region gets with locals and tourists flocking here to swim, sunbathe and have a good time. If you prefer a quieter pace, we recommend Ağva, which tends to be less crowded than its neighbor.

Whether you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul for a day trip or you want to stay for several days, Şile and Ağva will not disappoint.

Kilyos

9. Kilyos

Craving for a quick and relaxing beach getaway? The small seaside resort Kilyos on the Black Sea coast boasts a great choice of sandy beaches and beach clubs. It is located in the Sarıyer district of Istanbul, approximately 30 kilometers from Taksim.

Although it is free, we do not recommend the main beach near the center of Kilyos. It is not very clean and the atmosphere is not very enjoyable either. Celebrated, on the other hand, are the local beach clubs, offering sun loungers, umbrellas, and café/bars. Many of them host vibrant DJ parties in the evenings, ideal for those looking for a youthful and dynamic vibe. Most popular is the pet-friendly beach club Burç Beach, which even offers kiteboarding.

By public transport you can reach Kilyos in about 1 hour and 30 minutes. From Taksim, take the M2 metro and go 10 stops to Hacıosman. From Hacıosman metro station, take bus line 151 to Kilyos Merkez (center). 

Belgrad

10. Belgrad Forest

Last but not least, the closest getaway that will satisfy and re-energize. Belgrad Forest north of Istanbul offers the perfect break from the concrete jungle of Istanbul. It is situated 15 km outside the city and easy to reach by car. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Taksim Square that go to Belgrad Forest.

Covering an area of more than 5000 hectares, Belgrad Forest is known as the lungs of Istanbul. It is the largest wooded area surrounding the city and a favorite weekend destination for many locals, so you are better off coming on weekdays.

The lush forest is an idyllic place for walks, bike rides or picnics with family and friends. Here you can discover some of the more than 2,000 species of native and exotic plants, as well as numerous birds, reptiles and mammals. There are also historic reservoirs, picnic areas and running trails for joggers, which is why the park is also very popular with runners.

Map of the Locations

These are our tips for the best day trips from Istanbul. If you're looking for ideas for a short break in Istanbul, be sure to check out our articles on the Bosporus Cruise and the 10 best parks, gardens and forests in Istanbul.  

Get your ticket for a Bosporus Cruise here!

For help in planning your day trip from Istanbul or more ideas, please feel free to contact us through our form. Thanks to 25 years of experience, insider knowledge and special connections, we can help you make a reservation at the best price 

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