beautiful places to visit near Istanbul

15 Places Near Istanbul That You’ll Love Visiting – Cities, Villages, Beaches & Nature Spots

With so many interesting places near Istanbul, it is never a problem to decide where to go on a day trip or weekend break from the city.

Whether you want to change the scenery and go to a nature place in Istanbul, find a place for a romantic date, or if you want to hit a beach, the choice of hidden gems and tourist spots near Istanbul is pretty big.

So I wanted to share with you my favorite destinations where I love going, including some nice cities not far from Istanbul where you can go on your own or with a guide. Some locations are close to the airport, so you may be even able to cover them when on a long layover in Istanbul

How to Visit All These Locations Near Istanbul?

It depends on how you decide to plan the route. Some places are easily accessible by bus (or a shared taxi dolmus), others by ferry and bus together, but there are also cities near Istanbul that are best to go to by car.

My favorite way to travel around Istanbul is only in a private vehicle and I recommend you do the same as in this way you’ll be able to see more in less time. Combine some of these places together, and voila, you can have a nice road trip from Istanbul

For Istanbul car hire, compare prices for car rentals from locals and from international companies at the airport.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Beautiful Places Near Istanbul That You Will Love Visiting

Izmit (Nearest City to Istanbul to Visit by Train)

Kocaeli (Izmit) city near Istanbul

Izmit is the closest city to Istanbul which is very easy to visit. It doesn’t have much to offer in terms of sightseeing but it’s a lovely city where one could easily spend a whole day.

Being only 100 km away from Istanbul’s old town, reaching Izmit from any part of Istanbul is easy too. But you need to reach Kadikoy first from where you go by train or rent a car at Sabiha Gokcen airport (because the most attractive thing about Izmit is the nature getaways outside the city, so going by car is much more convenient). 

I have been to Izmit on numerous occasions, just on a day trip from Istanbul by train and other times when driving exploring the area or when going from Istanbul to Bodrum by car.

And it’s always so cozy and welcoming whether I arrive to stroll along the sea in its huge and taken care Seka Park (that connects nicely with Nagiz Ozmi Park), rent a bike and ride around, or just eat out (Izmit is famous for a few dishes like ‘cizlama’ similar to crepe for breakfast, ‘umaç corbası’ a soup made from dough pieces, butter and nuts).

city to visit near Istanbul

You should also come here for its amazing Gayret Gemi Museum (in some ways similar to a Navy Museum in Washington DC where you enter a real navy ship), to walk around its coast, check the parks I mentioned above, and if you have enough time – go to Gölcük on another side with a different vibe, beautiful views, and a couple of nice beaches.

How to reach Izmit: You need to get to the Pendik neighborhood in Istanbul to take a train from there to Izmit. Or just go by Marmaray to the last stop in Gebze and there transfer to a train.

Tekirdağ (City Near Istanbul to Visit by Car)

nearest city to Istanbul by car

If you are living in Istanbul or visiting Istanbul for a few days and feel like seeing a different city closest to Istanbul, then I suggest you plan a quick trip to Tekirdağ and the beautiful area around it with lovely villages (one of them got its own spot on this list below).

Tekirdag city on its own is not a particularly remarkable city for sightseeing. But it has a lot of interesting museums (like Rakoczi Museum an Ottoman Mansion where the Hungarian Prince Frenc Rakoczi II spent the 15 years of his life, Namik Kemal House a simpler Ottoman House built in memory of the famous poet Namık Kemal, and very interesting Archeology and Ethnography Museum).

The main thing to come here is the coastline and lovely neighborhoods/villages adjacent to Tekirdag (just some that are worth the time are Süleymanpaşa, Kumbag, Yeniköy, and more places down the coast). This is why you want to rent a car in Istanbul and drive down as you’ll have many locations to swing by. 

But even before reaching Tekirdag, make sure to stop in Marmara Ereğlisi a coastal town with boat tours and a mix of sandy and rocky beaches.  

How to reach Tekirdağ: It is very easy to reach this city from Istanbul by bus and shared taxi (dolmus). But travel between small towns and villages then will be more time-consuming, so you may give preference to a car.

Şarköy (Village + Lesser-Visited Beach Near Istanbul)

Uçmakdere Nature Preserve between Sarkoy and Tekirdag City is a nice stop to make if you travel by car

A small village/district south of Tekirdağ city, Şarköy is my next must-visit place near Istanbul with family or on your own. It has a lot that makes it a desirable alternative for those wondering where to go near Istanbul for a different experience.

For example, Sarkoy is one of the rare spots in the Marmara Sea that has a blue flag beach which is one of the longest beaches in Turkey. The beach itself is 60 kilometers long (!), leaving a lasting impression on all those who come to see it. This is what makes Şarköy a fantastic beach destination to go to from Istanbul and if you combine it with a visit to Tekirdag, it is easy to have a nice weekend trip from Istanbul here.

It is also not yet invaded by tourists, so you will more likely have a local-like experience, and that is something you cannot say about some of the other entries on this list. 

Sarkoy village beach
Tekirdag nature preserve

And to top these off, Sarkoy is famous for its local wines! While there (if you have time and a car), don’t forget to check out the old Rum village Uçmakdere for some delish wines and beautiful views (oh, and there is also paragliding if you’re feeling adventurous!)

How to reach Şarköy: You can go to Şarköy via bus or car. It should take you around 3 hours.

Bursa (Must-Visit City Near Istanbul)

Bursa is kind of an all-in-one package best place to visit near Istanbul. So if you feel like checking out another city in close proximity that would have interesting tourist places together with some cool attractions, Bursa is a destination to go to.

First of all, it is very close to Istanbul city -just 155 kilometers (95 miles) away- and is easily reachable. Second, there is a lot of history to discover (it used to be the capital of the Ottoman Empire). And third, this city houses numerous tourist attractions and (the most important part for some visitors) is the home of Turkish doner kebab – on top of other innumerable dishes.

Old Bursa
Old part of Bursa
New Bursa
New part of Bursa

While in Bursa, you can just discover the city while walking around (which is interesting enough in itself), or you can try visiting its villages for a more authentic experience, such as Cumalıkızık and Uludağ, which I will be mentioning in more detail in the following lines. And if you have a car, drive to Ulubat Lake for a total change of scenery.

If you go to Bursa, do not miss this free tour of the city with a historian who will tell you all the history in a unique entertaining way!
How to reach Bursa: You can easily reach Bursa from Istanbul by car, by bus (or by ferry+bus), or by plane.

Uludağ (Closest Mountain to Istanbul)

Actually a part of Bursa, Uludağ nonetheless deserves its own spot on the list as it is truly a wonderful nature place to visit near Istanbul, for skiing in winter and mountain retreat in summer, fall, or late spring.

Uludag is among the favorite winter sports destinations of people in Turkey, especially those who live in İstanbul as it is very close. So, if you’re in the area during winter, you cannot go wrong with Uludağ.

Not only are there a lot of sportive activities to try -including skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, sledding- there are also lovely forest houses/bungalows there for a perfect winter weekend break from Istanbul.

But of course, Uludağ is not just about Winter… You can go there basically every season, and spend quality time with all kinds of activities such as picnics, camping, trekking, and more, at the heart of nature in a breathtaking atmosphere.

close spot with nature to Istanbul
best hiking near Istanbul

We loved going a couple of times to the Uludag forest area to hike not far from Istanbul and just spend some time in nature.

How to reach Uludağ: From Istanbul, you can reach Uludağ directly either by car or by bus. From Bursa, you can reach Uludağ by an exciting cable car ride, filled with amazing views.

Cumalıkızık (Village)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cumalıkızık Village has an important role in the Ottoman Empire’s history, so this is a must-visit for those interested in Turkey’s history and culture while visiting Istanbul and looking for such places nearby.

As the village’s historical texture is well-preserved, you might feel like you went back in time for a while, as you walk its narrow streets, admiring the small, colorful houses all around.

Turkish breakfast near Istanbul
Ottoman village near Istanbul

There is a lot to see here as for a small village, like the old mosque of the village, or the Cumalıkızık Etnography Museum.

Try to come here in the morning, as it is one of the best places to have a hearty Turkish breakfast as well! And although you can find a place to stay in the area, Cumalıkızık is ideal for a day trip and back.

How to reach Cumalıkızık: You can reach Cumalıkızık by car, which should take you around 2 or 3 hours from Istanbul. From Bursa, it’s like 10-20 min drive depending on where exactly you stay in the city.

İğneada (Beach Town to Visit From Istanbul)

İğneada is a small beautiful seaside town not far from Istanbul on the lovely coast of the Black Sea right near the border with Bulgaria. Just 250 km (155 miles) away from Istanbul, it is among the favorite destinations of Istanbulites looking for a quick beach getaway from the city.

Igneada trip from Istanbul
Balck Sea near Istanbul

İğneada is especially appealing to nature lovers, with its lovely sea, lakes, and of course, very rich flora and fauna. There are around 500 hundred species of animals and plants in the area. 

This town is also perfect for a weekend getaway, especially in summer if you just want to relax, enjoy the sun, and swim without making a long trip to other beach towns in Turkey or if you are tired of the Prince Islands like Buyukada or Burgazada, which is really not that difficult after a while.

How to reach İğneada: The best way to reach İğneada is by car. But it is also possible to go by bus (only from private bus companies, no public ones).

Lake Sapanca (Gorgeous Lake Close to Istanbul)

Wondering what are other nature places close to Istanbul?

How about relaxing by the tranquil waters of a lake, under the shades of beautiful trees? Or maybe you would like to start with a rich Turkish breakfast, followed by a good hike in nature to get rid of at least some of the tasty calories you have just gained?

best lake to visit near Istanbul
unique place to visit near Istanbul

If you want more action, you can just rent an ATV and explore the dirty roads in the heart of green nature. Or simply go on coastal hiking from different spots on the lake.

In Lake Sapanca, a famous spot for nature and adventure lovers in the area (tourists and locals alike) all of this, and much more is possible. Beautiful in a different way in every season, Sapanca is just around 2 hours away from the city of Istanbul and is certainly among the best places to go with your family.

How to reach Sapanca: You can reach Lake Sapanca by car, or you can just hop on a bus on the Asian side of Istanbul that goes to the area.

Çanakkale (Troy City Near Istanbul)

Canakkale trip from Istanbul

Although a bit further away from Istanbul than many of the other places on the list, Çanakkale is a must-see city as well!

In addition to its unique location between the Dardanelles and the Marmara Sea with amazing views, it also has a historical significance as Çanakkale was the grounds on which the Greeks fought the Trojans in the 8th century BC.

You can see the ruins of Troy here, by yourself or with a guided tour if you want to. It is certainly one of the best places to visit near Istanbul. And of course -not surprisingly- you can enjoy some delicious seafood, and also visit the Bozcaada, which I will mention next.

How to reach Çanakkale: There are many ways to reach this city from Istanbul – by plane, car, or bus.

Tours Worth Booking When Visiting Çanakkale 


Bozcaada (Aegean Island Closest to Istanbul)

Bozcaada, a part of the above-mentioned Çanakkele, is a charming Aegean island, mostly famous for its wine culture and vineyards.

But it has everything one would want for a leisurely weekend away from the chaos of the big city. It has a crystal clear sea, inviting bays, a windy and warm climate, ancient fortress, delicious local dishes, and of course, some of the best (if not the best) wines in the area!


Yes, yes, Bozcaada is a wonderful place where to go for wine tasting when in Turkey and when visiting Istanbul!

The area has four different types of grapes of its own and it would be a mistake not to visit the wine houses and try the famous local wines. With its narrow, cobblestone streets, old houses, local culture, and lovely views, Bozcaada can be visited in any season, really. But it should provide the best experience in Spring and Summer.

How to reach Bozcaada: You can easily reach Bozcaada by taking a ferry from İstanbul. If you have a car or if you want to take a bus, you can use ferryboats for cars to reach the island.

Bolu (Small City Near Istanbul)

best weekend trips from Istanbul

Bolu is one of the most beautiful small cities near Istanbul that are worth a visit. It is situated in the Black Sea area, roughly three hours away from Istanbul. 

What makes it beautiful and unique is its nature. Its lush, dense forests, lakes and rivers, and surrounding mountains certainly make it one of the most picturesque cities not only on this list but in Turkey as well.

Bolu is a perfect city to visit from Istanbul if you have a car as you’ll be able to quickly transfer to the calming nature, especially if you are traveling to Istanbul in the fall and look for some autumn colors.

best nature place near Istanbul

But if your heart desires, spend here a weekend as there will be plenty to do during a few days. Also, if you visit Bolu in Winter, you can check out Kartalkaya Ski Center as well.

Whenever you go to Bolu, try to visit Yedigöller National Park as well. It is especially beautiful in late October, with all the trees turning into autumn colors, you will feel like you are living inside a classic painting!

How to reach Bolu: You can reach Bolu from Istanbul via car or bus. 

Edirne (City – Former Capital of the Ottoman Empire)

Edirne is another city that comes to mind when you ask an İstanbulite “where to visit near İstanbul?“. And it is actually that city where travel is possible by train, unlike many other places on this list.

Another former capital of the powerful Ottoman Empire, Edirne is a culturally important destination with must-see historical landmarks such as the majestic Selimiye Mosque (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and The Complex of Sultan Bayezid II.

Edirne city not far from Istanbul

The second landmark is an architectural ensemble featuring a mosque, hospital, religious school, library, and dining hall. It showcases in a wonderful way Ottoman architectural and cultural heritage.

Edirne is also famous for its crispy fried liver (“tava ciğeri” in Turkish) so once you’re there, make sure to try some of that – with some Turkish rakı of course!

How to reach Edirne: From Istanbul, you can go to Edirne by bus, car, or plane (to Keşan Airport). There is also the railway option, for which you should take the train from Halkalı in İstanbul.

Kefken (Neighborhood)

Some people will say that Kefken is a small town or even a village near Istanbul, but I’d better say that it is a neighborhood on the Black Sea coast of Kocaeli province, one of the regions near İstanbul worth visiting (not just the city I mentioned above).

coastal town near Istanbul

Thanks to its blue flag waters and easy-to-reach location (it’s a great destination near Istanbul by car), Kefken is among the favorite places for one-day trips from Istanbul and the surrounding areas to the beach.

It is a joy to spend a day here discovering its beaches and bays. But keep in mind that it is relatively cheap compared to most other entries on the list. So on the weekends, it can be quite crowded, meaning it wouldn’t be the ideal place to relax and listen to the sound of the waves if that’s what you’re after.

How to reach Kefken: You can reach Kefken by bus, or via car (a much better option since you can go along the coast and make stops in other neighborhoods and villages).

Sardala Bay (Beautiful Nature Spot Near Istanbul)

Another gem of Kocaeli province, Sardala Bay is relatively lesser-known than the other places near Istanbul in this article. Only 2,5 – 3 hours of car ride away from the city itself, the beautiful Sardala Bay welcomes its visitors with a tranquil atmosphere, clear blue sea, and lovely shades of green.

Cliffs and rocks in the sea here remind me a lot about beaches in northern Tenerife and at the same time there is some similarity with the coast of northern Spain.

beautiful place close to Istanbul

Sardala Bay area is a great spot for camping and picnics, but there are accommodation options as well. Just note that it might be a bit crowded during summer weekends.

You’ll find this bay on the stretch of the coast between Pinarli and Bağırganli. Both of these settlements also have nice beaches great for walks and photography.

How to reach Sardala Bay: You can go to Sardala Bay by car. If you don’t have a car, there is an option to reach Ağva by bus from İstanbul. From there, you can rent a bike, or an ATV, as there is no public transport to Sardala Bay.

Eskişehir (City Near Istanbul by Train)

Among all cities in Turkey, Eskişehir is often regarded as the most European one (yes, even before Izmir) due to its high quality of life and rich culture. It’s a city that exudes youthful energy and a vibrant spirit. Even though it is located a bit far (around 300 km away from Istanbul), thanks to the great railway network, it is easy to visit Eskişehir by train.

Eskişehir city

People from Ankara frequently come to Eskişehir for weekend getaways or a night out on Fridays and Saturdays, and it’s not uncommon for Istanbulities as well to come to Eskişehir for the weekend break to unwind and have a good time. You can do the same if you feel like seeing a very different type of city in Turkey.

It is famous for a few things. First – for the Odunpazarı district, known for its well-preserved Ottoman-era houses on narrow streets, and for a vibrant Porsuk River, where you can take leisurely boat rides and enjoy the riverside cafes.

Another thing that is awesome about Eskişehir is the number of cool museums there. For example, the Aviation Museum with a collection of aircraft from various eras, the Eti Archaeology Museum, and the Contemporary Glass Art Museum are among some cool museums that will be interesting for all visitors, children and adults.

How to reach Eskişehir: Visit Eskişehir by bus, train, or car. By train is quick and very affordable. By car is great as you can make stops in other scenic places like Lake Sapanca, Iznik Lake, or make a detour to Bursa.

More Istanbul Inspiration

If you are visiting Istanbul for the first time, you need to check all my other posts about this city:

Do you have any other places near Istanbul to add to this list where I haven’t been? Share with me in the comments!

beautiful places to visit near Istanbul

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