Top things to do in Istanbul

7 Best Day Trips from Istanbul

If you’re going to be in Istanbul for more than three or four days, why not take a day trip to explore other highlights of Turkey? Ephesus, Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Bursa are all popular choices that are popular choices for travelers. You can even visit Gallipoli and Troy on a full day trip from Istanbul! Below are our suggestions for the 7 Best Day Trips from Istanbul.

1. Ephesus

Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey

An incredibly preserved ancient city in southwestern Turkey dating to the 10th century B.C., Ephesus provides an unrivaled journey through history. Here, you’ll find the famed Temple of Artemis, built around 550 B.C. and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. St. John is said to have preached in these streets, and Mary is believed to have lived out her final days at the House of Virgin Mary.

In fact, much of Ephesus can be considered an important Christian landmark. The city played a part in the lives of many biblical figures, and is noted in the Book of Revelation among the seven churches of Asia. Many believe that the Gospel of John was composed here.

Before the Common Era and well into the Middle Ages, Ephesus was successively governed by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and then Turks. Today, the city allow visitors to peel away these layers of history, providing a detailed window into the ancient past.

Located a short distance from the modern-day Turkish city of Selçuk, Ephesus remains a well-traveled historical, religious and archeological site. Among the best-preserved cities from antiquity, Ephesus holds the key to understanding one of the earliest civilizations.

How to do a day trip from Istanbul to Ephesus: You will be picked up from your Istanbul city center hotel to be transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Izmir. Many domestic airline carriers in Turkey offer regular flights in the early morning and late evening between Istanbul and Izmir. Upon arrival in Izmir, you will be picked up by our local tour partners to be transferred from the Izmir airport to join the Full Day Ephesus Tour. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to the Izmir airport for your flight back to Istanbul.

2. Cappadocia

Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia offers visitors an extraordinary and lavish banquet of natural wonders that exceed their wildest imaginations. These wonders are elegantly graced with works created by the hand of man. With its unique natural features displaying a harmonious combination of natural and cultural landscape elements, Cappadocia is an enchanting open-air museum and an unparalleled example of the common cultural heritage of humanity. Cappadocia incorporates the provinces of Aksaray, Nevşehir, Niğde, Kayseri and Kırşehir. For most people, the name Cappadocia suggests the towns of Uçhisar, Göreme, Avanos, Ürgüp, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Ihlara, where the land has been shaped into fantastic forms over the course of millions of years. Fairy chimneys that seem mysterious and cities and houses of worship that extend many meters deep into the earth are all enveloped in an atmosphere that is ethereal and unworldly.

How to do a day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia: You will be picked up from your Istanbul city center hotel to be transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Kayseri. Many domestic airline carriers in Turkey offer regular flights in the early morning and late evening between Istanbul and Kayseri. Upon arrival in Kayseri, you will be picked up by our local tour partners to be transferred from the Izmir airport to join the Full Day Cappadocia Tour. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to the Kayseri airport for your flight back to Istanbul.

3. Pamukkale

Pamukkale Travertines, Turkey

Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s incomparable natural wonder with the calcium cascade terraces of snow white stalactites and is known as 8th wonder of the World by Turkish people. Pamukkale & Hierapolis together are both recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1988. They have all the conditions required for an ideal touristic resort. Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle” but had many different uncommon names in the past. Pamukkale is very well known with the entrancing beauty of its unique geological formation and also with its historical remains.

The white cotton-like terraces are mineral deposits which come from Cal Mountain’s rich spring waters and volcanic springs that were saved since thousand years. The water runs down the travertine and fill them up with water and there is a pool where you can have a chance to swim among the ancient Roman columns.

The ancient city of Hierapolis was located on the top of the white terraces and is about 2700 meters long and 160m high. It can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley. It has 14000-year-old existence.

To keep the travertine white and to prevent crush and damage on them, in 1997 it was forbidden to walk on them and the water is allowed to reach the terraces periodically according to weekly watering schedule. But it is possible to walk on the south part of the travertine with naked foot.

How to do a day trip from Istanbul to Pamukkale: You will be picked up from your Istanbul city center hotel to be transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Denizli. Many domestic airline carriers in Turkey offer regular flights in the early morning and late evening between Istanbul and Denizli. Upon arrival in Denizli, you will be picked up by our local tour partners to be transferred from the Denizli airport to join the Full Day Pamukkale Tour. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to the Denizli airport for your flight back to Istanbul.

4. Gallipoli

Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park

The Historic National Park of the Gelibolu Peninsula was established to honour the 500,000 soldiers who lost their lives in Gelibolu, also known as Gallipoli. In 1915, Mustafa Kemal, the commander of the Turkish army, led a successful campaign to drive out allied powers from the area. The park accommodates memorials, monuments and cemeteries as well as the natural beauty of the Arıburnu Cliffs and Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake). The beauty of the green hills, sandy beaches and blue waters are an honourable resting place for the soldiers who bravely fought and died in this historic battle. One cannot help but sense the heart of the Turkish nation in the patriotic spirit of Gallipoli. As the largest of the Turkish islands, Gökçeada is ringed with pristine bays.

Its hills covered with the green of pine and olive trees are dotted with sacred springs and monasteries. Regular ferry boats make the trip from Çanakkale and Kabatepe possible and in August both islanders and tourists gather for colourful local fairs.

As you get near to Bozcaada Island, the Venetian castle captures your attention. Then your eyes are drawn to the glistening white houses and restaurants and cafes which line the promenade. Wine seems as plentiful as water on this island and a tour reveals many vineyards and wine cellars. There are good sandy beaches at AyazmaPoyraz and İğdelik.

How to do a day trip to Gallipoli from Istanbul: You will be picked up from your city center Istanbul hotel to travel by bus to Gallipoli to join the Full Day Gallipoli Tour which will start in Gallipoli at around noon. At the end of the tour, you will travel by bus back to Istanbul and will be transferred back to your Istanbul hotel by late evening. One way travel from Istanbul to Gallipoli by road is approximately 4.5 hours in duration.

5. Troy

Troy (Truva), Canakkale

Troy (Truva in Turkish) is one of the most famous and historically significant sites in the world. Located in modern-day Turkey, the site marks the meeting place of Anatolia, the Aegean and the Balkans, making it a vitally important source of information about the historic relationships between these regions.

Imbued with several millennia of history and the subject of legend, Troy’s fame mainly derives from being the fabled location of the Trojan War. There are several ancient accounts of this conflict, mainly fiction, the most famous of which was written by Homer in The Iliad. The story goes that the Greeks besieged Troy after Helen, wife of the Menelaus, the king of Sparta, was taken by Paris of Troy. Many historians now believe that the reason for the Trojan War was a bitter commercial rivalry between the people of Troy and the Mycenaeans.

It was also Troy which was the subject of Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid, in which the Greeks laid the famous “Trojan Horse” trap for the people of Troy. The Greeks, pretending to have left Troy during the Trojan War, placed a wooden horse at the gates of the city as a purported trophy of the Trojans’ victory. In fact, Greek soldiers were hiding inside the horse and, once taken in by the Trojans, proceeded to destroy the city and claim victory. The archaeological site of Troy has an obligatory replica of a Trojan horse for visitors.

The vast ruins now found at Troy lay witness to thousands of years of history, with the oldest section dating back to the late fourth millennium BC. Over the millennia, Troy became a bustling commercial hub, particularly from 1700 BC. However, a combination of natural disasters, invasions and occupations led to the city being rebuilt numerous times. Each part of the site is numbered, correlating to a specific period of time. The famous walls of Troy, which played such an important role on the Trojan War, some of which remain, can be seen in the VII section.
It is said that Alexander the Great visited Troy in 334BC, at the start of his campaign against the Persians. The Macedonian leader is believed to have paid his respects at the Tomb of Achilles.

Troy continued to maintain its status under the Romans, especially after it was identified as the location of Homer’s Iliad in 188 BC and the city was exempt from taxes. The site has a mix of Greek and Roman monuments, many built by prominent figures such as Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Augustus.

How to do a day trip to Troy from Istanbul: You will be picked up from your city center Istanbul hotel to travel by bus to Troy to join the Full Day Troy Tour which will start in Troy at around 1:00 pm. At the end of the tour, you will travel by bus back to Istanbul and will be transferred back to your Istanbul hotel by late evening. One way travel from Istanbul to Troy by road is approximately 4.5 hours in duration.

6. Bursa

Full-Day Private Tour of Bursa from Istanbul
Bursa is the first Ottoman Capital

Standout architectural gems in Bursa include the Green Mosque (Yesil Camii) and Green Tomb (Yesil Turbe), early examples of the Ottoman style and featuring carved marble, calligraphy and glazed tiles.

Merchants have gathered at Bursa’s Koza Han caravanserai since 1490, and the covered market dates back to the 14th century. Shop for traditional shadow puppets and sensuous silks, before visiting the vast imperial Great Mosque with its 20 domes and dozen pillars.

While you’re here in Bursa, enjoy a doner kebap in the town where this favorite Turkish snack was born. Bursa serves up the original and best kebaps in Turkey, topped with tomato sauce, yogurt and melted butter.

How to do a day trip to Bursa from Istanbul: You will be picked up from your city center Istanbul hotel to travel by bus to Bursa to join the Full Day Bursa Tour. At the end of the tour, you will travel by bus back to Istanbul and will be transferred back to your Istanbul hotel by late evening. One way travel from Istanbul to Bursa by road is approximately 2.5 hours in duration.

7. Sapanca Lake and Masukiye

Sapanca and Masukiye Day Tour from Istanbul
Sapanca Lake and Masukiye

Discover Turkey’s stunning countryside and scenery on a full-day tour to Sapanca Lake, Masukiye and Kartepe from Istanbul, and experience the serenity of a beloved weekend retreat. Walk along the picture-perfect lake shore, visit the animals at the zoo then get a glimpse of local life in the village of Masukiye. Enjoy an outdoor lunch by a shady waterfall, and hike Kartepe mountain with the option to join a ski lift tour before returning to the city.

How to do a day trip to Sapanca Lake and Masukiye from Istanbul: You will be picked up from your city center Istanbul hotel to travel by bus to Sapanca Lake and Masukiye to join the Full Day Sapanca Lake and Masukiye Tour. At the end of the tour, you will travel by bus back to Istanbul and will be transferred back to your Istanbul hotel by late evening. One way travel from Istanbul to Sapanca Lake and Masukiye by road is approximately 1.5 hours in duration.

Need Help? Chat with us