By Justin Mays:
We all know that in Istanbul there are thousands and thousands of plans to make. There are so many that sometimes it seems that it is impossible to know this city perfectly. You can visit the Dolmabahçe Palace, you can cross from the European part of the metropolis to the Asian one, you can get lost in Kadıköy to try one of its delicious restaurants, you can spend the afternoon in a tea garden, you can go shopping in Şişli…
However, there are days when you feel that you want to go further and that you want to explore new parts of Turkey. In a country as large as this one, the options for excursions and trips can seem endless. If you have a lot of time, a visit to Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Izmir and Antalya, among many others, cannot be missing from your itinerary. If this is not your case and you prefer to take a day trip, here we suggest five places that you can visit from Istanbul. We hope you like them!
1. Emirgan Park
If you like parks and enjoy taking long walks in nature, you cannot miss Emirgan Park. Although this park is indeed part of Istanbul, it is far enough from the center to be able to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the big city. It is in Sarıyer, approximately an hour and a half from the metropolis.
Mostly, Emirgan is known for its colorful tulip festival, an event that takes place during spring, when the gardens of this park are filled with tulips, creating an idyllic setting. In this park, you will also find some restaurants and street food stalls. Although you can visit it all year round, we recommend you go in spring, to enjoy its festival, or when the weather is good. Who knows, maybe you can organize a picnic with family and friends!
2. Princes’ Islands
The Princes' Islands are an archipelago in the Marmara Sea, formed by the islands of Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kinaliada. The journey to get from Istanbul to these islands is done by ferry and lasts about an hour and a half. The most common route starts from Beşiktaş, but boats also leave from the Kadıköy, Bostanci and Eminönü docks.
The sea breeze, old houses, pretty streets... Take a walk along the coast, enjoy the sunset, immerse yourself in one of the coves of these islands… It is an ideal place to visit during the summer, although it maintains its charm during the rest of the year. In the past, this was one of the favorite destinations of the Ottoman aristocracy, and it is not surprising, since its Victorian style can dazzle anyone.
Kumköy, also known as Kilyos, is a town located in the north of Sarıyer, an hour's drive from Istanbul. It is a well-known area because it runs along part of the Black Sea coast, offering residents and visitors a privileged view of its waters. That is why one of its main attractions is its beautiful beaches.
But this is not all, Kumköy is also a town with a lot of history. So, if you decide to do this one-day trip, there is something you cannot miss to understand the past of this town: the Kilyos castle, which was built in the 14th century.
4. Belgrade Forest
Turkey's Belgrad Forest is located between Sariyer and Eyüp, but far enough from the center that you feel like you're in another part of the country. This forest is at the easternmost point of the Thracian peninsula and houses several historical reservoirs.
It is the perfect place to disconnect from routine and connect with yourself and nature. Hundreds of species inhabit the interior of this forest, which thanks to the ban on hunting can currently enjoy a more peaceful life. If you decide to get lost among its trees, you may find weasels, snakes, frogs...
Bursa is one of the most requested options by those who visit Istanbul and who want to get to know another city that is not too far away. Bursa is about a two-hour drive from the metropolis, but those who prefer to travel by public transport can use companies such as Flixbus.
Bursa is a city with a lot of history, where tradition and religion have a greater weight than in cosmopolitan Istanbul. So much so that it was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, in 2014 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although today it is a highly industrialized city, it still preserves mosques, mausoleums and thermal baths from the Ottoman Empire.
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