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A day trip to Bursa from Istanbul is super easy and the city is worth a visit.
UNESCO recognizes Bursa, Turkey as the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire, so there is some major history here. For nature lovers, there’s a gorgeous national park as well. I actually spent a whole weekend in Bursa to go skiing (read the complete guide here) but a day trip is definitely doable as well.
If you’re in Istanbul for a while, Bursa is a spectacular escape from the city. Learn exactly how to get there with my step-by-step guide and then check out the six best things to do on a day trip to Bursa, Turkey!
How to Get to Bursa from Istanbul
A day trip to Bursa from Istanbul is pretty easy.
Ferries to Bursa leave the Yenikapi Ferry Port daily and take 1 hour and 45 minutes. Prices vary a bit, but I only paid 53 lira / 10 usd for the round trip. Check schedules and prices here to begin planning. (Select round trip and search from Yenikapi to Bursa.)
If you’re not a Turkish citizen or resident, you can’t buy tickets online. So, you can either stop by the Yenikapi port ahead of time to buy them at the ticket office or try your luck at buying on the day of – I opted to buy mine early to ensure my spot.
The Bursa ferry port is located outside of the city so once you arrive there are a few more steps to reach the city center. First, take a shared white van to the Emek metro station. These cost 3.5 lira / .66 usd and take about 20 minutes. Then, buy a BursaKart in the metro station and the Emek metro line will take you through the city.
If you want to explore the Old Town, get off at the Demirtaşpaşa stop or one around it. To get to the Teleferik from the Old Town, taxis only cost about 20 lira / 4 usd more.
When you head back to Istanbul you can return to the ferry the same way you came in, but it’s important to know that there are two Mudanya ferry ports. One is for the IDO ferry and one is for the BUDO ferry.
If you take the metro back to Emek you have two options. You can take the 1/GY bus from there to the IDO ferry port or you can take the shared white vans – just make sure to specify the van is going to the IDO ferry before you board.
6 Awesome Things to do in Bursa, Turkey
There is a lot to see and do in Bursa because of the city’s long history and beautiful nature surrounding it. These are some of the highlights to add to your itinerary!
The longest cable car in the world in Bursa, Turkey
1. Ride the Longest Cable Car in the World to Uludag National Park
Uludag National Park is the number one attraction in the area and no day trip to Bursa would be complete without a visit. Even though it’s high in the mountains, it’s super easy to access with the cable car – the longest one in the world, in fact!
To ride it, just take a 10-minute taxi ride from the Old Town to the teleferik. From here, round trip tickets on the cable car cost 80 lira / 15 usd each and the ride is 45 minutes (did I mention this is the longest cable car in the world?).
The views from the cable car are beyond gorgeous and at the park, you can go skiing, sledding, and tubing in the winter or hiking in the summer. No matter what, you’ll definitely enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and natural landscape.
My tip: Lines for the teleferik can get really long (especially on weekends) and traveling to and from Uludag can be time-consuming. It took us 3 hours to get from Uludag National Park back to the ferry port on a Sunday afternoon so be sure to plan accordingly. Visit on a weekday, go at off-peak hours (traveling up early and returning early), or consider extending your trip to two-days and one-night to fully enjoy Uludag National Park.
The Koza Han silk bazaar is one of many UNESCO sites in Bursa
2. Wander the Silk Bazaar
Location: Osmangazi Mahallesi, Uzunçarşı Cd., 16010 Osmangazi/Bursa
Koza Han, the silk bazaar in Bursa, is located in the Old Town and is one of many UNESCO recognized sites in the city.
It’s built into an old stone inn from 1491 and stepping inside is truly like stepping back in time. Browse the silk shops that line the two levels or relax in the courtyard with a glass of tea. I recommend trying a unique dessert – ice cream with warm semolina halvah on top – at Hacı Şerif before you go.
3. Eat Under a 600-year-old Tree
Cost: Free entrance, pay for food
Location: İnkaya Mahallesi, Uludağ Cd. No:163, 16370 Osmangazi/Bursa
The Inca Historical Tree – also known as Inkaya – is located in a village near Bursa, Turkey and the cafe under the ancient sprawling branches is a great place to enjoy a cup or coffee or tea while you ponder the meaning of life and the passage of time. Just like Uludag National Park, try to go early or on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Although Inkaya is one of the most famous trees in Bursa it actually isn’t the oldest one. That honor goes to a 985-year-old tree in the Armutköy cemetery.
Aerial view of Bursa and the surrounding mountains from the Nusretiye Clock Tower
4. Enjoy the Panoramic Views from the Nusretiye Clock Tower
Location: Tophane Parki | Osmangazi Merkez, Osmangazi, Turkey
Ok, the clock tower itself isn’t that impressive, but the views certainly are. The large walkway around it gave us expansive views of Bursa and the surrounding mountains.
For photography lovers, a stop at the Nusretiye Clock Tower is a must. Plus, its within walking distance from Koza Han so it’s easy to get there as well!
No trip to Bursa is complete without trying the famous Iskender Kebab
5. Try Iskender Kebab
Cost: 38 lira / 7.20 usd
Location: Try Uludag Kebapcisi at Uluyol Sirin Sok. No.12
Everyone that I told about our trip to Bursa said the same thing – you must try the Iskender kebab! It was invented by a man named İskender Efendi in Bursa, Turkey more than 150 years ago.
Iskender kebab is a flavorful spongy flatbread that’s topped with meat, butter, and tomato sauce. It comes with yogurt sauce on the side as well.
Debates about the best place to eat Iskender kebab rage across the internet so feel free to do some research before you make up your mind. I tried Uludag Kebapcisi, the highly-recommended and 4th rated Bursa restaurant on TripAdvisor, and it was delicious.
6. Explore More UNESCO Sites
If you still have time for more on your day trip to Bursa, explore some of the many UNSECO sites scattered around the city.
UNESCO recognizes Bursa as the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire and singles out eight sites for their cultural and historical importance. Koza Han is one, but there are also many other mosques, tombs, and even a 700-year-old village as well. Check out the full list here.
Plan Your Day Trip to Bursa, Turkey With This Guide!
I hope this guide helps you plan a perfect day trip to Bursa. The ferry from Istanbul is fast and easy and the city has so much to discover. From an ancient silk bazaar to ancient trees to the most beautiful national park, Bursa truly has something for everyone. Enjoy your trip!
Want to turn your day trip into a weekend escape? Click here to book your stay in Bursa!
This article is part of the Instant Istanbul Itinerary series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore all 20 articles in the Turkey Series for more insider tips on what to see, eat, do, and discover in the country!