After visiting Hagia Sophia, getting lost in the Grand Bazaar and cruising the Bosphorus, you’ll be hard pressed not to fall in love with Turkey. However, the range of things to do goes way beyond the historical city of Istanbul. Venture a little further afield and you’ll be rewarded with astonishingly beautiful locations and great options for families and culture buffs alike. Here are a few of our top picks for a getaway near Istanbul:
If you’re travelling with kids, head to Minaturk. This theme park has 120 models (built to a scale of 1:25) of the main architectural sites in Istanbul (among them the Galata Tower, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque) and other national monuments, some of which are no longer standing (including the Temple of Artemis, the Ajyad Fortress and the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos).
For rest and relation, visit the Princes’ Islands and enjoy pedestrianised streets and beaches (public and private), not to mention amazing fresh fish. What better reason to hop on a ferry from Istanbul and leave the stress of the city behind.
For those in need of a culture fix, we have two suggestions. First is a trip to Ephesus to visit the Roman ruins of the Temple of Artemis (considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the Fountain of Trajan, the Odeon, the Temple of Hadrian and the beautiful facade of the Library of Celsus.
Alternatively, head to Bursa to explore the old centre of a city with a glorious past. Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and the final destination on the western end of the Silk Road. The city is around 2 hours from Istanbul by car and its attractions include a large mosque topped with some 20 domes, a silk market and panoramic views from the peak of Mount Uludag. Bursa also has the best candied chestnuts in the country, and its speciality dish is Iskender Kebab (bread, barbecued meat, tomato sauce, yoghurt and melted butter).
You can’t leave Turkey without visiting the natural pools of Pamukkale, where the almost snowy-white landscape seems like something from another plant. Lastly, the strange geological formations of Cappadocia are simply stunning and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. You can appreciate the valleys, caves and chimneys of this landscape from solid ground. However, a ride in a hot air balloon will blow your mind.
With unparalleled landscapes, underground cities and a wealth of history, Cappadocia is a dreamlike region in the heart of Turkey. Discover it from the ground and the skies.
Pamukkale is one of those places that look more like a fantasy rather than a real location. Its extremely white geological formations clearly impact everyone.
A trip to Bursa is one of the most interesting excursions that can be made from Istanbul. We will tell you what you can see in the former capital of the Ottoman Empire.