Attractions Nearby Istanbul, Day Trips and Excursions
(Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey)
There really is an enormous selection of day trips and excursions that present themselves to holiday makers based in Istanbul. Many quality Turkish attractions are really quite close to Istanbul, such as those within the towns of Canakkale, Eceabat, Gelibolu, Kilitbahir, Sile and Silivri.
You may also like to consider the historic battlefield attractions around the Gallipoli Peninsula, which forms the very scenic north-easterly edge of the Dardanelles. Day trippers from Istanbul should not miss out on spending time exploring the ruins of Troy, particularly for those familiar with the story of the Trojan War and the infamous Wooden Horse story.
Troy (Truva / Troya)
The remains of ancient Troy are often compared to the famous Turkish ruins of Ephesus, and whilst they are not initially as impressive, they do hold a certain appeal for tourists from Istanbul and are a worthy World Heritage Site. Excavations of Troy have revealed no less than nine actual past cities, the earliest of which is believed to date back over 5,000 years. The actual ruins themselves are open throughout the year and include ancient attractions such as those within the Excavations House and the Pithos Garden, along with the Temple of Athena, the Troy VI Palace Complex, the Roman Odeon and the Bouleterior (Chamber of the Council).
The Ataturk Arboretum is less than an hour from Istanbul, by either bus or car, and comprises a spreading, dense forest, planted with many different species of trees from all around the world. Autumn is always a good time to explore the Ataturk Arboretum, when the fall colours are nothing short of spectacular. Be sure to climb the elevated wooden observation tower and enjoy the views. Do note that picnics are not permitted within the arboretum.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
The spreading harbour town of Canakkale is amongst the busiest tourist destinations within the whole of the Gallipoli area and serves as a popular place for short breaks and excursions, since many important memorial sites and past battlefields are nearby, along with the ruins of Troy. Canakkale's main attractions are centred around its lively harbourfront. Of particular note is the Archaeological Museum, which is located on the highway leading towards Izmir. Much photographed is the giant wooden horse, which dominates the seafront and featured in the blockbuster 2004 movie 'Troy', alongside Brad Pitt.
Eceabat is a small and ever-expanding waterfront town, conveniently close to the main Gallipoli attractions and ideal for battlefield excursions. Always very popular with visiting students, Eceabat is home to a population of just under 5,000 people and was formerly known as Maydos.
Edirne is situated to the north-east of Istanbul and by car, can be reached in around two hours. Once the actual capital of the entire Ottoman Empire, Edirne is overflowing with historical attractions. Day trips to Edirne are eminently possible, although will require an early morning start to make the most of your time. Look out for the Balkan Wars Martyrdom, the Beyazit Complex, the Eski Cami Mosque, the Muradiye Mosque, the Selimiye Mosque, and the Uc Serefeli Mosque.
Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu)
The Gallipoli Peninsula is directly to the west of Istanbul and serves as a much visited spot, with droves of tourists arriving on a daily basis to remember those who lost their lives here on the battlefields of WWI. Visitor numbers are at their greatest on April 25th, which is Anzac Day and when an early morning service remembers the historical Allied landings. The Gallipoli Peninsula is particularly narrow, measuring just 2 km / 1.4 miles wide on its more slender section. Attractions here include the Kilia Bay Information Centre, the Kabatepe Museum, the Kabatepe Village, the 57th Regiment Cemetery, the Baby 700 Cemetery, and also the Talat Goktepe Monument. Guided tours will ensure that you make the most of your visit to the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Gelibolu is an especially pretty waterfront today and often confused with the similarly named 'Gallipoli' battlefields, which are actually around 60 km / 37 miles away. The attractions of Gelibolu are never far from its harbour and come in the form of hotels, eateries and shops. Museum-goers will favour the Piri Reis Museu, which overlooks the actual harbour and is packed with information regarding Byzantine history about the town of Kallipolis, which once stood in this very spot. The rather unique Turkish memorial known as the Bayrakli Baba Turbesi is also likely to be of interest, as is the 15th-century Azebler Namazgah mosque.
Regular ferries connect Kilitbahir with Canakkale, a Turkish seaport offering little more than its small but perfectly formed fishing harbour. However, this harbour is somewhat dominated by a rather enormous castle, which was built as long ago as 1452 and offers impressive views, for those brave enough to walk along its ancient walls.
The holiday town of Sile enjoys an especially scenic setting alongside the Black Sea and is roughly 70 km / 43 miles to the east of Istanbul. Many of Istanbul's residents favour Sile as a holiday destination and so the population swells with local Turks during the summer months, between June and September. Beaches are in good supply, although the strong tides and undercurrents make swimming in the actual sea rather dangerous and not recommended. Shops and bazaars in this area often sell the locally made 'Sile Bezi' cotton fabric, which makes a good holiday souvenir.
The outlying town of Silivri is considered to be a district of Istanbul and stands next to the Sea of Marmara, where it is a leading holiday destination. This is the place to come for a spot of well-earned seaside respite, with its scenic beaches being away from the hustle and bustle of Turkish city life. Sightseers may wish to explore the attractions of the Piri Pasa Mosque, the Silibri Castle, and the Long Bridge (Uzunköprü).