10 easy must-do weekend trips from Istanbul

Published by: BouncePosted
Weekend trips from Istanbul

One of Europe’s true travel gems is located on the eastern edge of the continent. Though it’s not the country’s capital, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city. It’s also the country’s cultural and historical center, making it a worthwhile travel destination. This ancient city has centuries of fascinating history. From its time as the Byzantine capital of Constantinople to the time of the Ottoman Empire and the First World War, there are so many cultures that have made a mark on Istanbul. 

It’s also a bustling metropolis that’s home to more than 15 million residents. It’s a modern, international city with a pace that can be exhausting. Taking a break from city life is important, even from an amazing place like Istanbul. Whether it’s visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site or simply soaking up the sun on Princes' Islands, there are so many destinations for day trips and weekend getaways from Istanbul. You’ll want to plan out your travel, meaning arranging hotels, finding luggage storage, and making an itinerary to fill up your weekend. But first, you need to decide where to go. 

Here are the best weekend trips from Istanbul:

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Weekend trips to Ağva from Istanbul


If you want to take a quick break from city life, take a short drive from Istanbul to Ağva. This village has a number of resorts and immediate access to a wide array of outdoor activities. A trip to Ağva is all about spending time outdoors, which makes it great for hikers, families with small children, and younger travelers looking to get away from the city for a weekend. 

Ağva distance from Istanbul

It takes about 90 minutes to drive from Istanbul’s city center to Ağva, which makes it perfect for day trips along with casual weekend getaways. 

Our activity recommendations

This beautiful resort town has access to gorgeous rivers for fishing, swimming, and kayaking. You can take a boat tour downriver to the coast of the Black Sea for some seafood. 

Best season to visit

A weekend trip to Ağva is great just about any time of year, but it’s particularly popular during the summer months, especially for all the outdoor activities. 


Take a trip to the nearby town of Bursa, which was the capital of the vast Ottoman Empire before the First World War. The city is filled with gorgeous mosques, museums, and traditional Turkish restaurants and cafés. If you’re a traveler looking for a deep dive into authentic Turkish culture, this is a great city to visit. 

Bursa distance from Istanbul

Bursa is a 90-minute to two-hour drive from Istanbul, which makes it an ideal destination for day trips. If you want to really rest and relax, take the train (about a three-hour ride) and make a full weekend out of it. Even better, take the BUSO (Bursa Sea Buses) from Istanbul by boat. 

Our activity recommendations

There are plenty of historical landmarks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a charming city center that’s perfect for history buffs and older travelers. 

Best season to visit

There’s not exactly a best time to visit Bursa. Because of the mild weather of the city, and the number of historical and cultural activities, you can visit during the winter months.

Weekend trips on the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus 

The Bosphorus Strait is a natural body of water that connects the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. It’s one of history's most important trade routes and is lined with castle ruins and gorgeous waterfront towns. Taking a river cruise from Istanbul to the Black Sea is one of the most popular activities for a day trip or weekend getaway. Travelers can look into staying at one of the many towns located along the strait. 

Bosphorus distance from Istanbul 

It takes about an hour to reach the Bosphorus by ferry from the city center near Taksim Square, which makes this a wonderful option for a day trip. 

Our activity recommendations 

Easily the best thing to do is take a river cruise down the Bosphorus Strait. You’ll get to enjoy the natural beauty, and there will be a tour guide that can go through the fascinating history of the region.  

Best season to visit

The Bosphorus is a lovely day trip or a weekend getaway destination all year round. 


Located along the southern coast just east of  Istanbul’s city center, Bostanci is a delightful little town in the Marmara. There’s a beautiful waterfront with hotels, restaurants, and shops that’s great for spending time by the sea.

Bostanci distance from Istanbul

It takes about an hour to get to Bostanci from Istanbul by car via Avrasya Tuneli and D100. This makes Bostanci an ideal day trip destination, but you can always stay the whole weekend.  

Our activity recommendations

It’s all about spending time on the water in Bostanci. There are amazing seafood restaurants, cafés, shops, and family-friendly attractions in town. 

Best season to visit

With a temperate Mediterranean climate, it’s comfortable to visit Bostanci any time of year, but it’s most popular during the summer months. 

Polonezköy weekend trip from Istanbul


This tiny Polish village was founded in the 1800s by settlers escaping the invading Russian Empire. The Ottomans offered shelter to these refugees, and this community sprouted up to create an enclave of Polish residents of Turkey. Their distinct language and culture have endured for over a century, and the town of Polonezkoy has become a weekend getaway destination. 

Polonezköy distance from Istanbul 

It takes less than an hour to reach Polonezköy from Istanbul, which makes it ideal for day trips. It’s close enough that the village is reachable via taxi, so you won’t need to rent a car for this weekend getaway. 

Our activity recommendations

The best activities in Polonezkoy revolve around exploring the town and appreciating the distinct cultural offerings of this Polish community. There are also hiking trails and walking paths surrounding the town for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a great way to work off all the kielbasa sausage and pierogies you're bound to sample.

Best season to visit

Polonezköy is wonderful any time of year, but the village’s summer festival is very popular for enjoying the village’s showcase of Polish culture. 

Princes' Islands

Known as Adalar in Turkish, the Princes' Islands are a chain of nine small islands in the Marmara Sea. Four of them are open to the public and are wonderful weekend getaway destinations for Istanbul locals and travelers. The islands of Büyükada, which is the largest island and most popular travel destination, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Kınalıada are all reachable by ferry from Istanbul.

The most peculiar aspect of the Princes Islands is that they are entirely pedestrianized, meaning there are no cars or vehicles anywhere on the archipelago. This makes it a wonderful weekend getaway from bustling Istanbul and highlights the relaxing atmosphere on the islands. 

Princes' Islands distance from Istanbul

The best transit invention since the overnight bus has to be the ferry. The sea bus only costs 10 Turkish Lira (about $3) and takes you from Istanbul’s city center in just over an hour. They run throughout the day, which makes it a doable day trip, but you can certainly make a weekend out of it. 

Our activity recommendations

Exploring the quaint way of life of the villages that dot the islands is the most popular activity on the Princes' Islands. You can stay at one of the Victorian cottages that have been repurposed into Bed and Breakfasts. There are also numerous beaches and hiking trails for enjoying the natural beauty of the islands. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride to explore the full breadth of the island. 

Best season to visit

You can expect pleasant weather 12 months a year on Princes' Islands. The summer months are very busy, especially considering how close the area is to Istanbul. 

Sapanca Lake weekend trips from Istanbul


This tiny Turkish village is situated in the Beykoz district. It’s on the Asian side of Istanbul, but it’s a quick drive to the ferry from the city center. It's well situated between the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, so it has incredible views and access to the water. The town itself has both luxurious and accessible hotels along with amazing shops, cafés, and seafood restaurants. 

Riva distance from Istanbul: 

Riva is an excellent day trip destination, being a 45-minute drive or two-hour train to the ferry.

Our activity recommendations

The most popular attraction is Riva Castle, which offers a fascinating history and unbelievable views of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. It has an on-site museum that's worth a look, and its picturesque setting in the Kayazi River estuary is ideal for some great photos. 

Best season to visit

Riva is amazing any time of year. It can get swamped on summer weekends, so if you want to avoid the crowds, head there in winter for a comfortable weekend getaway. 

Sapanca Lake

One of the most popular weekend getaways from Istanbul is the gorgeous Lake Sapanca, which is only a few hours away by car. The delightful Mediterranean climate reaches inland enough that lounging on the lakeshore and swimming is possible year-round. There are a number of wonderful hotels and resorts like Beta Home or Zelis Farm for a relaxing and luxurious weekend. 

Sapanca Lake distance from Istanbul

Sapanca is just a couple of hours away from Istanbul. The best way to get there is by car. It might be just far enough that it’s not a day trip destination, but Sapanca Lake is perfect for a relaxing weekend. 

Our activity recommendations

Outdoor activities are the main draw at Sapanca Lake. Fishing and swimming are popular, but you can also take a boat tour around the lake. Renting ATVs and riding is great for extreme sports enthusiasts and adventure travelers.  

Best season to visit

Summer is the most popular time to visit Sapanca, but the climate is temperate, so spring and fall are also comfortable for appreciating time on the water. 

Yedigöller National Park


This quaint fishing village off the Black Sea Coast is the perfect place to get a breath of fresh air. It's super close to Agva, so you can easily combine these two locations into one amazing weekend trip. 

Your quintessential coastal city, Şile is a popular destination for weekend breaks for families and young couples looking to get away from the city. While there are upscale resorts and villas to rent for a splashy weekend, the village is close enough to Istanbul to make a quick (and budget-friendly) day trip to the town. 

Şile distance from Istanbul

Şile is a quick one-hour drive from Istanbul, which makes it the perfect place for a day trip if you want to spend an afternoon on the coast. 

Our activity recommendations

Enjoying the tranquil atmosphere of a coastal resort town is the perfect way to decompress. Şile has a historic village vibe which will be a novel experience for Istanbul locals and very fascinating for travelers who haven’t been exposed to much traditional Turkish culture. Anyone wanting to catch some rays will enjoy the town’s beaches or even the private waterfront of a resort. There’s also Saklıgöl Lake, wedged between the coast and the mountains, where you can swim or take a boat tour. 

Best season to visit

With a temperate climate along the Black Sea Coast, Şile is comfortable to visit basically every season. Summertime does see a big influx of travelers, so booking a trip during the cooler months can help avoid the crowds. 

Yedigöller National Park

Yedigöller National Park comprises seven small lakes located in a large forest of pine, oka, and hazelnut trees. It’s one of the most popular outdoor travel destinations in Turkey and is the perfect place for hiking and camping. 

Yedigöller National Park distance from Istanbul: 

It’s about a three-hour drive to reach Yedigöller National Park from Istanbul. 

Our activity recommendations 

Yedigöller is the ideal weekend getaway for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. It’s far enough away that you’ll want to camp, but there is more than enough to do once you’re there. The lakes are great for fishing, and there are almost a dozen popular hiking trails. 

Best season to visit

If you are enjoying all the outdoor recreation that Yedigöller National Park has to offer, you’ll want to visit during spring or fall. However, late or early winter can be pleasant for hiking and fishing. 

Best weekend trips from Istanbul


Taking weekend breaks from the city is an important part of keeping your sanity. Getting out into the countryside and nature is deeply restorative and can even help you better appreciate a bustling metropolis like Istanbul. If you find yourself with just an afternoon to spare, look into one of the many amazing day trips from Istanbul you can take, but if you only have three days in Istanbul, it's better to stick to the sights of the city itself. From the arid mountains to the lush coastline, Turkey is blessed with a diverse array of settings. So go explore! 

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