Hidden paradises near Istanbul are waiting for those seeking a break, even if just for 1 or 2 days.
These natural wonders, located within a maximum distance of 2-2.5 hours from Istanbul, offer the perfect escape for a sea vacation, basking in the sun, or spending time on hiking trails. Whether you desire tranquility in nature or an adventurous family getaway, you’ll find your dream holiday destination in the extensive list we’ve prepared for you.
Nearby places on this list cater to both solo travelers and families with children, ensuring everyone can have a wonderful time and find peace in the embrace of nature’s beauty. So, take a break from the city hustle and bustle, and discover the nearby hidden gems that will rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul !
Best Day Trips From Istanbul:
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The best day trip idea is to explore the regions of Kocaeli province. Just 1.5 hours away from Istanbul, Kocaeli might be known for its factories, but it has some amazing hidden paradises to discover. There are ten fantastic destinations in Kocaeli where you can spend your weekend and explore while you’re there. One of them is Ormanya, a magical place that kids will absolutely love and that has captured our hearts like a fairy tale land.
1. Ormanya Wildlife Park
Ormanya, a natural wonder located between Izmir and Kocaeli, is an incredibly beautiful place, especially perfect for kids to let loose, relax, and have a delightful time! In Ormanya, you can observe animals in their natural habitats and even enjoy horseback riding. However, it’s important to note that the charming Hobit houses, which kids love and are curious about, are not accessible for accommodation.
The place also offers lovely picnic areas, so you can enjoy a delightful outdoor meal if you wish. Additionally, there’s a restaurant and a cafe where you can eat, unwind, and grab a refreshing drink. It’s truly a wonderful destination for families and nature enthusiasts alike.
2. Gölcük Nüzhetiye Waterfall
Nüzhetiye Waterfall is a must-visit place near Istanbul, especially for city dwellers seeking greenery and rivers. Located around 19 km from Gölcük, it takes about 1.5 hours to reach from Istanbul. You can easily follow the signs on the road to find your way to the waterfall.
While it’s a beautiful destination, keep in mind that families with young children might find the route challenging. If you plan to cool off in the waterfall’s refreshing water, remember to bring your swimsuit along!
Moreover, as you hike along the Nüzhetiye trail, be prepared to witness the stunning array of green hues surrounding you. It’s a nature lover’s paradise!
The blue color of the Black Sea coast can be surprisingly stunning! Kerpe is a gem among the blue flag beaches, a perfect weekend destination for those seeking a delightful sea-swimming experience. Situated in Kandıra district of Kocaeli, Kerpe boasts unique shades of green and beautiful blue hues that will leave you mesmerized.
Aside from its picturesque beaches, Kerpe offers numerous places to explore and enjoy. One must-see spot is the Kartal Rocks, where you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to witness the breathtaking sunset. It’s a truly unforgettable experience that adds to the charm of this coastal paradise.
Kefken, a charming district in Kocaeli, is an incredibly beautiful destination for a weekend getaway. The blue flag beach of Kefken will captivate you, and the abundance of attractions will keep you entertained throughout your stay.
Make sure to explore the Pink Rocks, Sarısu, Cebeci, and Kapri beaches, as well as the serene Acarlar Longoz, Yeşil Bay, and Kumcagiz Public Beach to enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea. Additionally, don’t miss the chance to indulge in a delightful breakfast at the lovely restaurants amidst nature in Kefken. It’s a truly enjoyable experience that will leave you with cherished memories.
5. Kocaeli Highlands
The Kocaeli highlands offer a beautiful experience with their vast pine forests and the influence of the Black Sea climate. In the Başiskale region, you’ll find the İnönü, Menekşe, Kayaüstü Highlands, and the picturesque Serindere Canyon. On the Maşukiye side, there are the charming Kuzu Plateau and Kirazdere Plateau.
During autumn, the forests come alive with a mesmerizing blend of green, red, and yellow tones, creating a truly enchanting scene. The highlands also feature various large and small wooden chalets, providing cozy accommodations amidst nature’s embrace.
For those seeking a weekend escape, the Kocaeli highlands are a top choice. Here, nature reigns supreme, offering a perfect retreat to unwind and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings.
When talking about Kocaeli’s most renowned area, Maşukiye is undoubtedly the first to come to mind. Another preferred destination due to its proximity is Sapanca Lake and its surroundings. Maşukiye offers a wide range of hotels and restaurants to cater to different tastes.
In this versatile region, you have the option to ski in Kartepe during winter or indulge in nature’s beauty along the shores of Sapanca Lake during summer. Maşukiye is also famous for its delicious trout. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a delightful fish feast at the trout facilities near Aygır Stream.
If you plan to visit Maşukiye in early summer, make sure to explore the cherry orchards for a delightful experience amid the blooming trees. It’s a wonderful destination offering a variety of activities for all seasons.
7. Kartepe Ski Center
Kartepe, the closest ski resort to Istanbul, is a must-visit destination for winter enthusiasts. It’s located in Kocaeli and can be reached in about 2 hours from Istanbul. Keep in mind that it gets quite crowded, especially during school holidays. If you prefer a more peaceful experience, consider going when schools are not on holiday.
The journey to the summit takes around 20 minutes, and the roads are well-maintained with efficient salting during winter. If you’re interested in more than just skiing, you can also enjoy horse riding in the Uzuntarla region.
While Kartepe is well-known for its winter activities, it’s actually a place worth visiting all year round. Even in July, you can join in on the fun during summer festivals. So, whether you’re a winter lover or enjoy the summer festivities, Kartepe offers something for everyone.
8. Gölcük Hot Spring
The Gölcük Hot Spring , also known as the Summer Spa, can be found in the Başiskale region. It has a long history and was utilized as a health center even during the Roman period. Over time, it gained the name “Summer Spa” because it became a popular summer destination in Kocaeli.
Numerous studies have revealed that the Gölcük Hot Spring has healing properties for various ailments. Today, it remains the sole health center in Kocaeli. When you visit Kocaeli, be sure to make a stop at the Summer Spa. It’s a unique and historic place that offers not just relaxation but also potential health benefits.
9. Ballıkayalar Nature Park
Ballıkayalar Nature Park, situated next to the Gebze industrial zone, is a hidden gem that surprises everyone who visits. It’s truly delightful to discover such a beautiful natural area tucked behind the industrial chimneys, and it’s remarkable how well-maintained and clean it remains.
The park’s name, Ballıkayalar, is said to originate from the abundance of wild bees that used to create hives in rocks and caves. While bees are no longer prevalent in the area, the nature park offers a long walking track and opportunities for rock climbing. So, if you’re seeking a pleasant time in the forest while also craving some adrenaline, Ballıkayalar Nature Park is the perfect choice. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in nature’s beauty and enjoy thrilling activities.
10. Sardala Bay
Sardala Bay, located in Kandıra, Kocaeli, offers a peaceful and less crowded experience compared to other places in the region. The bay’s serenity creates the illusion of swimming in the Aegean Sea rather than the Black Sea.
A delightful surprise awaits just a 1 km walk into the forest behind Sardala Bay – the enchanting Paradise Pool, a natural pool filled with sea water. If you’ve visited Sardala Bay, don’t miss the chance to take this short walk and explore the beauty of the Paradise Pool. It’s a hidden gem that will surely leave you in awe of nature’s wonders.
Bursa, the historical city next to Istanbul, is only 1 hour away from Istanbul with fast ferries and the Osmangazi Bridge. There are so many places to visit in Bursa… Bursa Center, Trilye, Misli Village, Cumalıkızık, Mudanya, Gölyazı and Uludağ are the main places to visit in Bursa.
11. Bursa Center
Bursa Historic City Center is a perfect weekend destination, offering a blend of historical charm, vibrant bazaars, and the tempting aroma of delicious doner kebabs. Strolling through the Hanlar District and the Grand Bazaar, you can discover unique textile products and silk fabric towels that are exclusive to Bursa.
Don’t miss a visit to Koza Han, the renowned inn, where you can also find towels and home textile products. Exploring the historical area is a treat, with iconic landmarks like Ulu Mosque, Yeşil Mosque and tombs, Emirsultan Mosque, and the tombs of Orhan Gazi and Osman Gazi, showcasing exquisite Ottoman and Seljuk architecture.
While in Bursa Center, make sure to take some time to visit the Bursa Archeology Museum and Karagöz Museum. These attractions add depth to the rich history and culture that Bursa has to offer. It’s a delightful city with much to see, do, and savor!
Trilye is an old Greek village that carries a nostalgic charm and serenity. It is just 2 hours away from Istanbul . Its 2-3-storey wooden houses, some restored and others not, create a unique atmosphere. Spring is the ideal time to visit, as the village becomes even more pleasant during this season.
The locals make a living through fishing and olive cultivation, resulting in a delightful array of olive products and fish restaurants in Trilye. Additionally, Bursa Center can be reached in just half an hour from Trilye.
While in Trilye, be sure to explore the captivating sites such as the Stone School, St. Vasil Church, Dundar House, Arched Church, and Courtyard Bath. Each of these places carries a rich historical significance, adding to the allure of Trilye. It’s a destination where you can immerse yourself in the past while enjoying the present-day tranquility.
Mudanya is easily accessible from Istanbul by car ferries, taking around 1 hour to reach. This charming place offers a delightful experience with its picturesque rows of fishermen and various historical sites to explore. Moreover, you can enjoy swimming in Mudanya as well.
For those yearning to swim, Kumyaka, Ifce, Burgaz Altinkum Beach, Eşkel Beach, and Coşkuz Öz Beach are the perfect spots in Mudanya to have a pleasant time by the sea.
During your visit, make sure to include a visit to the Armistice House, where the Mudanya Agreement was signed, a significant event mentioned in history books. It’s an opportunity to connect with the past and appreciate the historical significance of this peaceful town. Mudanya promises an enriching and enjoyable experience for travelers from Istanbul.
Gölyazı, a picturesque location often chosen by the TV series and film industry, is the perfect spot for weekend breakfasts and leisurely coffee breaks. Its tranquil ambiance and serene views make it an ideal escape.
Situated on Lake Ulubat, this charming islet is connected to the mainland via a bridge. Once an old Greek fishing village, Gölyazı has now transformed into a place that captivates everyone with its beauty.
If you find yourself in Gölyazı in the evening, don’t miss the chance to watch the breathtaking sunset from the Lily Hill. It’s an experience that will leave you in awe of nature’s splendor. Gölyazı offers a serene getaway with its peaceful atmosphere and enchanting landscapes.
15. Village of Misi
The region, once renowned for its vineyards in ancient times, continues to impress visitors with its delectable wine and grape molasses. The village, now called Gümüştepe Mahallesi, is located just 12 km away from Bursa Center and has been protected as a preserved area since the 1990s.
When navigating, be sure to mark it as Gümüştepe Mahallesi to find this charming village easily. Don’t miss the chance to purchase unique souvenirs related to sericulture from Misi Village, as they are all beautiful and authentic. The village’s heritage and delightful offerings make it a memorable destination to explore and savor the local flavors.
Uludag has consistently held its position as a top destination to visit from Istanbul for a weekend getaway. This beautiful spot is ideal for both summer and winter vacations, though it is especially favored during the winter holidays for its ski resort.
Whether you’re seeking a romantic escape or a thrilling ski adventure, Uludag caters to all preferences with its bungalow-style wooden accommodations and extensive ski tracks. While winter months are busier, the ski areas are well-developed, ensuring a pleasant holiday without any hassles.
Don’t miss out on the evening parties in Uludag, which add a touch of excitement and entertainment to your experience. Whether you visit in summer or winter, Uludag promises a memorable and enjoyable journey for all travelers.
Another region that can be reached within 2 hours from Istanbul is Thrace. It is a beautiful route where you can spend your weekends with its unique nature, warm people, and sometimes quite beautiful sea. Edirne, Saros Bay, Igneada, Sarkoy, Hoşkoy, Kiyikoy, Tekirdag and Kumbag do not necessarily come to mind when Thrace is mentioned. It is also possible to visit many of these within the 2-day holiday route.
When you leave Istanbul during off-peak hours, you can reach the central region of Tekirdag in a maximum of 2 hours. The nearby areas of Şarköy and Kumbağ are just 40 minutes away from the center. These places offer great opportunities for swimming and are quite popular during the summer months.
Şarköy and Kumbağ are renowned for their vineyards and wines. While visiting Şarköy, don’t forget to taste the unique wines made from the region’s special grapes. Nearby, Hoşköy offers a tranquil and rustic experience for those who prefer a peaceful atmosphere.
Mürefte, another town in Şarköy, is famous for its olive cultivation and beautiful natural surroundings, including a clean and serene sea.
Uçmakdere, a popular district of Tekirdağ in recent years, provides ample opportunities for various sports activities. The region promises an enjoyable and active experience for outdoor enthusiasts.
Edirne is a captivating destination in Thrace that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, boasting a rich historical background, scenic Saros Gulf coves, natural wonders, and delectable cuisine.
In Edirne Center, history buffs will find numerous architectural gems to explore, with the iconic Selimiye Mosque and Grand Bazaar being the most famous. After visiting Selimiye Mosque, treat yourself to the renowned Edirne fried liver at one of the bazaar’s restaurants, along with the famous leaf liver of Thrace.
Don’t forget to buy marzipan and Kavala cookies from Keçecizade in the bazaar as delightful souvenirs for your loved ones. Take a stroll through the bazaar, crossing two historical bridges, and savor a coffee at the riverside spots along the Meriç River. However, be aware that mosquitoes can be quite numerous in this area.
Edirne’s coastline borders the Gulf of Saros, a unique place in the world with a self-cleaning feature. Part of the bay is connected to Çanakkale, while the other is connected to Edirne. Erikli, Lost Paradise, İbrice Bay, and Plateau Coast are some of the stunning coastal spots near Edirne, offering a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Saros Gulf.
Kırklareli, a hidden gem in Thrace, is a paradise for those seeking two peaceful days in nature, leaving visitors longing to return again and again. Despite being part of the Thrace region, its sea is the Black Sea, but the coves and beaches are beautifully intertwined with the forest, giving it an Aegean-like feel rather than the usual characteristics of the Black Sea.
When talking about Kırklareli, Igneada stands out as a natural wonder route, offering bungalow accommodation centers, adult-friendly trails in harmony with nature, and a magnificent sea. However, there are more routes you should definitely explore, including Kiyikoy, Begendik Beach, and Kastros Beach.
For those seeking tranquil bays, make sure to visit Selvez, Poliçe, and Panayır İskelesi bays. Kırklareli promises a serene and rejuvenating experience in the lap of nature, making it a destination to remember and cherish.
Çanakkale, a beautiful city in the North Aegean region, sits gracefully on the slopes of the Kaz Mountains, just 3 hours away from Istanbul. For those seeking a weekend getaway with the refreshing Aegean breeze, the paradise towns of Çanakkale beckon.
There are countless stunning places to explore in Çanakkale that mentioning one alone would leave others unnoticed. Bozcaada, Assos, Gökçeada, Geyikli, Küçükkuyu, and Yeşilyurt Villages are some of the must-visit places in the region.
To fully savor the charm of Bozcaada, Gökçeada, and Assos, we recommend dedicating two separate days to each. As for Küçükkuyu and Yeşilyurt Villages, they are situated close to each other, making them perfect for a weekend break together.
Çanakkale offers a treasure trove of natural beauty, historical sites, and picturesque villages, making it an irresistible destination for a delightful and memorable weekend getaway.
Bozcaada (Tenedos), a place where Turks and Greeks once lived together, offers an unforgettable weekend experience with its splendid bays and refreshing sea waters. You can reach Bozcaada from Geyikli via a car ferry.
The island boasts several key attractions, including the Bozcaada Castle, and the Greek Quarter. Don’t miss the chance to try cookies from famous patisseries and indulge in the unique flavors of the island.
Bozcaada is renowned for its vineyards and wine culture, with many wineries scattered across the island. You can enjoy wine tastings at these wineries.
For a true taste of the island, have dinner at one of the taverns serving the island’s distinctive appetizers. This will leave a lasting impression of Bozcaada’s beautiful ambiance.
Although exploring all the bays on the island may take at least four days, we recommend visiting Ayazma, Habbele, Beylik, and Aquarium bays for a delightful experience during your stay. Bozcaada promises a weekend filled with natural wonders, cultural gems, and delightful culinary delights.
Assos, a popular destination in the North Aegean, offers a wide range of accommodation options, making it a perfect choice for short-term holidays. If you wish to spend a full day at the sea, book a vacation, and return to Istanbul feeling relaxed, Assos will surely captivate you.
Despite being a small town, Assos is abundant in historical treasures, including its ancient city and historical buildings. To fully enjoy your visit, head to Behramkale location in Assos and take a refreshing swim in the picturesque Kadırga, Sokakağzı, and Sivrice Bays.
Gökçeada, also known as İmroz, is the westernmost point of Turkey and offers a tranquil and stunning alternative to Bozcaada. It’s an ideal destination for a pleasant weekend, with its charming fishermen, cozy taverns, old Greek houses, beautiful architecture, and boutique hotels. Gökçeada Salt Lake is a beloved area highly appreciated by visitors. Swimming in the inviting waters of Gökçeada is a must, and you’ll find the most beautiful spots at Hidden Harbor, Yuvalı, Laz, and Aydıncık bays.
For those connected to Istanbul and seeking a getaway from the city’s crowds and urban structures, Şile and Ağva are perfect choices for a weekend escape. These regions, located on the Black Sea coast of Istanbul, are still relatively untouched fishing villages, providing a delightful ambiance for relaxation and exploration. The accommodation options in these areas have developed well over time, ensuring a comfortable stay.
If you want to stay close to Istanbul for a weekend trip and enjoy the city’s surroundings, Riva, Poyrazköy, Kumburgaz, and Kilyos are also excellent options for a memorable and refreshing weekend holiday.