Day Trips from Istanbul by Train

Day Trips from Istanbul by Train

Once you visit Istanbul, you’ll never be able to stop thinking about it! The city enchants its visitors with a captivating atmosphere and dramatic ambiance, providing them with an unforgettable experience. Of course, beyond its marvels, Istanbul serves as an advantageous base for travelers seeking to explore other stunning cities in the region.

The advanced infrastructure and central location of Istanbul make it a great point to start your journey in the Marmara region. The region is home to Turkey’s most prominent cultural and historical centers, all within reach from Istanbul with just a few hours’ train ride.

Are you ready to be amazed? If yes, keep reading our guide to day trips from Istanbul and plan the ideal itinerary for your next journey!

Day Trip Destinations from Istanbul

There is no better way than taking a train from Istanbul to discover Turkey’s hidden gems and make unforgettable memories. Here are our favorite day trip destinations!

Bursa: A Scrumptious Journey

Bursa is a gem that is not to be missed. Located at the foot of majestic Uludağ Mountain, Bursa boasts a rich history and a vibrant culture. The city swells with pride and magnificence, as it was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Iznik and Mudanya are Bursa’s two most prominent towns, each famous for their unique crafts and cuisines.

Although Bursa is only 150 kilometers from Istanbul, there isn’t a direct train connecting both cities yet (it is to be completed sometime in 2024). So, you might want to add Bursa as an additional stop after your Bilecik trip, which connects to Istanbul through its Osmaneli train station. You can get to Bursa from Osmaneli after a short bus trip.

In fact you could just do a Bursa tour without the train, as part of a day trip tour from Istanbul.

Cultural and Culinary Exploration

The culinary wealth of Bursa will surely surprise you! The city is home to some of Turkiye’s oldest restaurants and diners. So, once you’re in Bursa, you’ll have the opportunity to taste delicious local dishes perfected by the city’s skillful chefs throughout history.

You must add these famous Bursa restaurants to your itinerary:

  • İskender (also known as Mavi Dükkan): If you’re familiar with Turkish cuisine, you must’ve tried İskender Kebap. This kebab type was invented in Bursa by İskender Efendi in 1867. Today, the descendants of İskender Efendi operate the restaurant İskender and serve the best İskender Kebap you can eat.
  • Uludağ Kebapçısı Cemal Cemil Usta: Another popular İskender Kebap restaurant in Bursa is Uludağ Kebapçısı Cemal Cemil Usta. Although the restaurant isn’t as old as İskender, famous Turkish food critic Vedat Milör promoted Cemal Cemil Usta for its unmatched recipe!
  • Yeşil Pideli Köfte: Pideli köfte, meatballs over pita bread, is a popular and delicious dish in Bursa cuisine. If you’re a fan of köfte and want to try this delectable food, you should pay a visit to Yeşil Pideli Köfte. You won’t be disappointed!

Of course, Bursa, the culinary capital of the Marmara region, has more to offer. From tasty tahini pide to traditional cantık, this delicious city will fascinate your tastebuds!

Photography Tips

If you’re into photography, Bursa can be your most rewarding subject! The city’s unique architecture and green atmosphere provide a captivating glow to your pictures.

Intricate details in historical landmarks and Bursa’s china shops might help you capture urban aesthetic in its finest form. Also, if your itinerary includes Uludağ Mountain, you can immortalize the grandiose of this winter wonderland with your shots. You are probably going to want to book a cable car trip in Bursa to take advantage of the mountain views.

Hidden Gems and Seasonal Considerations

Bursa is a hidden gem beyond the well-trodden paths. Although it isn’t among the most popular destinations in Turkiye, the city reveals its gems to anyone seeking to discover its wonders.

A true gem in Bursa is Cumalıkızık Ottoman village, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can wander through narrow streets sided by Ottoman-era houses. Besides, the Green Tomb of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed I is another stunning architectural wonder you should visit.

In spring, you can visit the famous Bursa Gardens to witness nature’s awakening. If you’re planning a winter trip, then ski resorts on Uludağ Mountain will offer you the most enjoyable winter sports opportunity.

Eskişehir: The Venice of Turkey

Known as the Venice of Turkey, Eskişehir is famous for its vibrant nightlife, rich entertainment opportunities, safe streets, and delectable cuisine. The city boasts a unique architecture that blends historical and modern features together.

Thanks to its peaceful and charming atmosphere, Eskişehir offers the perfect getaway from the urban crowd, surrounding you with a distinct culture and an exciting experience. So, if you’re seeking an unforgettable journey, be ready to take a three-hour train ride into Turkey’s heartland.

Cultural and Culinary Exploration

If you’re an adventurer interested in discovering new cultures and cuisines, Eskişehir is the ideal destination for you! Here are some spots you must visit to explore the city’s exceptional atmosphere and make the most of your day trip:

  • Odunpazarı District: You can visit Odunpazarı District to bask in the historic atmosphere and discover the city’s rich past. During the Ottoman period, Odunpazarı was a part of Eskişehir’s central district. Today, the district is home to the Old Town, where well-preserved Ottoman-era houses offer visitors a glimpse of history.
  • Porsuk River: Its banks adorned with pretty cafés and romantic restaurants give the Porsuk River an otherworldly appearance. The green and enchanting parks siding the river offer a peaceful spot to have a tranquil rest.
  • Sazova Park: One of the biggest theme parks in Turkiye, Eskişehir’s Sazova Park is a must-see for all visitors. The park consists of several sections, such as Eskişehir Zoo, Planetarium, Turkic Science History Building, Scientific Experiments Building, Esminiaturk, Japanese Garden, Artificial Lake with Pirate Ship, Dream Château, Miniature Railway.
  • Kasr-ı Nur Kahvaltı Evi: If you arrive in Eskişehir in the morning, you should definitely visit Kasr-ı Nur Kahvaltı Evi and have a traditional breakfast. The restaurant is within the historic Odunpazarı district and operates in an Ottoman-era mansion.
  • Papağan Çiğ Börek: Çiğ Börek is a type of deep-fried turnover with minced meat. Brought to the area during the 18th and 19th centuries by Crimean Tatars who migrated from Russia, this delicious dish has a significant place in Eskişehir cuisine. If you want to taste this delicious dish, Papağan Çiğ Börek must be on your itinerary.

Photography Tips

Eskişehir has lots of photogenic spots where you can snap stunning pictures. A great place to visit is the Porsuk River, which offers a dramatic subject with its green parks and magnificent scenery. Also, you can wander around the Odunpazarı district to photograph the historic buildings in the Old Town. In fact, the name Eskişehir translates as Old Town in English.

Hidden Gems and Seasonal Considerations

Eskişehir is a perfect destination that you can enjoy every season. Since the city isn’t as touristy as Istanbul, it’s almost never too crowded.

Beyond its delicious cuisine and historic Odunpazarı, Eskişehir holds various hidden gems, such as the Lületaşı Museum dedicated to meerschaum, a unique carving material, and the Railway Museum. You can also discover the Kurşunlu Complex, a 16th-century social complex, to marvel at the high Ottoman architecture.

Sakarya: The Green City

Sakarya is the perfect destination to have some fresh air. The city boasts green parks, untouched picnic areas, and a unique historical heritage carved in each stone, making your day trip to Sakarya an unforgettable experience.

It takes only two or three hours to get to Sakarya from Istanbul by train; once you arrive, you’ll be captivated by its unique charm. Compared to other metropolitan municipalities, Sakarya manages to preserve its natural beauty pretty well.

Cultural and Culinary Exploration

Despite being home to over a million residents, Sakarya looks – and feels – like a tiny town. The city has a breathable atmosphere, with lush greenery at every corner.

The city is famous for its ıslama köfte, meatballs with bread dipped in meat broth, which is a unique taste everyone should try. Besides ıslama köfte, you can try kabak tatlısı, a dessert made from locally-grown pumpkins.

Sakarya is known for its picnic areas. If you want to spend a peaceful day with your loved ones in nature, you can consider adding these picnic areas to your itinerary:

  • Serdivan Gölpark
  • Poyrazlar Gölü Tabiat Parkı
  • İl Orman Mesire Yeri
  • Gölbaşı Piknik Alanı
  • Akgöl Mesire ve Piknik Alanı

Photography Tips

Unlike Istanbul’s vibrant atmosphere, Sakarya is a peaceful city where nature and human-made structures blend perfectly. The mystic atmosphere, silent streets, and green parks make Sakarya a dramatic subject for your photographs. So, whenever you feel inspired by the city’s charming aura, take your camera – or telephone – and just snap!

Hidden Gems

Sakarya itself is a hidden gem for nature lovers. Beyond the city’s lush greenery and a myriad of picnic areas, you can find many natural wonders throughout Sakarya.

Maden Deresi, a creek with picturesque views and several waterfalls, is a must-visit spot in the city. Although the creek is well-known around Sakarya, it’s not quite touristy, and visitors are mostly locals.

Acarlar Floodplain Forest, the largest and only mono-bloc floodplain forest in Turkiye, is another spot that might interest you.

Kocaeli: A City of Museums

Located only 130 kilometers from Istanbul, Kocaeli province is the perfect destination for a quick trip outside Istanbul. Mostly known for its industrial activities, the city has historically been a prominent hub in the region. Two significant settlements in Kocaeli, İzmit and Gebze, are major urban centers with rich histories – and both are right on the rail line from Istanbul to Ankara.

During the Ottoman period, Sanjak of Kocaeli was well-developed and prosperous. In fact, the sanjak, or province, was one of the main contributors to the Marmara region’s economy.

If you want to discover the area’s history and be amazed by the unique Ottoman architecture, you must add Kocaeli to your itinerary.

The Gulf of İzmit offers a picturesque setting for leisurely walks along the waterfront. History enthusiasts can explore the Seka Park Archaeological Area, where ancient ruins and artifacts tell the story of the region’s past. The Kocaeli Archaeological Museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts, providing insight into the city’s historical significance.

Cultural and Culinary Exploration

Since Kocaeli is a historical center in the region, you can add landmarks and museums in the city to your itinerary. Some places you might want to visit in Kocaeli are:

  • İzmit Clock Tower
  • Kocaeli Archaeological Museum
  • İzmit Naval Ship Museum
  • SEKA Paper Museum
  • Selim Sırrı Pasha Mansion

Beyond its cultural richness, Kocaeli is also a culinary paradise! The city is the perfect destination for tasting delicious Turkish desserts, such as baklava, künefe, Turkish delight, and many more. Also, you can have a tasty meal with local dishes, such as Izmit kebab and Gebze pide.

Photography Tips

Kocaeli, with its green parks and unique atmosphere, is the perfect location for snapping gorgeous pictures. Both cities offer narrow streets and verdant scenery to provide an unmatched subject for your camera. And there are ample vistas overlooking the Marmara Sea as well.

Hidden Gems and Seasonal Considerations

Skipping the well-trodden path and looking for hidden gems is the key to having an unforgettable holiday. A lesser-known spot you might like to add to your itinerary is Seka Park, a green and serene park in Izmit.

Kocaeli is also a city with a vibrant lifestyle. Throughout the year, many cultural events, such as concerts and festivals, take place in Kocaeli, making it an ideal destination for those seeking new experiences.

Bilecik: The Birthplace of an Empire

Located between Kocaeli, Bursa, and Eskişehir, Bilecik is another historic city that deserves to be on your itinerary. You can get to this pretty, tiny city after an hour’s ride; since Bilecik is smaller than adjacent cities, you can explore the cities’ main highlights in just a few hours.

Bilecik might be a small city, yet its historical significance isn’t open to debate. It was the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire and still holds many historical sites, demonstrating the city’s glorious past.

Cultural and Culinary Exploration

Bilecik’s esteemed statute, as the birthplace of an empire, made the city a significant cultural center. Today, every corner of the city bears the marks of its historical wealth. If you’re a history buff, you can add the tombs of Osman Gazi, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, and Ertuğrul Gazi, the father of Osman Gazi.

Besides its material heritage, Bilecik also boasts a rich culture, reflecting unique influences from history through annual festivals and celebrations. You can visit the city during significant celebrations to learn more about the local culture.

When it comes to local dishes, Bilecik is famous for its meat-based cuisine. You can try different köfte and güveç – stew – variations at Bilecik’s historic restaurants.

Photography Tips

Bilecik’s distinct atmosphere makes it a very photogenic city. You can wander through the narrow streets sided by traditional houses or visit the city’s many parks to snap stunning pictures. If you have time, visit the Sakarya River to photograph the picturesque countryside.

Hidden Gems and Seasonal Considerations

The green nature of Bilecik makes it a perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts. You can visit Bilecik during spring or summer, when the weather is pleasant, to explore its verdant greenery. You can enjoy hiking, trekking, and other fun activities for having a peaceful getaway.

Turkish Railway System

The Turkish railway system has undergone significant modernization and expansion in recent years, positioning itself as a vital component of the country’s transportation infrastructure. With a rich history dating back to the late Ottoman period, the railway network has evolved to connect key cities and regions across Turkey. The high-speed rail services, such as the Ankara-Istanbul and Ankara-Konya lines, have not only reduced travel times but also enhanced connectivity, fostering economic development.

One noteworthy aspect of the Turkish railway system is its commitment to sustainability. The introduction of electrification on major rail routes and the incorporation of eco-friendly practices showcase Turkey’s dedication to reducing its environmental impact. This strategic approach aligns with global efforts to promote greener transportation alternatives and positions the Turkish railway system as a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious mode of travel.

In addition to domestic significance, Turkey’s railway connections extend internationally, facilitating cross-border transportation and trade. Projects like the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which links Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, further enhance Turkey’s role as a key transit hub. This international connectivity not only boosts economic cooperation but also strengthens diplomatic ties, marking the Turkish railway system as a pivotal player in the broader Eurasian transportation network.

See our map of the Turkish rail system below.

Turkish Rail Map

Turkish rail map
Turkish rail map

Getting Around Istanbul

See our guide to Getting Around Istanbul – a quick look at all the various mass transportation systems and more.


How do I get to İstanbul Haydarpaşa train station?

Haydarpaşa is Istanbul’s main train station. You can reach the station by using public transportation or taxi. See our post on Getting Around Istanbul for details and Istanbul mass transit maps.

What types of trains depart from Haydarpaşa?

Haydarpaşa Train Station serves high-speed and conventional trains. There are also various suburban trains that provide connections to nearby destinations.

How early should I arrive at Haydarpaşa before my train departure?

You should be at the train station at least 15 minutes before departure. Nevertheless, we recommend you get there at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure because of Istanbul’s notorious.

Can I purchase train tickets at Haydarpaşa Station on the day of travel?

Yes, you can. However, purchasing your tickets in advance is always advisable as it saves money and time. Additionally, it is always a good idea to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure that you get a seat on the desired train.

How can I check train schedules from Haydarpaşa station?

You can check train times & fares at the Turkish Railways (TCDD) website,  The English version doesn’t work (in fact their entire website goes down occasionally).  You can simply leave it in Turkish and be prepared to use the auto-translate feature of the Google Chrome browser.


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