Best Day Trips from Istanbul

Touristic sightseeing ships in Golden Horn bay of Istanbul and view on Suleymaniye mosque with Sultanahmet district against blue sky and clouds. Istanbul, Turkey during sunny summer day.

Istanbul is unarguably one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. It is Turkey’s biggest and most populous city; at the same time, Istanbul is the Turkish centre for culture, history and economy.

The city is split between two continents (Europe and Asia), and the two parts are separated by the Bosphorus Strait.

What is incredible about Istanbul, is the city’s diversity – Istanbul braids western modernity with eastern traditions; it is a melting pot of nations and cultures.

Istanbul’s history goes millennia back; it used to be called Byzantium, and the Byzantine Empire was founded in the 7th century BCE.

The amazing sights within and outside the city will take your breath away, and to help you navigate better around the Turkish tourist attractions, we combined a list of the best day trips from Istanbul!

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Day trip from Istanbul to the Gallipoli Peninsula 

Located in Turkey’s European part, surrounded by the Aegean Sea (to the West) and the Dardanelles strait (on the East side), is the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Travellers interested in history will surely associate the peninsula with the World War I Battle of Gallipoli, and indeed, with its protected cemeteries and battlefields, the Gallipoli Campaign Historic Site is one of the best-known tourist attractions in the area.

However, there are many more interesting sites that you can add to your day trip to the Gallipoli Peninsula! Make sure to visit the Kilitbahir Castle Museum. The institution reopened in 2019 to educate the visitors about the maritime history of the region and tell stories of the Ottoman Empire.

It is situated in a castle that was originally built in the 15th century by Mehmet the Conqueror. Visit the tranquil city of Çanakkale too! Take time to wander around the main square and stop by the Military Museum. Only a short walk from the square, the museum is located in the Çimenlik Fortress. 

If you want to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula on a day tour from Istanbul, we recommend looking for organized day trips. Not only will you have a guide with you, but going by car, the drive will take around 4 hours, with public transportation, a one-way journey would take up to 8 hours!

Day trip from Istanbul to the Gallipoli Peninsula 

TURKEY, GALLIPOLI - Ari Burnu war cemetery and memorial at Gallipoli

Day trip from Istanbul to the Princes Islands (Adalar)

The name “Princes Islands” (in Turkish often referred to as “Adalar”, which simply means “islands”) describes a group of 9 small isles in the Sea of Marmara, southeast of Istanbul. Many tourists try to arrange their day tour with an early departure to enjoy a traditional Turkish breakfast on the Princes Islands.

The islands are mainly car-free and known for their “phaetons” (simple horse-drawn vehicles). Most popular among visitors and filled with tourist attractions is Büyükada, the biggest of the Princes Islands.

On your day tour to Büyükada, make sure to visit the Hagia Yorgi Church (also known as Aya Yorgi Monastery).

Together with the House of Virgin Mary in Ephesus (see below for our recommendations for day trips from Istanbul to Ephesus), the Aya Yorgi is considered one of the two most important sites of Christian pilgrimage in Turkey.

The Hagia Yorgi Church was built in the 6th century. It is situated at the highest peak of the island, and it is famous for its panoramic views. Other popular tourist attractions on Büyükada Island include the historic pier, central market square and many restaurants that serve exquisite fish and seafood.

The islands are only a short ferry ride away from the city, so if you are looking for ferry trips from Istanbul, the Princes Islands are high on our recommendation list!

Day trip from Istanbul to the Princes Islands (Adalar)

Large seagull flying above Marmara Sea, with background of Kinaliada - one of Adalar islands near Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapi Palace Istanbul Day Tour

We highly recommend visiting Istanbul’s famous Topkapi Palace, and we suggest (pre-)booking the tour with a guide. Now you can book “Skip the Line” day tours that will allow you a quick, hassle-free entry; and exploring the city sights with a professional, English-speaking guide is always recommended.

Topkapi Palace is one of the most celebrated tourist attractions in Istanbul. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Topkapi Palace served as the main residence of the Ottoman sultans. The palace housed administrative headquarters too.

The construction began in 1459, and since then the complex has been extended and renovated multiple times, eg. after the earthquake in 1509 and the fire in 1665. The palace was turned into a museum at the beginning of the 20th century, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Explore the castle grounds with ancient harem quarters, wander around the palace and admire the extensive collections of items and artifacts that belonged to Ottoman Turkish sultans.

The palace is also known for its vast collection of books and ancient manuscripts, and the entire complex is remarkable for its architecture (the mélange of decorations and ornaments is noticeable in the first courtyard).

Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace is a part of the city’s “Historic Area”; the name refers to a group of Istanbul landmarks that are officially named UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Topkapi Palace Istanbul Day Tour

Topkapi Palace before Marmara sea Istanbul Turkey

Hagia Sophia Istanbul day tour

Another world-known UNESCO World Heritage Site of Istanbul is the stunning Hagia Sophia Cathedral. Its name means “Holy Wisdom”, and you will probably stumble upon its Turkish name “Ayasofya” too.

The church used to serve as a Greek Orthodox Cathedral, but during the Ottoman Imperial times, it was used as a mosque (at that time, minarets – tall spires from where Muslims are called to prayer – were added to the complex).

The construction began in 537 CE; at that time it was the world’s largest building and a true marvel of engineering that is considered to have changed the course of architecture! The most significant element is the cathedral’s grand dome.

What we see today is not the original cupola, but it is still a true light spectacle to see the sun enter the church through the glass ceiling of the dome. With the light reflected in the interior, the dome seems to be hovering above.

Hagia Sophia is also famous for its mosaics. The pieces originate from different eras; the earliest mosaics (from around the 6th century CE) are non-figurative, only serving as decoration.

Another interesting detail of Hagia Sophia is “The Emperor Door”. The door dates back to the 6th century, and in the past, it would be used only the Emperor and his personal guard.

Hagia Sophia Istanbul day tour

The church of Hagia Sophia in Trabzon, Turkey.

Day trip from Istanbul to Anadolu Kavagi

Want to spice your Istanbul day tour up with… the best fish lunch in Turkey? Head straight to Anadolu Kavagi. This tranquil fishing town is offering exquisite fish and seafood, and foodies will surely not be disappointed.

It is not all about your lunch though! Located in the Beykoz district of Istanbul, Anadolu Kavagi is a peaceful oasis for visitors longing for a tranquil escape from the city bustle. 

Start your explorations of Anadolu Kavagi with a visit to the Yoros Castle. From the pier (getaways to Anadolu Kavagi are popular ferry trips from Istanbul, so many visitors arrive in Anadolu Kavagi from the pier!), the castle is just a twenty-minute walk away.

On the (sometimes quite steep) climb up to Yoros Castle, you can make a stop in Yoros Tea Garden.

Anadolu Kavagi is also famous for its tranquil vibe, so if you are not in the mood for big explorations on your day tour, simply stroll around, enjoy the sights of the lush green hills and the charming wooden houses.

Take your camera with you to take pictures of the scenic Anadolu Kavagi beach with the neatly stationed fishing boats. Do not miss the Kumdöken Fountain either! The locals believe that its water has healing properties; if the legend resonates, give it a try and sip on the precious drops!

Day trip from Istanbul to Anadolu Kavagi

The waterfront of the residential part of the Anadolu Kavagi fishing village in the Beykoz district of Istanbul

Day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia

Have you seen the mesmerizing images of hot air balloons flying over a picturesque mountain scenery? That is Cappadocia!

The name comes from the Persian word “Katpaktukya”, which directly translates to “the land of beautiful horses” (the animals still play an important role in the region, and tourist can do sightseeing in horse-drawn carriages).

Cappadocia is mostly known for its unique landscape. Between 3 and 4 million years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions took place in Central Anatolia. With thick volcanic ashes solidifying into soft rocks, a hilly landscape formed.

It took even more time for the rocks to erode with wind and water, and eventually, the Cappadocian “chimneys” that we can see today, emerged. 

The main tourist centre of the Cappadocian region is the small city of Göreme. The city name translates to “you cannot see here/this”; as the Christians were trying to hide the city of Göreme from the Arabs who invaded the area.

The Göreme Open-Air Museum now includes the most significant religious complexes in the area. Together with other rock sites of Cappadocia, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

To make sure you see all the best sites and landmarks of the region, we recommend looking into organized day trips from Istanbul to Cappadocia. Book a full-day tour with a knowledgeable guide!

Day trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia

Sunset view of the Cavusin fortress and church Vaftizci Yahya, Saint John the Baptist in Cappadocia, Turkey

Day trip from Istanbul to Izmir

In many ways, the city of Izmir may seem like Istanbul’s direct opposite. Exchange the urban bustle and cosmopolitan vibe of Istanbul with an experience of a tranquil town, local culture and ancient architecture.

Back in the days, Izmir used to be an important stop on the Silk Road, and today it is attracting tourists who want to learn more about the history of the region, admire ancient building constructions and come closer to Turkish traditions.

Let your Izmir experience start right in the city centre; at Izmir Agora. For the city residents, it is a part of their everyday cityscape, but tourists will have a lot of fun exploring the market streets and simply admiring the impressive architecture!

For some local shopping, but especially if you are a curious foodie, make sure to stop by the Kemaralti Market. We recommend a visit to Izmir’s local market to travelling families too! Try to find a candy vendor; pay a few lira for a fun demonstration of liquid sugar being twisted onto a stick into a colourful lollipop!

Izmir is almost 500 kilometres away from Istanbul; the direct drive will take more than 5 hours. It is possible to fly from Istanbul, but maybe you want to extend your day trip to Izmir from Istanbul and stay in the tranquil city for longer.

Day trip from Istanbul to Izmir

Izmir, Turkey - Izmir Clock Tower at twilight at the Konak Square in Izmir, Turkey.

Day trip from Istanbul to Ephesus 

Ephesus is a popular destination to visit from Izmir! So if you decide to extend your day trip to Izmir from Istanbul, instead of looking into day trips from Istanbul to Ephesus, you can add Ephesus explorations to your Izmir itinerary.

If you decide to go from Istanbul (we suggest booking a trip with an agency instead of venturing on your own!), you will fly from Istanbul to Izmir first. Upon your arrival to Izmir, you will be picked up by your guide who will take you to the House of the Virgin Mary.

It is believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her last years in Ephesus. Most day trips from Istanbul to Ephesus also include a visit to the Temple of Artemis. According to Greek mythology, Artemis was God Apollo’s twin sister.

The latest archaeological finds confirm that the original Temple of Artemis was destroyed by a flood. You will also visit the Ancient City of Ephesus with the Grand Theatre that, in the past, could seat up to 25.000 spectators!

Make sure not to miss the Celsus Library. Built as a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus in 117 CE, it is one of the most popular landmarks of Ephesus. Celsus’ grave is beneath the ground, guarded by a statue of Athena; the goddess of wisdom.

Day trip from Istanbul to Ephesus 

Ortakoy Mosque, a Grand Imperial Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, evening view

Bosphorus Cruise from Istanbul 

You will find various small-group and private day trips around Istanbul that include a Bosphorus cruise. The cruises can be combined with food tours (enjoy an evening meal while admiring the city lights on board of a luxurious boat) or dance shows.

The performance shows are a great way to learn more about the Turkish culture; let yourself be entertained by the impressive belly dancers and folk performers during Turkish Gypsy Dance and Sufi whirling. Make sure to bring your camera to photograph their stunning, colourful dresses!

If you want to take the cruise to admire the views, instead of embarking on an evening trip, rather start your Bosphorus day tour when the sun is still out! The Bosphorus cruise boat rides typically include visits or views of Dolmabahce Palace, the Rumeli Fortress and Topkapi Palace, and some go as far as Anadolu Kavagi! 

If you are looking for day trips from Istanbul to Black Sea, a Bosphorus cruise is a good idea too! Leaving from Istanbul, the cruise boat will stop in Anadolu Kavagi where you can go out, stretch your legs and taste the locally made ice-cream before you continue towards the Black Sea.

The boat will anchor and you will have the chance to go swimming or, if you prefer, stay on the boat to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Bosphorus Cruise from Istanbul 

Istanbul / Turkey - luxury cruise and boat tour in Bosphorus Black Sea in blue sky sunny day

Day Trip from Istanbul to Golden Horn (Haliç)

Booking your Bosphorus cruise, you may be offered a visit to Golden Horn (“Haliç” in Turkish). The English name comes from the horn-like shape of the fjord and from the fact that the golden sun rays reflect in the water at sunset.

In the past, the Golden Horn was a trading harbour, and during the Byzantine period, it was a popular residential area. Golden Horn braids many cultures, nationalities and traditions.

The ethnic mosaic included Turks, Armenians, Greeks and Gypsies that all lived together along the shores, and during the Ottoman period, the area was largely inhabited by Jews who immigrated from Spain. 

Up until the 19th century, there was no bridge over the Golden Horn and people used to sail over with small boats. Today you can get to the harbours easily to admire it surrounded by parks and promenades. You will find many ancient sites and landmarks around too!

Fener and Balat are two old neighbourhoods of the Golden Horn. They are famous for picturesque wooden houses and Byzantine churches. You will even find a few old synagogues that used to belong to the Jewish community.

An important site for Muslims, on the other hand, is located in the Eyup neighbourhood. You will find there the tomb of Eyub El Ensari who was a close companion of Prophet Muhammad. 

Day Trip from Istanbul to Golden Horn (Haliç)

Istanbul, Turkey - Istanbul city view from Pierre Loti Teleferik station overlooking Golden Horn with Halic Bridge, Golden Horn Metro Bridge and historical mosques, Eyup District

Istanbul Evening Sightseeing and Food Tasting Tour

Turkey is a paradise for foodies, and there is an abundance of various gourmet tours available for visitors. We suggest you book an Istanbul Evening Sightseeing and Food Tasting Tour to merge your gourmet experience with explorations of some of Istanbul’s most remarkable tourist attractions. 

The gourmet day tour will begin at Istanbul’s Taksim Square. It is known for its many high-end hotels, vibrant bars and restaurants. It is also where you will find the impressive Republic Monument. Raised in 1923, the monument commemorates the formation of the Republic of Turkey.

During your food tour, you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide who will not only point out and introduce you to the major landmarks but, of course, lead you through food stalls and hidden eateries. Sample on Turkish savoury specialties; taste an authentic Turkish kebab (made with slow-roasted lamb meat) and try the popular “icli kofte” (spiced meat with nuts). 

Then crown your gourmet tour with some sweet bites! You might have heard about the Turkish baklava (layers of thin filo-pastry with caramel/syrup and nuts), but there are many more interesting treats to try, like the “burnt” rice pudding (“Kazandibi”) or ”Lokma”, sweet fried dough.

Misir Carsisi (Istanbul’s Spice Market) is a popular place to taste the desserts, but it is also a spot for buying gourmet souvenirs!

Istanbul Evening Sightseeing and Food Tasting Tour

Traditional assorted turkish dishes. Turkish pizza meat kebab pita bulgur fried meatballs hummus and turkish meze set. Middle eastern dinner. Food party. Turkish cuisine. Top view. Eastern food

Wine tasting day tour from Istanbul 

Whereas kebab is a Turkish dish that probably does not need much of an introduction, many visitors are not familiar with Turkish wines! If you are looking for a less active day tour and are curious to learn about the local wine scene and have a first-hand experience of a wine production, we highly recommend a wine tasting day tour from Istanbul.

Whether you are a wine connoisseur or feel fairly inexperienced, this day tour is an interesting opportunity to explore the Turkish wineries and learn more about grapes specific to the region.

Accompanied by a guide, arrive at Chateau Kalpak Vineyards. You will receive a tour of the vineyard and have your first wine tasting of the day there. Your next stop, at Barbare Vineyards, will be slightly longer; there will be time to stroll the vast grounds of the vineyard.

The wine tasting at Barbare will be combined with a refreshing lunch too. The last stop on your wine tasting day tour will be at Chateau Nuzun winery where you will be introduced to a range of organic wines from the region.

The wineries are great places to buy gourmet souvenirs, so maybe do some wine shopping before going back to Istanbul.

Wine tasting day tour from Istanbul 

Tea or Hot Wine with Various Spices in Traditional Turkish Glasses on Wooden Background. Selective Focus. Surface View.

Recommended Day Trips from Istanbul

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Best Day Trips from Istanbul
Best Day Trips from Istanbul
Best Day Trips from Istanbul


  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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