*Last updated 17 April 2016.
Thinking about visiting Bursa for a few days and wondering what you can do while you’re here? Or, are you already planning a visit and just looking to fine-tune your itinerary? It’s not hard to spend a few days in Bursa enjoying the culture, exploring the history, and seeing the sights. There are plenty of things to do in Bursa. Here are ten things we would do during a couple of days on holiday in Bursa.
Take the teleferik up Uludağ. In the wintertime, Uludağ is a snowy winter wonderland. In the summer, the mountain is a cool, refreshing getaway from the heat. The recently reopened teleferik (cable car) makes getting up and down the mountain fast and easy. Spend a day or two skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the winter, or enjoy hiking, picnicking, and playing in the mountain streams and meadows in the warmer months. At the very least, take the teleferik up to Sarıalan and grill your own meat right next to your table at the famous Palabıyık Restaurant.
Visit Cumalıkızık and eat a village breakfast. Cumalıkızık is a wonderful Ottoman village just outside the city known for its cobblestone streets, quaint houses, and excellent village breakfasts. A visit to Cumalıkızık is an absolute must and a great way to spend a half a day or more. Here’s an article on Cumalıkızık and its famous breakfasts. While you’re there, be sure to stop by the Kızık Sofrası and say hello to our friend, Sadet.
Explore the downtown bazaar area. Bursa’s sprawling, labyrinth central bazaar area is a fantastic place for shopping, eating, sipping tea, watching people, taking photos, experiencing the culture, interacting with locals, and wandering aimlessly. Koza Han and the Ulu Cami’i (Grand Mosque) are two highlights in the central bazaar area. If you can find it, have a cup of tea in the quiet and hidden Çukur Han. If you’re serious about exploring Bursa’s historical areas, here’s a self-guided walking tour that we’ve developed.
Visit a couple of the UNESCO World Heritage locations. Bursa’s UNESCO World Heritage listing consists of eight locations scattered around Bursa dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. In addition to the village of Cumalıkızık, these sites include the tombs of Osman and Orhan Gazi and the first külliyes (religious and social complexes) of the Ottoman Empire. The Orhan Gazi külliye is integrated into the central bazaar area, while the Yıldırım, Muradiye, Hüdavendigar, and Yeşil külliyes are scattered around the city center. The area around the Yeşil külliye, consisting of a mosque, an ornate tomb, a madrasah-turned-museum, a soup kitchen, and a number of shops and cafés, is one of our favorites.
Window shop for souvenirs and handmade crafts. Looking for something neat to buy in Bursa? Visit the artisan shops in places like Kayhan Pazar, Irgandı Bridge, or Balibey Han. Or visit the souvenir and antique shops in the Yeşil neighborhood or in the central bazaar (our favorite is Anadolu Gift Shop in Yeşil). Handmade goods like silk scarves, ebru painting, filography, ceramics and tiles, calligraphy, metal art, Ottoman-period antiques, and wool clothing make for interesting shopping. Visit our Stay, Eat, Shop page to see what you should add to your shopping list, or see our suggested list of Top Ten Bursa Souvenirs.
Enjoy Bursa’s thermal springs at a spa or hamam. Bursa’s volcanic natural history has resulted in hot, mineral-rich springs that public bathhouses have tapped for centuries. Today, you can still take advantage of the therapeutic hot spring water at traditional hamams (Turkish baths) or at modern spas scattered throughout the city. One of the city’s oldest is the recently renovated Eski Kaplıca Hamam in Çekirge. Visiting a hamam is highly recommended as a relaxing way to enjoy the local culture.
Walk through a museum or two. Bursa is home to a number of neat little museums. Museums such as the City Museum, Archaeology Museum, Clothing and Jewelry Museum, Ottoman House Museum, Hünkar Köşkü, Atatürk House, Forestry Museum, Karagöz Museum, and others highlight the human and natural history of the Bursa area. The recently opened Science and Technology Museum is well-done and interactive, while the Immigration Museum, Textile Industry Museum, and Energy Museum are all located at Merinos Center. Though most are not large, Bursa’s museums are interesting and generally well curated. Even our children enjoy visiting Bursa’s museums.
Have dinner at Arap Şükrü. Arap Şükrü is a neat little back alley off of Altıparmak Caddesi. In the evenings, this quiet alley turns into a lively place to eat seafood and enjoy some entertainment. It’s more than dinner; it’s an experience. Read about our experience at Arap Şükrü.
Discover Bursa’s natural areas. Even if you don’t make a trip up to the top of the mountain, the area around Bursa is home to some beautiful natural features. Enjoy beaches, forests, waterfalls, streams, caves, meadows, plateaus, and hidden little villages. Activities such as hiking, fishing, caving, camping, mountaineering, birding, swimming, sunbathing, and nature photography can all be enjoyed in the Bursa area. Such areas include Saitabat village and waterfall, Oylat cave near Īnegöl, and the waterfowl breeding grounds of Uluabat Lake, just to name a few. Or, if you just enjoy strolling through a city park, Kültürpark, Merinos Park, or the newly constructed Hüdavendigar Park are three family-friendly places to spend an afternoon, as are the city’s popular botanical gardens and adjacent zoo.
Relax in a village like Gölyazı, Misi, Īnkaya, or Tirilye. An afternoon in a nearby village is an afternoon well spent. Sip tea under a sprawling, centuries-old plane tree in Īnkaya, eat gözleme at a streamside table in Misi, enjoy a lakeside stroll in Gölyazı, or wander through ancient winding village streets and alleys in the seaside village of Tirilye. Though there are a number of quaint villages scattered around Bursa, these four are particularly known for their relaxing atmospheres and their willingness to accommodate visitors.
That brings our list to ten. But if you happen to have another day to spend in the Bursa area, here’s a bonus suggestion: Take a day trip out to the ancient town of Īznik (Nicaea). This little lakeside town dates back well into the B.C. era and was a significant city in a number of kingdoms and empires, not to mention that it left an indelible mark on Western civilization. The city’s ancient structures are not as well-preserved as other cities in Turkey, but three of the four gates and large portions of the city walls still stand. Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman ruins are scattered about the town, the locally-produced handmade pottery is beautiful, and a lakeside stroll at sunset is definitely worth the while.
There are plenty of interesting things to do in Bursa while on holiday. And if you’re still not convinced to include Bursa in your Turkey travel plans, read this short piece on why we think you should visit Bursa. Or take a look at our Highlights list or our See and Do page. Also, check out The Best of Bursa’s Day Guides for a sample daily itinerary. If you’re bringing children along, read about Bursa Attractions for Families with Children.
Oh yes, and while you’re in Bursa, be sure to try the city’s signature dish: Īskender kebab.
If you’ve visited Bursa and think we’re missing something on our Top Ten list, please leave a comment below or contact us!