BASIC CITY INFO
Here’s a brief overview of Bursa and some basic travel information…
Strictly speaking, Bursa is a province, not a city. The urban center of Bursa consists of three districts: Yıldırım, Osmangazi, and Nilüfer. Collectively, these three districts are referred to as the city of Bursa. The city center and many of the main historical attractions are found in Yıldırım and Osmangazi.
To the south of the city center is Uludağ, Grand Mountain, a national park and ski resort. To the north are a range of hills and the Marmara Sea. The three urban districts lie in an oblong bowl surrounded by hills and mountains.
Bursa has a population of more than 2 million, with the vast majority living in the urban center. Scattered throughout the countryside are smaller towns and villages, each with its own claim to fame. For example, the hills surrounding Gemlik are famous for their olive groves. Mudanya is an ancient city and the main port of entry for travelers coming from Īstanbul. Īnegöl is known for its outstanding köfte (meatballs) and surrounding natural areas. The village of Cumalıkızık is part of a UN World Heritage Site. And Īznik may be better known to some of us as ancient Nicaea.
Fast Facts About Bursa
- Fourth largest city in Turkey with more than 2 million people.
- Situated between the Marmara Sea and Uludağ, the Grand Mountain.
- Founded around 200 BC as a Greek settlement.
- The first capital of the Ottoman Empire.
- A major Ottoman historical and cultural center.
- Historically famous for its silk and tile industries.
- Today, a major auto, textile, and food manufacturing center.
- Uludağ, one of the highest mountains in Turkey. In summer it’s cool and green. In winter, it’s a skier’s paradise.
- The Marmara coast. Sun, sand, sea, and fresh seafood beckon.
- Ancient Greek history. Nicaea is a short drive from the city and Greek historical sites are scattered throughout the province.
- Early Ottoman history. The first Ottoman sultans reigned from Bursa and six of them are buried here. In 2014, the sultans’ social complexes were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List and described as the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire.
- Bazaars, markets, hans, mosques. Dating back to at least the 14th century and still operating today, there are plenty of neat places to explore.
- Authentic life. The people in Bursa are local people making a living in their trades.
- Village experiences. Quaint, peaceful, historical villages dot the Bursa countryside.
- Food. If for no other reason, come to Bursa just to try the famous Īskender kebap or Īnegöl köfte.
- Thermal springs. The natural hot springs beneath the city have resulted in legendary spas and hamams (Turkish baths).
- Natural features. The natural areas surrounding Bursa not only include sea and mountains, but also forests, waterfalls, caves, and other neat features.
- People. Generally hospitable and willing to accommodate visitors, the people of Bursa are great.
If you decide that you don’t want to rent a car and drive yourself to Bursa, no worries. There are plenty of other ways to get you here…
Ferry: From Īstanbul, take an Īstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (ĪDO) ferry from Yenikapı or Kadıköy to Güzelyalı (Mudanya) terminal. From there, take the 1-GY bus to Emek metro station and grab the metro to the city center. Or, take a Bursa Deniz Otobüsleri (BUDO) ferry from Kabataş to Mudanya terminal. From there take bus 1-M to Emek station and catch the metro. Of course, you can easily catch a taxi or dolmuş (minibus) from either Güzelyalı or Mudanya terminals. Ferry rides to/from Bursa take 1.5 to 2 hours.
Bus: If ferrying isn’t your thing, Bursa’s inter-city bus terminal on the north edge of the city is a major regional hub. Buses from Īstanbul, Ankara, Īzmir, Antalya, and other points come and go by the hour. Bus companies such as Kamil Koç, Metro Turizm, and Pamukkale Turizm generally offer extensive regional route networks, good service, and relatively comfortable rides. For some useful information on bus travel in Turkey, visit Turkey Travel Planner’s bus service page.
SAW/Akmis Seyahat: If you’re traveling to Bursa from Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) on Īstanbul’s Asian side, there is a direct bus offered by Akmis Seyahat. It runs regularly between SAW and Bursa’s bus terminal.
Air: Unfortunately, Bursa’s Yenişehir airport has only a few weekly domestic flights servicing Trabzon, Erzurum, Ankara, Muş, and Diyarbakır (Anadolu Jet) and Adana (Borajet). Seasonal destinations sometimes include Northern Cyprus (Borajet), Kuwait (Turkish Airlines), and Dusseldorf, Germany (Germania Airlines). Destinations seem to change often, so check the airline websites for current information or see the current destinations list on the Yenişehir Airport website.
Private Shuttle: It is possible to hire a private van or bus for transport from Īstanbul’s airports directly to your door or hotel in Bursa. Private shuttles can be quick, convenient, and comfortable. From our experience, we can recommend Efendi Travel for private transportation from Īstanbul Atatürk Airport to Bursa.
Other: If your budget is big, you can also use the Burulaş helicopter service direct to the Nilüfer heliport from three locations in Īstanbul: Atatürk Airport Heliport, Kadıköy’s Īspark, and Şişli. Or you can take the seaplane from Īstanbul’s Haliç Terminal to Bursa’s seaplane terminal at Gemlik. To learn more about these options, visit the Burulaş website.
Coming soon: Eventually, the high-speed railway is set to make its way to Bursa. We’re looking forward to that day.
Once you’re in Bursa, you can get around fairly easily by walking or using public transportation. For most visitors to Bursa, there’s usually no need to rent a car. Metro lines, trams, city buses, dolmuşes, and taxis will get you where you want to go. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major modes of local transportation…
Metro: There are two metro lines that run from the west edge of the city (Line 1 from Emek and Line 2 from Üniversite). These lines merge on the west edge of the city center and run right through downtown to the eastern areas of Kestel and Gürsü. The metro is a fast and easy way to transit the city.
Tram: There are two tram lines in the city center: the green and white tram (T3) that runs in a straight line right through the center from Zafer Plaza to Çınarönü, and the red tram (T1) that conveniently circles the city center. If you’re wanting to get from one point to another in the city center and you don’t want to hoof it, the trams are a really nice option.
Bus: City buses come in two colors: yellow and blue-green. For practical purposes, there’s no difference between the two. The city’s bus network is extensive and usually convenient.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Buses, trams, and metros do not take cash of any kind. You must pre-purchase tickets at a metro station or at kiosks located near main bus stops. Better yet, buy yourself a reusable BuKart, use it on any bus, metro, or tram, and recharge it whenever you need.
Taxi: Taxis are plentiful and will take you wherever you want to go.
Dolmuş: A dolmuş is a private minibus or car that runs a set route through the city. You can know where a dolmuş is going by reading the side of the minibus or the sign on the top of the car. If you’re standing on a dolmuş route and you see a dolmuş heading in your direction, just flag it down and hop in. You can ride for a price that is considerably less than a cab.