Wondering how to spend your time in Bursa? Have a full day to look around and don’t know where to start? Two days? Three, four, or five days? It’s easy to spend a handful of quality days exploring and experiencing Bursa. What you choose to do here, of course, will certainly be influenced by your personal tastes, but assuming you’re not coming to Bursa in the wintertime specifically to ski the slopes, I’ve put together some things that I would do in Bursa if I had five days to spend here…
See our post: An Essential One-Day Self-Guided Bursa Tour
On Day 1, a self-guided walking tour of the city center will take you from Emirsultan in the east to Muradiye in the west. On this tour, you’ll see and experience the essentials of the Bursa city center.
- Start by going to the Emirsultan Mosque and social complex (get there by taking the green and white T3 tramline eastward from the center to the Emirsultan Mezarliği (cemetery) stop and walk up the hill through the cemetery until you reach the mosque). Emir Sultan’s complex has a large central courtyard separating the mosque from the tombs, which you can visit. The large Emirsultan square is lovely and includes a health center, a hamam, and a few cafés, as well as a really nice lookout over the east end of the city.
- From Emirsultan, walk down Emirsultan Caddesi to the Yeşil area on the east end of the city center. At Yeşil, visit the tomb and mosque of Çelebi Sultan Mehmet, the fifth Ottoman sultan. While you’re at Yeşil, grab a cup of tea in the cafe overlooking the valley. Visit the neighborhood gift shops and walk through the Turkish Islamic Arts Museum in the 15th century madrasah.
- From there walk down the hill on Yeşil Sokak and take a left on Boyacı Sokak and cross the busy Gökdere Bulvarı. On the west side of Gökdere Bulvari, take a left and walk up the street to the covered yellow Irıgandı Bridge. Take a slow stroll across the bridge, window shopping in the artisans’ shops.
- Once you cross Irıgandı Bridge, take a left on Selcuk Sokak and a right on Kayhan Sokak. Walk until you come to the working metal shops and köfte grills of Kayhan Pazarı. Exploring the parallel streets on either side of Kayhan Caddesi, you’ll see an eclectic mix of appliance and furniture shops, working blacksmith shops, and köfte restaurants. Eventually turn west onto Kayhan Caddesi. Work your way westward toward the main bazaar complex.
- Cross Īnönü Caddesi (using the pedestrian underpass) and slowly walk your way through the long winding covered bazaar complex, where goods of all kinds can be purchased. When you get to Koza Han, turn left and enter the han. There, search for a silk scarf or other souvenirs on the two levels of shops. Exit Koza Han at the south gate on the second floor (opposite of where you entered) into Orhan Gazi Square.
- Slowly walk westward toward Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque). Before you get to Ulu Camii, take a right down the narrow side street and step down into the Eski Ayna Kapalı Çarsı, where you’ll find some neat antique and souvenir shops. Walk back out of Eski Ayna Çarsı the way you came in and step inside the impressive Ulu Camii and take a look around.
- Exiting Ulu Camii, walk down Ulu Camii Cadessi on the west side of the mosque back toward the covered bazaar. Take a left on Yeni Cumhurriyet Caddesi and work your way toward Cemal Nadir Caddesi.
- Cross Cemal Nadir Caddesi and slowly work your way up the hill through the shops of Balibey Han.
- Exiting at the top of Balibey Han, turn right and walk up the hill toward Tophane. There, visit the tombs of Osman Gazi and Orhan Gazi (the first two Ottoman sultans) as well as the Tophane clock tower. See remnants of the city walls and mill about in the old city.
- From Tophane, save your feet and grab a bus to Muradiye. Take any one of bus numbers 19/E, 3/C, 96, B/38, E/2, or E/12 heading westward away from the city center. Get off at the Muradiye stop. Explore Muradiye, an extensive complex that includes tombs, a mosque, a madrasah, and parks in honor of Sultan Murad II, the fourth Ottoman king. Across the street, stop in to explore the 17th Century Ottoman House Museum and the Uluumay Ottoman Clothing and Jewelry Museum.
- From Muradiye, walk down 2. Murad Caddesi until you come to Altıparmak Caddesi. Walk up Altıparmak eastward toward the city center (or hop on the red T1 tramway or any bus going east). Toward the east end of Altıparmak on your right, at Çatalfırın, you’ll see the famous Arap Şukru alley. Assuming it’s around dinner time, take a seat at one of the many seafood restaurants in the alley try the local grilled fish while listening to live traditional Turkish music.
- Later that night, if you still have any energy left, end your day at one of many cafés along Atatürk Caddesi for a nightcap and some live local music. Or walk back up to Tophane for a nighttime glimpse of the city center.
Skip the hotel breakfast and take a bus (#22 from the central post office), a dolmuş, or a taxi to the old mountainside village of Cumalıkızık. There, have an excellent, authentic village breakfast in the courtyard of any of a few dozen restored Ottoman-era homes.
After breakfast, take a slow stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets of Cumalıkızık. Window shop, drink tea, and take lots of fantastic photos. Meet some of the hospitable locals and try out your Turkish. Grab lunch at a gözleme house if you get hungry. Stay well into the afternoon.
Head back into the city center and have dinner at the Īskender restaurant on Ünlü Caddesi. Or, if you didn’t get to Arap Şukru on Day 1 because you were too tired from all the walking, go there for some fresh seafood and a fun cultural experience. For a nightcap, wander around the city center and find a café in the Heykel area offering live music (canlı müzik).
After breakfast, take a morning tour of the City Museum (Kent Müzesi), located behind the Atatürk monument in Heykel. There, see a history of the city along with special exhibits (note: though the museum is well-curated, there are no English placards at the City Museum–everything is written in Turkish). Or, taxi to the Anatolian Carriage and Clock Museums on the lovely green grounds of an old silk factory.
From behind the City Museum, catch a dolmuş to the teleferik (mountain cable car). Take the cable car up the mountain to the Sarıalan terminal. There have a leisurely bite of lunch and a cup of tea at the outstanding Palabıyık Restaurant (you can grill your own meat on a tableside grill if you’re up for it). Then, take a walk into the woods, across the stream, and into the meadow. Hike a few of the trails. Or if you’re more adventurous, rent an ATV or bicycle.
Head back down the mountain after sunset. Grab dinner in any one of the many cafés or restaurants along either side of Atatürk Caddesi.
Get up early and take a road trip to one of these really neat places:
- Īznik, or ancient Nicaea. Get to the otogar (bus terminal) and catch a bus or minibus to Īznik (Narlica Seyahat runs buses from Bursa to Īznik every two hours). In Īznik, soak up the history as you wander the age-old streets. Visit the Aya Sofia Museum in the town’s central square, the Īznik Museum, the Roman gates (3 of the four are still standing), the ruined Roman theater, and the ruined foundations of the Church of the Assumption. Also stop by the oldest madrasah in Turkey, the Süleyman Paşa Medressi, which is now a neat tile bazaar. Be sure, too, to take a nice lakeside stroll, preferably around sunset. Before you leave town, you’ll probably want to purchase a piece of hand-painted ceramic or quartz tile.
- Gölyazı. From the city center, take the number 2 metro west toward Üniversite. Get off at the Küçük Sanayi station and from there take city bus 5/G to Gölyazı. Gölyazı is a neat little ancient village jutting out into Uluabat Lake. Rowboats line the lakeshore and cobblestone streets lead in all directions from the wide town square. The village is known for its Appollon temple as well as its renovated church and its weeping plain tree. Gölyazı bread is a treat sold in village bakeries and fresh fish is readily available in markets and cafés. Photo opps abound in Gölyazı.
- Tirilye (also called Zeytinbağ). Take a bus to Mudanya (F/3 from Heykel or 1/M from the Emek metro station) and from there a taxi, dolmuş, or bus to Tirilye. Tirilye is a fantastic little seaside village famous for its olive oil and seafood. Stroll along the shoreline and have a bite to eat on the hill overlooking the town. Winding, narrow cobblestone streets take you past the old Byzantine St. Stephanos Church, the ancient hamam, and the now decrepit Stone School. Relax and unwind in this quaint, quiet, seaside village. If you have time on the way back to Bursa, stop in downtown Mudanya and take a stroll through the old Ottoman neighborhood and walk the wide frontage along the shore.
After breakfast, grab a bus, cab, or dolmuş up to Çekirge. On your way, stop at the Karagöz Museum to learn about Bursa’s famous shadow puppet characters, and then visit the adjacent Atatürk House Museum.
From the museums, head to the peaceful Murad I complex, the mosque and tomb of Sultan Murad I Hüdavendigar. Peek inside the mosque and visit the tomb. Then sip tea or have a bit of lunch in a café overlooking the Nilüfer valley.
In the afternoon, take advantage of the area’s thermal features and spa culture by visiting a hamam (Turkish bathhouse) or spa. If you choose to visit a hamam, the Eski Kaplıca Haman in Çekirge provides an authentic Turkish bath experience. Spend a couple hours there cleaning and preening yourself in the warmth of the thermal waters. Or if you prefer a more modern experience, we recommend the spa at the 5-star Marigold Hotel, which offers saunas, a hamam, a thermal pool, and massage services. Both of these facilities are easily accessible on foot from Murad II complex.
End the day by taking a taxi, dolmuş, or bus (1/C or B19) to the great Çınar tree at Īnkaya. There have a grilled meal under the sprawling branches of the famous 600 year-old plain tree in this quaint mountainside village. Or, take a taxi up to Misi and have a meal right on the edge of the quiet stream running through the center of the village followed by a stroll through the quaint village streets.
If you really only have a few hours in Bursa, we recommend you focus on one of two areas: Tophane and the central bazaar or Yeşil and the Kayhan bazaar area. Both of these options will give you a nice feel for the city and its culture, give you some really good photo opps, pass you by some great restaurants, and allow you to rub shoulders with local people.