SEE AND DO
Wondering what there is to see and do in Bursa? I’ve listed some ideas below. This list isn’t exhaustive, so I highly recommend that you thumb through your favorite travel guidebook or visit some of these these links for more Bursa destination information.
Assuming you’re not just here to ski, the city center is likely where you’ll start your exploration of Bursa. It’s the oldest part of the city and is full of history and culture. The center extends from Tophane on the west end eastward to Yeşil. Between Tophane and Yeşil is an extensive network of bazaars, shops, markets, cafes, mosques, hamams, and hans. Along with the village of Cumalıkızık, a number of locations in Bursa’s city center are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to do in the city center:
- Tophane is in the original ancient city. Set on a foothill overlooking the city center, you can walk along the old city ramparts and explore the narrow streets and alleys. Visit the tombs of the Ottoman founders: Osman Gazi and his son, Orhan Gazi. See the Tophane clock tower. Window shop in Balibey Han. Sip tea at a café overlooking the city.
- The central complex of bazaars and hans is extensive. Covering a couple main parallel passages and innumerable alleys and side streets, you can shop for local goods and produce, explore nooks and crannies, hunt for souvenirs and antiques, interact with local shop keepers, eat kebabs or soup in any one of the many cafés, and take some super photographs. Especially be sure to visit Koza Han and the quieter Village Bazaar (Köy Pazarı).
- Perhaps the most prominent buildings in the center are Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque), Orhan Gazi Mosque, and City Hall. These buildings, along with Koza Han, form the north edge of the bustling Orhan Gazi Square along the busy Atatürk Caddesi. Be sure to step inside the impressive Ulu Camii. Take a break around the fountain in the square.
- Kayhan Pazarı anchors the east end of the bazaar complex. Its eclectic blend of blacksmith shops, used furniture stores, leather shops, and köfte restaurants make this neighborhood very unique. Try the köfte. Chat with a local blacksmith. Take some neat photos.
- The official center of the city is Heykel, the area around the Atatürk monument. Behind the monument is the nicely curated City Museum (Kent Müzesi). Radiating from Heykel are shop- and café-lined streets, including the quaint Ünlü Caddesi, which is known for its iskender kebab restaurant.
- Setbaşı Bridge and Irıgandı Bridge are two passages across the stream separating the Yeşil area from the rest of the city center. Crossing the Setbaşı Bridge, you can drink tea at a streamside café or step into the historic city library. The Irıgandı Bridge is a gem in itself—a semi-covered pedestrian-only bridge lined with local artisans’ shops.
- The Yeşil (Green) area is a must-visit in Bursa’s city center. The tile-lined tomb of Çelebi Sultan Mehmet is arguably one of the most beautiful structures in all of Bursa. Visit Yeşil Camii (Green Mosque). Drink tea in one of the cafés overlooking the east end of the city. Walk through the Turkish Islamic Arts Museum in the 15th century madrasah. Find treasures in some of the city’s best souvenir and antique shops.
Some fantastic and interesting sites are scattered in all directions around the city center.
To the south
- Just up the hill from Atatürk Caddesi, walk through some of the oldest neighborhoods in Bursa, such as Pınarbaşı and Tahtakale. Browse the
neighborhood markets and take some neat photos.
- Take a dolmuş from Heykel to the teleferik (mountain cable car). Take the teleferik up the mountain to Uludağ National Park. There, go for a hike, rent an ATV, have a picnic, or grill some meat at a mountaintop restaurant.
- Visit the Tofaş Anatolian Carriage Museum and Clock Museum, located on the grounds of a ruined silk factory.
- Visit the historical French Church. Dating back to the 19th century, it’s the only remaining church in the city center. Open on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Take a taxi or dolmuş up to Hünkar Köşkü, once a hunting lodge for the sultans. Now you can walk through the Ottoman museum there and have an excellent meal in the café overlooking the city.
To the north
- Visit Kent Meydanı, the old bus station-turned-shopping mall. Shop in the mall, have tea or coffee in one of the many shops, grab a meal at one of a number of restaurants, and browse the local shops on the winding side streets.
- Further to the north are two family-friendly gems: the zoo and the botanical garden. Though the zoo’s collection is not extensive, the grounds are lovely and the habitats are well curated. The adjacent botanical garden is a wonderful place for a walk, a bike ride, or a picnic.
- Visit the enjoyable Haflinger Çiftliği, a private horse farm. Get there in the morning, eat a good Turkish breakfast on the lawn, and ride horses in the horse arena. Good family fun.
To the east
- From Yeşil, Walk up to the Emir Sultan Mosque, tomb, and social complex and take a look at its unique architecture and lovely views.
- Peruse the recently renovated Yıldırım Beyazid Mosque, tomb, and complex, which includes a hospital dating back to the 14th century that is still in use today.
To the west
- Just to the west of the center lies Kültür Park. This is a nice place for the whole family. Ride paddle and bumper boats, have a picnic, sip tea, or blow off a little steam at the amusement park. Kültür Park is also home to Atatürk Stadium where Bursaspor, the local football team, plays. You can also walk through the Archeological Museum.
- Across the road from Kültür Park is the Merinos Park and Convention Center. Here you can visit the Textile Industry museum, the Energy Museum, and the Immigrant History Museum.
- Spend some time in Çekirge. Known for its therapeutic thermal springs, this is the place to experience Bursa’s hamams (bath houses) and spas. Visit the 700 year-old Eski Kaplıca Hamamı or get pampered at any one of a number of thermal hotels. While in Çekirge, also visit the recently renovated Muradiye complex and the Murad I Hüdavendigar complex overlooking the west end of the city. Also in Çekirge, stop by one or more of these museums: Ottoman House Museum, Karagöz Museum, Atatürk House Museum, Forestry Museum, Husnu Zuber House, Uluumay Clothing and Jewelry Museum, and the Bursa Health Museum.
- Further west in Nilüfer, visit the Press Museum, the new football stadium, and Uludağ University. While in Nilüfer, also take a walk on F.S.M. Boulevard, an upscale area known for its restaurants, clubs, and boutiques.
Many of my favorite places in Bursa are outside the city center or scattered throughout the countryside. Some of these are must-see places. Here are a few that come to mind…
- Drive up the mountainside on the Uludağ Road. Stop along the way to see some fantastic views of the city and take a rest at one of the
many roadside grills and tea houses.
- Uludağ National Park blankets the mountaintop. In the summer, hike, camp, bike, picnic, nature watch, drink tea, grill your own meat, and generally enjoy the fresh mountain air. In the winter, ski.
- Cumalıkızık, a 700 year-old Ottoman village, is probably my favorite place in all of Bursa. Come here to walk the winding cobblestone streets and eat a real village breakfast in one of the many breakfast houses. Part of the UN World Heritage Site.
- Misi (Gümüştepe) is a lovely pre-Ottoman village just outside the city with a rich history. Visit the Misi Ethnography Museum and have tea or lunch at a quiet streamside café.
- Gölyazı, another fantastic ancient village. This one is on a peninsula and island in the middle of Uluabat Lake. Stroll the streets, take some great photos, and try the local baked goods. Near Gölyazı on the lake is a well-known pelican sanctuary.
- Īnkaya Çınar (plane tree) is a famous 600 year-old tree in the village of Īnkaya, just above Çekirge. Sit under the shade of the tree and have a cup of tea or a plate of kebab.
- Three city forests are worth the visit: Osmangazi Kent Ormanı, Atatürk Kent Ormanı, and Nilüfer Kent Ormanı. At any of these, you can hike the woods or have a picnic in a beautiful green setting.
- Visit Mudanya, the quiet seaside city. Walk the seafront, try the fresh seafood, and stroll through the old Ottoman part of town. Visit the Mütareke House Museum. Take a Saturday or Sunday pleasure cruise from the Mudanya boat terminal.
- A little to the west of Mudanya on the coast is the beautiful village of Tirilye (Zeytinbağ). Walk the coast, have lunch in a café overlooking the sea, see the old school, and try the locally grown olives.
- East of Mudanya along the coast and even beyond Gemlik are a number of sandy seaside beaches suitable for swimming and sunbathing on a hot summer day.
- The waterfall at Saitabat is worth the drive for nature lovers. If you’re adventuresome, you can walk into the canyon right up to the fall. Afterward, have a cup of tea or a bite to eat in a nearby café.
- Near the town of Mustafakemalpaşa, visit Suuçtu waterfall, a 38-meter fall fed by multiple streams.
- Īznik is possibly better known to many as ancient Nicaea, a significant city in in the history of Western civilization. Situated on beautiful Īznik Lake and surrounded by olive groves, this ancient city boasts many ancient treasures dating back to Roman times. Also known for its tile industry.
- Visit Īnegöl for its famous köfte, its ancient marketplace, its furniture industry, and nearby Oylat cave and waterfall. Be sure to take a snapshot of the meatball-on-a-fork sculpture.
- On the south slope of Uludağ are a number of Yörük and Türkmen nomad villages, where residents live a more traditional lifestyle.
Rising out of the city’s southern border, Uludağ is a prominent feature in the Marmara area and one of Bursa’s claims to fame. Uludağ’s peak is
2543 m (8343 ft), making it the highest point in western Turkey. The top of the mountain is a beautiful national park suitable for trekking, camping, bird watching, and picnicking in the summertime. In the winter, the ski center opens up to winter sports lovers.
The top of the mountain is accessible from Bursa by road. Taxis and dolmuşes will happily take you the winding one-hour trek up the mountain. Much more directly, the recently reconstructed cable car (teleferik) will take you from the city center up to the 1600 m Sarıalan plateau in under 15 minutes. From there, you can continue on the cable car to the hotel areas, or you can hike, taxi, or dolmuş further up the mountain.
The ski center consists of two villages, or zones. Around 30 hotels offer accommodations during the peak season, along with a number of restaurants, cafés, pubs, shops, and night clubs. A few hotels are open during the summer months.
During the peak season (December through April), skiers can choose from 25 runs ranging from beginner to expert, with the longest running around 2 kilometers in length. Uludağ’s ski runs are serviced by 15 lifts. Ski equipment can be rented at hotels and ski shops at the ski center.
Uludağ is ideal for hiking and camping. A number of trails crisscross the mountain, leading to peaks, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and villages. There are two official campgrounds at Sarıalan and Çobankaya, but I have heard that backcountry camping is also allowed in the park.
If you’re not the adventure-seeking type but you’d still like to visit the mountain (which we highly recommend), I suggest taking the teleferik to Sarıalan and enjoying grilled köfte or sucuk at Palabıyık Restaurant, a place where you buy meat by the kilo and grill it yourself right at your table in the shade of tall pine trees. After that, you can take a walk through the forest and enjoy the fresh air while keeping an eye out for mountain flora and fauna. If you don’t want to walk, bicycles and ATVs can be rented or you can opt for an off-road 4WD tour.
Bursa hosts some excellent festivals. Here’s a list of some of the larger ones. For a current list of festivals, visit the Bursa Culture, Art, and Tourism Foundation.
- International Bursa Festival. A month-long concert and art series featuring singers and artists of various kinds. Held in June/July at various venues across the city. See the festival program here.
- International Bursa Karagöz Puppet and Shadow Theater Festival. Thanks to Karagöz and Hacivat, Bursa is an international center of shadow puppet theater. Every two years in November, puppeteers from all over the world descend on Bursa to show their skills and entertain the masses. Next held in 2015.
- International Golden Karagöz Folk Dance Competition. Held in July, folk dance troupes from all over the world come to Bursa to display their traditional folk dancing skills and compete for the top prize.
- International Bursa Child and Youth Theater Festival. Dance, theater, storytelling, clowns, and puppet shows are performed for the good of children. Held in October. See the festival program here.
- Bursa FotoFest (International Bursa Photograph Festival). Large festival open to international and local artists alike. Held in December. Visit the festival website.
- International Bursa Book Fair. Held in the spring.
- Bursa Photograph Days. Held in May. Photograph exhibitions at the Kent Museum and Tayyare Kültür Merkezi.
- Foreigners’ Shutterfest. Sponsored by the Bursa City Council, this annual spring and summer festival features workshops, photo walks, a people’s choice competition, and public exhibition for foreigners living in and visiting Bursa.
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