STAY, EAT, SHOP
Some basic information on where to stay, what do eat, and what to buy…
See also Bursa Hotels for Every Style.
There’s no shortage of places to stay in Bursa, with accommodations ranging from budget to upscale. Many hotels are conveniently located in the city center. For an extensive hotel listing, visit your favorite booking site such as booking.com (affiliate link).
Çekirge hotels deserve special mention as they are in the famous thermal area of Bursa. Many of these hotels boast excellent spas, hamams (Turkish baths), and thermal pools. Establishments such as the historic Hotel Çelik Palas, Marigold Hotel and Spa, Kervansaray Termal Hotel, Tiara Termal Hotel, and many others capitalize on their location atop Bursa’s thermal springs.
The Western chain hotels are located outside the city center. The Hilton Hotel, Hampton Inn, and Ibis Hotel are located north of the center toward the bus terminal. The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, and Aloft Hotel are located on the east edge of Nilüfer. The Holiday Inn is located adjacent to Uludağ University on the west edge of town. Most of these hotels offer onsite spas or spa access.
For accommodations on top of Uludağ, you have a choice of around 30 properties divided into two areas, or zones. In addition to ski facilities, many of these hotels offer spas, shops, restaurants, and discos. Many of the Uludağ hotels close in the off season (summer and fall), but a few remain open all year.
If you’re wanting to stay outside the city, there are available accommodations in Mudanya, Cumalıkızık, Tirilye, Īznik, and other towns around Bursa.
Looking for a recommendation for a nice place to stay in Bursa? Here are a few good options. I only recommend places that we’ve personally stayed at and had good experiences. Keep in mind that these are personal recommendations, not advertisements—I don’t get paid for these. AND, there may very well be better places in town that we just haven’t tried yet. As always, I suggest that you double check our recommendations against your favorite review site, such as TripAdvisor, booking.com, hotels.com, etc. Also, as we get out more and stay at more places, this list will likely grow, so check back every now and then.
Crowne Plaza. This 5-star hotel is one of Bursa’s finest. Located in the developing business district on the east edge of Nilüfer, the rooms are nice, the food is good, and the spa is fantastic. Though the hotel is not in the most convenient of locations, the spa facility more than compensates with its very nice Turkish bath, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, thermal pool, dry and steam saunas, resting rooms, vitamin bar, and massage services.
Marigold Thermal Hotel. Located in the famous Çekirge thermal area, the Marigold is a 5-star hotel in a good location. The spa facilities, though not huge, are very nice and include a thermal pool, sauna and steam room, massage services, vitamin bar, and fitness center. Rooms are nice and service is good. On-site restaurants serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Tiara Hotel. Also located in Çekirge, this hotel sits in a great location on the edge of Çekirge square. Being in Çekirge, the hotel naturally boasts a spa with thermal pool, saunas, hamam, and related services. The hotel is quite nice and the restaurant serves a good, full Turkish breakfast buffet. The spa, however, is not quite up to the same standards as the hotel. So, I recommend staying in the hotel for its location and comfort and then walking across the street to the 700 year-old Eski Kaplıca hamam for a nice, authentic Turkish bath experience.
Kitapevi Hotel. This little boutique hotel is in a good location just inside the old city wall and overlooks the city center. Situated in an original Ottoman house, the hotel’s décor is representative of the period while the amenities are modern. The restaurant/lounge opens up into a wonderful, quiet garden where you can drink you tea and read your newspaper in peace. Be aware that the hotel lies on a pedestrian street—you cannot be dropped off at the front door. Also, ask for a room in the back of the house, away from the street.
Holiday Inn. Located on the west edge of town adjacent to Uludağ University, the Holiday Inn is a nice, 4-star hotel with spa facilities and an outdoor pool. The restaurant’s Turkish-style buffet breakfast is one of the best I’ve had. Unless you’re specifically needing to stay near the university, the location is not particularly convenient as it is quite far from the center. But the hotel is immediately adjacent to the downtown-bound metro line, which partly compensates for its location.
Central Hotel. This is a nice, comfortable mid-range hotel located across the street from the busy Kent Meydanı shopping center. The hotel doesn’t offer too many frills, but the staff are friendly and facilities are more than adequate if you’re looking for a comfortable place to stay and a decent breakfast.
Cem Hotel, Īznik. If you’re looking for a place to stay overnight in Īznik (Nicaea), we would recommend the Cem Hotel. Situated on the lake within walking distance of the town center, the hotel is in a quiet location with good views. Rooms are clean and adequate, and the breakfast is good. Friendly staff. Family suites are available.
The question isn’t so much about where to eat in Bursa since there’s a café on every corner serving its variation of the local fare. More so, the question is what to eat in Bursa. So, with that in mind, here’s a list of local eats you’ll want to try when you’re in town…
- Īskender. Īskender kebab is Bursa’s signature dish. Tender slices of lamb roast on a bed of flat bread, topped with tomatoes and peppers, drizzled with butter, and served with a side of sour yogurt. Probably the most famous place for Īskender is the restaurant on Ünlü Caddesi.
- Kebab. Adana kebab meat is spicy; Urfa kebab is not. Çiğer kebab is lamb liver. Chicken kebab is available, too. Izgaras (grills) all over town serve these.
- Dürüm. Wrap a kebab in a soft flatbread with peppers and tomatoes, and you have a dürüm.
- Köfte. Flat grilled meatballs, usually served with tomatoes and peppers. The town of Īnegöl is famous for its köfte, but good köfte can be found in lots of places.
- Çiğ köfte. Historically made mostly of raw meat, çiğ köfte is now made of bulgur and spices. Can be eaten plain or as a dürüm with cabbage, pickles, and pomegranate sauce.
- Döner. Shaved lamb meat, often served on a pita or tortilla. Can also be served on a sandwich as a tombik or atom.
- Soup (çorba). Soup is my go to lunch—it’s cheap and tasty. Mercimek is classic lentil soup. Ezogelin is a spicy version of mercimek. Yayla is a creamy soup made of rice, yogurt, egg, and greens. Tavuk suyu is chicken soup, usually creamy. Domates çorbası is your standard tomato soup. Tarhana is a creamy mix of wheat, yogurt, and vegetables. Īşkembe’s key ingredient is tripe (stomach lining). Kelle paça is made from sheep’s head and knuckle meat. Soup restaurants abound in Bursa.
- Turkish village breakfast (köy kahvaltısı). This is my family’s absolute favorite meal. Every place has its own variation on the village breakfast, but it generally consists of olives, tomatoes, peppers, eggs, meat, bread, honey, jam, fruit, and fried pastries.
- Ev yemekleri. Ev yemekleri translates “home foods.” These are casseroles and stews consisting of outstanding combinations of meats, beans, potatoes, and vegetables. My favorites are those that include eggplant.
- Börek. Fried or baked pastries, either layered or rolled, usually containing cheese, meat, or potato.
- Kokoreç. Sheep intestine stuffed with meat, peppers, and spices and slow cooked over a grill. Chopped and served on a soft tortilla. Don’t judge a food by its ingredient list—good kokoreç is outstanding.
- Pide/cantık/lahmacun. These are Turkish variations on pizza. Pide is thick and big, cantık is thick and small, and lahmacun is thin. Made with cheese and various kinds of meat.
- Tost. This is a grilled sandwich made of meat and cheese or just plain old cheese.
- Gözleme. This is a folded soft tortilla stuffed with cheese, potatoes, or meat and grilled on a flattop.
- Simit. This is the ubiquitous bagel-like round bread. Served as a snack on nearly every corner.
- Peaches. Bursa’s peaches are regionally famous. Buy them fresh in the fruit bazaars in August and September.
- Kestane şekeri. Bursa is famous for its candied chestnuts. Served plain, chocolate covered, in cakes, in fudges, and in many other variations. Try kestane at least once. Kafkas is perhaps the most famous purveyor of kestane.
- Kemalpaşa dessert. Village cheese balls baked with flour and eggs.
- Sutlaç. A milky sweet pudding baked in a tin and served cold.
- Local variations on cakes, cookies, and baklava can be found at bakeries everywhere.
- Ayran. This is the traditional salty and sour yogurt drink. Goes perfectly with köfte, kebab, kokoreç, and pide.
Looking for a good place to eat in Bursa? There are good local food joints everywhere. But, here are a few suggestions that come to mind. I only recommend places that we’ve personally eaten at and had good experiences. Keep in mind that these are personal recommendations, not advertisements—I don’t get paid for these. AND, this list is certainly not exhaustive. As always, I suggest that you double check our recommendations against your favorite review site, such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. As we get out more and try more places, this list will likely grow, so check back every now and then.
Köfteci Yusuf. A chain of stores specializing in köfte by the kilo. Not the best köfte in the world, but an overall great dining experience. Good local food, fast and cheap. There’s one near Müradiye, one on Yeni Yalova Road toward the bus station, one on Īzmir Road out toward Görükle, one in Gemlik, and one next to the Karaman metro station.
Divan Lokantası. Across the street from Kent Meydanı mall. Excellent ev yemekleri (home foods).
Aşfırın. Excellent pide (Turkish pizza). Between Kent Meydanı mall and Osmangazi Station. Has a nice courtyard in the back.
Simit Sarayı. A restaurant chain serving tea, coffee, pastries, breads, and more. The one at Setbaşı bridge is especially nice—look for a table streamside beneath the bridge.
Dürümcü. There are a few of these around town, with one located at Setbaşı bridge. A good place for a dürüm (kebab wrapped in a tortilla).
Derya. This is the home of good soup. I am a huge fan of Turkish soup, and Derya’s soups are among the best. A few locations around town, with one located near the Yıldırım Mosque complex and one on F.S.M. Boulevard in Nilüfer.
Özsüt. A chain of stores selling coffee, tea, cakes, and breakfast plates. Located downtown at Kent Meydanı and elsewhere throughout the city.
Hünkar Köşkü. Located on the peaceful grounds of the Hünkar Köşkü Museum on the mountainside overlooking the city center, the restaurant here offers excellent traditional breakfasts as well as grilled lunch and dinner fare. Very nice view.
(Almost) anywhere in Cumalıkızık. If you’re wanting a good traditional village breakfast in a quaint traditional village, head for Cumalıkızık and have breakfast at any one of the many breakfast houses. Pick one—you really can’t go wrong!
Hünkar Café. If you’re at Yeşil and you find yourself hungry, the Hünkar Café is a good place for traditional fare, including Īskender. Get a table by the window for a nice view.
Patila Fast Food. A wide variety of sandwiches and other finger foods from a Turkish perspective. A large green garden out back. Located on Ressam Şefik Bursalı Caddesi, a block up from Atatürk Caddesi. Another one is located on Fevzi Çakmak between Şehreküstü and Kent Meydanı.
Café Siesta. A nice little coffee shop on a quiet pedestrian street. Located on the pedestrian mall (Albay Bekir Sami Cd.) one block south of Atatürk Caddesi.
Īskender. The Īskender place on Ünlü Caddesi is famous for its namesake speciality.
Arap Şükrü. For fresh fish and a lively, delightful cultural experience, try any one of the fish restaurants on the Arap Şükrü alley just off of Altıparmak Avenue. Best for dinner.
I must admit, I’m not much for shopping. But because I enjoy spending time with my wife, I have a pretty good handle on Bursa’s shopping landscape anyway. So for you Bursa-bound shoppers, here are a few answers to questions you may be asking…
Where are the main shopping areas?
The most prominent shopping area in Bursa is the old central market (çarşı) in the very heart of the city. A maze of streets, alleys, and hans in this centuries-old marketplace harbors all kinds of shops and cafés selling a myriad of goods and foods. You can find absolutely everything here—from toys to tomatoes to gold to underwear. Built by the early Ottomans, the downtown market area was recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a little imagination, shopping in these bazaars and hans in some ways feels a little like stepping back in time a couple of centuries.
If you’re more of a neighborhood shopper and would like a quieter experience, you should visit some of the smaller neighborhood çarşıs and bazaars. For instance, just a block or two south of Atatürk Caddesi across from Ulu Camii, you will find the quaint old Tahtakale neighborhood bazaar. Or, hop on the metro eastward to the Gökdere stop to peruse the Gökdere neighborhood bazaar. Or if you’re in Nilüfer on a Saturday, visit the large neighborhood bazaar at the Nilüfer Agora.
If you prefer boutiques, take a walk along Altıparmak Caddesi or go for a stroll down down Atatürk Caddesi past Heykel toward Setbaşı Bridge.
Are there modern shopping malls?
Yes, there are a few. Here in Turkey, shopping malls are called AVMs (alışveriş merkezi). In Bursa’s city center Zafer Plaza AVM near Şehreküstü and Kent Meydanı AVM in the former city bus terminal are both large and modern with a wide variety of stores. Anatolium AVM and IKEA share a large chunk of land adjacent to the new bus terminal on the north end of town. Just off the metro line at Nilüfer station, Carrefour AVM offers all the amenities of a modern mall, and near the end of the Emek metro line is the massive and modern Korupark AVM.
If I want to buy a Bursa souvenir, what should I buy—and where?
- Silk. Bursa was once a terminal on the Silk Road and back in the heyday Bursa silk was an internationally recognized luxury item. Buy your piece of silk in one of the numerous shops in and around Koza Han, but be sure to ask around for authentic Bursa silk and skip the cheap imported stuff.
- Tiles and pottery. Īznik’s handmade, hand painted tiles are beautiful and famous. The best pieces are made from quartz, but you’ll pay a hefty price for such quality. Ceramic is considerably cheaper and can be bought in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. The best place to buy Īznik tiles is, of course, in Īznik. But you can also find them in Bursa. Start your search at the gift shops around Yeşil Tomb, in Eski Ayna Kapalı Çarşı, in Balibey Han, or on Irıgandı Bridge.
- Textiles. One of Bursa’s hallmark industries today is textile manufacturing. You can purchase locally produced textiles—towels and linens—in many shops in the downtown market.
- Karagöz & Hacivat. These two shadow puppet characters are local celebrities. You can find a large selection of Karagöz puppets in many sizes and styles at the Karagöz Gift Shop in the Eski Ayna Kapalı Çarşı. If Mr. Çelikkol, the store owner, is there, ask him to show you some of the secrets of shadow puppet theater. He’s a master puppeteer.
- Rugs and carpets. Turkish rugs and carpets are not specific to Bursa, but you can find them in many downtown shops. Some shops sell traditional, handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces. Visit Yunus Vurmaz’s Anadolu Gift Shop near Yeşil Tomb and ask to see his collection of authentic handmade rugs that he personally brings in from all over Turkey.
- Ottoman period antiques and replicas. Being the original Ottoman city, Ottoman antiques and replicas can be purchased throughout the central marketplace. In particular, look for these items in the shops around Yeşil Tomb and in Eski Ayna Kapalı Çarşı.
- Bursaspor team gear. Bursaspor is the local football team, and a green and white jersey could make a good souvenir for a sport fan. Look for Bursaspor gear in downtown shops or visit one of the three official Bursaspor stores (next to the stadium at the end of Altıparmak Cd., in the Şehreküstü metro station, and downtown near Heykel).
- Local art. Balibey Han and Irıgandı Bridge, in particular, as well as the area around Kayhan Pazarı, are home to a number of small artisan and metalwork shops. Handmade metal art, clothing, pottery, ebru paintings, calligraphy, and really neat wire and nail pictures (filography) can be purchased in many shops directly from the artists.
- Kestane şekeri. If you’re looking for a unique local taste to take back home and share with your friends, pick up a box of candied chestnuts. Bursa is famous for these things, and you can find a wide selection of chestnut-filled goodies in many shops throughout the city. Or look for the neighborhood Kafkas shop.
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