There are several options for weekend trips that are a couple of hours drive away from Istanbul.
Edirne is a two-hour drive to the west of Istanbul, close to the border with Greece and Bulgaria. The city be visited for a day trip or weekend getaway from Istanbul. It was the capital of the early Ottoman empire and has some wonderful Ottoman architecture. Don’t miss the mosques. The easiest way to reach Edirne from Istanbul is to take a bus. There are also two daily trains from Istanbul.
Gallipoli and Troy
Gallipoli is an elongated peninsula stretching from the Thracian mainland, between the bay of Saros and the Straits of Dardanelles. It is about a four-hour drive southwest of Istanbul, and there are a number of coach tours direct from Istanbul. Thousands of people come here on ANZAC day to pay their respects and visit the First World War battlefields and memorials. Nearby is the ancient city of Troy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and national park, where you can see a replica of the Trojan horse.
Polonezkoy means ‘Polish village’, which is exactly what it once was. It is a thickly forested area on the eastern side of Istanbul. Poloneskoy makes a good day trip, especially in the summer. There are numerous restaurants in the village, some serving traditional Polish meals. There are also a few guesthouses and hotels for those wishing to make a weekend of it.
Sapanca Lake (Sapanca Gölü) is situated east of Istanbul, and offers beautiful scenery, about a couple of hours’ drive from the European side. The area has become popular for day trips and weekend breaks from Istanbul. For a luxurious weekend break try Richmond Nua Spa hotel.
Skiing in winter
The closest ski slope to Istanbul is Kartepe. It is only a couple of hours drive and makes for an ideal day trip. It is a small slope and serious skiers will be dissatisfied. It also gets crowded at weekends. For more serious skiing, Uludag is a good option. However, this is further east and requires a two- or three-day trip at least.
Bursa and Iznik
Bursa is a four-hour bus ride from Istanbul, about 20km inland from the Sea of Marmara. The city was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. The fastest way to get to Bursa from Istanbul is by boat. The historical city of Iznik, located on the eastern shore of Lake Iznik, is nearby. This region offers an ideal two- or three-day trip from Istanbul. Bursa has many examples of stunning Ottoman architecture, particularly the Grand Mosque, while Iznik is famous for its glazed tiles.