Come to Bursa, due south of Istanbul across the Sea of Marmara, for its beautiful mosques and other early Ottoman architecture, for its silk-filled bazaars, its thermal spa baths and hotels.
You can visit Bursa to see the top sights on a day-trip excursion from Istanbul, although an overnight in Bursa is more comfortable and rewarding. That way you can also see the ancient town of İznik (Nicaea) on the way to Bursa, and you may even have time to go to the top of Uludağ (OO-loo-dah, 2543 meters, 8343 feet), the mountain behind the city.
Short Bursa Tour Video
Bursa was the first capital (late 1200s-early 1300s) of the Ottoman Empire. The two founding sultans, Orhan and Osman, are buried here, and this is where the empire’s great architectural style was first developed.
The city clings to the slopes of Uludağ, the Bithynian Mount Olympus, and thus got its nickname Green Bursa from the surrounding forests. Now a large, bustling city of 2 million people, much of the greenery has disappeared beneath the concrete and macadam urban sprawl. Bursa’s traditional industries of silk weaving and fruit processing have long since been supplemented by motor vehicle manufacturing (it’s “Turkey’s Detroit”) and other industry, large and small.
On Bursa’s western outskirts is Çekirge, a thermal spa resort since Roman times, with many spa hotels and bathing establishments.
Some people come for İskender kebap, slices of grilled lamb dressed with savory tomato sauce and browned butter. (On that subject, here’s a funny sign.)
Fast catamaran ferryboat (hızlı feribot) routes take you from Istanbul to Güzelyalı, Mudanya or Yalova on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara.
From Güzelyalı or Mudanya you can get to Bursa by bus and Bursaray (Metro).
From Yalova, take a bus to Bursa, or a minibus to İznik. After touring İznik, you can catch a minibus onward to Bursa.