Attractions in Bursa: Places to Visit
Look at any Turkey travel guide published over the last ten years, and the attractions in Bursa will appear on the list of recommended places to visit. Once an unknown destination, rarely heard of outside the country, Bursa’s fame now spans the globe and every year, it hosts thousands of tourists arriving independently or on guided tours.
Ask any Turk about Bursa, and they will recommend you visit for many reasons. Getting an insight into this iconic city and the surrounding attractions will help you understand Turkish culture, traditions, and current lifestyle trends in more way than one.
So, we say Bursa is worth visiting, but before we talk about which places to visit, it is worth knowing a bit of history and geography to understand how it achieved its iconic status among Turks. Sitting in the Northwest Anatolian region, Bursa is just a two- and a half-hour drive from Istanbul, making it a firm favourite for locals to get away for the weekend. Why do they flock there? Well, Bursa’s nickname is not green city for no reason.
Attractions in Bursa: Places to Visit
A high concentration of parks, and green fields, and the towering Uludag mountain make it one of Turkey’s greenest areas. The name belongs to the large city, and the surrounding province, including villages which blend to form Turkey’s fourth most populated district.
Go back through the history books and its major claim to fame started during the 14th century when the Ottoman empire rode in and captured the city from the Byzantine empire. It was during this time that architecture and trade rose in prominence as Bursa’s became the Ottoman’s first ruling capital before they invaded Istanbul 100 years later.
Its history comes together with modern-day life to present a variety of reasons it should be on everyone’s bucket list including food, culture, traditions and those attractions that belong to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
1: Uludag Mountain and Cable Car
Earning its fame as one of Turkey’s top skiing centres, don’t limit Uludag to the winter months. Operating all year round, the teleferik takes hundreds of passengers up and down the mountain so they can experience its seasonal delights. During winter, hit the ski slopes and snowboarding runs, and in spring, perfect temperatures arrive for hiking and trekking or if you prefer doing things the easy way, quad bike safaris. Summer is a delightful time to have picnics, while Autumn colours show off Uludag in a beautiful transcendence.
2: Grand Mosque of Bursa (Ulu Cami)
Bursa’s other main attraction is the 14th century Ulu Cami in the main town centre. Achieving fame because of its unusual 20 roof domes sitting five by 4, and two minarets. One dome also holds a skylight which boosts natural light coming and promotes a calm, peaceful atmosphere of being at one with God. Other notable parts of the mosque that stand out include the interior fountain, and the mosque has also earned the nickname “the Islamic museum” because of 192 calligraphy inscriptions adorning the interior.
3: Cumalikizik Village
Upon first sight, this small village doesn’t appear as much, yet it belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list because of old Ottoman houses that line the cobbled paths. Reflecting an architectural style that is no longer in use, they gained UNESCO status to be preserved for future generations. You can spend anything from a few hours to all day exploring the village, but the highlight is an organic, traditional Turkish breakfast. Throughout the country, village breakfasts are a favourite pastime for Turks, at the weekends, and Turks always rave about the feast in Cumalikizik.
4: Shop in the Old Bazaar
Every major city in Turkey has the old district reflecting shopping traditions from bygone eras. Often called the bazaar, it is a collection of small shops grouped into narrow alleyways depending on what they sell, and Bursa’s bazaar is one of the best, and a great place to shop for souvenirs. Called the Bedesten, unique items to take back home with you include spices, carpets, jewellery, and locally made textiles. If you are serious about getting to know Turkish traditions, this is a great place to practise your bartering skills.
5: Drink Tea in the Koza Han
The Koza Han might be small but do not underestimate its substantial contribution towards Bursa’s history. Its name translates into “Cocoon house” and during the heyday of the old silk road, it was where traders sold their wares. Much trade continues today albeit, but it is also a local hang out spot; hence a great opportunity to people watch and if you have not already tried it, drink Turkish tea. Note the structure in the middle, that was a place of worship.
6: Other UNESCO Attractions
There are eight UNESCO sites in Bursa, and five of them are kulliyes. Dating from the Ottoman empire, these buildings functioned as service centres for the poor and needy and included a mosque, public baths, schools, and kitchens. Many still sit all over Turkey, but the ones to see in Bursa are Muradiye, Yesil, Yildrim, Orhan Gazi and Hudavendigar. The latter two are the most famous. Read more about the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bursa here.
About Bursa: Nice to Know
One reason Bursa is popular with Turks is because the region is an all-rounder. From the mountain life in Uludag to the main city centre, it also features a beachside district called Mudanye. In recent years, its popularity took off as Turks and foreigners look to the area to own a summer home or retire. Sitting just 30 minutes’ away from Bursa city centre, visit it in summer for the best ambiance.
Turkey is famous for its hot springs tourism which sees people arriving from all over the world. Bursa, one of the leading centres, offers many hot spring sources, including some set up in five-star hotels.
Hot springs are popular with people who suffer from skin conditions or want relief from ailments like arthritis, but they are also great for relaxation. If this is something you would like to put on your bucket list, head to places like Kaynarca, Yeni, Mustafa Kara, and Eski. Otherwise, another scenic place to visit is Saitabat waterfall and village, sitting a 30-minute drive away.
Famous Turkish Architecture: The attractions in Bursa are renowned for their Ottoman architecture, but there is so much more to see throughout the rest of Turkey. From the historical buildings in Istanbul to the Seljuk caravansaries in Cappadocia, we list the best in this article.
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