Bursa is a large city in the Southern Marmara region of Turkey, 20 km inland from the Marmara coast. It's the country's fourth-largest city, with a population of 2,161,990 in 2021, and with another million living in the wider metro area. It's mostly modern, industrial and concrete-ridden; earning its living from textiles, agricultural produce and the automobile industry. However, it has a lot to offer for history buffs as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and one of the end destinations of the Silk Road. It is crowded with historic mosques, tombs, caravanserais, bazaars and parks, in addition to being one of the best food cities in Western Turkey. In 2014, Bursa along with the nearby village of Cumalıkızık was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city serves as a gateway to the iconic forests and ski slopes of Mount Uludağ.
Prusa, the kernel of present-day Bursa, was named for Prusias king of Bithynia, who laid its foundation stone in 202 BC. This was fortified into a walled citadel on the ridge of Tophane, controlling the valley trade routes. The Romans annexed Bithynia in 74 BC, and they especially enjoyed the thermal springs of Çekirge just west of Prusa - so it was a tourist resort even in those days. Byzantium (from 330 AD called Constantinople) became the metropolis of their eastern empire, continuing long after Rome itself fell.
By 1300 AD both the Byzantine Empire and their eastern rivals the Seljuks were in terminal decline, and a patchwork of independent territories and warlords appeared. One particularly successful leader was Osman, born in Söğüt around 1250. Next-to-nothing is reliably known about his life and works, it's all been mythologised and politicised in retrospect. He captured a series of small forts and towns but Prusa was a stout citadel, which he didn't have the technology or strategy to storm. Thus began a siege that (like that of Troy) may have lasted for ten years, and Osman died in 1323. His son Orhan captured the city in 1326, making it his capital Hüdavendigâr ("God's gift"). Over the following century the Ottoman dynasty went on to capture Thrace then make their move on Constantinople and found an empire. So Bursa always had a special place in their psyche and their sultans continued to be buried here.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Bursa was a commercial and industrial centre, prospering through the silk trade. The "Silk Road" was a network of overland and maritime trading routes from the Far East to Turkey and Europe, with multiple high-value products to be traded, processed, taxed, or looted along the way - so stout caravanserais were needed. The secrets of silk-making were smuggled out of China by 140 AD, with Bursa initially processing raw silk from Iran and from 550 AD tending its own silk-farms. It remained the principal manufacturing centre though the capital and wealthy royal customers moved to Constantinople. It weakened when Ottoman grip on the trade routes faltered, and calamity struck in 1855 with an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 followed by a fire.
The city was rebuilt in Ottoman baroque and rococo style, but the Empire was crumbling, and sectarian tensions led to the massacre of Armenians here and elsewhere in Turkey. In the late Ottoman era, the city became a hub for population movement from the Caucasus, with Circassian and Georgian ancestries being represented in the city's demographics. After the First World War, the city's Greek population was deported as part of the 1923 Population Exchange. Their place was taken by Muslim incomers from the Balkans, especially from Bulgaria, and from the 1980s many also resettled from rural Anatolia, leading to uncontrolled urban sprawl.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The steep foothills of Uludağ forced the city to grow along an east–west strip. "Downtown" and its main street is therefore 7 km long, while the modern highway D200 passes to the north, and suburbs stretch out for another 10 km or more in every direction except south.
Heykel ("the statue") is the colloquial name for the city's main square and unofficial center, with its imposing equestrian statue of Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic.
West from Heykel the main drag is Atatürk Cd, which leads by the Gazi Orhan Bey and Grand Mosques, and the caravanserai and bazaar area. It bends north to become Cemal Nadir Cd, skirting the ridge of Tophane, the ancient citadel with its gates and noble tombs. A modern blue glass pyramid marks the entrance to Zafer Plaza shopping mall, and the street becomes Altıparmak Cd, the main shopping strip. At the west end of this is the rise with Muradiye religious complex and residential district, and the limit of "downtown". Further west however the city has expanded into the geothermal areas of Kükürtlü and Çekirge, with several spa hotels. Behind the football stadium is Kültürpark, with several museums, and a connection with Highway D200.
North from Heykel, İnönü Cd leads towards D200 and the distant bus station. There are hotels along D200 but no sights for visitors.
East from Heykel, Atatürk Cd crosses the deep gorge of Gökdere by the Setbaşı Bridge then comes to a fork, around an old plane tree. Go left on Yeşil Cd for Yeşil and Emir Sultan Mosques, or right on Namazgah Cd to go up to the cable-car station for Uludağ.
Bursa has a climate midway between the Marmara coast and the continental interior, modified by Uludağ; the mountain looming just south. Summers are hot and can be sticky, with little breeze and occasional thundery downpours. Winters are chilly, dropping to -10 °C on the coldest nights; although usually around 5-10°C during the day. They're also cloudy and wet, with 10 days of rain and 5 days of snow a month - this melts quickly in town but builds up on the heights. Winter also sees the strongest Lodos, the notorious southwesterly gales. Spring is mild and wet, though most of the rain falls on the mountain to feed its green forests and upland meadows, and misses the city in the "rain shadow".
Killing the Shadows (original title: Karagöz Hacivat Neden Öldürüldü?) is a 2006 Turkish comedy-drama film. Its plot is set in medieval Bursa under the rule of Orhan, and deals with the screenwriter's interpretation (with a bit of artistic license) of the circumstances leading up to the execution of Karagöz and Hacivat (see Karagöz Museum below), despite being so liked by local folks.
Get in edit
By plane edit
International visitors usually arrive via one of the Istanbul airports. Sabiha Gökçen (SAW IATA) the Asia-side airport has many European and domestic flights. Burulaş Bus runs hourly to Bursa Otogar taking 90 min, single 70 TL. You're looking for the yellow bus outside Arrivals.
1 Yenişehir Airport (YEI IATA) (43 km east of city). Anadolu Jet fly to Bursa from the eastern cities of Trabzon, Diyarbakır, Erzurum and Muş, but in 2021 / 22 many flights are suspended. In any case, given the distance of the airport, and its poor connections with the city, it might be easier to fly to either of Istanbul's airports then take the bus or ferry onward. From YEI to town take Bus 80 to the city (6 TL, pay on boarding by cash or Bursakart). This runs to Kent Meydanı, for the Metro.
By train edit
Bursa has no railway. A high-speed line is under construction and is due to open in 2023, but the project has been delayed several times.
Buses meet the YHT fast trains at Eskişehir then take two hours to Bursa. There are four connections a day with Ankara (journey time 4 hours), and two with Konya (for Karaman and Antalya). No point using this route for Istanbul as the ferry or direct bus is quicker.
- Bursa railway station (Bursa Yüksek Hızlı Tren Garı).
By road edit
From Istanbul follow E80 / O5 east, which sweeps round in an arc over Osmangazi Bridge then southwest. You could save some distance but no time by taking the ferry from Pendik to Yalova. O5 continues south to Balıkesir and İzmir.
From Ankara follow D200 / E90 via Eskişehir; this road continues along the coast to Bandırma and Çanakkale.
By bus edit
Pamukkale buses run from Istanbul Anadolu / Harem to Bursa, taking 2 hr 10 min non-stop, single fare 180 TL as of February 2023. Kamil Koç (now part of Flixbus) competes on many of these routes, as do many other national and local companies. In general, as Bursa is a massive city that is too close to Istanbul and Ankara for direct airplane routes, the bus infrastructure is top notch, and bus terminals in major cities should have some bus heading towards Bursa every 20 minutes.
They also run every hour or two from Ankara, 5 hr 15 min, 150 TL - the YHT bus link is quicker. They're hourly round the clock from İzmir (4 hr, 140 TL), hourly from Çanakkale (4 hr 15 min), and every 3-4 hours from Antalya (9 hr, 200 TL). From Bergama five buses a day take 5 hr 30 min, 150 TL.
Another very convenient option is the BBBus running directly from Istanbul's two airports (Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gökçen) to Bursa's Bus Terminal, operated by Bursa's municipal government. The Sabiha Gökçen bus goes every 30 minutes with multiple night buses. The Istanbul Airport bus seems to operate once every 2 hours, but the alternative is to take the Havaist connection from Istanbul Airport to Sabiha Gökçen airport, and then to take the Sabiha connection that operates more often. As of Feb 2023, the Sabiha-Bursa bus costs 130 TL one way, the Istanbul Airport-Bursa one costs 200 TL.
2 Bursa Otobüs Terminali is the station for all intercity buses, 10 km north of city centre on D575. It's a large modern place that feels like an airport, with ticket kiosks and cafes. One side has the inter-city buses, the other has the yellow town buses, buy your ticket from the kiosk before boarding. The main buses to the centre are #38, #96, and the turquoise "Heykel" buses. A tram also runs into the centre, with interchange stations to the other urban rail lines.
By boat edit
A very popular option among locals and tourists alike is to take the ferry across the Marmara Sea from various locations in Istanbul to Mudanya and Güzelyalı, not far from the city of Bursa.
İDO[dead link] ferries sail five times a day from Istanbul: they start from Kabataş and pick up from Kadıköy then Yenikapı - this is just south of Sultanahmet and likely to be the most convenient for international travellers. They take just under two hours to Güzelyalı, usually non-stop but occasionally calling at Armutlu, for a single fare in 2022 of 40-55 TL. Yenikapı has direct connections to Istanbul's Marmaray and M2 Metro, making it a convenient option.
BUDO ferries sail five times a day from Istanbul Eminonu pier and take just under two hours to Mudanya (similar fares to İDO). This option is more suitable for tourists staying in the Sultanahmet/historical peninsula area.
Mudanya and Güzelyalı are 20 km north of Bursa. Dolmuşes and buses run from the piers (and may be included in your ticket) to Organize Sanayi Metro or Emek Metro in Bursa. See below for the Metro, you probably want Şehreküstü station for the old town and market area. Total journey time from Istanbul is 3 hours by either route.
See Yalova for another ferry route from Istanbul. Yalova is a one hour bus ride north of Bursa.
Get around edit
There is an extensive bus and dolmuş network. The dolmuşes in Bursa look like standard white cars with a sign on the roof, rather than minibuses. More about the dolmuş as a transport option can be found in the Wikivoyage articles for other Turkish cities, but it is akin to the post-Soviet marshrutka and is a very convenient and cheap way of navigating the city if you can master some very basic Turkish.
Bursaray is the city metro. It's a standard-gauge railway running east-west: to the west it forks for the University, and northwest for Emek where buses from the ferry ports will drop you. You might also use it between city centre (Şehreküstü or Demirtaşpaşa) and the museums in Kültürpark.
The fare for inner-city rides is 8 TL in 2022, which you pay by Bursakart or single-use ticket (blue card, "Short Lines"), available from the ticket machines. These provide instructions in English but only accept only 5 TL and 10 TL notes.
Burtram, the tramway, has three lines and runs 07:00-23:00:
- T1 is a single loop around Gazcilar, city centre, Stadium and back to Gazcilar.
- T2 is between city centre and main bus station.
- T3 is a heritage metre-gauge line between Çinarönü and Zafer Plaza.
For the IDO ferries to Istanbul, take the Bursaray to Emek (45 min) then bus 1-M to the ferry terminal (25 min). The bus runs 4-5 times per hour, and costs ~3 TL (Nov 2017). You must pay for the bus with credit on your Bursakart - cash is not accepted.
Roadside parking is hard to come by, and whenever you do, it is charged.
- Most museums are branches of Bursa Müze and are free, but closed Monday.
- 1 Grand Mosque (Ulu Camii), Ulucami Cd 2. This was built by Sultan Beyazid and completed in 1399. He then suffered a calamitous defeat by Timur, who wrecked it, and later the Karamansids wrecked it some more. It was rebuilt then and as needed in later years, especially after the earthquake of 1855, keeping to the original design - so it more resembles its Seljuk predecessors of Anatolia than later Ottoman creations such as the Blue Mosque of Istanbul. Ulu Camii is most renowned for the striking calligraphic panels that adorn its walls and columns, and the fountain within it.
- 2 Orhan Mosque (Gazi Orhan Bey Camii) is 100 m east of the Grand Mosque across the square. It was built by Orhan, the second Ottoman sultan, in the late 14th century. It was on reclaimed land outside the old citadel walls so it began the expansion of the city; and Orhan subdued rival kingdoms in Karaman, Ankara, Edirne and finally Constantinople to lay the foundations of empire - his tomb is on Tophane, see below. The mosque was centrepiece of a religious complex, a külliyesi, but the madrassah and hostel have been demolished and the hamam is now a bazaar.
- * Koza Han. north side of Orhan and Grand Mosques was the city's caravanserai and silk market. Built in 1490, it's a large courtyard surrounded by two-storey arcades: the merchants had accommodation and offices upstairs and their shop-fronts downstairs. In the centre, a prayer room is perched in a kiosk, entered by a staircase to keep out the pack-animals and their mess. It's now lined with small shops and cafes, a pleasant place to take tea.
- Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) 100 m north of Grand Mosque was the main city market, initially open-air but later roofed over. The original burned down in 1958 and the re-build was nondescript, so come here for retail rather than ancient architecture.
- 3 Heykel meaning "statue" is the landmark at the centre of the city. Atatürk sits atop his war-horse and points the wrong way up one-way Atatürk Cd, and perhaps ponders the challenge of modernising Turkey's transport. The clock tower just east is almost oriental.
- City Museum (Bursa Kent Müzesi), Kültür Sk 8 (south side of Heykel), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. This is the former courthouse, converted to a museum in 2004. It exhibits the city's long history, including modern aspects (eg the ski resort) that you might not see elsewhere. Signage is only in Turkish.
- 4 Irgandı Bridge (Irgandı Köprüsü) is Bursa's answer to the Ponte Vecchio of Florence: a footbridge over the gully lined by small shops, built in 1442. It's been bashed about over the years and was restored in 2004. Two more ancient bridges cross nearby: Boyacıkulluğu a narrow cobbled bridge 100 m north downstream and Setbaşı bridge south, which carries Atatürk Cd and its arches are difficult to see without going down into the gully.
- 5 Green Mosque (Yeşil Camii), Yeşil Sk. This mosque was built 1419 to 1424 at the behest of Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi, who re-united the Ottomans after their fratricidal wars. Its striking green and blue tilework was wrought by the "Masters of Tabriz", and is especially rich on the mihrab, recesses and tomb of Mehmed himself. It's a two-story building in a T-plan, and unusually has a fountain within. Beside it are tea gardens with great views over the valley and Uludag mountain. The madrassah is nowadays the Museum of Turkish Islamic Art (see below), while the hamam has become a souvenir shop.
- Turkish & Islamic Art Museum (Türk v İslam Eserleri Müzesi), Yeşil Cd 56 (by Yeşil Mosque). Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Small collection housed in the former madrassah. Adult 12.50 TL.
- 6 Emir Sultan Mosque was originally built in the 14th century. Emir Sultan (Şemseddin Mehmed Ali el-Hüseyin el Buhari) was a scholar and advisor to Sultan Bayezid I and his mausoleum is here. The mosque was twice smashed by earthquakes so the present version is from 1868 in Ottoman Baroque style. There are fountains in the courtyard and an old cemetery down the hillside north.
- Museum of the Ottoman House (Osmanlı Evi Müzesi), İnalcık Sk (north side of Muradiye, corner with Aralık Sk), ☏ . Tu-Su 08:00-17:00. A house furnished to show life in the 17th century. Free.
- 7 Tofaş Anatolian Car Museum (Tofaş Anadolu Arabaları Müzesi), Fabrika Sk 9, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Tofaş is a car company, "Türk Otomobil Fabrikası Anonim Şirket". This is an impressive collection of vehicles from horse-drawn days to the present. Free.
- 8 Beyazid I Mosque (Yıldırım Beyazıt Cami), Yıldırım 3. Bayezid I built this religious complex in the 1390s, with mosque and madrassah. Crushed by Timur, he died in captivity in 1403 and eventually was buried in a cloistered tomb within the complex. By him lie his wife and son Isa.
- 9 Tophane Clocktower is the focus of a small park and terrace with good views over the city. Side by side are two historic tombs: Gazi Osman the first Ottoman sultan (daily 09:00-18:00), and Orhan Gazi his son and successor (M-Sa 08:00-19:30). The park drops away sharply to the north: approach from the south up Osman Gazi Cd, past the Imperial Gate.
- 10 Imperial Gate or Sultan's Gate is the best preserved structure of what's called the castle, but was more like a citadel enclosing the entire town on the high ground. This was where imperial decrees were proclaimed, and as French was the language of western diplomacy, "Sublime Porte" became a synonym for the Ottoman government. The citadel walls, built in the 2nd century BC, were the first obstacle the Ottomans had to conquer, and it took them nine years to figure out how to do so. Once they'd got the knack, they conquered Edirne and Constantinople then set to against the rest of Europe and the Middle East. Most of the citadel is lost under later buildings and haphazardly parked cars, but see below for Tahtakale, Yerkapı, Conquest and Dungeon Gates.
- Balıbey Han is just below Imperial Gate on the street up Tophane. It's a caravanserai built late 15th century, and unusually has 3 storeys - most had two. The interior has been chopped and changed by later use, but in 2009 it was restored as a bazaar and cafe area.
- 11 Tahtakale Gate is linked by a barbican, now Yokuş Cd, to Yerkapı Gate.
- 12 Conquest Gate (Fetih Kapı) was where the Ottomans finally broke into the besieged city. West along Kalebahçe Street, houses have been built within the wall.
- 13 Dungeon Gate (Zindankapı) has been converted into a museum of the early city.
- 14 Muradiye Complex (Muradiye Külliyesi), Murat Cd. This was commissioned by Sultan Murad II and the mosque, which is fairly simple, was completed in 1426. The main draw is the eight mausoleums with a roll-call of early Ottoman nobles. The Koran and Calligraphy Museum (Kur'an ve El Yazmaları Müzesi, closed Monday) is a fine exhibition within the complex. Free.
- 15 Archaeology Museum (Bursa Arkeoloji Müzesi), Kültür Park, Çekirge Cd 4/11, ☏ . Daily 08:00-17:00. Small but interesting museum of the area's prehistory. It's housed in a former boys' High School, set in the Kültür Park. Free.
- Atatürk House (Bursa Atatürk Müzesi), Çekirge Cd (across street from Archeology Museum), ☏ . Tu-Su 08:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00. Elegant 19th century villa in French style. In the 1920s it was gifted for Atatürk to use whenever he was in town, and the second floor displays his personal items. It was converted into a museum in 1973. Free.
- 16 Museum of Textile Industry (Merinos Tekstil Sanayi Müzesi), Merinos Cd 11, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:30. Machinery and other exhibits from the Merino wool trade and other textiles. A wool mill stood here until replaced by the Congress Hall. Free.
- Bursa Museum of Migration History (Bursa Göç Tarihi Müzesi), Merinos Cd 11, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:30. On the 2nd floor above the Textile Museum, this depicts the many human migrations across Anatolia, which continue. Free.
- Energy Museum (Merinos Enerji Müzesi), Dr Sadık Ahmet Cd (west side of Textile Museum), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:30-17:30. This was the power station driving the wool mill and its machinery and control room have been preserved. Free.
- 17 Karagöz Museum, Çekirge Cd 59. Tu-Su 09:00-17:30. Karagöz ("Blackeye") is the coarse, impulsive buffoon and Hacivat ("Ivat the Pilgrim") is the sensible one in the shadow-puppet plays of Turkey, which first appeared in the 14th century. They are said to be based on two real-life fellows working in the construction of one of the early Ottoman mosques in the city. They resemble the wayang of Java so the tradition may stem from there. The museum exhibits the duo, their supporting cast, and the stories and mechanics behind them. Free.
- 18 Hüdavendigar Mosque, Çekirge Cd. Mosque built in the 1360s by Murat I and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1855.
Further out edit
- 19 İnkaya Historical Plane Tree (İnkaya Tarihi Çınarı) is a huge 600-year-old plane tree (Platanus orientalis) with an open-air café under its shade. It's just off the road up the hill to Uludağ.
- 20 Cumalıkızık is a well-preserved traditional village 10 km east of the city at the foot of Mount Uludağ. It was founded some 700 years ago, and most of its 265 ancient half-timbered houses are still inhabited.
- 21 Kestel at the east terminus of the Metro is a separate town, not incorporated into the city of Bursa, with a population in 2020 of 70,865. The name means "castle", a frontier post of the Roman Empire, but the meagre scraps of this are now just a cafe. Some maps show a "war museum" but that simply doesn't exist. No accommodation in town, and you'd have to be involved in the cement industry to come here.
- Hamams: The hamam/thermal baths are a staple of Turkish culture, and some of the best and most storied ones in the entire country can be found in Bursa. The fault line that runs beneath the city is a source of geothermal mineral springs, which emerge in the western district of Çekirge. Most flow at 80°C and are heavily charged with sulphur and iron. A secondary group are at 38°-57°C, contain magnesium and have clear water, and these are known as "silver springs". They've been enjoyed since ancient times but the spa facilities are modern, built over the Roman and early Ottoman structures. All the nearby hotels have spas, which may be available to non-residents, and there are stand-alone public baths. Implausible therapeutic powers are claimed for them, so anyone afflicted by "psychological contraction" has come to the right place. The springs are tapped for local heating but not for power generation.
- Yeni Baths (Yeni Kaplıca), Yeni Kaplica Cd 6 (off Kukurtlu Cd, 200 m north of Çelik Palas Hotel), ☏ . Daily 07:00-23:00. This is the most attractive of the spas, the "new baths" founded in 1555 by Rüstem Pasha, the grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent. The male side is the better, but the female side is reasonably spacious and well-appointed. The Yeni source is 80°C and sulphurous, so you'll need the rubdown and soap massage service afterwards. It's not at all touristy and they don't speak English, but sign language suffices. Most men wear bathing suits, but it's optional. You can buy them at shops outside or within the hammam. Bath 15 TL, soap massage 15 TL.
- Eski Baths (Armutlu Hamam) are the "old baths", built late 14th century under Murad I. They're "silver springs" with a clear, hot but not boiling source. They're open daily 07:00-23:00 and are just north of Çekirge main square, within the Kervansaray Hotel - its accommodation in 2022 gets poor reviews.
- Baths downtown, whether secular public baths or for ablutions at mosques, are heated by conventional plumbing and don't come from the geothermal springs. For example Cakir Hammam near Tophane (110-180TL).
- Cablecar: Take the cable car (Teleferik) from the north of the city to the mountain (300 TL for round trip, duration around 15minutes). It is quite touristic.
- Winter and mountain sports: head up Uludağ, described separately.
- Football: Bursaspor is one of the most storied clubs in Turkish football and won the Turkish Super League in 2010, breaking a long-lasting Istanbul hegemony on league titles. Today, however, after many years of financial and administrative management, they play in the TFF Second League, the third tier in Turkey. Their home ground, Timsah Park (capacity 43,700), can be reached by Metro, and is a masterpiece of kitsch architecture with a giant crocodile wrapping around the stadium's facade.
- Basketball: The aforementioned Bursaspor has found itself to be more successful in basketball in the past few years, with their basketball division becoming a staple of the Turkish top division, and also having very strong showings in European basketball. They play at Tofaş Spor Salonu (capacity 7,500).
- Silk was one of Bursa's traditional industries. You'll do better looking in Grand Bazaar than in the tourist-trappy Koza Han for all silk fabrics. Turkish people are also very fond of buying towels in Bursa, with Özdilek the brand of choice. Özdilek runs a factory store on the highway that runs outside the city and leads to İzmir and the Mediterranean coast.
- In classic Turkish fashion, the city is enamored with closed malls of varying sizes. 1 Zafer Plaza was the first shopping center in Bursa, not far from the center of the city. It is old, but iconic, beloved by locals, and still bustling to this day. It famously features a massive glass pyramid on top in bizarre Louvre-esque fashion. For more modern shopping options 2 Kent Meydanı AVM is an option close to the city center, and 3 Korupark AVM is a very nice mall on the outskirts that is very popular with locals.
Bursa is widely considered the birthplace of döner kebap, a vertically-rotated column of stacked lamb meat cut into thin, juicy slices that is about as iconic as pizza or sushi worldwide. By far the best-known local specialty is the İskender kebap, an indulgent dish featuring cuts of finely roasted döner meat and rich tomato sauce on a bed of broth-soaked pita bread, topped with yogurt and sizzling butter. You cannot visit Bursa and leave without trying the dish, considered the best Turkish cuisine has to offer by many. However, Bursa doesn't lack in other food options. A more underground delicacy is pideli köfte (or Kayhan pidesi), a variant of İskender kebap with meatballs.
Cantık, a fluffy pide variant often topped with minced or chopped meat is made by bakers across the city and is unique to Bursa (unrelated to the Crimean Tatar jantiq except for name).
For those with a sweet tooth, Bursa offers a lot. Candied chestnuts (kestane şekeri/marron glacé) are not for everyone, but they are the most iconic sweets from the city and a very popular gift for tourists to take back home. It's not served in restaurants but boxed from stores around the city, Kafkas is the best known brand. Tahinli pide is a large pastry slathered in sweet tahini in the center and is absolutely delicious. Kemalpaşa tatlısı is a fried cheese dessert that originated in the greater province, and is best consumed fresh, rather than store-bought.
- 1 İskender Tarihi Ahşap Dükkan, 7 Ünlü Cd (east side of Heykel), ☏ . Daily 11:00-21:30. This is the original of what's become a chain: İskender Efendi invented his style of kebab in Bursa in the 19th century.
- 2 Kebapçı İskender (Mavi Dükkan), Atatürk Cad. NO:60 (across from Heykel), ☏ . Daily 11:30-19:30. Affectionately referred to as the "little blue store" or the "corner blue store" by locals, this is one of the two claimants to the original İskender legacy and is widely argued to be the best in Bursa by locals along with the other historic İskender restaurant above. It is, as in the name, a tiny blue store with a storied history, so expect to wait in line outside and a higher price, but the end product is worth it. Your humble user prefers to eat here when he goes back home, but respects other opinions.
- 3 Çiçek Izgara, Belediye Cd 15 (west side of Koza Han), ☏ . Daily 11:30-22:00. A grill resturant beloved by locals and best known for its meatballs, has been around forever.
- Pidecioğlu, Kayhan Cd 73 (by Kayhan Mosque), ☏ . Daily 11:00-18:00. A chain where the specialty is cantık, a folded pide heaped with meat.
- Hacı Dayı, Osmangazi Sk 24 (by Tophane clocktower), ☏ . Daily 12:00-22:30. Kebab restaurant, good reviews and vista over the city.
- Atmosfer Firin, Cemal Nadir Cd (by Pirinç Han). Daily 11:00-22:00. Good range of trad food.
- Ömür Köftecisi, Ulucami Cd 9 (west side of Grand Mosque), ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-19:00. Good central spot for grills and koftes.
- Darüzziyafe (Muradiye Osmanlı Mutfağı), Murat Cd 36 (by Muradiye Mosque), ☏ . Daily 09:30-18:00. A poorhouse during the Ottoman period, well-restored and now an upscale restaurant (no alcohol) with Ottoman cuisine. The garden has nice views of Bursa.
- 4 Ulu Hünkar Köşkü, 2. Osman Gazi Cd. 26 (just north and opposite the imperial gate). 08.00-22.00. Make sure you walk all the way to the back of the garden, where a few tables offer a magnificent view over the bazaars below from the top of the old city wall. The Iskender kebap here is as good as the original. They also serve Turkish breakfast.
- 5 Kitap Evi, Burçüstü Sk 21, Kavaklı (up the steps south of the imperial gate). For a still moderately priced splurge, go here. By arrangement, you can have your reserved table covered in rose petals, making it the perfect place for a marriage proposal. It's also a top class hotel.
- Bursa doesn't have many stand-alone bars, but one is Biraport at Kurşunlu Sk 13, by Tahtakale Gate. They have TV sport and are open nightly to 02:00.
- For tea or Turkish coffee aim for a place with atmosphere, such as Koza Han, or the terrace at Tophane.
- 1 Açelya Hotel, İnönü Caddesi 73 (Metro: Demirtaşpaşa), ☏ , email@example.com. Small basic hotel, but clean, central and value for what you're paying. B&B double 250 TL.
- 2 Bursa Merkez Otel (Çeşmeli Hotel), Gümüşçeken Cd 6, ☏ . Cosy small place in town centre. The Çeşmeli - drinking fountain - is set into the wall. B&B double 250 TL.
- 3 Safran Otel, Ortapazar Cd 9 (by Orhan Gazi tombs), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Charming small hotel in a renovated old house near city gates. Some street noise in ground floor rooms. B&B double 2200 TL.
- 4 Kent Hotel, Atatürk Cd 69, ☏ . Simple mid-price hotel near Central Mosque. B&B double 400 TL.
- 5 Efehan Hotel, Gümüşçeken Cd 34. Middling central place.
- 6 Hotel Gönlüferah, Murat Cd 22, ☏ . Pleasant hotel in two sections: "City" and "1890". On hillside with mountain view, limited parking. B&B double 600 TL.
- 7 Çelik Palas Hotel, Çekirge Cd 79, ☏ . Atatürk had this built in Art Deco style in 1935 as a guest house for his visitors, but most rooms are in the modern annexe. Both sections are showing their age. B&B double 3000 TL.
- 8 Hilton Bursa Convention Center and Spa, Istanbul Cd 347 (3 km north of centre on D575), ☏ . Upmarket place with 187 rooms and suites, spa, Turkish baths, sauna, pool and fitness center, 2 restaurants, a bar, patisserie and lobby lounge, and free parking. But it's 5-star going on 3, with erratic service, cleanliness and cuisine. B&B double 1300 TL.
Bursa and its surrounding settlements and highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of May 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Stay safe edit
Bursa is a safe city. Take usual care with traffic and valuables.
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- Uludag National Park (Uludağ Milli Parkı) just south of the city is a winter sports and hiking resort.
- Gölyazı 40 km west is a village on a lake island linked by road.
- Mudanya is where you take the ferry to Istanbul, but leave a couple of hours to explore its late Ottoman architecture.
- Oylat is a spa town in the hills with a famous cave.
- Armutlu is a seaside and spa resort.
- Iznik is a historic lakeside town with old city walls, and the setting for the early Christian councils of Nicea.
- Söğüt and Bilecik were home to the earliest Ottomans.
|Routes through Bursa|
|Istanbul ( ) ← Gemlik ←||N S||→ Balıkesir → Izmir|
|Keşan ← Bandırma ←||W E||→ İnegöl → Ankara|
|Ends at ←||N S||→ Uludağ → END|
|END (Teferrüç) ←||N S||→ Kadıyayla → Sarıalan → Kurbağa Kaya (Uludağ)|