Gebze is a city in Eastern Marmara, 65 km east of Istanbul. It's a sprawling industrial conurbation, with a population of 392,945 in 2020.
Traditionally you came here to take the ferry from Eskihisar across the Gulf of Izmit towards Yalova and Bursa. You can still do so, but most travellers nowadays cross by the bridge and bypass Gebze.
The settlement is probably thousands of years old but was first documented in 281 BC, when it was known as Dakibyza or Libyssa in the kingdom of Bithynia. That kingdom battled Roman expansion but succumbed in 85 BC, so Gebze was under Roman / Byzantine rule until falling to the Ottomans in 1330. It's on major trade routes, overland from the east and by sea from the west and from the Black Sea regions. In the late 20th century it became not so much a commuter town for Istanbul as an overspill, with population and industry relocating from the congested metropolis. Major industries today are around chemicals, metals, automobile parts, electronics and IT. A large industrial park OSB was laid out north of town, the Technical University was established west on the Istanbul metropolitan boundary, and Tübitak south was opened as an industrial research facility.
1 Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW IATA) is the closest, and has international and domestic flights. It's connected by Metro to Pendik, although the Metro and mainline railway stations there are 1 km apart. From Pendik take the Marmaray train as below. A taxi from the airport to Gebze might take 20 min.
Istanbul Airport (IST IATA) has a global range of flights at competitive fares, but is away west, Europe-side of the Bosphorus. Havalines Bus runs three times a day to Gebze (2 hr, 70 TL), Izmit and Sakarya. Otherwise you have to travel into the metropolis then onward.
From Istanbul take the Marmaray suburban train, which crosses the width of the metropolis from Halkalı way out in the western suburbs via Bakırköy, Yenikapı, Sirkeci (for Old City), then under the Bosphorus to Üsküdar, Ayrılıkçeşmesi (for Kadıköy), Bostancı and Pendik (for SAW airport), terminating at Gebze. It runs 06:00-23:00 every 15 minutes; the ride from city centre takes an hour and costs 16 TL. Don't take the Metro, which terminates at Pendik - the extension to Gebze might open in 2023.
YHT fast trains run six times a day from Ankara and three times from Konya, via Eskişehir, Arifiye and Izmit. From Gebze they continue west to the Istanbul stations of Pendik, Bostancı and Söğütlüçeşme, and once a day out to Halkalı. You can't use these trains for the short hop to and from Istanbul, though you could use the sleeper (below). There are also five regional trains a day to Gebze from Adapazarı via Izmit.
Ankara Express runs overnight, leaving Ankara at 22:00 to reach Gebze at 05:00 and central Istanbul around 06:00. The eastbound train departs around 22:50, calls at Gebze at 23:50 and reaches Ankara at 06:45.
- 2 Gebze railway station (Gebze garı) (2 km southwest of town centre).
Long-distance buses towards Istanbul drop off at Gebze on their way from the east, so there's a frequent service from Ankara and beyond. However, as with the trains, it's not sensible to use these for the short hop from the city, and they might not let you buy a ticket.
3 Gebze Otogar the long-distance bus station is 2 km east of town centre by the D100 highway interchange.
Minibuses ply every 10-15 min to Gebze from Harem, Istanbul's main bus station on the Asian banks of the Bosphorus. Harem has frequent ferries from the Old City and is 1 km from Ayrılık Çeşmesi, on the Metro red and blue lines. In Gebze you can get off in town centre.
From central Istanbul, join O-1 ring road then O-4 / E80 east. From Istanbul Airport, Thrace (eg Gallipoli) or western Europe, avoid the city by sweeping north on O-7, eventually joining O-4 at Kurna. In light traffic it takes an hour, but when would Istanbul ever have light traffic?
From Izmir and Bursa use O-5, which crosses the Gulf of Izmit by the Osmangazi Bridge. The bridge toll in 2022 is 184.50 TL per car.
4 Eskihisar has IDO ferries from Topçular near Yalova across the Gulf. They run continuously 24 hours, taking 45 min, and in Aug 2022 the fare for a car and all its occupants is 130 TL.
A ferry for foot passengers also sails between Pendik and Yalova.
Bus 416 runs every 10 min between Arapçeşme, Gebze town centre and Eskihisar.
Gebze city centre is bland and modern. Its three museums have one thing in common: they're marked on Google Map but don't exist.
- 1 Çoban Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi is a 16th century religious complex, restored in 2015. Centred on the mosque, it contains tombs, a madressah, lodge, soup kitchen, hospital and caravanserai.
- 2 Hannibal's tomb is in the grounds of Tübitak Research Centre, accessible free M-F 10:00-15:00. Hannibal (247-182 BC) was the Carthagian general who fought Rome in the Second Punic War. He captured much of Roman Spain and southern Italy by elephants and clever strategy, until eventually Scipio carried the fight to him in North Africa. Hannibal went into exile, seeking other rulers at war with Rome: the Seleucids in Anatolia, Artaxias in Armenia, and finally Prusas in Bithynia. His hurling of snakes against enemy shipping was a first in maritime warfare, but the Romans got him trapped and he took poison rather than be captured. The exact location where this happened or what happened to his body afterwards are unknown, and the present memorial was built in the approximate whereabouts in 1981, about half a century belatedly on order of Kemal Atatürk, who was a great admirer of the Carthaginian.
- 3 Eskihisar Castle (Eskihisar Kalesi). Daily 08:00-18:00. "Eski" means old and "hisar" means fortress, and there's been a castle on this site since the 12th century, the Byzantine era. It's been turned into an open-air theatre, access at other times is erratic.
- Osman Hamdi Bey Museum (400 m east of ferry pier), ☏ +90 262 655 6348. Tu-Su 08:30-16:30. A charming 19th century wooden mansion, the summer home of Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910), the polymath founder of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and one of the earliest modern Turkish painters. His best known painting is "The Tortoise Trainer", satirising attempts to reform the Ottoman Empire.
- 4 Darıca Hobbit Village is a twee, Hobbit-themed public park signposted Millet Bahçesi, open 24 hours. Otopark B is the nearest car park (free), and there is a cafe nearby. If you find yourself wondering about the connection between göl - Turkish for "lake" - and the slimy creature that existed in one, then keep that thought to yourself. Comparing the President of Turkey to that creature attracts a one-year jail term, and serve you right. It's probably ten years if you ask him what you've got in your pockets. Free.
- 5 Faruk Yalçın Hayvanat Bahçesi is a small zoo in Darıca.
- 6 Ballıkayalar, 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast near Tavşanlı, is a scenic woodland with limestone canyons riddled with caves. It's a favourite of rock climbers from Istanbul.
- 7 Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Bridge is a 16th century bridge that has somehow survived in Dilovası. Two km south, the Osmangazi Bridge vaults over the Gulf of Izmit.
- 8 Hereke, 20 km east, is an old weaving centre. Its imperial factory, now a museum (Tu-F 09:00-18:00, 40 TL, discount for domestic visitors), was where the large carpets bedecking late Ottoman palaces in Istanbul were produced. The nearby wooden Kaiser Wilhelm II Mansion on the waterfront was prefabricated in Istanbul and assembled here in just one day to accommodate the German emperor on his 1884 visit to the factory.
- Beaches hereabouts are small. Eskihisar has the best stretch, with another 500 m west of the Hobbit Village.
- AVM is the main shopping centre, just south of D100 by Hyatt House (see Sleep). It's open daily 10:00-22:00.
- Carpets: Hereke 25 km east along the coast is a traditional manufacturing centre.
- Gebze town centre has Bahçe, Paradise Cafe, Antep Sofrası, Izgaracim and Birlik Et.
- Near Eskihisar ferry pier are Süleyman Usta'nın Yeri, Doydum Izgara, Erzurum Cağ Kebabi, Sahil Sofrası and Sahil Restaurant.
- Town centre bars include Hasır Birahanesi and Meydan.
Many people have extended stays in Gebze for their work, so there's lots of accommodation.
- 1 Atasayan Hotel, Hükümet Cd 88, ☏ +90 262 641 2314. Clean central budget hotel. B&B double 500 TL.
- Libiza Otel next to Atasayan is similar price and quality.
- 2 Somya Hotel, Ali Rıza Efendi Cd 14, ☏ +90 262 641 2314. Convenient friendly budget hotel. B&B double 400 TL.
- 3 Ramada Encore, Hükümet Cd 125, ☏ +90 262 642 6464. Reliable comfy chain hotel in town centre. B&B double 800 TL.
- 4 Hyatt House, Güney Yanyol Cd 1319/2, ☏ +90 262 674 1234. Smart chain hotel next to main shopping centre. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 5 Lamec Hotel Business, Kışla Cd 46, ☏ +90 262 644 0400. Mid-range place with spacious rooms and great reviews for service. B&B double 700 TL.
- Ener Old Castle Resort, Dr Zeki Acar Cd, Eskihisar (500 m east of ferry pier), ☏ +90 262 656 2300. Clean comfy place near ferry port. B&B double 1100 TL.
Gebze has 4G from all Turkish carriers, which extends west to Istanbul city, east along the coast towards Izmit, and south over the bridge. As of April 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Istanbul just west is unmissable.
- Bursa south across the Sea of Marmara was the Ottoman's first city, so it's full of historic sites.
- Ankara is 3 hr 30 min by train, so it's just about within range of a day-trip.
|Routes through Gebze|
|Edirne ← Istanbul ←||W E||→ İzmit → Ankara ( )|
|Ends at ←||N S||→ Osman Gazi Bridge → Yalova → Bursa|
|Ends at at Kınalı (W E) ← Istanbul Airport ← Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge ←||W E||→ İzmit → Ends at at Hendek (W E)|
|END ← Istanbul ←||W E||→ İzmit → Ankara|
|Western Suburbs ← Old City ← Istanbul's Asian suburbs ←||W E||→ END|
|END (Eskihisar) ←||N S||→ Topçular ( W E)|