The metropolis of Bursa, Turkey in northwestern Anatolia is a lively and historic city that boasts countless points of interest, but what to see and do in Bursa depends largely on where your interests lie. Bursa’s roots can be traced back to 5200 B.C., the year the area was first settled. What is now Turkey’s fourth-largest city swapped hands between the Greek, Bithynia, and Roman Empires before it became the first major capital of the Ottoman Empire between 1335 and 1363.
Bursa, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a long history that can be explored at practically every turn. But this city, which is also known for its food, beaches, bazaars, hot springs, and more, has a lot more to offer to visitors than just history, much of which will be explored in this guide of what to see and do in Bursa.
1. Take the teleferik up Uludağ
In the wintertime, Uludağ is a snowy winter wonderland. In the summer, the mountain is a cool, refreshing getaway from the heat. The recently reopened teleferik (cable car) makes getting up and down the mountain fast and easy. Spend a day or two skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the winter, or enjoy hiking, picnicking, and playing in the mountain streams and meadows in the warmer months. At the very least, take the teleferik up to Sarıalan and grill your own meat right next to your table at the famous Palabıyık Restaurant.
2. Grand Mosque Bursa
For over 500 years this was the biggest mosque in Turkey. On a Friday prayer there are about 5,000 people praying together and another 2,000 outside. This massive structure was built in 1396 and completed in 1399. Sultan Bayezid promised that he would build 20 mosques if he would win the battle of Nicopolis. Eventually he won the war, returned but instead built the Grand Mosque with 20 domes. The Grand Mosque in Bursa is open to the public and taking photos inside is allowed.
3. Stroll the Alleys of Cumalıkızık
For a taste of years gone by, head into the hill villages that sit on the outskirts of Bursa.
The most famous of these villages is Cumalıkızık, just 14 kilometers east from the central city. Here, the cobblestone alleyways are rimmed with old houses, some finely preserved, and others slouching into various states of dilapidation. They're built in typical Ottoman style, with stonework and adobe walls with wood beam detailing. Some of the houses date as far back as the earliest period of the Ottoman era.
Due to their historical importance, the villages in this area were included as part of Bursa's UNESCO World Heritage listing.
4. The Perennial Tree
The Perennial Tree, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Bursa, is located in Inkaya Village, 10 minutes from Bursa city centre. It is approximately 610 years old, 38 meters long, about 10 meters around, and its branches extend over an area of 920 km.
Tourists visiting Bursa are highly recommended not to miss seeing this historic tree, one of Bursa's most famous symbols, with a very thrilling and eye-catching sight, which would make you feel like you're in a fantasy place!
5. Grand Bazaar
Bursa’s Grand Bazaar is one of the city’s best spots for shopping. The city was known for producing high-quality silk goods during the Ottoman period, and fine ipek, or silk, can be found at 40 shops in the top level of the bazaar’s Koza Han section.
Throughout the rest of the bazaar, you’ll also find vendors selling shoes, clothing, carpets, bags, jewelry, antiques, and souvenirs, as well as dried fruits, nuts, locally-produced cheeses and honeys, and a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. Irgandı Köprüsü
The Irgandı Bridge, built in 1442 during the reign of Murat II, is a stunning and rare sight because it’s a single arch bridge that has a bazaar on top. Renovated with a lovely yellow color that really soaks up the sun’s complementary hues, the bridge is a must-see while in Bursa.
7. The Green Mosque And Tomb
What the Blue Mosque is to Istanbul the Green Mosque and Tomb are to Bursa. The mosque was built between 1415 and 1419 on behalf of Sultan Mehmet. As you approach the mosque, you will be looking up at the stalactite-like gateway, which is covered in green tiles and gold.
The interior is also a prime example of Ottoman architecture and craftsmanship, again dominated by the splendor of shimmering green tiles illuminated by enormous chandeliers. The sultan’s tomb and those of his sons and daughter are in a similar building on a hill just opposite the mosque.
Remember: When visiting a mosque in Turkey, you have to take your shoes off and cover your head and shoulders. Men need to wear long pants if a sarong is not provided at the entrance, and women will need to wear headscarves.
8. Visit the iconic Muradiye Complex
Also known as the Complex of Sultan Murad II, the Muradiye Complex is a stunning mosque that houses 12 tombs, mostly belonging to Sultan Murad II’s relThe metropolis of Bursa, Turkey in northwestern Anatolia is a lively and historic city that boasts atives. It is breathtaking in terms of architectural design as well as intricacy. Due to an earthquake in the year 1855, a large fraction of the mosque has undergone a restoration. This marvelous landmark is located in the heart of the city, close to other marvelous landmarks, retail shops, and excellent restaurants.
9. Visit Tophane Park
There are many reasons to visit Tophane Park with amazing views over the city. First of all because you can visit the tombs of Osman and Orhan, the founder of Bursa and its son. Besides that you will stumble upon one of the best places to see in Bursa: the historical clocktower. Unfortunately at the moment the clocktower is under construction, but the views over the city are still phenomenal from one of the terraces.
10. Watch a Whirling Dervish Ceremony
Although Konya (home base of the Mevlevi Sufis) is the most famous city to watch the dervishes whirl, Bursa also has an active Mevlevi cultural center, and visitors are welcome to come and watch the sema (the religious ceremony of the whirling dervishes).
What sets the ceremony apart here from the sema you see in Konya is that the ceremony here is the Mevlevi Sufi community's religious practise, rather than being shown as a touristic performance.
It's held every evening in the community's dervish lodge (called a tekke in Turkish), which is also known as the Karabaş-i Veli Kültür Merkezi.
Female visitors watch from the balcony upstairs, while male visitors sit on the ground level. You should be modestly dressed, and female travelers should don a headscarf on entering the tekke.
The ceremony takes around 30 minutes and begins at 9.30pm on summer evenings and 8pm in winter.