Balikesir is a tourism paradise that you will experience for 12 months with its activities, historical, cultural and natural beauties. Traditional dishes, ancient cities, holy sites, nice beaches and museums are waiting for visitors to discover. Climb to the mountains, experience the magic of water sports, live the opportunities of yacht tourism, see the attractiveness of sea and coastal tourism, swim in the thermal springs, taste the local flavours.
Where is Balıkesir Situated in?
The province of Balıkesir is situated in northwestern Turkey and moreover, the city has coastlines on both the coast of Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. The neighbours of the city are Çanakkale to the west (you can check our related article on the city), İzmir to the southwest, Manisa to the south, Kütahya to the southeast, and Bursa to the east.
Balıkesir is the 17th most crowded city in Turkey. The city has 20 districts in both Marmara and Aegean Regions. In addition to that, Balıkesir also has 22 islands in the Marmara and the Aegean Sea, yet only Cunda and Avşa (Turkeli) Islands have inhabitants.
The population of Balıkesir is around 1,300,000. If you compare this number with the Metropol cities of Turkey, -such as Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, may not be seen a lot. However, Balıkesir is still a big city. Other hand, Balıkesir province is famous for its olives, thermal, spas, and clean blue flag beaches, making it an important tourist destination.
So, it is time to discover more about Balıkesir’s historical, cultural and natural beauties.
21. Manyas Bird Paradise of Balıkesir (Manyas Kuş Cenneti for Turkish)
Bird Paradise area was declared a national park in 1959. Manyas Bird Paradise National Park is an ideal place for birds to stopover, rest and continues on their way after feeding. The park is located in the mild climate of the Marmara region, right on top of the international migration routes of the birds. Bird Paradise National Park has received an award of the Class A European certificate from the European Union, because of its effective and successful protection for birdlife.
20. A Prove of Balıkesir’s Natural Beauty: Manyas Lake
Manyas Lake and Bird Paradise are Ornithological Heavens in Balıkesir. The national park near the Manyas Lake is a veritable ornithological paradise where 246 species of birds feed. Manyas Lake is in the northwest of Balıkesir. You can reach to Manyas Lake while you are heading your way to Bandırma. It is on the left side of Balıkesir-Bandırma highway.
19. Marmara Island
Marmara Island, formerly known as Prokonessos, rose to prominence in the Roman period and retained its importance during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras thanks to the marble quarries which supplied stone for extravagant imperial building programs. Near Saraylar Village, Marble Beach derives its name from the natural marble that lies just off the water’s edge. In the town, there is an open-air museum and it displays artefacts that date back to Roman and Byzantine times. At the marble quarry, you can witness every step of the quarrying process. People, who especially lives in Istanbul, mostly prefer Marmara Adası due to its closeness to the city.
18. Avşa (Türkeli) Island
Türkeli (Avşa) is another holiday island that boasts spectacular beaches and clear water as well as vineyards and wine cellars. In the Manastır district stands the Byzantine Meryem Ana Monastery. Avşa is another most preferable touristic point for those come from Istanbul. As one of the oldest and most famous resort areas on the Sea of Marmara, it offers pristine beaches and every type of accommodation
17. Kazdağı National Park (Mount IDA or Goose Mountain)
Kazdağı has been declared as a national park in 1994. The national park covers an area of 21.450 hectares and promises a healthy life.
With its natural resources, different types of forests, valleys and waterfalls, Kazdagi National Park is just like a paradise for nature lovers. There are some attractive and enjoyable activities such as trekking in the forest, mountain biking, jeep safari, horse riding, peak climbing, swimming in rivers.
Balıkesir’s Kazdagi National Park is situated 15 km away from Edremit town and 105 km away from the Balikesir province of Turkey.
16. The Gorgeous Değirmen Boğazı
The beautiful Değirmen Boğazı, an area 10km from Balıkesir on the way to Bursa. It lies between two hills; so on holidays and weekends, families flock to this scenic spot and its restaurants. At Karakol village, photographers can capture wonderful pictures of an unbelievable panorama.
15. From Ancient Panderemus to Modern Bandırma: The Biggest District of Balıkesir Province in the North
Ancient Penderamus, now called Bandırma, is today an important commercial and industrial harbour second to İstanbul in the Sea of Marmara. You can spend a pleasant afternoon in the town’s restaurants and cafes. You can whether take a walk at the seaside or order yourself a cup of tea in adorable cafes.
14. The Ancient City in The Kapıdağ Peninsula: Belkıs (Kyzikos)
Belkıs (Kyzikos) lies 10km west of Bandırma; in this ancient city on the isthmus of the Kapıdağ Peninsula, the Temple of Hadrian, a theatre and aqueducts still captivate the visitors. If you happen to go to Bandırma, do not miss the chance of visiting the ancient city.
13. Horse Farms in Karacabey
Well, Karacabey does not belong to Balıkesir Province, but it is only 13 km southeast of Bandırma. So, that would be a shame not to see horse farms in Karacabey, where you can witness breed magnificent specimens of this majestic animal.
12. Kapıdağ Peninsula: A witness of Region’s History
Kapıdağ Peninsula is another natural beauty of Balıkesir city. It also takes place in the north of Bandırma, only 7 km away. Besides its blue flag pristine beaches and Kyzikos Ancient City on the top, the peninsula also offers you wonderful panorama, dizzy oxygen with its hundreds of years old plane trees, and natural camping are for whom like to sleep under the sky.
11. Erdek: The Ancient Erteka
Erdek is the most famous touristic spot of the north of Balıkesir Province. 4 of 22 blue flag beaches of Balıkesir are located in Erdek. As one of the oldest and most visited resort areas on the Sea of Marmara, Erdek offers pristine beaches and every type of accommodation for every type of budget.
10. Tatlısu: A Little Sweet Fishing Town
Tatlısu is a small fishing neighbourhood situated on the shore of Kapıdağ gulf. It is the just opposite of Bandırma and part of the Erdek district. In the village, there are cosy small cafes where you can drink your tea while watching the sunset. Its name arises from underground sweet water sources of which feed not only local people but also people who live around.
9. Zeytinli Rock Festival
Zeytinli Rock Festival is one of the biggest and oldest rock music festivals in Turkey. It has been holding in Zeytinli Village, Edremit. If you are willing to have an unforgettable memory, think of it!
8. Devil’s Feast (Şeytan Sofrası for Turkish)
The Devil’s Feast (“Şeytan Sofrası” in Turkish) is a hilltop located 8 kilometres from the district of Ayvalık in Balıkesir province, a tourism hot spot for locals as well as foreigners in one of the most important tourism centres of the Aegean Region. If you want to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Ayvalık islands and the Greek island of Lesbos then travel here and experience one of Turkey’s most legendary places in tourism.
According to a legend mystery that attracts tens of thousands of tourists during the summer months, this hilltop has the footprint of the devil. This is where the name of the hill comes from.
7. Historical Monuments in the Center of Balıkesir City
Beyazıt I built Yıldırım Mosque in the mid-14th-century. The mosque is the city’s oldest mosque while the Zağnos Paşa Mosque, built by and named after the Grand Vizier of Mehmet the Conqueror Zağnos Paşa in 1461, was once part of a great complex. Today only the mosque and baths remain. On the other hand, The Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower) built by Mehmet Paşa in 1827 is a smaller version of the Galata Tower. In addition to that, the Karesi Bey Mausoleum of 1336 contains the cenotaphs of Karesi Bey and his five sons. Don’t forget to visit the artefacts that are taken from the area and put on display in the newly-completed Balıkesir Museum (Kuva-i Milliye)!
6. Sarımsaklı Beach
Sarımsaklı Beach is one of the most beautiful and long beaches both in Balıkesir Province and Turkey. As a result, with its beach, which is longer than 7 km, and golden sand that doesn’t glue your body offers you a very strong option to swim.
5. Gürlek Waterfall (Gürlek Şelalesi)
The area of Gürlek Waterfall is located around the Adatepebasi village between Küçükkuyu and Altınoluk. Gürlek Waterfall falls from 120 meters and rocky blocks are formed where the waterfall. Water entirely flows through the underground after falling onto a shallow basin.
It is not that easy to reach where the shallow is located, therefore the visitors may request the villagers help.
4. Sütüven Waterfall (Sütüven Şelalesi)
Sütüven Waterfall is located at Zeytinli village which is situated at shores across the sea.
The waterfall under protection runs through the valley covered with pine trees. On the road, you can meet village people selling honey and olive oil. As you get closer to the waterfall the panorama is getting better.
It takes 20 minutes to come at Sutuven Waterfall from Zeytinli. The noise of the waterfall takes you next to it. Foaming, pouring water 17 m high, covered with pine forests and cool in the valley. There you can find a view which reflects the name Sütüven the water who jumps.
3. Şahinderesi Canyon (Şahinderesi Kanyonu)
Sahinderesi Canyon is famous as the world’s green canyon, ranked second in the world in terms of density of oxygen. The canyon, situated in the Kazdagi National Park in the town of Altinoluk.
Sahinderesi Canyon is the most important factor which makes Altinoluk an oxygen tent. Furthermore, the canyon, which is responsible for air circulation of the region, distributes pine-scented mountain air to the plain and transfers iodine scented sea air to the mountain, thus acting like a chimney.
2. Kirazlı Waterfall (Kirazlı Şelalesi)
Kirazli Waterfall is just like a natural pool is formed under the waterfall falls through the rocks covered by moss is good to get cool and swim in summers. When followed by the side of the stream, visitors half an hour later reach to a small path that lies parallel to the stream leads to Kirazli Waterfall, which is one of the most attractive waterfalls of the Kapıdağ Peninsula. A natural pool is formed under the waterfall falls through the rocks covered by moss is good to get cool and swim in summers.
Kirazli Monastery is a surprise of the area. The Stream sourced out of the plateau flows nearby the monastery. Kirazli district and the waterfall is located between Kocaburgaz and Yukarı Yapıcılar villages of Erdek.
1. Cunda Island (Cunda Adası)
Cunda Island is the largest one of the Ayvalik Islands. Before the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, the Greek population used to live here. However, there are still reminders of them such as stone houses, colourful shutters, and the island’s main landmark Taksiarchis Church is still standing. The island is definitely heaven on earth!
Plus: How Can You Get To Balıkesir From Istanbul?
Arriving in Balıkesir from Istanbul is super easy! The distance between Istanbul and Balıkesir by highway is around 320 km, which means 4-5 hours by car. On the other hand, you can take a ferry from Yenikapı, Istanbul, and then around 2,5 hours you will arrive to Bandırma. As we mentioned above, Bandırma is the northern district of Balıkesir and it is just 1hour away from Balıkesir by car. Another option is to get on a plane, with that, the journey will take you 45 min. then you will land in Edremit Airport.