The town of Iznik, located in the northwestern region of Turkey, on its own lake (Iznik Golu), was previously the ancient city of Nicaea. Tourism in Iznik is full of history: from its own Hagia Sophia mosque to the city’s famous ceramic tiles, there’s a story behind every corner. Whether you want to take in breezy lake views, check out some ancient architecture, or shop for crafts and tiles, Iznik has options. Visit our Bursa destination page for plenty more guides and articles about the wonders of this part of Turkey including Mt Uludag, Koza Han and the Great Mosque.
Brief History Iznik has a rich history, as it stood the test of time through the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. It contains the earliest examples of both mosques and Catholic churches. This allowed diversity in the town to flourish and created a unique mesh of different cultures and ideas, which can be seen in the area’s architecture and artistic creations. Many of the buildings constructed in the transition period from the Byzantine to the Ottoman empire show evidence of multiple architectural techniques.
Iznik Weather and Climate Visitors travelling to Iznik ought to carefully consider their month of travel when it comes to packing. While July and August see balmy 23.5 C temperature averages, January (Iznik’s coldest month) hosts a chilly temperature average of just 5 C. And while there isn’t as much precipitation variation as in other parts of Turkey, visitors hoping for clear, dry days will have the best luck in the summer months.
Iznik Attractions and Things to Do Though visitors may be eager to check out the ancient artefacts of the Iznik Museum, as of 2018, the museum was still closed for renovation. However, history is on display at attractions like the Green Mosque, a fifteenth-century Ottoman mosque rated as Iznik’s number-one thing to do on TripAdvisor. Visitors can check out the mosque’s stunning marble and tile architecture, with the building located just a short walk away from the historic Murat Hamami baths, one of Lonely Planet’s favourite hammams in the country. Around the area of Murat Hamami, visitors looking for a sale can also find shops selling crafts and traditional Iznik tiles. After a relaxing visit to the traditional Turkish bath, travellers can head to Iznik Lake’s coast. The tree-lined shore makes for excellent walking, where visitors can choose to stop at a playground, a cafe, or a picnic table to take in the scenery.
Transportation and Accessing Iznik The closest airport to Iznik is Bursa’s Yenisehir airport, located around a half hour from Iznik by car. Though Yenisehir is a small airport that sees only domestic flights, it may be a good option for visitors travelling from other parts of Turkey, with flights to and from Ankara, Gaziantep, Mus, Trabzon, Erzurum and Diyarbakir. However, Istanbul is only about an hour and 40 minutes from Iznik by car, so some visitors may choose to fly into one of Istanbul’s large international airports and drive to Iznik. Additionally, travellers spending time in the city of Eskisehir will find that Iznik is just a two-hour drive away, making it a great weekend or day trip option.
Iznik Ceramic Tiles During the Ottoman empire, Iznik perfected -- and became known for -- its ceramic tiles, which primarily adorn the walls and arches of significant buildings throughout Turkey. They are a rare and sought-after item, not only for their intricate beauty but for their rarity and the craftsmanship ancient potters put into them. In fact, in 2006, a rare ceramic pottery set from Iznik sold for 500,000 USD. For those with less spending money, these tiles can easily be seen in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. The imperial seat of the Ottoman era. The tile and mosaic-lined rooms and hallways at one point housed over 5,000 residents. At the decline of the Ottoman empire, with it went the ability to preserve the craft, thus tile-making in Iznik slowly died out. Any tiles that do not currently line the interior of buildings from that era have made their way to museums, including the Louvre and the Smithsonian.