The southern shoreline of the Sea of Marmara is sparsely populated west of Erdek, while polluted dormitory communities for İstanbul sprawl to the east. Many of these were devastated by the earthquake of August, 1999, which killed an estimated 30,000 people – victims of rogue builders who ignored building regulations yet miraculously managed to pass official inspections.

Fortunately, İznik, historically the most interesting town, suffered little damage. To the south, Bursa, once one of Turkey’s most attractive cities, has succumbed to rapid growth since the 1980s, bringing greater wealth but destroying much of its colourful provincial atmosphere.

The best way to explore the region is to use the fast car and foot-passenger ferries to Yalova, Mudanya and Bandırma from İstanbul’s Yenikapı terminal; book ahead in summer. Using buses to İznik and Bursa, or your own vehicle, you could see all the sights in three to four days. Buses, which follow a congested five-hour route along the gulf shore via İzmit, are not recommended.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Turkey features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The allure of Istanbul is hard to beat. This thrilling city bridges two continents with a history spanning more than 2000 years. And with Istanbul’s Atatürk …

05 Aug 2015 • Eleanor Aldridge videocam Video
Video: why Cappadocia is best seen from above

Video: why Cappadocia is best seen from above

The ethereal landscape of Cappadocia is one of Turkey's top attractions, and the fields of naturally-hewn "fairy chimneys" and mysterious rock caves here hav…

03 Jun 2015 • Eleanor Aldridge videocam Video
5 street foods you need to try in Istanbul

5 street foods you need to try in Istanbul

One of the most enjoyable ways of tasting the best Istanbul has to offer is to work your way around the city snacking on the incredible street food, s…

28 May 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month