Download GPX file for this article
40.73472231.607500Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bolu is a city in the Western Karadeniz (Black Sea) region of Turkey, with a population of 184,682 in 2021. It's 260 km east of Istanbul and 190 km northwest of Ankara so it might make a stopover. The town itself has a few antiquities but is otherwise modern and humdrum, but around it are forested mountains dotted by lakes, ski resorts, and villages that have preserved their traditional architecture.


Bolu is astride the main land route between Istanbul and Ankara, so it's long been a stopover plus a centre of civilisation in its own right. The route is formed by the valley of the great North Anatolian Fault, still active with major earthquakes every few decades, so the constructions of Hittites, Bithynians and early Romans have been shaken to bits. The town became known as Claudiopolis after the Roman Emperor Claudius, and in 111 AD was the birthplace of Antonius, gay lover of Hadrian. (He died in mysterious circumstances aged 19, so Hadrian had him deified.) After the Romans' successors the Byzantines were defeated in 1071 it was settled by Turkic tribes from the east who simply called it "polis", the town, which morphed into Bolu. It fell to the Ottomans in 1325 and most of the town's antiquities reflect their 600-year realm.

Bolu stands at 742 m / 2434 ft altitude and the mountains draw the clouds and rain. Summer highs are around 28°C and winter lows -2°C.

Get in[edit]

Buses run hourly from Istanbul and take 4-5 hours via Gebze, for a fare in 2024 or 450 TL. From Ankara takes three hours. Bus lines are Metroturizm and Flixbus.

1 Bolu Otogarı the bus station is off D100, 3 km west of town centre. A dolmuş will take you into town and may be included in your inter-city ticket, check when buying.

By road from Istanbul follow O-7 / E80 east. From Ankara take E89 north onto E80.

Get around[edit]

The area of interest in town is very compact and won't take long to walk around.

You need wheels for out-of-town sights, and frankly you'd only bother if driving that way, they're hardly worth a special trip.


  • 1 Bolu Museum, Stadyum Cd (within Culture Centre), +90 374 280 1700. Daily 08:30-17:30. The ground floor has archaeological exhibits from the Neolithic, Bronze, Phyrgian, Urartuian, Lydian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ages. The upper floor is ethnography. Bolu Museum (Q6037718) on Wikidata Bolu Museum on Wikipedia
  • 2 Beyazıt Mosque, Büyük Cami Sk. This was first built in 1382 AD by "Yıldırım" Bayezid (meaning "thunderbolt" for the way he rushed impetuously into battle, eventually at the cost of his life). Its medresa and library disappeared then the wooden mosque burned down in 1891. It was rebuilt in stone in 1899 with a dome and twin minarets, and restored after earthquake damage in 1944 and 1999. Beyazıt Mosque (Q110320893) on Wikidata
  • Taşhan is a two-storey traditional market hall on the west flank of Beyazıt Mosque. It was built in 1804 AD and has shops and cafes in the arcades around its courtyard.
  • Saraçhane Mosque faces the museum and Beyazıt Mosque across the main square. It was built by the renowned Mimar Sinan in the 16th century and rebuilt in 1750 AD.
  • Kadi Mosque 100 m west of Saraçhane Mosque is from the 16th century.
  • Yeşil Mosque 100 m north of main square is floodlit green at night just to remind you what yeşil means in Turkish.
  • 3 Roman stadium survives only as banks of seating along Izzet Baysal Cd. More probably lies under the street and buildings.
  • Aslahaddin Mosque is across the street from the stadium seating. It contains the tomb of Hazrat Aslahaddin, killed in battle in 934 AD, but the present structure is a 1967 rebuild.
  • 4 Siteler Mosque southwest side of town centre was built in 1988 in traditional style. "Siteler" roughly translates as building plots or housing estates.
  • 5 Gölköy Barajı Park surrounds a lake 11 km west of town, near the university campus - it's a freshwater crater lake enlarged by damming. It's not obvious what the entrance fee (30 TL in 2023) gets you, as there's inadequate parking, toilets, or anything else. Still, it's scenic.
  • 6 Tomb of Hayreddin-i Tokadı is 13 km west of town off E80 and D100. Heyreddin was an early 16th century scholar and preacher in the Khalwati Sufi tradition of Sunni Islam.


Within Beyazit Mosque
  • Football: Boluspor play soccer in TFF First League, Turkey's second tier. Their home ground Atatürk Stadium (capacity 8500) is 200 m north of the museum and main square.
  • Hamam: Sultan or Aktaş Spa is a traditional Ottoman bathhouse, open daily 09:00-20:00. It's at Süreyya Sk 2, 100 m southeast of the main square.
  • Lunapark is a funfair, enter from Ali Rıza Tekemen Cd just east of Siteler Mosque.
  • Hot springs arise in the town of Karacasu 7 km south of Bolu. There's a cluster of spa hotels and you may be able to pay for non-resident access to their facilities.
  • Ski: Kartalkaya and Sarialan are ski resorts in the Köroğlu Mountains to the south. They have accommodation, but the slopes are easily within a day trip from Bolu.


  • Lots of downtown convenience stores. The most central is Carrefour on PTT Cd just south of main square, open daily 08:00-22:00.
  • Özdilek is a large supermarket next to the bus station, open daily 10:00-22:00.


  • In or around main square are Bitur, Taşhan in the old market building, Bolu-Aş Lokantasi, Bayram Usta Et Lokantası and Kubbealti.


Seating for the Roman stadium
  • Some cafes may serve alcohol.


  • Downtown has a dozen small places, including Elit Palace (below), Eskoppremium, Otel 374, Parlak, Bolu Deluxe, Eratay, Matışlar Konağı and Bolu City Otel.
  • 1 Elit Palace, PTT Cd 24, +90 374 218 0400. Basic but clean and central. B&B double 800 TL.
  • 2 Grand Köroğlu Otel, Köroğlu Sk 26, +90 374 212 5348. Simple clean central hotel. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • 3 Hampton by Hilton, Eski Istanbul Cd 73, +90 374 254 5000. Good efficient hotel at junction of D100, west edge of town. B&B double 2000 TL.


Bolu and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Jan 2024, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next[edit]

  • Abant 30 km southwest is a lakeside mountain resort, popular year-round.
  • Yedigöller means "seven lakes". It's a national park 42 km north, especially attractive in autumn.
  • Mudurnu 52 km southwest is a historic town in the mountains, yet its most striking sight is the failed modern resort of Burj Al Babas, now a ghost town: several hundred incomplete identical Disney-like castles.
  • Göynük is an even more attractive village further along that road.

Routes through Bolu
IstanbulAbant  W  E  → Gerede ( N / S) → Ilgaz ( N / S) → Merzifon ( N / S) → Amasya

This city travel guide to Bolu is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.