The historical sites of Balıkesir reflect the city's importance during the Ottoman period. One of the notable and strikingly well-preserved mosques from the medieval age is the Zağnos Paşa built in 1461. From here, you can take a boat trip to the nearby islands to taste the fish salad or take a dip in the waters. Balıkesir also has restaurants serving delicious seafood.
From Balıkesir you can take a number of day trips. One of them is to Ayvalık known as the "Olive Riviera" probably because it is reached by following the olive groves. It has fine sandy beaches facing 22 pretty small islands. You can marvel at the Taksiarches Church (Taksiyaris Kilisesi) with its magnificent architecture and marble carvings and visit the Devil's feast (Şeytan Sofrası) to witness one of the perfect sunsets in the world. The busiest area in Ayvalık is its harbour, full of fishing boats and sightseeing boats. There are terrace restaurants and cafes facing the sea crowded with locals and visitors. Just 8 kms away is Sarımsaklı which boasts white sandy beaches in a romantic setting.
The calm Aegean Sea (Ege Denizi) makes summer the best time to visit Ayvalık. It’s a great place to chill out and relax whilst admiring the charm of the lovely old houses here.
Akçay, at the base of Mount Ida (Kaz Dağı), is another site close to Balıkesir. It is popular for its curative spas. It also has fine natural scenery, befitting its legendary reputation as the site of the world's first beauty contest, which is said to have started the Trojan War.
Gönen, 30 kms from Bandırma is another excellent relaxation centre. The location also has spas which have been used for curative purposes since early times.
The islands of Marmara and Avşa are famous for their fish, wine and historical treasures. They also have wonderful shorelines. The famous Marmara marbles come from here.
Not to be missed is the Kuş Cenneti Milli Parkı (Bird Paradise National Park) protecting 266 species of birds - a bird watchers paradise.
For a reminder of fascinating moments of your journey in Balıkesir, you should consider the original rugs made in the villages of Balıkesir.