Near Istanbul

A journey through the suburbs of Istanbul…Far away from the crowd, close to the nature…Must-see places right around the city: historical, tasteful and fun!

15/10/2014

Almost as beautiful as the city itself:

Suburbs of istanbul... 

Polonezköy


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Inhabited by Polish taking refuge in the Ottoman Empire after escaping Poland in the 18th century, this sweet village is an ideal place to take a break from the exhausting air of the city. Polonezköy, 24 km away from Beykoz on the Anatolian side, is a former Polish village where Polish refugees were settled by the Ottoman Empire in 18th century. The village is named after the refugees. The locals of this Polish- and Turkish-speaking village live by running lodging houses and restaurants. 

Enjoyed by Istanbulites as an escape from the city, the green village offers a perfect day trip, starting with traditional Turkish breakfasts with homemade jams and assorted cheeses or a delicious lunch in village restaurants, followed by long walks through nature. Most of the locals provide lodging-house service in their residences for visitors, who choose a short stay instead of daily visits. It would be a pleasing experience to spend the night in one of these village houses.

 When you’re in Polonozköy, there are many places to visit, such as the museum house where Ataturk stayed during his visit to the village, the houses and tombs of the first Polish people inhabiting the region, and the Village Church. If you’ll make your way from European side, go across the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Bridge and follow the signposts for Polonezköy, located 12 km from the Kavacik exit. 

 

Şile


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This coastal town located along the Black Sea coast is very well-known for its long beaches, fish restaurants and the special “Şile fabric” manufactured in the district. 70

 km away from Istanbul, Şile is a perfect choice for short escape in the vicinity of the metropolis. The way to this Black Sea town, located on Kocaeli peninsula, takes only 40 minutes from Uskudar. Make sure you don’t leave the town before visiting Şile Lighthouse and the Genoese Castle, the landmarks of the town. It is no doubt that Şile will mesmerize you with its vast beaches. Şile is therefore one of the first options to breath the cool sea breeze. The town offers a wide range of lodging houses, hotels and restaurants. 

Ağlayan Kaya, Kumbaba, İmrenli, Ayazma and Sahilköy are only some of the best beaches of Şile. Take special care while swimming and shove off to deep sections, because the Black Sea is famous for its rough waves. 

There is always a must-do in Istanbul and in this coastal town it is, beyond question, to have some fish and seafood. Şile offers rich options for seafood restaurants where you can taste the freshest sea bass, mullet, horse mackerel, haddock and many more. And don’t forget to stop by the stores selling clothes made of “Şile fabric”, the product specific to the town. Used specifically in summer dresses and blouses, this traditional fabric decorated with needlework inspires many Turkish fashion designers.

 

Ağva

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Located between two streams along the Black Sea coast, Ağva offers perfect alternatives such as fishing or sailing on the river accompanied by the purest nature, as well as a feast of fish and seafood. Meaning “the village between two streams” in Latin, “Ağva” is another coastal town located along the Black Sea coast, just like the neighbor town Şile. The district between the Göksu and Yeşilçay rivers streaming over the Çal Hill of Izmit is only 115 km distant from Istanbul. With its popularity rising over the recent years, the town offers a great number of lodging houses and restaurants located along both rivers. This is also how the locals live. 

In Ağva, you can have a pleasant boat trip on the river surrounding the town or shove off on a canoe or pedalo. With crowded groups, it’s huge fun to go fishing on a boat. You can also swim in both rivers surrounding the town. But if you prefer to swim in the sea, you can lose yourself in the cool waters of the Black Sea.

 Ağva attracts visitors not only by its natural beauty, but also its historical sights. The Roman church and tomb-stones in Kalemköy, and Gürlek and İnkese Caves were founded in the 4th Century AD. Christians took shelter in these caves against the wrath of Romans. The castle remains in Hisartepe and the mountain mill in Sungurlu are the other historical places to visit. Another important feature of Ağva is the wide range of fresh fish thanks to the coastal location of the town. You will find the freshest seasonal fish and seafood in the restaurants along the blue sea and green river, accompanied by the unique beauty of nature. 

Restaurant menus offer assorted fish, typically cooked in the oven, grill, wood fire or on a clay tile. The prices for the fish dishes seasoned with bay leaf and special dressings are quite affordable. If you’d prefer meat, there are village restaurants serving delicious the tastes of quail, chicken and kebab in tandoori ovens. If traveling by road, follow the Ümraniye - Şile way. Take the Kabanoz, İmranli and Kurfallı direction after Şile. You’ll be in Ağva in only one hour.
 If you prefer going by bus, safely take the hourly coaches to Şile – Ağva from Uskudar.

 

Kilyos

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Renown for the beautiful beaches, this town is ranked number one among the Istanbul youth’s favorites, thanks to open-air festivals and beach parties.

Kilyos is a summer town located along the Black Sea coast in the suburbs of Istanbul. It is located 25 km from Istanbul. Reaching the town through Belgrad Forest, you’ll find yourself at the best address for short breaks from the big city, offering vast beaches. 

As with other coastal towns, Kilyos offers various lodging houses and restaurants. Istanbul being an events metropolis and Kilyos being a beautiful part of it; this coastal town hosts many parties and many rock festivals attended by world-renown DJs. With an increased population at the time of such festivals, the town’s beaches teem with the youth of Istanbul, who can enjoy the sea during the day and makes the most of Kilyos by night with these entertaining organizations. Following the Sarıyer coastal road, you can make your way to Kilyos. It is located at a 45 minute-distance from the city center. Don’t forget, however, this road becomes very crowded on weekends. Another way to the town is to take the Bahçeköy forest road.

 

Kemerburgaz

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Kemerburgaz, the place of luxury building complexes, golf and hunting clubs.

Kemerburgaz draws the attention of Istanbulites in every season through its untouched nature and sea. It is easy to access the district via the Belgrad Forest, and is one of the largest excursion spots in Istanbul. Nestled in nature, Kemerburgaz’s value is rising with the luxury villas built in the area in the recent years.

 The region also hosts sports facilities, horse-riding, golfing and hunting clubs. Kemerburgaz welcomes Istanbulites looking for sports and long walks on weekends. The special restaurants established lately have also brought extra dynamism to the district. 

 

Kumburgaz and Silivri


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Kumburgaz and Silivri are amongst the most preferred getaway area by Istanbulites as well. With a range of summer houses lined up by the seaside, the region is at the center of attention, particularly on weekends. With a lengthy beach, the region provides an ideal alternative for accommodation, answering the demands of sea fans with five star resorts opened up in both provinces. You may enjoy playing golf as well in the five star golf facilities located in Silivri.

 

Princes’ Islands


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The Princes’ Islands consist of nine islands in total, five of which are located in very close proximity to Istanbul. Buyukada (Prinkipo), Heybeliada (Halki), Burgazada (Antigoni), Kınalıada (Proti) and Sedefadası (Antirovithos) are the most famous isles, which are widely populated as well. Sivriada (Oksia), Yassıada (Plati), Kaşık Adası (Pita) and Tavşan Adası (Neandros) on the other hand, are either restricted for settlement, or relatively hard to arrive at. 

Now let’s get back to our most widely known five isles. The Princes’ Islands enjoy a different climate due to the Mediterranean influence, and the one with the closest proximity to the mainland is Kınalıada (Proti). The one with the farthest proximity to the mainland is Buyukada (Prinkipo). 

In those secluded places, you will not hear the urban traffic, rumble and horn horns. Instead, you may enjoy the site excursions with carriages pulled by two horses. You cannot see any crooked housing, or sky high apartments. Instead, you are greeted by the manors and mansions robed with bougainvillea and robinia gardens. Accommodating a wide range of people regardless of their religion, language or race, those pleasant places have served as one of the most preferred getaway locations by the Istanbulites for years. 

It is rather interesting that each one of them has an individual nature that is specific to that isle. Therefore you get a different taste from each of them. Picnicking is more delightful on some, and eating fish on some other… Of course, it is up to you to discover each individual taste! Being the island with the largest surface area and most crowded population, Buyukada (Prinkipo) can be visited either for a daily excursion or for a longer time. The isle provides a wide range of accommodation choices from cozy lodges to large and ancient hotels. 

Rumor has it that all your wishes will come true if you climb the path up to the Hagia Yorgi Church, which is the hallmark structure of Buyukada, particularly on the dates of April 23rd, or September 24th. Even if you miss those dates, you may still enjoy a tour around the island, have a meal of fish-rakı-appetizers at a seaside restaurant; or even have a snack at a delightful patisserie. Furthermore, if you are interested in history, you may visit the houses Leon Trotsky and Reşat Nuri Güntekin resided in, or visit a multitude of churches and synagogues. Büyükada Derneği (Association of Buyukada) occasionally arranges classical music concerts. 

Heybeliada (Halki) preserves its coastal town image with its cafeterias and restaurants located on the coastal line. Only for that reason, the island is the first preference of many people. On that island, you may enjoy the moonlight on a boat at the evening (as a reminiscent to the famous Turkish song “Heybeli’de her gece”), or you may get on a horse carriage and discover the nature that is blooming in spring. Two types of carriage excursions are provided on the island: Grand Tour and Small Tour, which is also called as ‘Lovers' Tour’. Being covered with green on a wider scale than the other isles, Halki also provides an opportunity to visit the house Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar resided in. 

When we hear the name of Burgazada, the first thought that flashes in our minds is Sait Faik, which is followed by Kalpazankaya (“the counterfeiter’s rock”), which is famous for its sunset view. The house of the famous storyteller Sait Faik, has been turned into a museum on this island. You should definitely visit Kalpazankaya if you would like to see a different sunset everyday. Of course, a delicious meal of fish will be waiting for you after you have a taste of the sunset. 

Remember; Princes’ Islands is the first place to which spring arrives, and it is the last place winter visits. You may visit the Princes’ Islands easily by IDO seabuses from a range of locations including Yenikapı, Bostancı, Kabataş and Bakırköy. Also, sea ferries are scheduled to the islands by private establishments.

 

Manors and Mansions


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On your weekend, if you would like to steam off to an ancient location without going very far from the city, Istanbul provides you with a wide range of choices. Almost all of these ancient mansions are surrounded by green flora, and some of the manors serve as restaurants and patisseries. In the center of the city, secluded from the wild crowd and surrounded by a green flora, Malta Mansion of the Yıldız Park is a great getaway for families on the weekends, and for the lovers on the weekdays. Ihlamur Palace is like a tiny oasis when you roam through Beşiktaş. It consists of two separate buildings located under ancient trees, aged hundreds of years. Having a smaller surface area, Court Pavilion (Maiyet Köşkü) is better for having a quick rest at. Located in between Kanlıca and Çubuklu, Hidiv Mansion is a choice that shouldn’t be neglected with its patisserie, restaurant and accommodation services, in addition to a structure dating back to the year 1906. 

Although its location was once considered to be far to the city once, Maslak Mansions is very close to the city now, and not many people are aware of its existence. Located on a spot that provides very fine scenery of the channel that leads the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, those structures are integrated into the green flora that surrounds them. Displaying the finest examples of 19th century Ottoman architecture, the mansions also have cafeterias where you may steam off for a while.

Istanbul is only one flight away from you!

What do you think ?