Istanbul’s Hidden Gems: Beaches Along the Bosphorus
Escape the city to one of the many beautiful Istanbul beaches. Beaches aren’t the first thing you think of when you picture Istanbul; in fact one of the first things that comes to mind when you even say the word ‘Istanbul’ is busy, frenetic, fast-paced city life, and whilst that is very true, Istanbul beaches do offer so much. Istanbul has many stunning beaches.
Slightly further from the city, there are a large number of wilder beaches on the Black Sea, Sea of Marmara and the Princes Island (an archipelago visible from the city) which can be easily reached in a day trip. Around the village of Kilyos, you’ll find a string of golden beaches with fashionable beach clubs that throw fabulous parties in the summer, while there are also plenty of more quiet spots where you can camp and escape the city. Expect to pay entrance fees to reach the best spots, but there are still some lesser-known stretches that you can visit for free.
Map of Istanbul Beaches
1. Solar Beach, Kilyos
The best-known beach club on Istanbul’s Black sea coast, Solar Beach hosts live music events every weekend throughout the summer, attracting a young, party-loving crowd. Swimming is actually way down on the list of attractions here, although the sea here is calmer than at many other nearby spots. There are beach volleyball courts and surfing lessons on offer, but if serious swimming is your thing, there is also an outdoor pool.
2. Uzunya Beach, Kilyos
This deep natural harbour on the Black Sea at the very tip of the Bosphorus strait is the most Instagram-worthy of Istanbul’s beaches. With golden sands and a deep blue sea, in the height of summer you can (almost) imagine you’re on the Med, although the bracing coldness of the water will bring you back to reality with a not-unpleasant jolt. If you’re lucky you’ll spot dolphins playing in the bay.
To top it all off, you have a fantastic restaurant right there beside the beach..
3. Florya Gunes Plaji, City Centre
This is the biggest public beach in the centre of Istanbul and a stark reminder that this metropolis of 16 million was once considered a seaside city. It’s surprisingly clean given its proximity to the churn of the metropolis and the sheer numbers who visit it — come early if you do decide to visit, especially if you come on a weekend. Its location on the European side makes it the perfect place to unwind for a few hours before you head back into the whirl of urban life.
4. Kumbaba Beach, Sile
A long stretch of sandy beach in the popular Black Sea resort town of Sile, Kumbaba was popular as far back as the Byzantine era, when bathers came to ease their rheumatism in its reputedly healing waters. These days its main attraction is its campsite, where you can pitch your tent or park up your caravan just metres from the water, which is the cleanest you’ll find around Istanbul.
5. Elio Beach, Sedef Adasi
Sedef Adasi is the most exclusive of the Princes Islands since it’s not included on the route of the main ferries from the city centre. Take a smaller boat from the Bostanci ferry terminal on the Asian side of the city to reach, then head for Elio: a small beach club which hosts live DJs and has a restaurant serving delicious Turkish and international dishes.
6. Burc Beach, Kilyos
One of the best-kept and most beautiful beaches around Istanbul, this is the place to come for watersports, including wind and kite-surfing. It’s actually a private beach owned by Bosphorus University so you’ll have to pay a (small) entrance fee; well worth it for its excellent facilities, sunset parties and festival vibe in the evening, when revellers gather around campfires on the sand.
7. Sut Koyu Beach, Burgazada
There are no facilities on this small pebble beach on one of the less-visited Princes’ Islands, but that means that you’re more likely to swerve the crowds if you come in July and August. It’s unknown even to most Istanbulites, and to reach it you’ll need a map and some decent shoes — though once you do you’re guaranteed one of the most peaceful spots in the city. There’s also a small tea house a ten-minute walk away.
8. Summer Beach, Silivri
The beaches in Silivri, a small town on the sea of Marmara just outside Istanbul, are easily reachable in a day trip but far less visited than those on the city’s Black Sea side. As a result, most of the spaces here are free to enter but still have great facilities and there’s an old-world seaside vibe that’s hard to find anywhere else in Turkey. Summer beach, with its long stretch of golden sand, is one of the most popular spots.
9. Eskibag Beach, Buyukade
The biggest of the Princes’ Islands is often overcrowded in summer, but you can find a more secluded vibe at Eskibag, tucked away on the undeveloped southern tip of the island. You’ll have to take one of the electric buggies to get here, but once you arrive there’s everything needed for a full day of swimming and sunbathing. With its forest backdrop, it’s easy to forget you’re so close to the metropolis.
10. Agva, Sile
Some of the wildest coastal scenery in Turkey can be found around the village of Agva, a couple of hours drive from central Istanbul. This is the point where two rivers flow into the Black Sea and there are lots of lovely wooden guesthouses and restaurants built along the banks. Expect to uncover hidden bays, ancient ruins and caves in the area too, though the sea is often a little too rough for swimming.
Best Istanbul Beaches – Final Thoughts
In a city as diverse and bustling as Istanbul, these beaches offer a tranquil retreat from the urban hustle and bustle. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or a taste of local culture, Istanbul’s hidden beaches along the Bosphorus and the Black Sea coast promise a delightful and unexpected escape.
So, pack your swimsuit and sunscreen and discover a different side of this remarkable city.
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Best Istanbul Beaches – by Nicola Curtis
Istanbul Beaches Cover Image Courtesy tr
Istanbul Beaches: flickr images licensed under CC BY 2.0
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