Escaping the city for Istanbul’s beautiful beaches
Beaches aren’t the first thing you would tend to 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 a lot to make up a true city break destination.
Due to its proximity on the northern coast of Turkey, Istanbul is surrounded by the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, and this is why so much sea-faring history is linked to the area, with the fishing industry being huge around the Bosphorus. If you’ve ever been to the fish market on the European side, then you’ll understand how big the business is, and if you’ve not been then you certainly should – believe me, it’s amazing the types of fish they pull out of that water, although you might want to take a peg for your nose because it does pong a little.
Because of the fast pace of city life in Istanbul, having a bit of rest and relaxation is very important. Tourists to the area don’t even think about beach time, but locals love to head away to the coastline at the weekend or on their days off, to breathe in a little fresh air and get away from the hustle and bustle. Istanbul beaches are plentiful, and because most tourists don’t know they’re there, they’re all hidden gems in their own right.
The first time I went to Istanbul, I didn’t even know they had beaches, but then I went to True Blue Beach, and it’s become one of my favourite spots to head when I’m in the area.
If you’re considering visiting this beautiful city, and believe me, once you’ve been there a few days you’ll welcome a rest, then head to one of these Istanbul beaches, or if you can, factor in a couple for a different view on this under-visited area of Istanbul. Maybe after you’ve been, you might consider relocating your summer holiday from the south coast, to the north!
Here are our top 8 Istanbul Beaches (In no particular order)
True Blue Beach (Fenerbahçe Beach)
Situated in the Fenerbahçe area of Istanbul, (yes, that’s where that huge football team live), you will find True Blue, which is one of the most popular of the Istanbul beaches on offer. The sunsets around here are simply stunning, and if you’re into your sailing, this is a good place to head. True Blue feels quite upmarket, but it’s not overly so, and certainly not in your face at all. The sandy beach is perfect for chilling the hell out, and there is a swimming pool if you’re a bit squeamish about the sea. This is also a popular spot for summer concerts and events, so if you’re visiting during the summer months, check ahead to see what’s on during your time of visiting.
The thing that struck me about True Blue was that it didn’t feel overly Turkish, which if you’ve ever spent any time in Istanbul, especially in Sultanahmet, you will know that the city itself is very traditional, although Taksim does have a western feel. I guess this is what I liked about True Blue, because it felt like a little bit of home, but still with a Turkish twist.
‘They have an open buffet breakfast every Sunday morning here and the restaurant menu is Mediterranean and largely Ottoman-Turkish cuisine.
As well as a private beach, True Blue also has a large pool and much more… This True Blue beach club is open 9 am – 4 am Friday and Saturday, other days 9 am – 2 am.
The entrance fee 30 TL weekdays, 40 TL weekends. Guests have free use of swimming pool and private beach. Credit cards accepted.
Caddebostan Beach is operated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and actually consists of 3 beachs, all of which have lovely white sand, sunbeds and parasols. There are also showers, changing rooms, and snack bars.
Florya Beach is one of the oldest of the Istanbul beaches and is popular with locals and quite easy to get to if you’re short on time.
The area is also historically famous for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, having a presidential residence here.
Dodo Istanbul Sea Club
Dodo Istanbul Sea Club is located on the Asian side and is by the Tuzla shores.
It has a nice beach, but if you grow tired of that, there is a green area where you can relax underneath the shade of the trees, in a hammock or sip a cold drink at the bar and watch the world go by.
Black Sea Beaches
Kilyos Beach is a main destination on weekends and hot summer days. It is on the European side, on the Black Sea, and has a broad sandy beach. It’s 60 km from the centre of Istanbul and there are regular buses between Sariyer and Kilyos (also known as Kumköy)
If you want a truly exclusive feel, something a little special, then Solar Beach on the Black Sea is your best bet. It’s close to Kilyos Beach, in the same area of Kilyos/Kumköy. This is a private beach, and despite the fact you have to pay to get in (although it’s still quite minimal for a day out), the huge expanse of beach with plentiful activities will more than make up for it.
You get more open air events and concerts during the summer months here, so again check the ‘what’s on’ schedule if you fancy seeing a show or two, but the general day to day vibe is about splashing and water-sports, with a cocktail in hand. Again, this isn’t run of the mill Istanbul, and out of all the Istanbul beaches on offer, this is the most cosmopolitan. Travelling with kids is best met by heading to this beach, as there is a kids club to take them off your hands for a few hours, whilst you enjoy the scenery. And judging by the video below, Solar Beach can be quite the party beach at certain times of the year.
If you’re a party-goer then out of the Istanbul beaches on offer, this is for you. Evening beach parties light up the night, and during the day there are water-sports to cool down, splash around, and enjoy the scenery.
The Black Sea Coast might not have the sparkle of the Med, with the famous resorts, but BURC Beach is famous in this part of the country, and probably has the most western feel out of all the beaches on offer in the region. You find a lot of students heading to this particular beach during the summer weekends.
Out of the Istanbul Beaches we’ve talked about so far, this is certainly the most authentic and tranquil. Around this part of the world you won’t find hidden coves as much as some other places, such as the Greek islands etc, and they do tend to be privately owned or commercial, however Dalia Beach is probably the most natural of the lot.
Demircikoy Cove is very natural and very green, rolling down into the ocean and going on for miles. You don’t have to just sit and soak up the sun, as there are outdoor walking trails around the area, but there are also water-sports on offer too. The nearby villages will show you outer-city traditional life, with the huge city never too far away.
If you had no clue that there were beaches in Istanbul, then you’re not alone. I’ve visited countless times, and it probably took me the first two visits to realise it!
Istanbul Beaches – By Nicola Curtis