The Princes’ Islands, an archipelago of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, were places of exile for Byzantine princes. Today, during the summer months, wealthy Istanbulites escape to the cool sea breezes and elegant 19th century houses.
Buyukada is the largest of the islands. Here you can enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn phaeton (carriage) among the pine trees or relax on a beach in one of the numerous coves that ring the island. The other popular islands are Kinali, Sedef, Burgaz, and Heybeliada. Regular freey boats connect the islands with both the European and Asian shores. A faster sea bus service operates from Kabatas in the summer.
On the European side of the Black Sea coast, 25 km from the outskirts of Istanbul, the long, broad sandy beaches of Kilyos draw crowds of Istanbul residents in the summer.
The Belgrad Forest, inland from the Black Sea on the European side, is the largest forest around Istanbul. On weekends, Istanbulites drive out to its spacious shade for family picnics and barbecues. Seven ancient reservoirs and a number of natural springs refresh the air. The Ottoman aqueducts, of which the 16th-century Moglova Aqueduct built by Sinan is the most splendid, lend majesty to the natural surroundings. Overshadowing the entrance to Kemer Golf and Country Club is the 750-meter long Sultan Suleyman Aqueduct, also built by Sinan. It is one of the longest in Turkey. The 500-stable Equestrian Center offers trail riding.
On the Asian side, Polonezkoy, 25 km from Istanbul, was founded in the 19th century by Polish immigrants. Istanbul residents come to its pastoral landscape for walks, horseback riding and to enjoy the traditional Polish food served by descendants of the original settlers.
On the Black Sea, 70 km from Uskudar, Sile’s sandy beaches, fish restaurants and hotels make it one of the most delightful holiday places near Istanbul. Cool cotton clothing called Sile bezi is popular with tourists and is fashioned here.
Bayramoglu-Darica Bird’s Paradise and Botanic Park
The Bayramoglu-Darica Bird’s Paradise and Botanic Park, 38 km from Istanbul, is a unique place to relax. Many species of birds and plants from all over the world can be seen in this park, which also has restaurants and a promenade for pedestrians.
The charming fishing town of Eskihisar, southeast of Istanbul, boasts a marina where yachtsmen can moor their boats after a day out on the Sea of Marmara. In town, the house of Osman Hamdi Bey, Turkey’s great 19th-century paonter, has been converted into a museum. Neighboring sites include the tomb of Hannibal between Eskihisar and Gebze, and a Byzantine castle.
Many Istanbulites have summer homes near Silivri, popular vacation area about 65 km from Istanbul. A large holiday resort, it offers sports, health, and fitness facilities, that include the Klassis Country and Golf Club, and excellent dining. The conference center attracts business people who want to escape the city’s fast pace for a working holiday. A regular sea bus service connects Istanbul to Silivri.