The Princes Islands are the most popular and easiest getaway from the hectic vibe of the city of Istanbul. You can catch the ferry from Kabataş and make your way to Büyükada, the largest and most frequented island. You’ll quickly notice that there are no cars allowed on the islands, so you can either choose to wander on foot or rent a bike (5TL per hour) from the many rental places around the city center. Apart from the beautiful streets lined with old Ottoman houses, you’ll want to make the hike up to the Ayayorgi church, check out the historic Splendid Palace Hotel and have breakfast or lunch at Sinek Café.
In the summer, most of Istanbul can be found along the beaches of Kilyos, cooling off in the water and lazing in the lavish sunshine. If you’re searching for a beach club with a youthful vibe, including a party in the evening with some of the best local and international electronic music DJs, Suma Beach is definitely your spot. We recommend getting there early to snag a good spot and to bring extra clothes so you can transition from day to evening partyin effortlessly. The nighttime dance floor by the DJ booth, located in a wooded area by the beach, has become rather infamous for its wild parties that last until the morning.
If there is one thing missing in Istanbul, it’s nature. That’s why a lot of residents take a trip to Belgrad Ormanı (Belgrade Forest) on the weekends to spend some much-needed, quality time with the trees. Just a 40-minute drive from the city, you’ll find a lush forest where walking, jogging and hiking are most welcome. Named after the thousand of Serbians that Suleiman the Magnificent transferred to Istanbul after the Siege of Belgrade in 1521, the 5,000 hectare, protected forest is home to some hidden, historical remains, such as Ottoman dams and abandoned old churches inundated by the force of nature.
With the BUDO ferry departing on a regular schedule, it’s quite easy to reach the city of Bursa for a day of sightseeing. As the first major capital of the Ottoman Empire, this city has a lot of beautiful edifices on show from the former empire as well as the mausoleums of early sultans. Make sure to see the famous Ulu Camı (Ulu Mosque), a landmark of early Ottoman architecture, as well as the historic central markets right behind it. In the winter Bursa’s Uludağ mountain has some of the country’s best ski resorts but it’s also worth a hike, or a cable car ride, outside of the skiing season just to enjoy the spectacular view from the mountain’s peak.
Located at the intersection of the Marmara and the Black Sea, Anadolu Kavağı is a little seaside village quite far removed from the city’s urban landscape. Little, colourful, wooden houses line the small coast while the Yoros Kalesi (Yoros fortress) overlooks the sea from its green perch. Make a whole day of the trip out of Istanbul by taking the Bosphorus Cruise, which takes off from Eminönü and getting off in Anadolu Kavağı. Hike up to the historic fortress, which was built in 1190 by the Genoans to protect the straits, and then choose one of the many seaside restaurants for a meal of fresh fish.