Where to Go Swimming in Istanbul

The beautiful colors of the sunset on the Sea of Marmara
The beautiful colors of the sunset on the Sea of Marmara | © Casal Partiu / Flickr
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Everyone who has been to Istanbul in the summer knows how unbearable the humid temperatures can get. However, the city’s many pools and nearby beaches offer the perfect getaway from the heat. Check out the best places to cool off in Istanbul.

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Best rooftop pools

Istanbul’s best rooftop pools can be found at some of its best hotels. If you happen to find yourself on the Asian side of the city, head to the Wyndham Istanbul Hotel that looks out over the many moored boats across the Kalamış Marina. The rooftop pool has a great view of the marina and the blue sea beyond and you can spend the whole day enjoying the sun, taking a dip in the pool and enjoying some of the hotel’s excellent snacks.

A swanky rooftop pool with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background

Another great pool on the Asian side is on the rooftop of the DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul in the cool Moda neighborhood. After you’re done taking a cool dip in the pool lounge, enjoy the excellent view – you’ll definitely be able to see as far as Istanbul’s islands. If you’re on the European side and prefer a rooftop pool a little closer to the city center, head to the Marmara Taksim, which overlooks the famous Taksim Square. Take a dip in the pool, which is quite far removed from the bustle of Taksim and enjoy the a la carte menu created specially for the pool area.

Best beaches

If you’re not much of a pool fan, then Istanbul has plenty of options in terms of beaches. Even though it’s not recommended to swim in the Bosphorus, you can take a drive outside Istanbul to check out the beautiful beaches in the north. The relaxed Uzunya Beach Club and its excellent restaurant by the water are recommended for families, while BURC Beach is more suitable for the active beach people who like to go kiteboarding or play volleyball. When summer rolls around Suma Beach, the city’s favorite beach and nightclub, also starts its season. This is definitely the place to see all of Istanbul’s cool kids hanging out on the beach all day, listening and dancing to live DJ sets and then moving to the nightclub area under the trees to continue the party when the sun goes down.

Best island beaches

No mention of beaches in Istanbul would be complete without mentioning the Princes Islands, probably one of the best options for swimming in the sea if you don’t have a car. Take the ferry to Büyükada and spend the day at one of the many beach clubs by paying a small fee for a sun lounger and umbrella. If you’re looking for more remote beaches, head to Burgazada, where the pebble beaches are not as crowded as Büyükada.

Last but certainly not least, Sedef Island is one of the most overlooked beaches because it can only be reached by first taking the ferry to Büyükada and then taking another to reach Sedef. However, it’s very much worth it because the Elio Sedef beach club, restaurant, and bar will make you feel like you’re in a summer town such as Bodrum or Çeşme rather than an hour away from Istanbul. Elio Sedef also offers a VIP shuttle that can take its guest back to the mainland.

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