It might not be your first thought when arriving in Istanbul, but there are actually some amazing sights to see just outside this vast city. Take a day out of your schedule to plan a trip to one of these beautiful locations. You’ll get an authentic taste of Turkey without having to travel too far!
If you’re looking to get a little fresh air and away from the city for an afternoon, this hidden seaside village is the perfect escape. The 40 minute drive there will take you through tree top covered hills and will quickly make you feel like you’re no longer in Istanbul.
We had heard that there were stunning views so we decided to pull over at Cam Vadisi Cafe. While the views were as promised, the food was an unexpected delight. The restaurant served us a variety of fish, cay, and of course, menemen (a turkish style scramble eggs). Head down to the city center after lunch and you can spend 1 to 2 hours walking the pier, shopping, having tea, or just admiring the boats along the water.
Don’t miss checking out the Yoros Kalesi (castle) on your way out and stopping for a panoramic view of the third and last bridge that opens to the Black Sea.
Kilyos & Sariyer
This is my personal must-see outside the city. We went in January so it was a bit colder for the typical beach visit, but we were excited to see the opening of the Black Sea! After arriving at Kilyos, we followed the signs to the sea. We drove just a bit further to Zuga Beach Cafe.
In the summer months, the cafe has outdoor seating and rocks to climb to view the ocean. A man met us at the gate and showed us the way in. He greeted us with a fresh batch of cay while we watched the water hit the shore.
On your way back, you absolutely must make a stop for lunch or dinner at Balikci Kahraman in Sariyer. Hands down, top five meal of my life. After walking in, the waiter brought us dish after dish of typical meze, a special cornbread, octopus and finally, the Turbot. This is a large fish you can share between 2-4 people and it is the only thing you HAVE to get at the restaurant. If you are here before sunset you can walk along the shores of the Bosphorus just a few feet further from the restaurant.
To get a glimpse of just how big Istanbul truly is, hop on a ferry over to one of the 9 islands known as the Prince Islands. On your way, you’ll find that the coastline filled with houses and buildings never actually ends.
This little escape to nature provides some fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Tiny villages lined with seaside cafes and markets make it easy to wander around. In the summer months, you can swim along the shores or even take a private boat tour. We took the ferry leaving the Kadikoy port to Burgazada Island.
From there we hopped on a horse and buggy to Kalpazankaya Restaurant. The view alone will leave you breathless. Just above turquoise waters you can look out over the sea while you enjoy a typical meal of fish and meze.
The Belgrad Forest is about 30 minutes outside Istanbul depending on traffic and where you start. Filled with numerous hiking trails, this is my pick if you’re wanting to be surrounded by nature.
The city just outside the forest is a small, charming village where you can grab a Turkish coffee or quick simit. I’d especially recommend going during the fall months. The trees are covered in colorful hues of reds and oranges.
If you’re looking for my ideas on what to do in Istanbul, check out my 24 hours series: Istanbul here!
Have you been to Istanbul? Write me your favorite spots below 🙂