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The beaches of İSTANBUL

It has been a long, hot summer in İstanbul, and many people have escaped to their summer houses outside the city, or headed to the beaches in the south. At this time of year most of the popular beach resorts are fully booked and there is simply no space left on the packed beaches in tourist areas.

Marmara Sea beaches

In the Marmara Sea, the Princes’ Islands have several popular public and private beaches. Heybeliada has a private, upscale water sports club as well as Yörük Beach, apublicfacility.Büyükada also has private and public beaches. City dwellers may, however, find relief closer at hand for although the image of a sandy beach doesn’t leap to mind when most people think of İstanbul, there are in fact several beaches in and around the city. These provide the opportunity for rest and relaxation, and some of İstanbul’s beaches even offer restaurants, bars, comfy chairs and all day music. On others, you have to bring everything you think you will need.

Florya and Ataköy beaches

The following is a rundown, in no particular order, of just a few of the more popular beaches that are easily accessible around the city. The old standbys of Florya and Ataköy are still as popular as ever, but as those beaches have become more crowded and polluted, the other sites are have begun to draw the sun-worshiping crowds.

Still known by locals in its previous incarnation as Galatasaray Adası, Buzada in Kuruçeşme is one of the hot spots for swimming, sunbathing, and seeing and being seen. The amenities include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, terraces for sun-bathing, a café-bar and two restaurants. Transportation is provided by a private boat from Kuruçetme.

Address: Eski Galatasaray Adası, Kuruçeşme, phone: 0212-263-09-09

The Dalia Beach Club in Sarıyer is a small, family-oriented club that also has a good fish restaurant on the premises. Opened in 2002, it is situated on a small inlet with a private beach, a beach volleyball court and ample parking. In addition they offer canoeing, surfing and water-cycling.

Address: Dalya Mevkii, Kilyos Road, Sarıyer, phone: 0212-204-01-69, website: www.clubdalia.com.

In the Marmaracık Cove at Rumeli Feneri, on the Black Sea is the Golden Beach Club. Just 15 kilometers from İstanbul, the club has bungalows and suites for those who want to get away for a few days. Open for day guests and residents, it has a restaurant, café, snack bars and a beach bar. In addition to the beach, they also offer cycling, hiking paths and a beach volleyball court.

Address: Marmaracık Koyu, Rumeli Feneri, phone: 0212-325-55-83

Kilyos is known for its beach resorts and has several beaches open to families as well as some catering to the party crowd. Located on the Black Sea, Kilyos is easily accessible from central İstanbul by city bus, minibus and ferries.

Solar Beach is one of the largest beaches in the region, with an extensive range of services including beach volleyball, beach soccer, rock climbing, jet skiing, kite boarding, banana boats, wind surfing, skateboarding, rollerblading and basketball. A regular host to music festivals, the beach has music playing all day and is known for its nightly beach parties.

Address: Eski Turban Yolu 4, Kilyos, phone: 0212-201-25-80

Just down the road from Solar Beach is Burç Beach, a private club for Bosporus  University alumni that is also open to non-graduates. It has a kilometer of sandy beach with facilities for beach volleyball, football, kite-boarding, windsurfing and surfing, in addition to two restaurants.

Address: Gümüşdere Kampüsü, Demirciköy, Kilyos, phone: 0212-287-0232

One of the more famous clubs in Bodrum, Dodo, opened a branch in Tuzla, on the Asian side of the city, in 2004 and it quickly made a name for its beaches and parties. While it is a little way out of town, they offer a shuttle service from Kadıköy, or you can take a 130 bus from the Kadıköy terminus. (The trip takes about an hour.)

Address: Ankara Mercan, Çınarlı Sokak, 1, Tuzla, phone: 0216-446-87-37

Kadıköy’s Caddebostan Beach was a hot spot in the 1950s and has recently reopened after being closed for almost 40 years.  This free beach has changing rooms, toilets, showers and kiosks selling food and drinks. However, as with anything free, it is packed most of the time.

Address: Caddebostan Sahil Yolu, Kadıköy.

Located where the Bosporus meets the Black Sea, the small town of Riva boasts a long sandy beach as well as numerous coves and tiny islands. This area is a much less crowded than Kilyos on the European side, and the public beach has basic amenities including toilets, changing rooms and restaurants. There are many small hotels and pensions in the area to choose from should you desire a longer stay. Riva is easily reached by minibus from Beykoz, taking only about 30 minutes each way, depending on the traffic.

Past Riva, and just 70 kilometers from İstanbul, is Şile. The local beaches and the ruins of a Genoese castle draw visitors year round. Most of the beaches offer changing rooms, toilets and restaurants, and there is a fairly wide range of hotels and pensions (from very inexpensive to the moderately priced), and in summer they are best booked in advance. Buses leave İstanbul regularly from the Harem bus station.

In the Marmara Sea, the Princes’ Islands have several popular public and private beaches. Heybeliada has a private, upscale water sports club as well as Yörük Beach, a public facility. Büyükada also has private and public beaches, some better than the others. On Kınalıada, Kamo’s Beach Club is the largest with a capacity of 600, it features a swimming pool, a sauna and a restaurant. The islands can be reached by ferries from Eminönü, Bostancı, and Kadıköy.

There are many other beaches scattered around the Marmara, Bosporus and Black Sea coasts. So many people flock to the strands at weekends that most places are packed on Fridays as families try to squeeze in a trip to the shore with the kids. It’s best to try and work in a visit during the week when they are less crowded. As always, use caution when swimming in unknown waters, as there are often strong undertows, particularly along the Bosporus. Swimming with a group of friends is always much more fun, and safer, than swimming by yourself. Some swimming spots are well-maintained and clean, while others leave something to be desired, so it’s best to try different locales and find one that suits you. The season is in full swing, so it’s time to get out there and discover the beaches of İstanbul for yourself.

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