Places to Visit in Istanbul and Surroundings

After moving to Istanbul, three or four months later, I found out that I was pregnant. Of course, it’s not a barrier for someone like me who loves to travel. However, it seemed like I wouldn’t be able to travel with the child, so I planned trips every month and visited many places in a short period. Here are some places to visit in Istanbul and its surroundings that will give you an idea:

Kırklareli Iğneada Longoz Forests and Dupnisa Cave:

Turkey’s largest longoz forests are located here. Longoz, or floodplain forests, are worth exploring and visiting from a flora and fauna perspective as they offer perfect views during certain seasons when they are submerged underwater. You can eat fish by the Black Sea coast here, even sunbathe and swim. Ideal for those who want to see different vegetation and engage in sea tourism. There’s also an office here that provides more information about Iğneada’s flora and fauna. There are many lakes of various sizes within the longoz forests. We visited the surroundings of Mert Lake, one of the largest.

We couldn’t see the views I saw on the internet or any birds, which might be related to the season. There are also kilometers-long stabilized roads inside the forest, but there are no signs or signs. I think with a little investment, it could be made into a more attractive place. Later, I saw the routes created by hikers on Wikiloc. If you like hiking like me, you can follow these trails. The village where Dupnisa Cave is located is not very close to Iğneada, but it’s a cave worth seeing. I climbed with my pregnant condition and entered from one side and exited from the other. Also, the nature here is very beautiful. There’s a historic iron factory in this village. It’s worth seeing these beauties before a thermal power plant is built here.


A city that deserves a separate article with its Kırkpınar, Karaağaç, and Selimiye Mosque. This city, steeped in history, also stands out with its cuisine. Don’t leave without trying liver, almond paste, or deva-i miski. What impressed me the most was the Sultan II. Bayezit Complex with its Karaağaç views. Even if you’re not in the medical field, be sure to visit the historic medical faculty that has been turned into a museum. They have recreated the era and practices with sculptures. How they dealt with diseases, where patients slept, it’s all explained in detail. This museum has won awards and is really well designed and displayed.


Despite the numerous places to visit in Istanbul, whether historical, park-like, or shopping centers, Sarıyer, a beautiful district close to the center, is my favorite for exploring. Here are the places I visited in Sarıyer.

Garipçe village, Rumeli lighthouse:

This charming village, full of dogs, reminiscent of the district I live in, has become popular with the construction of the third bridge. As we heard from the locals, this place, where entry and exit were controlled by the military in the past, has become a place where real estate developers will profit. It’s surprising how Rumeli Lighthouse hasn’t been popular as a tourist destination with its view. Imagine a historic castle on a green cover on a cape eroded by huge waves. A mystical atmosphere… You feel like a knight in armor on a horse could jump out from behind the castle walls at any moment. Don’t leave without having fish while enjoying the sea view where the third bridge and the meeting point of the Black Sea with the Bosphorus.

Emirgan Grove:

Especially worth seeing the colorful tulips stretching along the grove in the spring. The good part is that the tulips are not fenced, so they are open to the public. The bad part is that the public has embraced them too much. While trying to take photos among the tulips, they were being trampled. Trees, historic mansions, artificial lakes, ducks, ice cream vendors with long queues in front…

And what’s this? Wedding and engagement scenes from my hometown… Newly engaged couples and brides have come to take photos. They really regret not getting married in Istanbul with such beautiful minbars and decorations.

Belgrad Forests:

The best place for meat on the grill, tea on the embers, and the best place for tea is by the tea. It’s not just for picnickers but also for hikers. With various trees and different types of birds, it’s confusing to choose which hiking trail to take. And these are not just simple hiking trails. You pass by the dams, you cross the rivers on bridges. Then, of course, you burn off the calories you’ve consumed.

Atatürk Arboretum:

An area within the Belgrad Forest. There are many types of trees and plants. It’s a very suitable place for those with children to stroll around and collect pine cones.

Rumeli Fortress:

The place in Sarıyer for those who want to experience history. Be sure to climb to the hills to watch the Bosphorus view. I climbed with my pregnant condition. An amphitheater and a small mosque on the back side of the fortress give the atmosphere a different feel.

Rumeli Kavağı:

Rumeli Kavağı, a charming fishing village in every way, is where you can find the famous pierced sycamore tree square. You can also swim in the paid beaches here. You can’t find the Bosphorus views here in the center of Istanbul.


Since I went with the expectation of a seaside vacation, maybe as an Aegean, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Here, too, like Rumeli Kavağı, the beaches are monopolized. They are accessed by private companies for a fee. The sea is too wavy, as it is the coast of the Black Sea.


One of the most beautiful resorts in Istanbul. Despite being on the Black Sea, it has a calm sea due to the rocky shores. And when you look up, you can see the beautifully restored Sponge Bob castle. As you head towards Şile Lighthouse, the scenery gets more beautiful. A little further on is the Crying Rock. It’s named after a thin stream flowing from a small rock. It has a beach that doesn’t disappoint like the Mediterranean. After Şile, you can go a long way to Ağva. It’s much greener than Şile. You can also see where the sea and the river meet, which is rare. Don’t leave without having fish by the river. While you’re in Ağva, also visit Kilimli Beach.


A nature reserve in Gebze. The nature here is worth seeing. There’s also a hiking trail here. But unfortunately, I got stuck in the rocky area because I was pregnant. I had to turn back because I couldn’t climb.


In Kocaeli, an exquisite district that rivals the landscapes of Nevşehir, yet ideal for those who seek seaside vacations. Here, waves have carved the rocks along the coast, forming formations resembling volcanic tuffs. The rocks in Kerpe are white, but as you head towards Kefken, they gradually turn pink. Both in the center of Kefken and at the place they call the “pink rocks,” these formations can be observed. The pink rocks are so vast and astonishing that one might suddenly feel like they’re on Mars or at the Grand Canyon.

Avşa Island:

Considered by some as the cleanest spot in the Sea of Marmara, it resembles a charming holiday village. Ferries departing from various parts of Istanbul and Tekirdağ allow access to both Marmara Island and Avşa Island. For those tired of the polluted waters of the Marmara and the rough seas of the Black Sea in Istanbul, there’s a sea worth longing for here. Though the sea bottom appears crystal clear, I struggled with sea anemones while swimming.


One of the must-visit places around Istanbul for its nature and lake views in this charming district of Adapazarı. While passing through Sapanca, it’s hard to take your eyes off the super luxurious villas. We were even more surprised to learn that most of these villas belong to Arabs. Since swimming in the sea is not permissible for them, Arabs interested in buying summer houses have purchased villas here. Hence, it’s quite common to come across Arabs every step along the lakeside. Before reaching Adapazarı, you can also visit Maşukiye. Despite its beautiful nature, many businesses have failed in these beautiful places. To enjoy it, you should have breakfast or dine here. If you’re curious, you can also visit the Kartepe Ski Resort, known for winter tourism in Istanbul. However, as you’ll notice on the way, it’s necessary to enter an establishment to enjoy the view.

Marmara Ereğlisi:

A charming fishing town between Silivri and Tekirdağ and one of Places to Visit in Istanbul. Although many people swim here, I didn’t see much difference between Tekirdağ and its surroundings along the Marmara coast. Instead of fish along the shore, try the Tekirdağ meatballs with abundant sauce this time.

Durusu Lake:

Resembling an octopus with four or five arms on the Black Sea coast in Çatalca. Despite many establishments among its arms, the prices are not exorbitant, and the places are very charming. Sit down somewhere to enjoy it, order a samovar tea, and hop on the swings facing the lake. There’s a coastal town called Karaburun on the Black Sea coast here. They’ve put up a dangerous sign on the shore. However, since danger is our middle name, we use the sign as a towel rack and dive into the sea in herds.


There’s no settlement in Kastro, where the river meets the Black Sea. It’s a very suitable area for camping. You can take your fishing rod and tent and stay overnight. West of Kastro, which is the only place where Tekirdağ touches the Black Sea, lies Kıyıköy. Unlike Kastro, this village is larger and inhabited, and the views of the river and the sea are breathtaking here too. There are many places for camping enthusiasts. Additionally, there’s a historical monastery carved into a cave here.


A charming village reminiscent of fairy tales along the way to Şile and one of the Places to Visit in Istanbul. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants here. Almost all restaurants and hotels are set up in old Polish-style houses. The nature here is marvelous. You can take a beautiful walk along the roads of Polonezköy. You can visit the sculptures made by students of Mimar Sinan University outdoors or see the works in the glass arts museum. A little further on, there’s a place where you can have a picnic and also visit a zoo. Don’t be surprised if you encounter a llama on a basketball court here.

Translated from here

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