Not everyone has the privilege of spending three months in Bodrum or the French Riviera during summer. For people like us, living in a megacity and working nine-to-five or six days a week, finding a quick getaway for a breath of fresh air offers the illusion of a summer vacation.
Istanbulites are lucky when it comes to beach getaways. Surrounded by the Marmara Sea, Istanbul offers locals and tourists beach access within a short drive or even a bus ride. Unfortunately, it is not possible to dive into the blue waters in every spot of Istanbul considering that the city has been the capital of civilization for a millennia, it is wise not to try to swim on every coast line in the city.
It is good to note few things if you are interested in taking a trip to Istanbul's beaches. First of all, the beaches are only open in summer. Also, the other important thing to keep in mind is that most beaches in Istanbul are privately owned. Entry prices vary according to nominal entrance fees, sun beds and umbrella rentals. A number of public beaches are owned by local municipalities, although those beaches are not always fully maintained.
The most important thing to keep in mind that the Black Sea coast of Istanbul is not always suitable for swimming. The waters of the Black Sea are choppy and there can be dangerous currents. So, it is safe to stick with the beaches where there are lifeguards on duty all the time.
Now, it is time to take a look at which beaches in Istanbul offer a good time for family and friends and the ultimate swimming spots.
Located on the Black Sea coast of Istanbul, the Kilyos Beach is one of the favorite spots for Istanbul's hip youngsters who like to party well into the night. The beach is a vibrant place during the day and turns into a beach club in the evening. Many music festivals also held on this beach during the summer. DJ performances and live concerts take place almost every day. You can also wind surf, water ski or play volleyball. There are several privately owned beaches in the region so feel free to choose the one that suits you best. It is easy to get to Kilyos from the city center and, if you do not have a car of your own, you can also hop on the shuttles that take off from the city center.
The Princes' Islands
The Princes' Islands are composed of four large islands including, Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada and five much smaller ones, Sedef Adası, Yassıada, Sivriada, Kaşık Adası and Tavşan Adası. These islands are always the favorite getaway spots of Istanbulites and offer tourists unique, new discoveries. The islands are usually full of people during summertime. The only transportation on the islands is a horse and cart as well as bicycles, so there is no traffic on the islands and these lovely places are considered peaceful and quiet. Take a 45-minute to one-hour ferry ride from Istanbul to enjoy this excursion. Ferries depart from both sides of Istanbul. There are several beaches on the islands where you can enjoy nature and the sea at the same time. Moreover, if you are not so interested in working on your tan, you can always find something to do on the Princes' Islands, one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul.
Florya - Yeşilköy
If you do not want to spend most of the time on the road - or on the sea on a ferry - Florya and Yeşilköy are good choices, especially for those living on the European side of Istanbul. Located close to Atatürk Airport in the Bakırköy district, Florya and Yeşilköy were typical holiday resort destinations for Istanbulites during the Ottoman times and early days of the Republic. Although these places are now part of the megacity, they are still preferred by Istanbulites thanks to their beaches. The Yeşilköy Menekşe beach and the Florya Güneş beach in the region are run by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB). The municipality reopened the beaches in 2005 and provides some of the best services that you can get on the beach. Moreover, both Florya and Yeşilköy have probably the cleanest waters for swimming in Istanbul.
Sunbathing while watching the mesmerizing Bosporus view sounds like a fairy tale but believe me it is not. The Beykoz Küçüksu beach offers Istanbulites the chance to enjoy swimming in the Bosporus. The beach was first opened in the 1940s, but it was closed in the early 1990s due to pollution. In the early 2000s, the municipality cleaned up the beach as well as the sea and restored the beach there. The Küçüksu beach has a capacity to host 300 people and the entrance is free of charge.