Secret Little Havens Around Istanbul


If the constant traffic and hectic crowds of the city are wearing you down, or if you just want to escape with your loved ones for a short break, there are a host of secret havens around Istanbul that will help you refresh and recharge.

There are nearby weekend retreats to the north, south, east, and west of Istanbul, each offering respite from the chaos of the city. Whether you want a romantic getaway or something for the whole family, these little havens will immerse you in the peace and quiet of nature while still providing all the modern comforts you’re used to.

Avşa Island has to be one of the best places to go to shake off the stress and fatigue Istanbul can leave you with. Avşa Island is famous for its vineyards and is the most beautiful of a group of islands just off the Kapıdağ Peninsula in the Marmara Sea.

The end of July or during August is the best time to visit the island as this is when the grapes are at their ripest, and the vineyards are at their most active. After taking a tour of one of the wineries, Mastercard® cardholders can enjoy fantastic deals on accommodations at Altın Kum Holiday Residences, Ayata Hotel, and Avşa Hotel.

If wine isn’t your thing, then you might prefer Kerpe, Kocaeli, Saros, or Keşan-Edirne for the adrenaline of the surfing and diving courses available there.

Danube Surf House in Kerpe offers a range of private surfing lessons, surf camps, and group sessions so you can try your hand at the sport or simply brush up on your skills. There are also standard and deluxe accommodation options here too.

Saros Bay is home to several diving schools that offer wonderful diving experiences around the shipwrecks of Çanakkale. Eftalya Diving offers day- or week-long programs that will teach you everything you need to know. Ayışığı Diving Center provides training for both adults and children, while Saros Diving is one of the longest-established schools in the area.

Ağva and Şile are two of the better-known havens around Istanbul that you and your loved ones can escape to. Ağva, situated in between the babbling waters of the Göksu and Yeşilçay Rivers has its roots in ancient history and is perfect for a romantic getaway. It’s beautiful in both summer and fall, and there are some great hotels there, including Günay Hotel, Tree Tops Park, and Kurfal Otel.

Close enough even for just a day-trip, Şile offers some tough but exhilarating rock climbing and hiking in Onbir Göller Valley, Hacılı Falls, and Gürlek Cave. There are some wonderful hotels among the unspoiled forests of Şile, with Lavanda Hotel, Phellos Suites, and the Grand Şile Hotel coming highly recommended.

If you’d prefer to let a spa getaway melt away the stress of Istanbul living, then the nearby Sapanca could be just the place. Sapanca Lake and its surroundings are spectacular in their own right, but there are a number of excellent spa centers dotted around such as Richmond Nua Wellness – Spa, NG Sapanca Wellness & Convention, and The Ness Thermal Spa Hotel where you can really let yourself be pampered.

As if this wasn’t enough, you also have the lively beach parties of Kilyos, the delicious Black Sea cuisine of Riva, and the stunning greenery of Polonezköy to choose from too.

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