OTHER PARADISES OF ISTANBULIf you look outside from your tiny window when your plane starts to descend to land on one of the airports of Istanbul, you will observe that the city stretches to the horizon at both sides, but never ends. The population of this never-ending city was just a little short of 1 million in 1950. Today, however, 15 million people live in Istanbul, according to official figures.
The urban space that has been expanding as a result of the rapid population growth, swallowed the inner-city beaches, where Istanbulites could swim, or the forest areas, where they can enjoy the nature. Yet, this great city still offers, both to its inhabitants and tourists, holiday destinations that could be reached in less than an hour.
Polenezköy, located at the north-east of Istanbul, 35 km away from the city center, is a village established in 1842 by the Polish statesman Adam Jerzy Czartoryski. Surrounded by chestnut, pine, hornbeam, fir and oak trees, Polenezköy, with its well-protected local culture, cuisine, walking trails, picnic areas and accommodation facilities, presents a small paradise for those who want to get away from the city. Franz Liszt and Gustave Flaubert, by the way, are among the famous visitors of the village.
The chain of islands, known in English as the "Princes’ Islands" and in Turkish simply as the "Islands" (Adalar), are located at the south-east of Istanbul, in the Marmara Sea. Out of nine islands only four are open to public: Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada. Used as an exile place in the Byzantine era, the Islands, after hosting the summer houses of the Ottoman elites for a long period, have become one of the most preferred holiday destinations for Istanbulites, with the introduction of regular ferry trips in the mid-19th century. Since motor-vehicles are not allowed in the Islands, transportation is carried out with only bicycles and phaetons.
Kilyos, situated along the coasts of the Black Sea, in Sarıyer district at the north of Istanbul, was no more than a small coastal town until recently, but today it is a holiday destination with beaches and entertainment options, on par with the ones in the southern shores of Turkey. Laying in between the sea on the one side and the forest on the other, Kilyos —in addition to swimming and sunbathing— offers its visitors activities like kitesurfing, kiteboarding, water skiing, trekking and fishing.