Countryside of Istanbul: All the Villages You Must Visit

Istanbul is known for its metropolitan lifestyle and can overwhelm some visitors. There are villages hidden in Istanbul to enjoy the tranquility and collect your mind for several days. There, you can embrace the green and blue, enjoy your leisure time with no concern in your mind, and also meet with sweet people. Here are all the rural areas in Istanbul you should visit.

Table of Contents

Why Should You Visit The Countryside of Istanbul?

Even though you will be far from the city center, there are still so many things to do in rural areas of Istanbul as well. All the activities you can do in the countryside of Istanbul:

  • Exploring: Villages have cultural sites, hidden beaches, and forests for you to explore.
  • Swimming: If the village is near the seaside, enjoy the beach and sun at its fullest.
  • Hiking: Walking in the greenery can make one find inner peace.
  • Camping: Some villages are all about forests where you can camp and be one with nature.
  • Cycling: Explore the area or feel the breeze while cycling.

How To Reach The Countryside Areas of Istanbul?

The best way to get to rural areas of Istanbul is by your own vehicle so that you won’t be limited. Although it is not generally recommended for tourists to rent a car in Istanbul, if you are to go to such places, you should go for it as the traffic or parking places won’t be a challenge for you.

Other options are either public transportation which can be buses or ferries, or the private transportation facilities of your destinations. If you can’t find how to go to a rural area of Istanbul, find a shop or facility there and call/text them to get information.

Things To Be Careful Before Going and During Rural Areas of Istanbul

  • You may face having low or no reception. Downloading the area from Google Maps for offline usage can be practical.
  • There’s a chance of getting scammed if you make an online reservation for spending a night. Call the place or just go there and make the booking at that moment.
  • Make sure you do not miss the last departure if using public transportation.
  • Always pack an extra or two water bottles just in case you are far away from the facilities.
  • Have extra snacks in your backpack.
  • Have a fully charged power bank with you.
  • Not every forest or vacant spot is appropriate for camping. Some forests are banned from camping.
  • Camping can be dangerous if you are not within the borders of any facility.
  • Lighting a fire in forests is banned.
  • Hunting is illegal without special permit.
  • Expect a language barrier, make sure that you have downloaded the Turkish language in translation applications for offline usage.

Istanbul European Side Rural Areas

The European side of Istanbul is usually home to workplaces and concrete. But, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any rural areas there. In fact, some of the most popular rural leisure areas for both locals and tourists are located on the European side of Istanbul.


Kilyos is a settlement in the Sarıyer district of Istanbul. It is a tourist destination in Istanbul with its hotels, beach clubs, beaches, pensions, and restaurants. In the summer months, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors with its cafes, restaurants, tea gardens, green countryside, picnic areas, and country restaurants on the Kilyos road. During winter, visitors can enjoy the raging sea from warm hotel rooms or have a unique and romantic dining experience by the fireplace in countryside restaurants. Kitesurfing is also a popular activity in Kilyos. 

Kilyos is 10 km to Sarıyer district center and 30 km to Istanbul. There are many different options to get here:

  • With a personal vehicle
  • Public transportation
  • Shuttles managed by Kilyos Beach Clubs


Yalıköy is a former Greek fishing village located in Çatalca, Istanbul, Turkey. The area, which has a 12-kilometer coastline, was previously known as Podima. With its forests, lakes, picnic areas, and other natural attractions along the Black Sea coast, it is a popular destination for nature lovers.

Yalıköy is home to a 12-kilometer-long sandy beach, which is 100 meters wide. Moreover, the village is known for its calm and quiet atmosphere, which has attracted many celebrities to own houses there. There are also special places for barbecues in the village, camping areas, and sports facilities.


Garipçe is a small fishing village located between Rumeli Kavağı and Rumeli Feneri, about 10 kilometers away from Sarıyer. The village has one grocery store, one coffee shop, and three restaurants.

The village is popular due to its location near the Garipçe Burnu, where the European leg of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is located. The village has Byzantine and Ottoman-era structures, including the Garipçe Castle and a watchtower. The village is accessible by bus from the Hacıosman metro station or by car from Sarıyer.


Karaburun is a village in the Arnavutköy district of Istanbul. It is approximately 50 km far from city centers. It is a popular destination as a small getaway to relax and cool off. Karaburun is also frequently visited in winter due to its pleasant sea views and fishing harbors, making it a suitable place to enjoy the sea and get away from stress.

Karaburun Lighthouse is a must-see building if you go there. Visitors can walk to the lighthouse, enjoy the sea, and sit on the cliffs for a relaxing time. However, entering the lighthouse is prohibited, but you can take photos from the outside. You can also explore the village streets and enjoy the nostalgic architecture of the houses.

You can get to Karaburun with a personal vehicle or minibusses departing from Bayrampaşa metro station.


Kısırkaya Beach is located in the Sarıyer district, making it an ideal escape for those who want to get away from the crowds of Istanbul and be in touch with nature. You can get there in about an hour with a personal vehicle or public bus numbered 152. 

Kısırkaya Beach offers its visitors a calm and peaceful experience and there are more activities there you can enjoy in Kısırkaya:

  • Beach soccer, volleyball, and even yoga!
  • Trekking
  • Sunbathing
  • Canoe tours and diving
  • Camping

Istanbul Asian Side Rural Areas

Compared to the European side, the Asian side of Istanbul is more greener. This makes the Asian side prone to have more rural areas and naturally more options for people who want to breathe better.


Polonezköy is a village in the Beykoz district of Istanbul, located about 20 km from the Black Sea coast and 15 km from the Bosphorus. Visitors can explore the village’s history and culture by visiting places like the Zofia Rizi Memorial House, the Polonezköy Cultural Center, and the Mary Mother of God Church. There are also several picnic areas and hotels in the area for those who want to stay longer.

You can get there by a personal vehicle or with 137 or 138 numbered public buses.


Şile is a charming district located on the Black Sea coast, which is a preferred destination for tourists coming from Istanbul. It is approximately 60 kilometers away from Istanbul, making it a popular choice for day-trippers. You can get to Şile with a personal vehicle, 139 numbered public buses depart from Üsküdar Harem, or with Şile-Ağva Tourism buses.

With its long, enchanting beaches and lush green nature, Şile is an ideal place to escape the city and relax. If you’d like to stay, there are hotels available or there are lots of camping grounds to enjoy the nature.


Ağva is a town located within the boundaries of Turkey’s Marmara region but with a coastline on the Black Sea. It is connected to the Şile district of Istanbul. Ağva means “village between two rivers”. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit near Istanbul, as it is situated between the Göksu and Yeşilçay rivers, which flow through Ağva and into the Black Sea.

Yeşilçay is the place where fishing boats are anchored, while hotels can be found along the Göksu coast. Visitors can enjoy canoeing or cycling on the rivers. Ağva has a population of around 2,500, but during the summer, especially on weekends, the population can reach up to 15,000.

The town has a 3-kilometer-long sandy beach on the Black Sea coast. It is a region with a natural beauty, surrounded by coves, islets, and forests. In addition to logging and fishing, Şile fabric handcrafts and production are also a major source of income in the region. In recent years, Ağva has also started to take its place in the tourism sector with the hotels surrounding the area. Not only local tourists who want to get away from the noise of Istanbul but also tourists, have discovered the tranquility that Ağva offers.


Riva is a village located at the point where the Riva Stream flows into the Black Sea. It is a neighborhood of Beykoz, which became a district of Istanbul. The name Riva is believed to have originated from the Greek word “Rhebas,” which means “swamp, marshy area.” Another legend suggests that Riva was formerly known as “İrva.” Riva is a peaceful place with abundant trees, a coastline along the Black Sea, and quiet streets. It is a popular destination for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. The village tends to get crowded on weekends, so it is better to visit during weekdays to fully enjoy its tranquility. The sea in Riva can be quite rough, so it is important to be cautious when swimming, and non-swimmers should avoid entering the water.

Anadolu Kavağı

Anadolu Kavağı is a neighborhood located on the northern coast of the Bosphorus in the Beykoz district of Istanbul, Turkey. It is a popular tourist destination known for its fishing village and scenic views. If you’re looking to spend a day away from the city’s noise and chaos, Anadolu Kavağı is a great option as it is not far from the center of Istanbul. Transportation to Anadolu Kavağı is relatively easy with available buses and ferries.

Some of the notable places to visit in Anadolu Kavağı include Yoros Castle, which is located on the highest peak of the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus and offers a magnificent view of the Black Sea and the Bosphorus. Yoros Cafe, a popular spot for visitors to the castle, serves breakfast, fresh fish, meat, and drinks in its garden with a view of the Bosphorus. 


Karakiraz Village is a small forest village located between the Kurna and Kılıçlı villages of Şile in Istanbul. The village is known for its natural beauty and is a good option for those looking for a quiet and peaceful camping experience. Karakiraz is also a hidden gem even among locals.


Esenceli is a small village located near the Ömerli Dam in Şile. The village is quiet and peaceful, making it a good choice for those seeking solitude. It is also a good place for camping, with suitable conditions for hiking, fishing, and swimming. However, there are no facilities for showers or toilets, and finding clean water can be difficult. The village is not well-known, so it is less crowded than other nearby areas. It is easily accessible by car, but there is no public transportation.