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BLOG Alternative Summer Activities in Istanbul: Beaches, Parks, and Outdoor Cinemas

27 July 2016 / Lifestyle


Istanbul Summer Activities

A famous travel proverb says memories are made in summer. Most people upon hearing this automatically think of sandy beach resorts and warm summer evenings on cool verandas. Yet the bustling city break destination of Istanbul provides summer memories in abundance. Often associated with long queues at museums, and a vibrant shopping scene, Istanbul, and its surrounding districts are full of small coastal villages, evergreen parks and a variety of self-hosted activities to enjoy during the hot summer temperatures.

Istanbul Outdoor Cinemas

Pack a cold box of refreshments, a blanket, or deck chairs and head with the family to one of Istanbul's outdoor cinemas. They are still a relatively new concept but gaining popularity as each summer comes and goes. Çengelköy, a small district near the Uskudar neighbourhood turn their football field into an evening cinema with ample seats for everyone. Playing old Turkish films, it is an excellent insight into nostalgic media trends of Turkey’s past.

Alternatively, for style, and sophistication while watching the latest releases, Cinecity Trio in the Kozyatağı district is a modern alternative to outside screening. Open since 1993, the chain of cinemas operates all over Turkey but their outside venues receive the most admiration from clientele. Featuring the latest in 3D sound system, arrive early for screenings because this site, open for just 3 months of the summer, is in high demand.

ENKA Esref Denizhan outdoor cinema, operating since 1984 enjoys a widespread and respected reputation. This is not a surprise because its 1000 seater theatre is perfectly set up for visitors to enjoy a broad range of international and Turkish films. Also hosting yearly culture festivals, their outdoor stage opens up from July to August.

Beautiful Beaches in Istanbul

Turks have long school holidays and because of this, some Istanbul locals get away from the city to smaller holiday resorts on the west and south coasts. Those that are unable to get away because of work commitments instead travel 20 kilometres to the outskirts to enjoy a variety of beaches that in the past had bad reputations but are now clean and full of amenities.

Burc Beach, consisting of 2 kilometres of golden Turkish sand does a roaring trade. Backed by a bar and restaurant, it also hosts numerous activities such as kayaking and windsurfing, therefore boosting its popularity among young groups of friends. Owned by the famous Boğaziçi University, visitors bask under umbrellas, enjoy the sun terrace, feast in the restaurant, and swim leisurely in the crystal blue sea.

Solar Beach, a privately owned business markets itself as vacations for city dwellers. Providing sea, sun, and sports under one roof, one-kilometer of golden sand at Solar Beach, has a 2000 person capacity, onsite restaurants and bars, water sports and beach parties. Their sun terraces are sophisticated venues for Fashion shows, and yearly, they host celebrated jet-ski championships.

Caddebostan Beach in the Asian Kadikoy district was closed for many years but reopened following a revamp and now provides a variety of amenities. The one downside is that because it is close to the main centre, during school holidays, local families flood there so anyone who does not like crowds might feel uncomfortable. The main beach of Kumburgaz is also popular with Turkish families while other alternatives include beaches on the Princess Islands or head to the Black Sea coast for an overnight stay in places such as Sile.

Green Parks of Istanbul

If beaches and outdoor cinemas are not your things but you still want to experience summer life in Istanbul, numerous green areas or parks are ideal for a slow-paced relaxing time. Gulhane Park, close to Topkapi Palace, the former home of Ottoman Sultans was previously only used by royalty but that all changed in 1912.

Now a scenic setting of flowers, plants, and trees, designated pathways are scattered with benches and cart vendors’ sellers selling street food and candyfloss. Gulhane is ideal for afternoon strolls, but for a day out, Yildiz Grove in the Besiktas district ticks all the boxes. Massively under-rated, this vast and former imperial park with its pools, ponds, and flower displays has a large picnic area as well as two pavilions serving refreshments.

Emirgan Grove, another public park spans over 117 acres and has many amenities as well as jogging tracks. Closely associated with tulip flowers, it also takes part in the yearly tulip festival in April. Lastly, Bebek in an upmarket district portrays beautiful Bosphorus views and can easily provide that summer moment that makes lifelong memories.

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