Covering the northern European tip, foreign travel publications rarely talk about the Sariyer area of Istanbul, yet for Turks, this Bosphorus gem is their favourite summer and weekend getaway. During these times, the population swells as local Istanbulites and tourists from further away descend on Sariyer to enjoy the delights for themselves.
There aren’t as many tourist attractions as high-profile areas like Sultanahmet or Beyoglu, yet the atmosphere and time-honoured traditions of small villages sitting within it, keep people coming back for more.
Sariyer’s Low Key Historical Timeline
As an old Bosphorus settlement, for much of its history, it was just one of many fishing villages. The pinnacle point came when Ottoman royalty started using it for hunting and picnics. Becoming an exclusive destination, high flyers of Turkish society also built summer residences there.
In later years, foreign embassies occupied some of these and cemented Sariyer’s prestigious reputation. Additionally, for centuries, communities from different faiths and cultures lived side by side and traces of this still exist in mosques, synagogues, and churches, throughout Buyukdere, Yenimahelle, and Tarabya neighbourhoods.
Getting There and Getting Around
Connected via the M2 metro line, local bus services make it easy to get around the district and to other neighbouring areas. Sariyer also sits near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on the E80 highway, and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge ensuring anyone who wants to cross continents to the Asian side can do so quickly.
By far though, the most popular method of travel is sea ferries to many destinations including Asian Kadikoy, Rumeli Kavagi, Anadolu Kavagi, Cengelkoy, Istinye, and the busy district of Eminonu. To get there from other countries, just 40 minutes’ drive away sits the new ultramodern airport that when complete in 2023, will connect residents to hundreds of global destinations all year round.
An Educational Hub of Istanbul
Tourism is not its only claim to fame. Earning admiration as an educational hub thanks to many private and public schools, 115 schools cover primary to secondary educational while Istanbul Technical and Beykent University educate talented individuals about to enter the workplace.
For foreigners looking to move and work in Istanbul, Sariyer appeals because of international institutes like the British schools in Zekeriyakoy, Tarabya, and Yenikoy, the Istanbul International Community School on the Hisar campus, and the famous Lycee Francais Pierre Loti campus.
11 Prominent Places in the Sariyer Area of Istanbul
1: Kilyos Beach and Town: Turkey is a beach lovers’ destinations, and Sariyer delivers in style by offering Kilyos beach. Fronting the Black Sea, strong currents in certain months make it unsafe for children, but regardless, the beach and small town is now a much-loved spot. Away from the beach, slow walks through the forested area provide alternative things to do, while small bars and cafes make this a highly enjoyable place to chill out.
2: Belgrade Forest: For centuries, Belgrade Forest, named after the same conquest by the Ottomans, was private hunting grounds for sultan royalty and their entourage, yet these days, it is a favourite green spot in Istanbul to enjoy the great outdoors. Joggers descend on it every day, while at the weekends, families and couples enjoy lakeside picnics and strolls. Within Belgrad Forest are smaller nature parks including Irmak, Komurcubent, Mehmet Akif Ersoy, and Neset Suyu. Bahcekoy, on the edge of Belgrad Forest, houses the famous Ataturk Arboretum.
3: Rumeli Kavagi: Fish restaurants lining the shoreline make this place famous. Serving menus of fresh fish and seafood, when combined with the traditional mezes and raki, it becomes a Turkish affair. The rule when enjoying this style of dining is slow consumption with good company for a pleasurable evening.
4: Buyukdere: For decades, Buyukdere remained off the grid, but in recent years, its real estate market has exploded with luxury apartments leading the popularity. As well as being home to a few churches, it hosts the Sadberk Hanim Museum, a famous private collection put together by the prominent and rich Koc Family. Sitting in the 19th-century Azaryan Yali house, it was their summer home until converted in 1978 to the museum we see today.
5: Istinye: Sitting between Emirgan and Yenikoy, Istinye is a much-loved district. The small bay attracts weekend day trippers eager to soak up the seaside ambience of cafes and restaurants, while the other feather in its cap, Istinye Park, is a high profile, ultra-modern shopping mall with Turkish and international brand names, food courts, and entertainment options all under one roof.
6: Emirgan: Gaining its historical name from the Ottoman lords who loved hunting there, Emirgan now commands fame from its delightful green park, and tea gardens lining the Bosphorus, which at weekends, becomes the local place to hang out and soak up the Bosphorus ambience. Other significant landmarks include the Sakip Sabanci Museum and 18th-century Emirgan Mosque.
7: Yenikoy: Churches and synagogues give an insight into Yenikoy’s Greek, Armenian and Jewish cultural heritage. Also earning fame for delicious baked goods coming out of its bakeries, there is nothing fast paced about this small neighbourhood. Large Yali mansions within this upmarket district dominate the housing market and they include Afif Pasha Yali, which hosted Agatha Christie.
8: Tarabya: Ottoman sultan Selim the second adored this area where the German consulate is now based. His admiration has carried on to present day attracting Turks from around the country who have retired there. Like its surrounding counterparts, it is a great place to eat fish, and let your hair down in local bars featuring traditional Turkish music and food.
9: Zekeriyakoy: The middle-class atmosphere of Zekeriyakoy has taken off in recent years as more residential areas gain traction on Istanbul’s housing market. Since it is close to business districts, many residents commute daily while enjoying a village lifestyle when not working.
10: Rumelihisari: This is one area most foreigners have heard of because it hosts the 15th century castle with the same name. Used when the Ottomans captured Constantinople, these days, the open-air museum also hosts amazing concerts.
11: Maslak: While the rest of Sariyer moves at a leisurely pace, Maslak business district is fast paced and an ever-evolving hub. It differs in that rather than being a residential hub, tall skyscrapers dominate its property market.
Buying Property in Sariyer, Istanbul
Sariyer occupies the upper end of Istanbul’s property market with homes featuring gorgeous Bosphorus views and locations. If you have over 2 million pounds to spend, you can net yourself an authentic Yali mansion. These homes stemming from the Ottoman days are renowned for their unique style of wood architecture, and most are under protected status. Otherwise, look to places like Zekeriyakoy for new build luxury villas with private gardens, swimming pools and home technology. Browse apartments and villas for sale in the Sariyer area of Istanbul, and for more information on any of them or to arrange a viewing, call or email us today.
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