If you want to swim at a beach in Istanbul the best would be to take a ferry to one of the Princes’ Islands. They are called ‘the islands’ or Adalar and are
located in the Sea of Marmara just off the Asian side of Istanbul.
In total there are nine islands and four of these are open to the public. During the Byzantine era princes and other royalty were exiled to these islands and later members of the Ottoman Sultans’ family as well, hence the name. These days they are a very popular destination for tourists and Turks alike – just to get away from it all.
The four islands that are open to the public are Büyükada, the biggest and most popular, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Kinaliada.
We went to two of these islands, first to the biggest one and later to Kinaliada. You go via ferry which is extremely accessible and regular. Interesting and a lovely feature is that no cars are permitted on the islands and you get around by walking, cycling or in special horse-drawn carriages, although I have a suspicion the horse and cart is mostly for tourists. We also saw a few cars unfortunately….
On day three when we got to Büyükada we were inundated (as everyone else who arrives for the first time) by people trying to ‘sell their beach’ to us. Very intimidating. You have to stay calm and be firm!!! Eventually we decided to take one of the boats to a secluded beach and we were not disappointed. It was beautiful. Quiet and peaceful.
On Büyükada itself there are also many interesting churches, mosques, museums, manors and interesting historical places dating from the different eras, so it is key to just walk around the island and take in the atmosphere and people.
According to our youngest this was by far our best day in Istanbul so far…..