The European side of the Bosphorus from the Black sea to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is a refined balance between city and seaside. Tarabya and Büyükdere is where the diplomatic classes took themselves off to in the 19th century. Beyond Sarıyer is wilderness, except that the PM has personally decided to destroy what should always have remained a nature reserve and the lungs of Istanbul, by building a third bridge here to bring further congestion to the city. Military zones (forests) are being privatised to ease the faster development of new housing estates. But for now it is heaven, and in a poyraz (north wind), the sea is turquoise and gorgeous. Swim to your heart’s content while you can. This August the Bosphorus is exceptionally warm. And for some reason there are droves of dolphins to swim alongside, ‘in amazing different colours’, says one captain.
The Upper Bosphorus remains a haven of peaceful civilisation, at least until the dreaded third bridge is built. The villages become increasingly distinct from one another as you move North, from Emirgan and its superlative Sakıp Sabancı Museum, all the way to Sariyer and the equally impressive Sadberk Hanım Museum. Eventually the traffic thins out too, and the coast becomes an enjoyable place to walk, stop, sit, take tea and watch the boats go by.
Just inland is the last significant expanse of greenery remaining anywhere near the metropolis, the Belgrade Forest. It makes a lovely place for a day of strolling and picnicking, and must be visited in droves if it is to stand and chance of surviving destructive policies.
Beat the waterside traffic by taking the metro to ITU Ayazaga, and grab a taxi down to Emirgan or Istiniye.
A huge choice of eating, from traditional fish restaurants, such as Aleko’s in Yeniköy, to sophisticated grub at the Sabancı Museum
Luxury Bosphorus cruises