Chill-out Şile For a quiet weekend away and a refreshing getaway head to Şile, a small town on the Black Sea Coast. By Julius Motal.
uildings and traffic gave way to trees and flat expanses on the bus ride from Üsküdar to Şile, a cozy town on a hill overlooking the Black Sea located in the northeastern part of Istanbul’s Anatolian side. When you live in a dense and hectic city like Istanbul, it is always confusing and invigorating to arrive in Şile where the
streets are devoid of traffic, and each breeze brings the scent of the sea. The town is within the greater district of Şile, which covers a sizable portion of Istanbul’s northeast and is home to, among other things, Şile Feneri, the largest traditional lighthouse in all of Turkey. A walk along the coast from the town center, where the bus
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drops you off, will take you to Kültür Park, a small flat area with some benches that provides one of the best views of the Black Sea and the town’s natural landscape. A gate runs the length of the park, save for a small opening at the far end, which leads to a stone staircase down to a rocky outcropping closer to the sea.
A walk along the border will reveal a number of these access points to the more natural parts of the small city. There’s another staircase on the side of the Şeref Hotel that takes you down to a small bay where water and rocks are in almost equal measure. There you’ll find folks sunbathing and swimming close to shore. The Black
Sea has particularly strong undercurrents here, and while there are official beaches with color-coded flag systems indicating relative levels of safety, you’ll have to take extra care when you’re in these unmonitored parts. Right off of Ağlayankaya Caddesi is Şile’s main beach called Ağlayan Kaya. The sand is mostly free of refuse, and it can get awfully hot around midday. Yet, there are many shaded spots and of course the Black Sea (fairly cold but clean) to provide far cooler environs. There’s another one of those staircases on this beach that’ll take you up into rocky terrain that’ll provide a good deal of hiking. You’ll find it if you keep to the left after entering the beach, though you’ll have to hoist yourself up since the first
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few steps don’t exist. Walk along the path worn down by foot traffic and enjoy the saltwater air and the view of the water. By day, Şile is a quiet town, with most of the hubbub happening around the town center where you’ll find a number of small shops and restaurants. There are standard döner and dürüm spots, and beyond that, there are the traditional seafood restaurants but even though the food is good, Şile cannot be praised for being a culinary hotspot. By night, Şile’s far more alive, at least during the month of Ramadan with various restaurants offering iftar options. Şile has plenty of tekels
and markets, and the sea breeze lends itself enjoying beverages on the shore. The sounds of seagulls in the air and waves breaking on the shore provide a soothing backdrop to anything you’ll be doing along the coast. Şile’s an ideal, low-key spot for anyone looking for a short weekend away from the constant commotion Istanbul’s known for. Moreover, life moves a bit slower there. Perhaps that’s a consequence of being a coastal town whose pace follows the tides. With this distorted sense of time, you could find a spot on any of Şile’s beaches, and stay there all day with nothing more than a towel, sunscreen and a book.
HOW TO GET THERE ?
Anyone looking to get to Şile needs to take the 139A bus from Üsküdar. If you’re getting off the ferry at Üsküdar, head to the right and keep walking until you see either white coach buses or the 139A stop. It’s a part of Istanbul’s transit, but it doesn’t run on the IstanbulKart. You’ll need to swing around when you get to the stop and walk a short distance to a ticket office for Şile. A ticket to Şile costs 9.50 TL. While the seats are comfier than most IETT buses, don’t expect express service. The 139A has it’s own route to follow, but you’ll know when you’re in Şile.
WHERE TO EAT ?
For a good meal, nargile, and çay, head over to Fusa Restaurant (www. fusarestaurant.com, Balibey Mah. Vali Muhittin Cad 45), which is right next to Kültür Park. Fusa has a beautiful view of the Black Sea and since it’s open air, nights here are very comfortable.
Considering you’ll be on the Black Coast, you might be in the mood for fish, and you can find it in spades at Iyot Restaurant (www. iyotrestaurant.com.tr/, Şile Limanı Yolu), which has a perfect view of the marina. Iyot’s menu changes with the season, but the quality never changes. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, walk into Bilir Café and Patisserie (Çavuş Mah. Üsküdar Cad 156). Bilir has a smorgasbord of delicious
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Turkish pastries that will follow any meal you had nicely, and they would make nice gifts, too.
WHERE TO STAY ?
For a quiet stay away from the main hub, make a reservation at the Fener Motel (www. fenermotel.com), a cozy collection of cabins with the bare essentials: bed, closet, bathroom and porch. Breakfast and dinner are part of the deal, with breakfast
remaining the same while the dinner menu changes each night. Service is fast and seamless, and the food is tasty. Prices hover between 50 and 200 TL a night, depending on which nights and which month you’re going. Rooms tend to be cheaper in the offseason. For something a little ritzier and just as low-key, head to the Phellos Suites (www. phellossuites.com/en). It’s more expensive than the Fener Motel, between 400 and 700 TL a night, but you won’t have to worry about young children running around because the Phellos Suites doesn’t accept children 14 and younger. Breakfast is a feast every morning, and given the quality of the amenities, you might find it difficult to leave. If you don’t mind hunkering down with other travelers, then take a look at Ağlayankaya Pension, a hostel and restaurant near the coast. Prices hover around 200TL, and a breakfast buffet is included. There’s also a communal kitchen where you can make your own meals.