The foreign travel industry rarely talks about the Sariyer District of Istanbul yet for decades; locals have adored the area for its quaint, laid-back atmosphere. In recent years, its popularity also spread to the Turkish real estate market as more Turks and foreign buyers buy retirement and summer homes there. Sitting on the European side, its outlook differs from other more prominent places in Istanbul, and this is a big lure.
Located on the Bosphorus northern tip as it breaks into the Black Sea, Sariyer’s fresh seaside air is unaffected by air pollution and local and domestic tourists love the coastal and forest lifestyle. In Byzantine history, Sariyer’s abundance of natural spring waters supplied the central city with water. Fast forward to Ottoman rule, and the sultans and high-profile members of society retreated to the area during summer for hunting, leisure, and pleasure. Many landmarks built during that time like mosques, fountains, and aqueducts still stand today.
By the time the 1960s arrived, Sariyer was no longer an area confined to royalty. Residential neighbourhoods had grown, and as the prospect of domestic tourism grew in popularity, people came from the rest of Istanbul to Sariyer for the weekend. It was the official go-to area in a time when most families couldn’t afford to travel abroad. These days, Sariyer welcomes Turks and foreigners from near and far to enjoy its delights.
About the Sariyer District of Istanbul
Despite being part of Turkey’s largest city, and most populated region, Sariyer doesn’t believe in a fast-paced lifestyle of business and economy. Its outlook has always revolved around rural farming, and fishery of which locals still practise the latter today, as proven in a short walk along the promenades and piers. In what is a perfect marriage, restaurants around Sariyer serve up fresh catches alongside the traditional Turkish mezes.
Istanbulites also visit at weekends for a traditional Turkish breakfast or brunch, and to enjoy Belgrad forest, Kilyos beach area, and exploring back streets. Whether visiting for a day out, a weekend jaunt from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul’s central districts, or to buy property, Sariyer’s unique landmarks buildings and character are worth getting to know.
7 Fun Things to do in Sariyer
1: Sadberk Hamim Museum: Open every day except Wednesday, this private museum in a 19th-century shoreline Azaryan mansion is named after the wife of the prominent businessperson Vehbi Koc. It aims to preserve cultural antiques of Istanbul and show the Koc family’s 20,000-collection of Anatolian artefacts dating from the Byzantine era.
2: Sakip Sabanci Museum: Sitting within Atli Kosk, it is time to dig back into Istanbul’s recent past, and explore a delightful mansion to see a private collection of 19th-century Ottoman items, porcelain, furniture, paintings, carpets and ottoman and European art from throughout the era. While there, take time to eat in the MSA restaurant, where food cooked by Culinary Art Academy chefs highlights Turkish cuisine with a modern twist.
3: Ural Ataman Classic Car Museum: Old car enthusiasts will love this quirky museum exhibiting 1950s cars, fire trucks, motorcycles. Sitting on a space covering 2000 square metres, they display over 20,000 vehicles so take your time to enjoy a nostalgic trip back in time.
4: Rumelihisari: Built in 1452 by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror so he could capture Constantinople, walls of this massive fortress stretch for 250 metres. After the conquest, the Ottoman sultans turned it into a dungeon for high profile prisoners and janissaries, and in 1953, the local council repaired and renovated before opening it to the public. An interesting fact is that the time to construct the original fortress was only four months. On occasions, Rumelihisari is the venue for open-air concerts, and its surreal setting quickly ensures tickets sell out.
5: Must Visit: Emirgan Park
It’s hard to believe this beautiful park belongs to a highly populated city. Sitting near the Bosphorus shores, flower displays attract people all year round, but it comes alive during April, when the park takes part of Istanbul’s annual tulip festival. This park is a stark difference from the usual hustle and bustle of modern city life, and for locals, a place of serene relaxation.
6: Istinye Shopping Mall
Plenty of shops and weekly markets serve the locals of Sariyer, but the popular place to spend your cash is Istinye shopping mall open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Opening in 2007 to much fanfare, it is one of Istanbul’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment malls. Including 300 Turkish and international brand name stores, a state-of-the-art theatre, 12 screen cinema, on-site gym, fine dining restaurants and 20 speciality boutique stores, it entices you to spend all your wages in one go.
The Istinye area also has another claim to fame thanks to a 180 berthing capacity marina. Surrounded by cafes and restaurants, it is not one of Turkey’s high-profile marinas but still is a favourite place for local sailors.
7: Enjoy Activities in Belgrad Forest
One big lure of Sariyer is that half the landscape is coastal regions and the other half sits within the beautiful Belgrad forest, a large green area cherished by Istanbul locals. As a place to jog, relax, meditate, or walk off those extra pounds, council officials have also installed picnic parks and sports recreational facilities.
Within Belgrade forest, the 700-acre Ataturk Abortorium is home to various tree species while other nature parks include Falih Rifki and Forest Komurcubent. The three ancient aqueducts of Topuzlu, Valide and Sultan Mahmet remind visitors of Sariyer’s main historical purpose of supplying water to the main city centre. When you visit Belgrad forest, take time to turn around and look at the stunning coastline views from the hilltops.
High Profile Neighbourhoods and Villages
The Sariyer area breaks down into 23 neighbourhoods and nine villages, all of which has something unique to boast about. Some areas gain fame for tourist attractions, beach-side locations, or their luxury millionaire mansions for sale. Luxury property buyers prefer the Istinye and Yenikoy districts, where large, modern villas featuring the latest in architectural styles take pride of place. Despite Yenikoy’s thrust into the current property market, it keeps an ambience of old-world Istanbul while the profile of Buyukdere is also rising thanks to luxury condominiums. Resitpasa, Emirgan, and Buyukdere neighbourhoods also attract property buyers to Sariyer, but three areas contribute heavily towards Sariyer’s fame.
High Profile Tarabya: Sitting in between Kirecburnu and Yenikoy, this well-publicised neighbourhood was home to foreign consulates during the Ottoman empire. Its name, meaning “pleasure” is dedicated to a palace built by Sultan Selim the 2nd. During summer, Tarabya’s nightlife evolves into the typical alfresco dining scene in shoreline restaurants. Historical landmarks to keep an eye out for a while exploring include the Aya Paraskevi Church, Sultan Mahmud the 2nd fountain, and Huber residence.
Beachside Life in Kilyos: Sariyer has many places of interest including museums, fountains, old mosques, gardens and given its seaside location, promenades, and beaches. Altinkum, Tarabya are two well-known stretches of sand, but most people flock to Kilyos on the Black sea side. Bogazici University manages one beach called Burc, so students frequently visit. Tourists also swell the population during summer, and enjoy Uzunya beach, with a camping ground and fish and breakfast restaurants. In recent years, Kilyos’s profile has risen as private beach clubs, and more bars and cafes have opened.
Desirable Zekeriyakoy: This prestigious neighbourhood’s reputation stretches to all corners of Istanbul as synonymous with a secluded, a natural lifestyle, and luxury homes. As one of Sariyer’s oldest villages, the population totals 10,000 people, but it maintains a suburban neighbourhood atmosphere. Zekeriyakoy is 6.5 kilometres from Sariyer centre and 4.5 kilometres from Kilyos beach district so quiet enough, but close to everyday amenities and leisure facilities.
Sariyer’s Most Famous House: Said Halim Pasha Mansion
The Bosphorus shores, a focal point of life in Istanbul, connect the Marmara and Black seas but also stand out because of millionaire, Ottoman mansions, known as yali houses. Their wooden architecture and construction dates have made them Turkey’s most expensive property market, and in the Sariyer area, the 19th century Said Halim Pasha Mansion stands out as a prominent yali house but unfortunately, the only way to see inside is to hire it out for a private event. (More about the Yali mansions of Istanbul.)
Popular Sariyer Restaurants for Eating Out
Although Sariyer’s reputation stems around fish restaurants like the popular Therpia and Aquarius, delighted culinary fans have many menus to taste their way through. The Ahali 279 is ideal for large groups of friends, and families thanks to its summer garden. An extensive breakfast menu leads into daytime snacks like fried mozzarella and the classic BLT sandwiches. As the name suggests, Jimmy’s Burgers is for meat lovers, while Chef’s Secret makes a roaring trade in International and Turkish cuisine. Look around because one thing Sariyer isn’t short of restaurants.
Getting to the Sariyer Area of Istanbul
Getting to Sariyer is easy by metro, bus, and taxis, but weekend congestion is a frequent problem. So, it is no surprise that given Sariyer’s large coastal areas, sea ferries a popular method of transport. Regular schedules run between Sariyer and other places like Kadikoy, Cengelkoy, Rumeli Kavagi, Anadolu Kavagi, and Eminonu. Additional ferry services run from Yenikoy and Istinye to Beykoz and Pasa Bahce. During summer, Istanbul City Lines also run long and short Bosphorus tours stopping at various points of which Sariyer is one. These are a great way to see the Bosphorus shores from a different angle.
Buying Property in Sariyer
If you want to get your foot on the Istanbul property ladder, the Sariyer district of Istanbul is an ideal place to house hunt. As an idyllic area of the Catalca peninsula, it offers a rounded lifestyle including urban, nature and coastal influences. From the sought after Zekeriyakoy neighbourhood to lesser talked about communities, apartments and luxury villas in Sariyer are the pride of Turkey’s real estate market. Although resale properties do come up for sale, most buyers opt for new build and off plan properties that feature stunning architecture and make the most of Sariyer’s beautiful landscape views.
Many luxury homes have Bosphorus views, and some millionaire homes feature everything for a modern, comfortable lifestyle including landscaped gardens, en-suite bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, and private swimming pools. If you are already in Istanbul and would like to view homes, call us to arrange a time and date. Otherwise, see our extensive portfolio of property for sale in Sariyer, and email us for more details about any of them.
If it is your first time visiting Istanbul or you want to get on the region’s property ladder, our Istanbul city guide and general information article will also be of use to you. Discussing districts, facts, things to do, prominent places and more, it is the ideal guide for new visitors.
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