A drive to the towns of Polonezkoy, Sile and Agva (all mentioned below) makes a fun day trip, including a stop at the Black Sea. The road to these towns and back to Istanbul is a small narrow windy road that passes through rolling hills – mostly natural landscapes. The author visited all of the locations below.
Agva is one of the main weekend getaways for citizens of Istanbul. It is located directly on the Black Sea. As with many of the other seaside towns in Turkey this town basically “closes” down for the off season. Many hotels are located here although rooms do book up on the weekends. A large beach is very crowded in the summer. In the winter this town is *empty* and you are lucky to find a restaurant that is open. A relaxing way to whittle off an hour of your day is to get a haircut in one of the local hair salons.
Polonezkoy about 45 minutes from Istanbul, this small town is located in a semi wooded area. Its residents are primarily from Polish descent and the town has been visited by famous Poland dignitaries over the years. The Pope has even stopped here before. Polonezkoy features only a few hotels and restaurants.
Sile is a very popular seaside resort town (a little smaller and less popular than Agva). Its situated on a hill above the Black Sea and from some of the restaurants one has great views of the harbor.
Termal is a cute little “spa town” located about 20 minutes outside of Yalova. The drive for the most part is in the country past small farmhouses and orchards until the road begins to climb up through wooded sections before reaching the actual town.
Termal sits in the middle of a beautiful forest. Hiking trails, small restaurants and hot baths make this town a must visit if you are in the area. Attaturk maintained a small house here – this has been since converted into a museum.
On a snow covered day the town is extra picturesque. Three main spas operate, charging several dollars for an hour or two of use. Lockers are available along with heated pools, saunas and internal steam baths and bathing rooms. These are a real treat on a cold winter’s day!
Yalova is located several hours from Istanbul by car – distance wise its really not that far from Istanbul but one has to drive down one arm of the Sea of Marmara and then back up the other side. The fastest option to get there is to take one of the high speed ferries – they leave from Kadakoy with a journey time of about 45 minutes. In really bad weather during the winter the main road from Istanbul to Yalova may close sporadically if snow is falling. At that point the ferry may be your only option for transportation unless sea is unsafe due to heavy chop. The ferry terminal is located just off the main square in Yalova.
There is really not much to see or do here – this city is mainly a farming and transportation center with a university and a wee bit of shopping. If weather is bad and you want to visit the hot springs at Termal, consider getting a hotel in Yalova as Termal is higher above the sea and gets more snow than Yalova which is located right at sea level.
Ülke Hotel run by Mr. Rasim Yilmaz is located right on the water on the main street that parallels the water, just down from the ferry terminal. The address is Yali Cad. No 17 and their PHONE is: 0-226-814-16 80. This is a clean comfortable hotel – its open all year round. They have a restaurant and bar. Complimentary breakfast is served.