Even when the temperature gets too high during summertimes, there is always a way to stay cool in Istanbul. Here are some things to do for escaping the heat while enjoying the city at the same time.
Take a ferry ride
Take a ferry ride across the Bosphorus—the benches along the sides of the ship are always the breeziest spots with the best view! Here you can cool down and let your mind wander while the ferry glides past magnificent palaces and little fishing boats. A visit to Kadıköy on the Asian side, a Sehir Hatları Ferry Bosphorus tour, or a trip to the Princes’ Islands are good ways to spend a day.
Say yes to ice cream
Eat plenty of ice cream, what else? The creamy-cool foodstuff is known to boost production of thrombotonin—a stress-reducing, happiness-inducing hormone closely related to serotonin. We tested it recently, and it really works!
Istanbul’s best ice cream slingers
- Dondurmacı Ali Usta – Ask anyone in Moda for their summer favorite, and they will probably direct you to Ali Usta’s ice cream shop. Get your scoop to eat right away, or buy your favorite flavor by the kilo to take home. Moda Caddesi No.264/A, Kadıköy; T: 0216 414 18 80
- Eataly – Istanbul’s Italian grocery paradise serves up creamy gelato goodness made from fresh cow’s milk. Zorlu Center, Zincirlikuyu; T: 0212 336 66 00
- Girandola – Sells Italian ice cream in the form of gelato and sorbet. Try their whiskey-chocolate flavor! Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No.109; Arnavutköy; T: 0212 265 26 29
Embrace the greenery
If you like your cool with a side of green, Atatürk Arboretum is the place to go. Situated within the vast Belgrade Forest north of Istanbul, this place is a living tree museum cultivated by the Forestry Faculty of Istanbul University. Three lakes and a wide range of native and non-native trees make a stroll around this peaceful spot simultaneously refreshing and educational. Belgrad Ormanı, Bahçeköy
A dip in one of Istanbul’s swanky hotel pools is definitely more upscale than a cold shower at home, especially when some of them feature amazing views of the Bosphorus. If you have more time, rejuvenation, massage, and skincare services offer by the hotel’s spa center will guarantee you a complete, relaxing experience.
Visit a museum
The antique marble statues at Istanbul Archaeological Museum couldn’t care less about the raging summer heat. Do as they do and spend an inspiring afternoon among fascinating artefacts from excavations in and around Istanbul. Alemdar Caddesi, Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sokak, Sultanahmet; T: 0212 520 77 40
Jump into the pool and enjoy a spa
To cool down, the best thing is to avoid direct sunlight. If crouching along the sides of large buildings is not your thing, why not go underground? The Basilica Cistern or Yerebatan Sarayı (Sunken Palace) is great for a walk in the dark. Also, more exciting sights below street level awaiting you to discover in subterranean sights of Istanbul. Yerebatan Caddesi No.13, Sultanahmet; T: 0212 522 12 59
Best swimming pools and spa in the city
- InterContinental Istanbul – Only a few minutes away from Taksim Square, Spa InterContinental features luxurious massage and skincare treatment by Charme d’Orient. While the relaxation center with heated stone beds and loungers offers a great Bosphorus view, the outdoor swimming pool gives you a cool break in the busy neighborhood during the summer. Asker Ocagi Caddesi No.1, Taksim; T: 0212 368 44 44
- Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul – At the waterfront Ottoman palace of the Bosphorus, the big heated outdoor pool presents the wholesome seaview. Almost feel like swimming in the turquoise sea of the Bosphorus. Famous for it royal settings and luxurious service, the hotel offers different spa packages for you to choose. Çırağan Caddesi No.32; T: 0212 326 4646
- Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus – The large outdoor pool here may not quite have Olympic size, but it sure has a gold-medal view over the Bosphorus and Üsküdar on the Asian Side. The hotel also has an indoor pool. Çırağan Caddesi No. 28, Beşiktaş; T: 0212 381 40 00
- Hotel Les Ottomans – The outdoor pool of this ultra-posh hotel is filled with seawater and faces the Bosphorus. Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa in the hotel offers one of the best wellness service in Istanbul; both traditional hammam and modern spa treatment are unbeatable.Muallim Naci Caddesi No. 68, Kuruçeşme; T: 0212 359 15 00
- Wyndham Istanbul Kalamış Marina – Enjoy a day at their rooftop infinity pool with a beautiful view over the sea of Marmara and the Kalamış Marina. Kalamış Fener Caddesi No. 3, Kalamış; T: 0216 400 00 00
- The Grand Tarabya – Located a little out of town, away from the big crowds, and at the point where sky meets glittering sea, is this beautiful grand hotel with its equally grand outdoor pool. Try the hammam ritual at Therapia Spa. Haydar Aliyev Caddesi No.154, Tarabya; T: 0212 363 33 00
- Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus – Spend hot summer days by the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus pool, with lounges, beds, and a large sitting area. You need a membership to use this pool, but it’s worth it. Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Harbiye; T: 0212 315 60 00
- The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul – At the hotel’s terrace, a small pool with a amazing view of the Bosphorus is added next to the jacuzzi. Get a summer drink and find the best spot to enjoy the seaview of Beşiktaş. Süzer Plaza, Askerocagi Caddessi, No:6, 34367 Elmadag; T: 0212 334 44 44
Head to Şile
If all of the above fails, it’s time to escape to Şile. This little seaside town on the Black Sea coast an hour northeast of Istanbul boasts several picturesque rocky bays and sandy beaches. The sea may be a bit rough sometimes, but a fairly reliable breeze provides cooling effects onshore.