Traditional short weekend escapes from the weekday routine are a must for every Istanbul local. Catching up with the family and friends in popular city spots for long weekend breakfasts and chats are a part of the long established city culture.
While routes along the Bosphorus are equally enchanting throughout the year, autumn is the time of the year when we get mesmerised by the playful colours of the nature.
Istanbul is not a very green city, yet there are places to enjoy some spectacular views and get some relief from the fast city life.
The charming village of Polonezköy is certainly one of them.
Situated on the Asian side of Istanbul, in the Beykoz area, this lovely “village of the Poles”, as its name suggests, has long been popular with the locals for all it has to offer for a perfect short little getaway.
As you approach Polonezköy by car, one of the things you will notice immediately is that everything around you gets greener and the houses get smaller. Doesn’t feel like Istanbul at all, even if the weekend crowd gets overwhelming at times, but the promises of quiet corners are everywhere, and it is really easy to find your own spot under the Polonezköy sun.
Lovely gardens turned into picnic areas are many, a 5 kilometre walking and jogging track in the middle of the forest, which is also a wildlife preserve with a variety of forest animals, is very close to the village center, while the choice of restaurants where to eat abundant meals and some of the special Polonezköy desserts is truly admirable.
Following a recommendation of a friend, we decided to have our Sunday feast in “Polina” – a place that resembles more a secret garden from some distant past, rather than a traditional restaurant.
We were lucky to arrive around 1 pm when the breakfast crowd had just left and the lunch time hadn’t begun yet. So the usually packed place was quiet and we could taste its charm to the fullest.
And there is a lot to enjoy in that cute little jungle that swarms with all kinds of plants, curious little objects and even some animals. If you feel somewhat lazy, you can lie on hammocks in the back garden, or simply spend hours devouring their mouthwatering food, and especially their delicious cakes that will make you want to come back for more.
The walk around the village is particularly rewarding for its little picturesque houses and numerous gardens turned into cafes. Famed for its history and charm, Polonezköy is also well-known for its organic honey production, natural jams sometimes made with unusual combinations of fruits and even vegetables, and molasses.
Some products might seem a bit pricey, but it is almost impossible to go wrong with any of them.
Along the road that leads towards and out of the village, you will see lots of locals selling their own fruits and vegetables on their little makeshift stands, so make sure you have enough space to stock up on organic products of the area.
The one and possibly only downside of Polonezköy is its bad connection with the rest of the city, so using your own transportation is a must.
And finally, if you haven’t had enough of this beautiful village and want to explore its charm even more, there are plenty of places to stay overnight and let the magic of this lovely place soak in even more.
When Billur moved from her hometown of Izmir to Istanbul at an early age, she immediately fell in love with its charm and uniqueness. Over the years, she became part and parcel of Cihangir – a zone heavily inhabited with expats and intriguing locals, where today she is known as the real expert of the neighbourhood. Also known as an animal rescuer, Billur currently owns two cats and one dog, all three of them saved from tough conditions on the streets.