Popular weekend retreat from İstanbul

agv1To get to the Paradise Motel in Ağva you must first ring a large metal bell and then wait while a strange contraption rather like a giant, open-sided orange comes rattling across on wires to pick you up from the far side of the river.

In the silence of the countryside you sway across the limpid green Göksu river beneath you, then step out into a world of complete tranquillity a mere 100km away from downtown İstanbul. It’s the perfect place to come for a weekend break whether with a loved one or a group of friends.

Ağva is one of those places well-known to İstanbul high-fliers but not quite so well known to the rest of us. In the early 1990s a few far-sighted individuals who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life started to move up to the Black Sea coast beyond Şile where the river flowed down into the sea.

First one hotel opened, then another. Now there are a whole string of them lining the river, most of them with their own distinctive personalities. Think Olympos for grown-ups with chalets and wooden houses in place of the tree-houses and a river instead of the beach, and you won’t go far wrong.agv3

The Paradise cleaves most tightly to the original feeling of bohemianism. A straggle of bungalows line the riverbank interspersed with wooden platforms where you can lounge in chairs or hammocks and watch the world float by in canoes, pedaloes or tour boats. There’s a large swimming pool at the heart of the complex and a pleasant lounge and restaurant. As with all the Ağva properties you’ll be obliged to take half-board, but it makes perfect sense anyway as there’s little in the way of alternative dining options out here.

The Paradise is far from being the only choice although it’s certainly the one in the most rural setting and the one with the most adventurous access arrangements. Further downstream the Acqua Verde and Riverside hotels are also inaccessible by car. In both cases you either phone across the river or wave frantically and something rather like a raft with high sides on a pulley will be despatched to pick you up (cars can be left in a guarded car park so there’s no need to worry about security).

The Riverside has the most to offer families since it has a children’s playground, a large outdoor pool, dart boards and pool tables, as well as a jazz bar and on-site dining. However, the decor at the Acqua Verde next door is much more appealing, as is the undercover pool and a large bar area where you can spread out on squishy cushions around a large log fire, perfect on all but the warmest of summer nights.

agv4If for some reason you really don’t want to be out of sight of your car (or if even the thought of a short river crossing brings you out in a cold sweat) then there are also a couple of Ağva hotels that can be reached in the conventional way.

Piccolo Mondo favours a chintzy look for its lounge and bedrooms, but has a great deck dining area overlooking the river, while Tranquilla has a particularly inviting garden with a fire-pit for evenings when the air is still a little nippy.

The Yeşilçay Tatil Köyü offers more sizeable rooms set round a more manicured garden, with another long deck facing out over the river.

Be warned, though, that these are the best of the Ağva hotels which means that over summer weekends when everyone is desperate to escape the heat and congestion they are the ones that get booked up most quickly.

agvahotel2Ağva is not a place to come to in search of a jam-packed programme of sightseeing. However, there are plenty of trekking possibilities in the surrounding woodlands, and hoteliers are primed to direct you to waterfalls accessible when the ground is not too muddy.

The one side trip you're strongly adviced to make is to nearby Kilimli Koyu which boasts some spectacular coastal scenery.



 Riverside Hotel Tel: 0216-721 7136

 Piccolo Mondo Tel: 0216-721 7379

 Paradise Hotel Tel: 0216-721 8577

 Tranquilla Tel: 0216-721 7377

 Yeşilçay Tatil Köyü Tel: 0216-721 7348           

Transport info

Bus No. 139A runs from near the Şemsi Paşa Cami in Üsküdar in İstanbul to Ağva, although it’s much better to get here by car so you have the option of exploring the surrounding area as well.


agv2It's that kind of place...




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