Şile…Istanbul’s pretty little secret

Şile is an Istanbul village on the Black Sea and to the East of the Bosphorus on the Asian side. It is a popular day trip get-away for Istanbulites who normally drive there. I had heard that you can take the public (IETT)bus from Harem (on the Asian side of Istanbul between Uskudar and Kadikoy) to reach Şile but I was suspicious. It seems like a very long way. In fact it is true, the bus (39) starts in Uskudar and you can catch it in Harem or along the E-5 highway near Kadikoy. It costs 7 lira per person and it is advisable to reserve a seat before-hand. For the schedule check here.

Depending on traffic the bus takes about 2 hours. It is well worth the journey. I arrived with no plan but a change of clothes in my backpack and a sense of adventure. There main street is flush with hotels purporting rooms for 40tl per night. These offers, as it turns out, are for weekday nights only and as it was Friday the rates were more like 100tl.

Luckily I stumbled upon Bahceli Hostel (ihlamur Cad. no. 3, Şile) just landward from the main road. With no ocean view,the rates are more reasonable at 80tl per night for two people. Walk-ins are welcome but you can also call ahead for reservations. Birol, who runs the place, doesn’t speak any English though so you might need a helper for the phone call (0531-541-4306). The hostel has a kitchen you can use which is handy since Şile is weak on restaurants but the borek I ate near the bus station was excellent. The main attraction of this sleepy town is the quite nights, beautiful vistas, and swimming once the weather turns nice again.

Other things to do include camping on the beach, or taking a dolmus to Ağva (another town about 20 minutes away) and canoeing on the river. In the picture you can see some ancient fort from long ago which is stranded out on a headland. I dont know anything about it because I am not a history buff but if you Google it i am sure you can read to your hearts content who built it and why. There is also a nice lighthouse you can check out down the road about 20 minutes walk from downtown Şile but watch out for snakes if you walk along the grassy coast because I very nearly stepped on one.

The journey back to the city is a depressing one. leaving the quite solitude of a sleep fishing village and plunging back into the traffic jam of life that is Istanbul can be a harsh reality check. Drinking before the bus ride is probably a good solution. Or at least drinking once you arrive home.

Meet the author


Louis Herman has lived and worked in Istanbul for more than 3 years. He studied geography at the Univeristy of North Carolina Greensboro, and is currently writing an independent blog about the restaurants and food culture of Sirkeci, Istanbul at www.sirkecirestaurants.com