Foreign travellers tend to bypass Yalova in Turkey, but for many years, locals of Istanbul who want to escape city life for a few days, have favoured it as the ideal destination. Summer weekends when the children are off school are a traditional time for them to go.
For city dwellers, Yalova offers everything including thermal springs, gorgeous landscapes, hiking, trekking and biking routes, and numerous campsites. So in this article by Bayram Tekce, a Turkish national, he talks about his reasons on why he loves it so much.
Yalova locals are extremely proud of their connection to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. He loved the region and spent many summer months relaxing with close colleagues and friends joining him. Such was his passion for the area, he commissioned the construction of a house, and when he died, it came under the ownership of the National Assembly. These days, it is open to the public as a museum.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is also the reason behind another famous landmark of Yalova. In 1930, he was upset that a timeworn tree was to be removed because it began growing against the neighbouring mansion, therefore threatening the foundations. Instead, he ordered the tree would stay where it was, and the mansion should be moved 5 metres away. Hence, the current name of the building as Yuruyen Pavilion, otherwise the walking mansion.
Yalova Termal District
The termal district is twelve kilometres from Yalova city centre, and what the region is most famous for. Four hotels in the area offer access to healing thermal waters that scientists say ease symptoms of various ailments including skin, orthopaedic, mental diseases, and functional disorders. It is not a new trend because, throughout Turkey, soldiers from different empires over time used spa waters to heal after battle. The spa springs of Pamukkale are one such example as is the Balcova springs of Izmir.
Trekking, Hiking, Biking and Camping in Yalova
A famous slogan that springs to mind when talking about is Yalova is to be at one with nature. Sudesen waterfall is among one of the top attractions, but hiking, trekking, and biking routes through the scenic landscapes are ideal pursuits.
In the Delmece plateaus, many tree species including pine, oak, and chestnut surround the 400-acre landscape, whereas Erikli Plateau, near Tesvikiye Village, is a favourite destination for campers but photography enthusiasts also love it. Picnic lovers head to the Hasan Baba area, a protected habitat for deer.
Beach Destinations in Yalova: Çinarcik and Armutlu
As well as the termal district, Çinarcik and Armutlu enjoy success and fame as popular tourist destinations. Armutlu, a seaside location 50 kilometres from Yalova centre, has the distinct advantage of hot thermal springs as well as beach, swimming, sunbathing and water sports leisure activities.
Cinarcik is also a seaside location, but it has something that Armutlu doesn’t and that is a lively night-time scene. Other places in Yalova are relatively quiet, especially if you are a youngster looking to party the summer nights away. Shopping facilities are not as extensive as other locations, but the main cities of Bursa and Istanbul are close by.
Cinarcik has a distinct relaxed atmosphere that has the marvellous ability to accommodate everyone’s needs so it is a popular destination for Turks to buy holiday homes. In recent years, business people from Istanbul have cashed in on apartments for sale in Yalova because of the cheap prices and recent construction boom that is upgrading the property market to new, modern homes.
Horticulture is big business in Yalova with approximately 20% of the country’s trade happening there. Cut flowers and landscaping shrubbery are taken seriously with many producers also exporting their goods abroad. Hence, the flower is a symbol of Yalova, and annual fairs promote local expertise. The Karaca Arboretum also greatly reflects Yalova’s interest and expertise. Open to the public, it covers 13.5 hectares of land holding roughly 7000 different species of trees, plants, and flowers.
Whereas most museums in Turkey enclose their artefacts behind glass cases and stonewalls, Yalova has kept their previous gems out in full view. The open-air museum celebrates 600 years of history including the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottoman eras. Opened in 2003, artefacts are scatted throughout a green area in the heart of the city centre.
Further Reading About Yalova in Turkey
To drive from Istanbul to Yalova is a long, drawn out journey so many people instead use the sea ferry buses departing from the Yenikapi Port in the Fatih district of Istanbul. Their website shows updated schedules and timetables, should you wish to visit for the day or weekend.
Also displaying in English, the official tourism website for Yalova in Turkey contains much more information on places to go, attraction, the regional cuisine, trekking routes as well as the various neighbourhoods and districts. (Credit for these images belong to them.)