Meet your driver at your Istanbul hotel, and head to Kilyos Beach, at the edge of the Black Sea. Find a perfect spot on the sandy beach, with plenty of time to swim and relax. Continue to Belgrad Forest, a natural enclave on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait, where you’ll find a forest of pine, spruce, elm, oak, and birch trees.
Explore lakes fed by natural springs, and take a walk through shady groves and clusters of reeds. Learn about the thousands of Serbs who arrived in this forest during a 16th-century Ottoman campaign, and get a glimpse of daily life in Istanbul; locals come here for family picnics and barbecues, or to hike the extensive network of trails.
Relax like an Ottoman sultan in Emirgan Park, where you’ll find 117 acres (47 ha) of natural space, including a collection of rare trees from around the world and three historic pavilions. Before returning to your Istanbul hotel, stop at one of the Istanbul’s malls—another favorite getaway for locals—and browse for souvenirs in a shopper’s paradise.