Most visitors to Turkey in search of a beach holiday head straight to the brash resorts which line the Aegean or Mediterranean Seas. But Turkey’s verdant Black Sea coast, more or less as long as the Western seaboard of the United States, has some unspoilt gems well worth seeking out.
Amasra is a perfect example. Around seven hours by road from Istanbul and separated from the rest of Anatolia by a mountain range, it isn’t the easiest place to get to. But this modest town has natural beauty and historic sites to rival anything on Turkey’s south-western flanks. Frequent rainfall keeps the hilly hinterland lush, the perfect backdrop to a town which juts out into the sea; you may well be reminded of a Croatian island fortress. There are no high-rises and the town’s history – with successive waves of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Genoese and Ottoman rulers over the centuries – can still be read in the stones of sites like the Amasra Castle, the town’s standout landmark
It may take you a little while to adjust to the relaxed rhythm of Amasra with its bobbing fishing boats, handcraft stalls and tea houses offering warm, unhurried service. It gets busier in summer with locals escaping Istanbul and Ankara but you won’t find mega-clubs lining the sandy beaches in the town’s east. Or even micro-clubs, for that matter. Accommodation is generally cheap so consider staying for a few days. Use the town as a base for exploring the villages and beaches along the coast, or head inland to the Byzantine town of Safranbolu, a UNESCO World Heritage site.