Long Weekend In Düzce

A virtual oasis of green between İstanbul and Ankara, Düzce is gearing up to become Turkey’s ecotourism capital with a rich array of offerings from nature sports to highland tourism.

SATURDAY

Situated on a broad delta between the tributaries of the Melen River, Düzce abounds with the oxygen-laden air of the Samanlı Mountains against which it nestles. The history of Düzce, which was home to Prusias, one of the Western Black Sea’s most important ancient cities, dates back to the Hittites. The ruins of an ancient Roman settlement in the town of Konuralp five kilometers from the city center include an amphitheater, a bridge, a city gate and mosaics. Following a brief historical tour, we head for Akçakoca on the coast. Our attention is drawn first to Akçakoca Central Mosque. Inspired by the large imperial tents of the Seljuks, the mosque rests on an octagonal platform. The beaches around the Genoese Castle rising on the shore have been awarded a blue flag for their cleanliness. Meals at the fish restaurants along the quay become veritable feasts thanks to the giant portions served. The town market is a world all its own. There is nothing you can’t find at this market, which boasts a wide range of products from the local villages: hazelnuts, country cheeses, tarhana, plum ‘pestil’, chestnut honey, linden tea, woven baskets… For a bird’s-eye view of the area we climb the paths winding through the hazelnut orchards. The number of century-old houses increases as we approach the Upper Quarter (Yukarı Mahalle). These old Akçakoca houses of red brick in a wood frame are well worth seeing.

RAFTING ON THE MELEN RIVER


Rafting is done on the Melen River from mid-October to the end of May. The route, which stretches from Dokuzdeğirmen near the town of Cumayeri to Melenağzı where the river empties into the Black Sea, is 12 kilometers long. Winding through forest, it takes around three hours. Although some sharp bends and occasional white waters revv up the excitement, it is an easy route almost anyone can negotiate.

SUNDAY

The Düzce countryside is especially lovely in fall! Heading up into the highlands sprinkled with sweet smelling flowers, we turn towards Gölyaka to find peace in the heart of nature. The town is reached via a pleasant road running from the shores of Lake Efteni to Güzeldere Falls 18 kilometers away. Almost completely covered with lily pads in fall, the lake has been declared a wildlife preserve since it is home to more than a hundred species of birds. A few kilometers further on we enter a dense forest painted in every shade of green, yellow and brown. The plash of the waterfall and the light rays seeping through the trees are all it takes to transport us into another world. A steep staircase of around 400 steps brings us to the falls, secluded in a deep valley. Falling from a height of approximately 120 meters, the water makes a tremendous roar. Güzeldere also has a nearby sister falls: Samandere Falls. The area is rich in waterfalls and highlands since the mountain range that extends all along the Black Sea coast divides into branches at Düzce. Concentrated in two main areas, each one of the highlands is suitable for ecotourism. Reminiscent of the Gölyaka highlands, Kardüz, Odayeri, Pürenli, Torkul and Çiçekli are all laced with hiking trails. The bird’s-eye vista of Lake Abant at Sinekli, one of the Kaynaşlı highlands like Sakarca and Topuk, is an experience like no other. Ditto for stocking up on the pure, oxygen-rich highland air and drinking from the icy natural springs.

BARDOT’S COLOGNE

Did you know that Düzce cologne was a favorite with the world-famous French actress Brigitte Bardot? Newspaper clippings displayed in the cologne shops along Mehmet Akif Avenue in the city center vouch for the accuracy of this information. A century-old tradition in Düzce, cologne is produced today from a variety of plants from lavender and wild grasses to lemon and walnuts.