Demirköy, literally "iron village", is a town in Kırklareli Province of Eastern Thrace in northwest Turkey, with a population of 3838 in 2012. It's set in the forests of the Istranca Mountains, but was industrial from the 15th century. Until 1914 it had a Greek majority population and was known as Samokofçuk (Σαμάκοβο Samakovo in Greek or Самоков Samokov in Bulgarian). After the post-war Treaty of 1923, the Greeks and Bulgarians were expelled and the village was re-settled with Turkish Muslims from Greece and Bulgaria, whereas the formerly Bulgarian-populated mountain villages in the area were re-settled by other Balkan Muslims, including Bosniaks, Pomaks, and Albanians.
İğneada is a beach resort on the Black Sea 25 km east of Demirköy, with a population of 1966 in 2010. It has more visitor facilities and is also described here.
Turkey has half a dozen villages with iron deposits all called Demirköy, so when organising your travel, make sure you're dealing with the one in Kırklareli Province.
You need your own vehicle. Demirköy doesn't have a demiryolu - railway - and in 2021 there is no bus service. In normal times Metro Turizm buses run 4-6 times a day from Istanbul Avrupa station to Pınarhisar then over the mountains to Demirköy (4 hours) and İğneada on the coast. These are all suspended, as is their local agency Görkey & Berk Turizm.
The mountain highway D565 is scenic and modern but requires your full attention; don't attempt it at night. Always assume that round the next corner will be landslide rubble and a yawning gap where floods have washed away the embankment. Even more care is needed on the mountain back road from Vize via Sivriler. The last stretch of highway from Demirköy to İğneada is straightforward, over a forested ridge.
The foundry is 4 km from Demirköy so you could walk. You need your own wheels to reach the coast and the cave.
- Demirköy village is bland modern low-rise.
- 1 Demirköy Foundry (Demirköy Dökümhanesi) (4 km east of town). This is a foundry and industrial village established in the 15th century to process the local iron and copper ores. There's a mine within the complex, plus accommodation and a mosque for the workers. A canal supplied a waterwheel which pumped bellows for the furnaces. Iron from this foundry was taken to the coast at İğneada and transported to shipyards and to the Imperial cannon factory - it found its way into cannonballs fired during the Ottoman capture of Istanbul in 1453. The foundry was renovated in the 19th century but wrecked in the Russian invasion of 1877/78; after the Great War it was abandoned. Free.
- 2 Hamdibey (8 km north of Demirköy). A well-preserved historic village over the hills.
- 3 İğneada is the beach resort. The town is not pretty, but has the most accommodation, and gives access to the National Park.
- İğneada Floodplain Forests National Park (İğneada Longoz Ormanları Milli Parkı). Established in 2007, this stretches for 15 km south of İğneada, with several access tracks. The forests have grown up on the outwash from the Strandzha mountains, and there are lakes, marshes and sand dunes. Watch out for Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) lumbering through the undergrowth. Free.
- 4 Limanköy is the straggly village on the headland east of İğneada, with the commercial harbour at its foot. You might find self-catering accommodation here. "Limanköy" means "harbour village" so it has a few namesakes elsewhere in Turkey.
- Limanköy Feneri is an 1866, French-built lighthouse over the cliffs of the cape east of Limanköy. It's a regular feature in tourist photo shots but as of 2021, the building and its surrounding area are a messy restoration (supposedly) site.
- 5 Beğendik has a long beach stretching to Rezovo River, the border with Bulgaria, which you can't cross. (Getting to Rezovo, the Bulgarian village just across, requires a detour of about 200 km (120 mi), more if you follow the main highways.) The village name means "we liked it" and the folklore is that some governor ordered it rebuilt, and declared himself pleased with the results. Apparently there wasn't a button you could press to "like" something in Ottoman times.
- 6 Dupnisa Cave (Dupnisa Mağarası) (25 km west via Sarpdere). May-Oct daily 09:00-18:00. Remarkable complex of caves, 3 km in total, of which you visit 450 m, wear stout shoes. There are three caves of strikingly different appearance. You enter through the lowest, sulu mağara or "wet cave", where a sidewalk follows the creek - in winter this cave floods and is closed. Dripstones are still forming down here. After 250 m only experienced cavers may go deeper, and the bats do as they please, while visitors ascend 60 m on the steps to kuru mağara or "dry cave". This area is richly decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, and you explore 200 m then exit. The third cave kız or "maiden" is also on this level, but closed to tourists: you wouldn't want to disturb 60,000 bats. As to the name "Dupnisa", a fey legend invokes Dionysos, but it's just Bulgarian Дупница which means "hole".
- Beaches are sandy, on the non-tidal Black Sea, see above.
- Funfair: İğneada Lünepark remains closed in 2021.
- Activities such as windsurfing, horse-riding and beach-buggy riding are organised by the İğneada Resort Hotel and may be available to non-residents.
- Canoes to paddle into the national park wetlands can be rented at the southern edge of İğneada, on the rim of Lake Mert. Expect a long queue during the high season weekends.
- Demirköy and İğneada have filling stations and small stores.
- Two banks in Demirköy and one in İğneada have ATMs.
- Demirköy has a dozen cafes and kebab places along the main street.
- İğneada eating places cluster at the roundabout. Nothing much to chose between Mutfak, Dobrodosli Rumeli Köftecisi, Ada and Bomonti.
- 1 Dupnisa Alabalık, Balaban (1 km west of Balaban village, off the road to the Dupnisa Cave), ☏ . A trout restaurant in a rustic setting run by a local Bosniak family. There is also outdoor seating on stilts over the river. Rakı and beer available. Don't forget to try the Balkan delicacies of shopska salad and soka, pickled chili peppers in salty clotted cream. 100+ TL.
- In Demirköy the cafes are your best bet.
- İğneada has Sude Beach Cafe Club, Rıhtım Beach and Poseidon.
- Demirköy Hotel, Orhaniye Mh, Kırklareli Cd, Demirköy, ☏ . This is dingy and uncomfortable.
- İğneada Resort Hotel, Sahil Cd 3, İğneada, ☏ . Gets mixed reviews, but probably the best of the beach-front hotels. B&B double 600 TL.
- Others at İğneada beach are Longoz Hotel[dead link], Parlak Resort[dead link], Meltem Hotel and Nur Butik Otel[dead link].
- 1 Hotel Rezve, Beğendik Köyü 8, İğneada, ☏ . Resort hotel hidden away in the forest, scores well for comfort and cleanliness. B&B double 1200 TL.
- Yakamoz Pansiyon, Hurşitağa Cd 13 (downtown İğneada), ☏ , email@example.com. Guesthouse.
As of Nov 2021, there is a 4G signal from Turkcell on much of the main highway from Pınarhisar through Demirköy and down to the coast at Iğneada. Vodafone has a patchy signal, and there's nothing from Türk Telecom.
- The highway takes you back to Pınarhisar, for roads west towards Kırklareli, or east through Vize, Saray and the industrial lowlands around Çerkezköy.
- There is no crossing to Bulgaria hereabouts, but the mountain road west towards Balaban and the cave eventually brings you to Dereköy on D555 towards the border.
|Routes through Demirköy|
|END (İğneada) ←||N S||→ Pınarhisar ( W / E) → Lüleburgaz → Tekirdağ|