Kıyıköy is a small resort on the Black Sea coast in Eastern Thrace in Turkey. But since 2020 it's been the terminal of a gas pipeline from Russia, so many visitors nowadays are here on business.
Kıyıköy may have been the site of ancient Σαλμυδησσός, Salmydessos - classical authors vied with each other to attribute horrid deeds to its inhabitants. It's on a bluff between the outflow of two creeks, Kazandere south and Pabuçdere north, and this created a defensible positon, with a walled citadel built in the 6th century. From the late 19th century the town was on the frontline, being briefly occupied by Russia after the war of 1877/78. It traditionally had a large Greek population, who called it Μήδεια, Medea, meaning "middle", and the old name "Midye" is still sometimes used. After the First World War, it marked the north end of the temporary frontier that stretched south to Enez on the Aegean. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne shifted the frontier further west, and mandated exchange of ethnic minority populations to prevent future conflict. The town's Greeks and Bulgarians were deported and it was resettled with Turks from Thessaloniki. Turkish names were assigned to all the places with historic "foreign" names, seemingly by picking them out of a cupboard drawer with limited stock, because "Kıyıköy" was what they came up with - "coast village", almost as distinctive as the former name of "middle".
In 2010 the population was 2077 and the village was just a small beach resort, a weekend getaway from Istanbul. But then it became the landfall of the Turkstream gas pipeline, with a big industrial complex 2 km north. This doesn't directly impinge on the town, but you can expect the roads to be busy with very large trucks as work on the facility continues.
There are two main highways into Kıyıköy. Driving from Istanbul city, follow O-3 / E80 west (toll), and from the airport follow O-7. Turn off onto D567 through Çerkezköy to Saray, there taking the road signed for Kıyıköy.
The bus route is similar: Kale Seyahat (which means "Castle Travel") buses run hourly from Istanbul Bayrampaşa, taking two hours to Saray where you transfer to a dolmuş. The Kale buses continue to Vize and Kırklareli.
The other main road into Kıyıköy is from Vize: you might have a long wait to pick up a dolmuş there.
There are also winding lanes through the hills from Demirköy to the northwest and along the coast from the burbs of Istanbul to the east.
Çerkezköy is the nearest railway station, on the line between Istanbul, Edirne and Bulgaria. All services on this line are suspended in 2021.
The monastery is a short walk from town, but you need wheels to explore the area.
Within the town, the streets form a one-way system: Cumhuriyet Cd runs eastbound from a wall gate towards the sea, and a non-linear collection of streets a block north of it heads westbound inland. Don't even think of messing it up — the very liberally placed road spikes in every corner are eager to put you at the customer lists of tyre shops, of which there apparently isn't any within a 30-km radius.
- Kıyıkent Fortress encircled the entire old town between the two creeks. It was built around 550 AD in the reign of Justinian I, who as ruler of the eastern Roman Empire recaptured the west including Rome itself. It was renovated in the 9th or 10th century, but all that's left are a few stretches of wall and moat, plus the Vize Gate on the main road which is a 1991 rebuild. The old town was famed for its traditional wooden houses, but thanks to the earth tremors and the developers they're dwindling, with survivors re-purposed as hotels.
- 1 St Nicholas Monastery (Aya Nikola Manastırı). 24 hours. This was created at the same time as the fortress. It was a Greek Orthodox monastery hewn out of the rock, with a chapel, monks' cells, storage areas and a holy well. It was renovated in 1856 but battered when Kıyıköy came to lie on the front line, and abandoned when the area's Greek population was deported after 1923. A road leads to it from town. Free.
- 2 TurkStream (TürkAkım or Турецкий поток) is a double gas pipeline from Anapa near Krasnodar in Russia that comes ashore here. It went into service in 2020: one pipeline continues to Lüleburgaz and supplies Turkey, the second is intended for other countries but its onward route is not determined. It cost €11.4 billion, presumably worth every kopek to spite Ukraine, the previous route for Russian gas exports. It's probably unwise to linger near the Kıyıköy facilities taking pictures.
- 3 Kastro or Çamlıkoy ("pine cove") is just across the boundary into Tekirdağ Province, and another 500 m brings you into Istanbul metropolis, but it's easiest accessed by turning off the Saray highway 10 km south of Kıyıköy. It has a broad sandy beach but the main attraction is its pine forests, popular for camping and picnics. There's a charge for cars to enter, and you will need a car as there's no public transport. Beware the strong currents: that rocky islet looks close, but swimming out to it will get you whisked away in the general direction of Odessa.
- 4 Ceneviz Kalesi means "Genoese castle" and there are quite a few dotted around Turkey — Genoa established colonies in the 14th century as the Byzantine Empire weakened. However, this case is a false attribution, as the 1830s Ottoman-built castle (Osmançe Kalesi in official records) was intended as a lookout post against the expanding Russian Empire. This is a scenic stump perched above Balkaya village, but you get there up the track from Kömürköy along the Vize - Kıyıköy road (unsignposted; the turn-off is near the southern end of the village, passing a bridge). As of May 2022, the last ~3.5 km of this track is impassable by a 2WD (uneven rock surface), and the route shown in Google Maps directions ends in an opening at the junction of forest tracks, at least 1.5 km short of the actual site. There may be another access track west of Balkaya, branching off the road towards the direction of Vize.
- 5 Cehennem Şelalesi ("Hell Waterfalls") gushes down a rocky canyon northwest of Kızılağaç, off the Vize road. It's a 15-min steep walk down from a parking lot of sorts. There are two access roads (neither signposted), both narrow and dirt forest tracks with no guardrails, and deep gullies up to one third of the road. On the way out, the northern road has a steep incline covered with loose scree — impossible to cross by a standard 2WD. The general area is pretty and pastoral.
- Beaches are sandy. The town beach is a spit at the outflow of the north creek, then Servez beach stretches for another 2 km north, with the Russian gas hissing beneath it. The third extends 1 km south from the south creek.
- The harbour is suitable for small leisure craft. But arriving from non-Turkish waters, it isn't a legal port of entry — the nearest is İğneada about 18 nmi to the north.
There's a handful of small stores near the harbour. Ziraat Bank has an ATM.
Places clustered near the harbour are Mercan, Efsane, Kiyi, Köşk, Çap Oğlu, Balık and Liman Balık.
No free-standing bars here but the cafes and restaurants mostly serve alcohol.
- Campsites line the banks of the north creek and include Salaş, Carpe Diem, Yeşil Vadi Kır and Kıyıköy Kamping.
- Rooms: the town has at least a dozen pansiyon, but they weren't open in 2021.
- 1 Kıyıköy Resort Hotel, Güven Mahallesi, Orkide Sokak 12, Kıyıköy (towards monastery), ☏ . Good scores for comfort and service, all-round probably the best choice in town. With pool and restaurant. B&B double 350 TL.
- 2 Atakale Butik Otel, Cumhuriyet Cd 1, Kıyıköy (town centre), ☏ . In a 100-year old mansion by the fortress walls. Good on atmosphere and comfort, too bad about the food. They also run Atakale campsite. B&B double 450 TL.
- 3 Konak Butik Otel, Cumhuriyet Mahallesi, Kıyıköy, ☏ . Smart place in a well-restored traditional house near the harbour; it's the friendly helpful host that earns the great scores. It's intended for extended stays but out of season visitors have enjoyed short breaks. B&B double 400 TL.
As of Nov 2021, Kıyıköy and its approach roads have 4G from Türk Telekom and Turkcell but no signal from Vodafone. 5G has not reached this area.
- Saray is the hub which you're likely to pass through. It has some Ottoman remains but is mostly a commuter town for the industrial places further east.
- Demirköy to the north has a medieval foundry, but the main reason to come is to access the beach at Igneada and the Floodplain Forests National Park.