South of Istanbul, in the Marmara Sea, the Prince Islands offer stunning scenery and a pleasant breeze decorated with flower scents. The islands provide unique experiences through stunning beaches, distinctive streets, local flavours, and architecture.
Prince Islands, right next to Istanbul, offers an ideal environment for those who want to experience both the tranquillity of island life and the sparkle of Istanbul. Sometimes a place of seclusion in nature and the shadow of its mansions and sometimes an escape point for weekends away from the daily hustle and bustle, the Prince Islands is one of the destinations that bring ease of mind for every one of its visitors. Among the vast blues of the Sea of Marmara, where the green and blue stretch arm in arm, the light breeze carrying the weight of dizzying mimosas, with its historical mansions, some of which had hosted Türkiye’s most famous writers, the Prince Islands is a spectacular journey in itself.
The Prince Islands consist of nine beautiful islands, namely Büyükada, Heybeliada, Kınalıada, Burgazada, Sedef Island, Yassıada, Sivriada, Kaşık Island and Tavşan Island. Only Büyükada, Heybeliada, Kınalıada, Burgazada and Sedef Island can be easily reached by daily ferry services from the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. The feature that makes the Prince Islands the most attractive is that its streets are closed to traffic.
Istanbul-bound yet far from it
Rumour has it that the Prince Islands were named after becoming the place where princes, emperors, and empresses were exiled during the Eastern Roman Empire. The islands have served as a hermitage for clergy and a summer vacation destination for monarchs throughout history. Famous Turkish authors and well-known world political leaders have also resided on the islands. It has developed into a haven for Istanbul inhabitants throughout the spring and summer. With historical mansions transformed into summer homes, the Prince Islands have become a getaway with bays where visitors can swim, cool off, ride bikes in the streets, take long walks, and socialise with fishermen.
Although the Prince Islands have four distinct seasons, spring and summer are lovely. The islands' revitalising environment, especially in the springtime when the sun begins to emerge, captivates visitors with its seductive aroma of flowers, trees, soil, and sea. Mainly when you, your friends, and your loved ones sit at a renowned fish restaurant (tavern) on a warm spring or summer evening. Your evening will be spectacular thanks to seasonal fresh fish, a wide selection of Turkish mezes (appetisers), salads, and Turkish rakı or regional wines.
The largest island
The largest of the Princes Islands is Büyükada, which translates to "Big Island" in Turkish. Visitors enjoy strolling through the bougainvillaea, lavender, and mimosa-lined island streets in the spring and summer, touring the island on bicycles, and having picnics in the island's woodlands. Visitors are welcomed by the famous clock tower close to the ferry dock. Aya Yorgi Monastery and Yüce Tepe are the island's must-see attractions. After a 50-minute hike, Yüce Tepe (Aya Yorgi Hill) welcomes you. One of the structures where you may experience Büyükada's distinct history and spiritual ambience is the Aya Yorgi Monastery, which is perched on this hill. The church, an essential structure for Orthodox believers, is still used today. Visitors from home and abroad also make vows inside and outside the chapel to fulfil their wishes.
Attractive Historical Buildings
Heybeliada, (translated to Turkish as Island with Saddlebag), named after this analogy because it looks like a saddlebag, is the second largest island of the Princes' Islands. Heybeliada is home to many historical structures, such as Büyükada. Aya Yorgi Cliff Monastery, Bet Yaakov Synagogue and Aya Nikola Church, located next to a cliff if to give it a name, are perfect for those who want to get out of a historical place in the island's past. The Seminary School, which was opened to train clergy, is one of the must-see places on the island. Today, the school hosts important festivals and events on the island. To examine the island’s nature, you can visit Değirmenburnu Nature Park by bicycle or on foot.
Famous Storyteller Sait Faik's Shrine
Burgazada is the third-largest island in the Prince Islands by land area. Burgazada is home to several historical structures, grand houses, and stunning natural beauty that you can discover throughout the spring. Burgazada receives a lot of attention from Istanbulites in the summer due to its distinctive beaches. The Aya Yorgi Garibi Monastery, Aya Yani Church, and Sait Faik Museum are a few of Burgazada's must-see attractions. While the Aya Yorgi Garibi Monastery dominates the view from the approaching ship, it stands out due to its blue and white painted walls and bell. The Sait Faik Museum is in the former home of the renowned Turkish poet and storyteller Sait Faik Abasyank, who spent some time in Burgazada. You can take a stroll through Kalpazankaya, which is on the island's left side, and take stunning pictures from Bayrak Hill, the only hill on the esland, to witness the natural splendours of Burgaz Island.
One Red Island
It is the nearest island to Istanbul, so Kınalıada is an excellent choice for a quick and quiet getaway. The little island, named after the maquis that covered it at the time and the red image that created these formations, has a small surface area compared to neighbouring islands. It is easy to go a half-hour even from the furthest point of this little, endearing island where many people from various cultures coexist. The Hristos Monastery and Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Church are two old structures on Kınalıada. With its exquisite instances of stone carving, the church stands out.