If it happens that you have some spare time in Istanbul, a great day escape is to the Princes’ Islands or Red Islands in the sea of Marmara. Istanbullus usually refer to them only as ‘The Islands’ since they are the only islands around the city.
‘The Islands’ are actually the chain of nine islands, with Büyükada and Heybeliada being the largest ones. In the past the islands were mostly populated by Greek, Jewish and Armenian communities while today Turkish population dominates.
It’s a totally different place comparing to Istanbul. The first thing you will realize is that there are no cars on the islands and the only way to explore them or to get from point A to point B is either by bicycle, horse-drawn carriage or by walking, which makes it quite peaceful comparing to Istanbul’s center. Bicycles are available for rent in many shops.
The islands are totally different during Summer and Winter season. Busy at Summer especially during the weekend, and empty during Winter. A lot of houses at the islands are actually holiday homes whose owners come to visit them during weekends.
The largest island Büyükada is beautiful with its villas, but its most famous landmark is the Greek monastery of St. George. The monastery’s site is on a steep hill but once you are on the top you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful panorama of Istanbul and the surroundings.
How to get to the Princes’ Islands?
Ferries depart from Bostancı, Kartal and Maltepe on the Asian side and from Kabataş on the European side. To check the timetables and the fares visit ido.com.tr
*Tip* Don’t forget to check departure times of ships back to the city, since they are less frequent after the night falls.
Why should you visit the Princes’ Islands?
Silence and picnic. If you need a short escape from the hubbub of the city this is the place to go.
If you choose to stay overnight here it’s probably good to book something in Büyükada in advance.