Istanbul Islands Travel Guide
It doesn't matter whether you live in Istanbul or not, but this city is a city that everyone should visit and see in life. This city, which has a different history and cultural cradle, hosts thousands of local and foreign tourists every year. One of the first places that come to mind when it comes to places to visit in Istanbul is undoubtedly the islands. Istanbul Islands have been one of the most frequent destinations of travel guides recently, as always. Istanbul Islands, which you can reach by ferry, are also defined as the Prince Islands in Western sources. One of the things that make the Islands so special is their historical texture and cultural richness. We have compiled the Istanbul Islands, which have managed to maintain their popularity in every period, for you in this article. Here are the main places to visit and see in Istanbul Islands.
Things To Do in Prince Islands
If you want to spend both a healthy walk and a fun weekend, renting a bike on the islands will be a very good option. It is a special pleasure to visit all the islands by bicycle, especially in the autumn and spring months. There is a spot to rent a bicycle on each island. You can ask first thing when you get off the pier.
Climbing the Looking Hills
To watch the whole city and the other islands of Istanbul, make sure to go up to the hills and watch the sunset. Although phaetons were used in the past, electric vehicles are now used instead of phaetons. You can visit the Prince Islands of Istanbul as you wish, with large or small electric vehicles.
See old houses
If you want to take a trip to the past, the islands are the right address! As the island architecture still preserves its historical texture, walking around the streets of the islands and seeing the old houses will take you back to the past.
Enjoying fishing by the sea
One of the first activities that come to mind when Istanbul, the Sea of Marmara, and the Aegean Sea are mentioned is undoubtedly to enjoy fishing. In each of the islands, there are very nice restaurants that will make you feel like you are on the Aegean coast. If you want a little sea air and some fish, you can take a breath at the restaurants by the sea.
Transportation to the Islands
Since 1846, the first ferry services started to be organized, and transportation to the islands is still done by ferry. Since the hourly ferries are until one hour at night, if you are not staying, you need to arrange the transportation times well. However, if there is an emergency, there is also a sea taxi available every hour, provided that it is a bit expensive.
Other Names of the Islands in History
The reputation of the Islands can also be understood from the different names given to them. “Kadıköy Islands” by Aristotle, “Spirit Islands” by Thomas Allom, “Awliya Islands” by the famous historian Hammer, “Monk Islands” by Deiher, “Bahtiyar Islands” by Scarlatos Byzantios, “Priest Islands” by Byzantines, “Giants” by Greeks named “Islands”. The oldest known name among the people is the Cin Islands. In the Ottoman period, it was called "Kızıladas" because of the color of the soil, and in another source, it was even referred to as the "Ring Islands" due to its geographical location. However, the name known in the west is the Prince Islands, this name is mostly used and another historical name is "Pityusa".
The islands have a very important place in the history of Istanbul. After Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul, monasteries were closed and settlements on the Islands were evacuated. It was started to be used as a settlement again with the Tanzimat Edict of 1839, and the local people of that time were the French. Many families from different sects later moved to the islands, which are a complete cultural mosaic, and Greeks, Armenians, and Turks still live here for years. The population of Büyükada, which is known as the largest and most visited of the Prince Islands, and whose historical name is Prinkipo, is more crowded than the other islands and its history dates back to Antiquity. There are still monasteries built by the Byzantines here.
What Can You Do in Istanbul Buyukada?
When you want to be alone with nature in Büyükada, going to Aya Yorgi may be a good choice for you. You can climb up the hill from the square called Lunapark, and look at the whole island and Istanbul from here. Büyükada is divided into Nizam and Maden. While there are more pavilions on the Maden side, you can find more places to eat in Nizam. Büyükada Anadolu Club recommends to those who want to dine in the historical texture. Beautiful milonga nights are also held here before the pandemic, in front of the sea that Atatürk visited during his visits to Büyükada.
What to Eat in Buyukada?
You will find one of the best restaurants in Prinkipo if you stop by the fishermen on the beach. "We are going to Fistik Ahmet's place" is the statement used by the islanders when they want to mention they are going to this restaurant. You can find a rich tavern culture in this place, which is known for a local discourse. You can eat fresh fish in season (for September and October, we recommend red mullet, sea bream, swordfish, sea bass, bluefish, tabby). It is also useful to make a reservation before going, even if there is no old density due to the pandemic. For breakfast, you can try the breakfast menu at Sinek Cafe, opened by two sisters, or Ada Kahvaltı, where you can eat in the garden of a historical pavilion and you can taste home made, delicious jams.
Do not return without staying overnight at Splendid Palace Hotel. Splendid Palace, the island's most charming hotel, serves its own restaurant. The restaurant, which blends the tastes of Turkish, world, and Büyükada in its menu, has a very pleasant ambiance. A very large brunch buffet is also prepared on Sundays at the hotel, where afternoon tea lovers can also stop by.
What to do in Heybeliada?
In the current period, it can be a logical step for those who need green, oxygen, and a little more rest. Make sure you swim for a nice day. Because Heybeliada has more options than other islands in terms of beaches. But the most popular ones are Ada Beach, which provides service in a beautiful environment surrounded by pine forests in Cham Limano Bay, and Değirmenburnu Beach in the nature park.
Another historical structure to visit, apart from the Island Senator, is the military high school, which was founded in 1773 and trained many students for the Naval Academy. When the ferry approaches the pier, this building greets you first. It is said that with the closure in 2016, the island's tradesmen started to have a little difficulty as the incoming and outgoing decreased. You can also visit here.
Known as Antigoni, Burgazada was called Panormos in ancient times. The word Pyrgos, which means tower in Greek and used by the Greeks, was transformed into Burgas by the Turks over time. It's like a changed name while playing word of mouth.
Most of the people of Burgas go to the sea at the Club. But outsiders can also swim in Marta Bay and Kalpazankaya. For those who don't know, Marta Bay has a sad story. Marta takes its name from the Armenian-born ballerina Marta, who was born in 1920. She came to Istanbul as a child upon the appointment of her father, who was the Manager of the Ottoman Bank. After graduating from high school, she became a student of Lydia Krassa Arzumanova, who opened her first ballet school and is known as one of the first ballerinas of Turkey. After getting married and settling in Burgazada, she dedicates herself to nature and the sea.
Marta's house is actually in the Agia Nikola square, but she spends most of her time in an old cottage in this bay, which later got its name. It is said that he would clean the whole cove himself. She used to make necklaces for children from the stones she collected from the sea. While it was not even in fashion at that time; she used to tie tight bandanas on her forehead in her long hair, wore wooden bracelets, huge hoop earrings, and adorned her ankles with anklets. Every evening, he would go down to the pier in colorful dresses and greet his wife. However, this style of him becomes the gossip material by the islanders, and his death is connected to the influence of this gossips.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık, one of our famous writers and one of the pioneers of the Garip movement, is also a former Burgas native. The mansion on Chayır Sokak, where the author lived from 1939 until his death, is now a museum and can be visited. Definitely add it to your list.
The coast of Burgazada is very small compared to Büyükada and Heybeliada. There are several fishermen on the beach, side by side with each other. We can guarantee you that you will find the same taste no matter which of these fishermen you find a place in, all of which are sociable operators. If you are looking for a snack, do not miss the bakery products of the island. Especially the pastries with powdered sugar in the patisserie across the pier are delicious. You can also find options for breakfast and lunch at Burgaz Cafe, which is the only place open in winter.
Proti, as it was called in history, is the closest island to Istanbul. It is also the smallest. So much so that you can walk from one end of the island to the other in 30 minutes or take a bike tour. It was captured in Kınalıada before the conquest of Istanbul. In 1846, with the start of the use of the first ferryboat to the Islands, the Greeks began to move. Named Proti and Akoni by the Greeks, the island is the closest to Istanbul. If the ferry journey is long, you can throw yourself at the first stop. Being so close to the city also caused it to be used as an exile island during the Byzantine period. Just choose Jash Restaurant to dine here. With a wide variety of appetizers, you can have your fill by the sea, and end your meal with homemade ice cream from the ice cream shop, which is frequently passed by the motorbike.