There are 9 Princes’ Islands in Istanbul in total within the Marmaris sea, 4 of which are open to the public. The most popular of which, Büyükada, is marked on the map on this page!
At a Glance
Located: The coast of İstanbul
Great for: Riding bikes, swimming, enjoying ride on a horse and carriage, and a relaxing day!
Time needed: You may want to spend the whole day there!
Visiting Hours: Only transportation is ferry. So you may want to check the timetable before you go! Click here to for the timetable.
Travel Cost: For students 2.60₺ (Approximately £0.32 based on today's exchange rate). Others 5.20₺ (Approximately £0.65 based on today's exchange rate).
Staying Over: If you want to stay over night, there are many options in Büyükada. Checkout for the hotels in Büyükada from Booking.com!
Princes’ Islands, Istanbul are an archipelago off the coast of İstanbul. It had many names in different times. Some old names are “Islands of Istanbul”, “Red Islands”, “Islands”. It is knowned as Princes’ Islands because during Byzantine and early Ottoman period, member of dynastines were sent to exile there. Some monks started living in the islands which gave the place its former name “Islands of the Monks”.
Prince Island has 4 major and 5 minor islands. Major ones are Kınalıada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Büyükada.
Here we are going to talk about the major ones starting with Büyükada!
Büyükada (the most popular island)
This island is the largest and the most popular island of them. The name itself means Big (Büyük)- Island (Ada).
In the first half of the 19th century, the population of the island was around three thousand. With the steamboats running, the population has risen up to five thousand in the early 20th. It is estimated that in today’s time the population is around eight thousand!
What to do?
Before you make sure that you check the timetable At a Glance section!
So, here are some of the things that you can do in Büyükada;
1. Horse and Carriage-Phaeton
This is the most popular thing to do in Büyükada. There are two tours you can have; the short and the long tours. The long tour takes about 75 minutes and approximately 80 TL (Approximately £9.95 based on today's exchange rate).! And there are rules to keep in mind too. You pay for the phaeton not for per person. One would take 4 adults and 2 kids at most. Every 15 minutes waiting will add 5 liras to the cost. After midnight, the fees are 50% more.
2. Aya Yorgi Church and Abbey
This church is located on the peak of the island. It was built in 1905, opened for use in 1909. Since it is on the peak of the island, there are two options to get there. Either you take a phaeton or you hire a bicycle. But either of them won’t going to save you from the steep hill of the church. In where the phaeton leaves you, you can find a restaurant and stalls where people are selling things. Those are related to some superstitions.
If you have any wishes about finding a job, for a marriage or just luck, you might want to buy some of those and use them for your wishes on the trees up the hill. After this little shopping, you start climbing that hill we talked about before. While you are walking up the hill, you are supposed to undo a sewing yarn until you reach the church and make this great view!
I am sure you will love the journey!
3. The Old Greek Orphanage
This is a fascinating building which was an old Greek Orphanage in Ottoman time. It was built by Greek Patriarchate as an orphanage for male children. It was shut in 1960 and hasn’t been used again. There isn’t a road for horse and carriage, or for other vehicles. You can reach there by walking for 45 minutes through the forest. You can see this building when you are on the peak for the Church!
4. Riding a bike
Have I told you that cars are not allowed in the island? Well, of course except the ambulance and fire trucks etc. If you are a fan of bikes, you will love the bike tours with a exceptional view along the way! You can rent a bike hourly or daily and travel all over the island. Since Büyükada is really big, it is a good idea to get a bike to see everywhere. The prices are generally in between 15-20 ₺ ( £2.49) hourly, 25-30 ₺ (£3.73) daily.
There are many place hiring bikes to people. If you don’t know how to ride a bike, there are tricycles available too. You can rent a bike with you ID. According to a new regulation, all the rental bikes has to be one colour and you have to return the bikes before 07:00 pm.
5. Beach (Plaj)
- Ayanikola Halk Plajı: You can get there by the motor boats near the Mavi Marmara Pier or you can walk there for an hour. This beach is away from the hotels and restaurants so go there prepared! Entrance Fee: 25-30₺ (£6.52)
- Nakibey Plajı: This beach has a restaurant, a snack bar and a lifeguard. They have also bungalow kinds houses. The sea is shallow here and you can get there with free boat rides from the pier. Entrance Fee: 25-30₺ (£6.52). Children entrance: 15₺ (£3.26)
- Prenses Koyu Plajı: You can get there with the free boat rides near the pier in 10 minutes. Accommodation and food services are given. Entrance Fee: 30-35₺ (£7.61)
- Yörükali Plajı: This beach provides accommodation and a restaurant as well. For the hotel guests, the beach is free of charge. You can get there by free boat rides near the pier. Entrance Fee: 35₺ (£7.61). Sunday and Special Days : 40 ₺ (£8.70)
- Kumsal Aile Plajı: This is a family beach. So you can enjoy this beach with your family. Weekdays: 20 ₺ (£4.35). Weekend: 25 ₺ (£5.44)
- Eskibağ Plajı: This is a boutique hotel’s beach. You can get there by the boats near the pier. Or you can walk there because it is on the Big Tour road. Entrance Fee: 20 ₺ (£4.35)
- Halik Koyu Plajı: This is the longest beach in the island. You can get there by boats. Around it, you can find camping and picnic places. It has a casino and a restaurant. Entrance Fee: Weekdays 25 ₺ (£5.44). Weekend 30 ₺ (£6.52).
- Nizam Plajı: You can get there by boats near the pier like the others. Entrance Fee: 20-25 ₺ (£5.44).
Hope you enjoy your visit!
Checkout the other islands!