Daytrip - Princes' Islands, Istanbul
For going to Princes Islands, I recommend to choose the first or second ferry, from the main quay (Sehir Hatlari). If you are in Taksim area, you can easily reach there using the funicular train (yellow line) with 4 TL token or using Istanbulkart. If you are in the other parts of Istanbul, you can use Tram (line blue) and get off in the last station (Kabatash). The price for the ferry is 5 TL, each token and you can buy the token with the automatic machine which can be found in Kabatash.
Use this link to find ferries' timetable:
The trip takes about 1:30 h from Kabatash to last island (Büyükada). The last island is the largest and the most beautiful.
If you are not pressed for time during you stay in Istanbul, I would definitely advise you to go to the Princes' Islands on a day trip. It's a group of islands on the Marmara Sea and getting there is no problem. You can take a ferry from Kabatas - a place easily accessible by public transport. The ferry ticket costs 5 TL and after an hour you find yourself in a different world - far from the madding crowds and the noise of Istanbul.
The islands' name originated in the times when Byzantine emperors sent there the troublesome princes for exile. Today the islands are rather reffered to as Adalar ( meaning the islands). Four of the nine ones are open to visitors. They are: Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kinaliada. We visited only Buyukada - the biggest and most popular one.
What i loved about the island is the lack of cars, which makes it an oasis of peace. You can move around on foot, by bike or in horse-drawn carriages (faytons). You can hop into one just a few steps from the ferry terminal and the other good thing is that the prices for every location are fixed. We decided to go to the central point of the island which is called Birlik Meydani (it cost us 30 TL). On the way (mostly up the hill) we passed some beautiful wooden Victorian houses. It was a very nice ride and when we saw bikers sweating their way up, we thought that taking a fayton had been a very good choice.
From Birlik Meydani we decided to walk up to the Hagios Giorgios Church situated on the summit of the island ( carriages don't go there, as it's too steep). Frankly speaking, the church is not worth the effort, especially on a hot day. It takes about 30-40 min to reach the top and apart from nice views, there is hardly anything else to enjoy.
Walking down back to the ferry terminal was much more pleasant. We admired splendid mansions dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century, surrounded by lush greenery.
It's a pity we didn't find a good place for a swim, although we'd heard that Buyukada has nice little beaches; all the same, we had a great time.
The island is also a good place for tasting sea food - there are plenty of restaurants, especially near the ferry terminal.
The cats, living on streets on Princes Islands are lucky enough as there are many people living on islands all year around and so feeding them even on winter times.
So, you can see happy and kindda fat cats on streets of Princes Islands.
If you are in Istanbul and you missed the awesome Princes Island trip then you really missed a wonder of this Place.
The Princess Islands are a combination of nine islands off the Asian coast of Istanbul, in the Sea of Marmara.
We went to Buyukada which is the biggest and the most famous of Princess Islands. There are many restaurants, cafeterias and shops situated around the pier.
Motorists are not permitted on the islands except the ones belonging to the local municipality for public works, therefore you have to walk or rent a bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
There are plenty of stores selling women clothes and accessories but more expensive than that in the mainland. same with the souvenirs shops.
What I didn't like about the place is the cruel treatment of the horses :( I didn't enjoy the ride because I felt sorry for the poor horses all that time.
Overall I enjoyed my time there and I highly recommended and if you can go on your own it'll be far better than directed tour.
the ship the takes your from istanbul down town to the island is a reall amusement with great views, it costed around 3 turkish lira per person and it have a deck for open view. first thing on the island you will find the 3-5 lira icecream shops calling for you and the 3 lira beautifull flower head surtet for 3 liras are everwhere. the horse caret ride for 4 people maximum costs max 50 lira to go around the whole island and come back again to the same start. for sure i ate fish at milano restaurant (i wrote separte review about it). there are a lot of bazares there but the most enjoying is (sah bazare) with 2 branches, one for spices and reall varity of dried fruits, the other shop at the back of the first one is for othman soveniers and dinning staff, i loved both. prices are good and the same as in the grand bazare. enjoy it to the top.
The Princes Island is the island that the sultans sons had their holiday villa's on. hence the name.
It is a really beautiful island, with plenty to see or do.
There are horse drawn phaetons that are for hire to take you round the island.
There re plenty of restaurants on the island and plenty to see.
The organised tour cost about 69TYL, but I bought my own ferry tickets and got there return for 20TYL
The ferry is escorted by a flock of gulls both ways . The gulls will sometimes fly past taking bread from your hand in mid flight.
Prince Islands consist of 5 islands : Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada, Buyukada and Sedefadasi (order from closest to furthest).
There are regular boats to these islands from 4 main stations which are Bostanci and Kadikoy (Asian side) and Kabatas (European side). The duration of the boat travel is between 30 mins to 1 hour depending on which island you want to hop. If you travel from European side the duration will increase. Besides the boats, there are also fast ferries which even shorten the travel time. At summer weekends islands are occupied by locals, but weekdays are more enjoyable when they are less crowded. You can check ferry times from the link I provided below.
First of all, I want to thank you all for the help and advices!
I just came back and I would like to share my impressions with those who are on the way from Istanbul to the Prince's islands.
Actually, I didn't check if the Eminonu station was now working or not. The guy from the reception of my hotel said that I should go to the Besiktas station in order to catch the ferry to the Prince's islands - they call the islands "Adalar". So, there is a tram going from Aksaray, Laleli, Sultanahmet area, etc. to Besiktas. The tram ticket is 1,4 TYL. And it stops right next to the Besiktas station - there is no chance to miss it. The journey is quick too - may be not more than 15-20min.
From Besiktas there are a number of ferries to the islands. So get a jeton (token) - it is 2,80 TYL one way. When the boat comes, people get on. Be prepared to survive in the crowd :) And go there earlier if you want to get a nice seat. The boat was very comfortable - there were also snacks, tea, coffee and WC on board ;) Something very important - get yourself some jacket, because it gets quite chilly when the boat is in the sea. And of course, don't forget the sunscreen and the camera ;)
The trip is very pleasant, one can enjoy the beautiful views and the fresh sea breeze.
The boat stops at most of the small islands on the way and at the end - at the biggest one - Buyukada. As far as I know you can get off at some of the smallest islands, but I am not sure if your token would be still valid for the trip to the next island. And besides, there are no shuttles between the islands - you can move from one island to another only by using the boats coming from Istanbul.
The trip from Istanbul to the Buyukada (the last stop) lasts 1,35h.
Ah, yes, and we used a IDO boat.
Enjoy the peaceful islands and don't forget to ask about prices of everything you are about to buy there, including food. For example, there was ice-cream, and the sign said that one ball was 1,5 TYL. When I ordered an ice-cream with 2 balls (which should be 1,5 x 2 = 3 TYL), I received an ice-cream with 3 balls for 12 TYL!!! :(
Hope it was useful for you. Enjoy your trip! :)
The group of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara is known as the Princes' Islands and is only an hour away from the city. There are regular boat services to four of the islands from the entrance of the Golden Horn,Kabatas Pier and also from Bostanci.These four islands are Buyukada,Heybeliada,Kinaliada and Burgazada..Buyukada is the biggest one.
There are no cars on the island (except for the police,ambulance etc)..Transportation is done on coach..In Turkish it's called ''fayton''..There are two horses and you can sit at the back and enjoy..Also a lot of people ride bikes.You can also rent a bike to wander around the island.
The houses of the island are also very beautiful..Please check my pictures..
The only areas WITHOUT TRAFFIC are the princess Islands of Istanbul. Don't forget to visit one of the Princess Islands. You can take the ferry from Eminonu (close to the old city-Sultanahmet) or Bostancý and spend the whole day there ..Buyukada/Burgaz are my favorites..there are many nice fish restaurants in Heybeli as well. You can rent a bike or walk or take a 'horsecab' .weather would be perfect in autumn season.
have a nice trip
My whole Adalar page is here
But I want a small introduction here again. Prince's Islands are in Marmara Sea and they are very close from Bostanci port. These islands are Kinaliada (Proti), Burgazada (Antigoni), Kasikadasi(Pita), Heybeliada(Halki), Buyukada (Prinkipo), Sedef Adasi (Anderovitos), Tavsan Adasi (Neandros), Yassiada(Plati) and Sivriada (Ohia). Some of them have population but none of them has motorized vehicles (except the official ones).
Many famous writers, poets and painters lived in these islands. They are quite inspirational. Also Leon Trotsky lived in Buyukada during his exile.
Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of istanbul is well advised, and you can achieve this by getting your tickets from the docks near the dolumbace palace. It is certainly an all day events, but will promise out door fun. I rented a bicycle and actually rode around the entire island, uphill, until i finally reached the pinacle circling around the inlet where you can have the panoramic view of the mountainous islands this place is famous for.
It is truly idyllic to ride your bike along oceanside roads, and immerse in the blue water under the heavenly canopy of sky. There are many sights here as well, like the miliitary base, and the beautiful homes cascading along the hills, dotting the landscape. its a huge island, and there is much to see, but more to enjoy, so have a picnic or just take in the beauties of mother nature and the amazing climate.
After a good breakfast in the hotel we went to Eminonu port. There are many boats/ferrys that leave for different destinations like for the Asian side, for Pera and Bosphorus, for Golden Horn and one for the Princes' Islands(look for the sign “Adalar”). With only 1 euro each way you can visit the islands! So forget the expensive tour boats and get inside!
There are 9 islands on Marmara sea but you can visit the 4 of them(Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Buyukada). The islands called Princes' Islands, because during the ottoman period some princes used to be exiled in these islands when the “king” was afraid of them that they will take his place! :)
Expect crowds during summer because the locals from Istanbul use them as a sea resort but they are very peaceful in winter.
The islands are very attractive because there aren’t any cars on them and what’s more they have a lot of green, trees, flowers and some elegant houses. But, there are horse-drawn carriages! The previous times I visited Heybeliada (that has an important orthodox church and school, closed in our days) and Buyukada. The last time I preferred to go only to Buyukada which is the biggest of the islands. As bicycles and horses are the only way to see the island we took a horse-carriage ride around the island. You can have a full round trip of the island (around 17eyros) or a half course by the so called Faytons. I told to the driver that I want first to go to St.George(“Ay Yiorgi") monastery, a greek monastery. He took us to a square and then we had to climb up a sharp hill for 15’. It was at the end of December so the restaurant near by was closed, so we enjoyed the view, we visited the monastery but we didn’t stay long because our carriage was waiting for us to get back to continue the round trip of the island. We also saw some elegant houses (Leon Trotsky was living in one of them), beautiful gardens and thousands of dogs!! Then we went to drink a tea because it was very cold and in the afternoon we returned back to Istanbul.
As a trip to the Princes' Islands ("The Islands" or "Adalar" to the Turks) is part of a standard Istanbul itinerary, I do not wish to bore you with details of the islands' history and other "nice-to-know" facts that one could easily obtain from the Internet. Instead, here are some practical tips on visiting the islands:
1) Visit early. Allot at least one day for visiting the islands. Ideally, you should be able to catch the second ferry at about 9 am (first of 9 ferries leaves at 7 am) so that you would have plenty of time for island-hopping. The ferries are docked at the Sirkeci ferry terminal - look for the "Adalar Iskelesi" sign. Be prepared to "squeeze" through a phalanx of visitors especially during summer and spring.
2) Load up your akbil to avoid the inconvenience of queuing up for tickets. One of the good things about traveling around Istanbul is that access to the public transport system is so efficiently facilitated by the akbil. More on this under my Istanbul transporation tips.
3) The beach in Kinaliada, the ferry's first stop, is pebbly, and may be a disappointment for those expecting something better. Still, it does not prevent some visitors from taking a dip.
4) If you plan to walk all the way up to the Hagia Triada Monastery in Heybeliada, watch out for the HUGE dog along Rafah Sehitleri Caddesi, which could REALLY be scary. An alternative is to rent a bike or ride a fayton (horsedrawn carriage). I neither did both, so I did encounter the dog on my way up.
5) When ordering food from one of the many waterfront restaurants in Heybeliada, make sure you ask the price before doing so. A friend got ripped-off in one of these restaurants.
6) Stop by the small shop serving homemade dondurma (ice cream) in front of the ferry terminal in Buyukada. It's a good way to "cool down" after a day's tour of the islands before heading back to Istanbul.
7) Take with you a good sun screen. The sun is scorching hot during summer.
A day trip to one of the Princes' islands is a really good chance to get some peace and quiet as almost no motor vehicles are allowed on the islands.You can hire a bicycle or get one of the many carriages to take you around that's of course if you don't want to walk.
The main destination is Buyukada with a couple of monasteries and more restaurants to choose from.
Obviously fish is the first choice to eat.
Ferries go from Sirkeci(says ADALAR) from 07.00 and last return from Buyukada 19.30,around 10 boats during the day,or check SLOW FERRIES or FAST FERRIES
Take some bread so you can feed the gulls while going along on the slow ferries.
Click HERE for my travelogue on Burgaz island.