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Practical tips for Princes' Islands
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.
Give 1 euro to visit the islands!
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.
Day cruise to the Princes Islands
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.
Peace from the pandemonium.
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.
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Where to visit... Day 5.. Princess Island
Now it is time to relax. So today’s program is to take a ferry and visit one of the princess islands. There are 5 small islands near to Istanbul; each of them has a different sight. However I would advice to visit "Buyukada", which is the biggest of all and the name is also Big Island.
Ferry to the islands leaves from Eminonu. And the schedule could be obtained from the below address... http://www.tdi.com.tr/siradayalocirbos.shtml, You should look on the left side where "Sirkeci Kalkis" was written, which is depart from Eminonu, and follow the line for arrival to "Buyukada"
After stopping in 3 islands, It takes around 1,5 hours to reach Buyukada One favorite feature at the island is the Silence.. .. As there are no private vehicles allowed on the island. Horse and carriage rides around the island are available which are locally called as Faytons. You can have a full round trip of the island or a half course by the Faytons. I would advice to have a half tour to "Ayayorgi", where there is an old Greek Monastery. You can also walk to the monastery, however to climb the hill is rather difficult. If you take a fayton to Ayayorgi, it will leave you on a square and you need to climb up a very sharp hill. At the top of the hill old monastery is nice to visit, however the best thing is to have a cold drink (Beer) or nice food at the restaurant, operated by local folks. The view of Istanbul is outstanding and you can have a chance to see a full spot of Istanbul. Have your beer with some fried potato and enjoy the landscape. On the way back you can walk to the harbor, While you are walking you will see very nice summer houses, all attractive and elegant. So don’t forget your camera. You can tour around the center of the island or if it is summer time you can enjoy swimming in the island. So carry your swimsuits also... I recommend no to visit the islands at weekends in summer time, it will be packed with people..
Note: For more info and pictures visit my Buyukada Traveloque..
Big Island-Buyuk Ada
i have been there several times and i love there.
if you feel tired crowd of Istanbul,there is nice escape.
You can't see any car there..maybe a few..not more than that.
if you 'd like to take a trip around the island
,you can do that with HorseCab or bicycle.
(i prefer bicycle)
a lots of people in weekends.
you can go any of these islands From Bostanci by ship
Takes half an hour to one one hour
Islands within Marmara Sea, which is adorned with nine islands, was the banishing place of the Byzantium princes. Today they are now wealthy Istanbul residents' escaping places for cool winds during summer months and 19th century smart houses. Biggest one of the islands is Buyukada. You can have a marvelous phaeton travel between pine trees or have a swim within one of the numerous bays around islands!
Other popular islands are Kinali, Sedef, Burgaz and Heybeliada. Regular ferry voyages are connecting islands to both Europe and Asia coasts. There is a rapid sea bus service from Kabatas during summers
I just went to the biggest island(you need a lot of time to go round all of them).It was fantastic-no cars,just cabs and bikes.Very quiet with lots of beautiful houses.There are many nice restaurants with national Turkish kitchen.With one word-BEAUTIFUL
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- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Adalar -prince islands
It is a bit of the beaten path maybe. Go to the quai where the boats leave. The boat stops at the four largest islands. The last one is Buyukada and is really a must see activity. If ur fed up with the heat and noise of the city go there. There are no cars alowed and all off the buildings are in 1920 'belle epoque' style. Really really beautifull.Go to the horses and drivers place and let yourself drive arround the island. Taking the boat is really cheap too. 1,5 million tl is about one euro. There are some nice restaurants here too....... You can swim in the swimming area but u will have to pay to get on the beach. And there is a bush where the turkisch people go to do national day out sport - pick nickking....
- Budget Travel
The princes' islands are 9 islands in the sea of Marmara that you can get by a ferry (2 YTL for one direction).
On those islands you can't use cars so you have 3 options :
1. horse carriages
in Buyukada a long round trip around the island will cost you something like 35 YTL.
The name of the islands is from princes that was sent to exile.
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.
- Hiking and Walking
Feeling as a princess in Princes' Islands...
There are nine islands on Marmara sea close to the city of Istanbul. These islands are called Princes' Islands, because in the old days the princes used to be exiled in these islands. Four of these nine islands are inhabited. There are mostly the summer houses of the inhabitants of Istanbul. These islands are called Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Buyukada. To drive cars, trucks or motorcycles are banded on the islands. The Princes' Islands are considered attractive because their total lack of cars (horse-drawn carriages) and the natural and scenic beauty. For a long time they were used as hideaways for Ottoman royalty.
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.
Buyukada is one of the biggest islands in the sea of marmara where royalty were exiled during the byzantine times and later during the Ottoman period , no cars are allowed and various ferries leave from the Asian side and European side to the Island however the boat trip is cut to half the time or less if taken from th Asian side of Istanbul as it takes almost an hour and half to reach from European side ,Eminonu. A good day out to walk around ,take a horse carriage around the Island ,have a nice meal in the many restaurants along the shore and enjoy it`s tranquility & homes.Last ferries leave at a particular schedule to both sides of istanbul so keep this in mind or else you `ll have to swim back.
Istanbul to the Prince's islands trip
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! :)
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