Why You Should Visit the Princes’ Islands

If you are tired of noisy Istanbul, then we advise you to buy a ferry ticket to the Princes’ Islands and you will find yourself in an oasis of peace and tranquility. Buyukada Island and what it attracts tourists and locals so much, how to move around the island, whether it is worth dining in coastal restaurants and where to swim.

The Prince’s Islands (Adalar) are located in the Marmara Sea, 20 km from the center of Istanbul, but are officially part of it. The islands got their name during the Byzantine Empire, when unwanted princes and persons close to the emperor were exiled to them.

Later, Greeks, Armenians, Jews and rich Turks lived on the Adalars. Thanks to this combination, monuments of different times and cultures can be found on the Prince Islands. The nature of the islands is protected, there are no industrial enterprises here, the use of motor transport is prohibited.

In total, Adalar consists of 9 islands, 4 of which are available for visiting:

  • Kınalıada
  • Burgazada
  • Heybeliada
  • Buyukada

Since a regular ferry service was established between Istanbul and the islands, they have become a favorite vacation spot for residents of the metropolis and a popular tourist destination. There are especially many people who want to get to the Princes’ Islands on summer weekends, so it’s better to choose a weekday or leave early for the trip.

We can advise a large and comfortable ship Şehir Hatları, it docks at the farthest island of Buyukada in 95 minutes. IDO high-speed catamarans sail 30 minutes faster, but go to the Princes’ Islands only in summer.

Ferries Sehir Hatlari to Adalar depart from Kabataş Pier on the European side, Kadıköy and Bostancı on the Asian side. Little books with a seasonal schedule are lying on the pier. The number of ferries and the intervals of movement depend on the time of the year and the day of the week. In summer, up to 15 ferries a day go to the Princes’ Islands.

If you have an Istanbul card, then there should be 30 TL on it for a trip in both directions, you can top up your account in the vending machine. The entrance is carried out on the same principle as on a tram or subway — through turnstiles. For one trip to any of the islands from Istanbul Kart, 15 TL is removed.

Buyukada Island and its greatness

Byukada is the largest and most visited island of Adalar. For the first trip, it is more than enough: take a walk, have lunch and come back.

Due to the fact that at the beginning of the XX century, rich and high-ranking officials lived on the island of Buyukada, many luxurious country villas were built here. Most of them are located on the right side of the port, now wooden and stone mansions are used as hotels or are private residences. In one of these restored mansions of the XIX century, you can stay overnight or spend the weekend.

There are 9 Greek Orthodox churches, a synagogue, Latin and Armenian churches, and a mosque on Byukada. The most visited monasteries are St. George (Aya Yorgi) and the Transfiguration of the Lord (Hristos). On the way to the monastery of St. George, ribbons are tied and wishes are made, and a beautiful view opens from the top of the hill.


Rum Yetimhanesi is another attraction of Buyukada, which is in a dilapidated state. The largest wooden building in Europe was built in 1898-1899 as a hotel-casino, later used as a shelter for Greek children.

Beaches of Buyukada

In good weather, Buyukada is an ideal place for a picnic and relaxing on the beach. The middle and south of the island are covered with pine forests and guarded, picnic areas are fenced, entrance is paid.

The beaches on Buyukada are narrow and a fee is also charged for their use (sun beds, changing cabins).

At the end of the trip, everyone returns to the city, where they have lunch and board the ferry. The main restaurants are located to the left of the port. You should know that prices in restaurants and cafes of Byukada are very high, while tourists are often deceived. There are more people who want to return from Adalar to Istanbul in the late afternoon, so you should not count on the last ferry.

A trip from Istanbul to the Princes’ Islands relaxes and pacifies. In addition to exploring the islands, you get a boat trip along the Bosphorus Strait and the Sea of Marmara. We definitely recommend visiting these beautiful islands, which will remain in your memory for a long time!

You can read this article in Russian language: Почему вы должны посетить Принцевы острова

Anna Yablochkina

Hi, I'm Anna. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

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