You don’t have to pack a massive suitcase and arrange a long, expensive holiday to spend some quality time in Istanbul. Only a ferry crossing away, the Princes’ Islands offer plenty to do whether you opt for a weekend stay or just a day away from the city rush. Here we list six of them for you to try during your visit in Istanbul.
The vehicles are long restricted in the islands, and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality recently banned the use of phaetons to save the horses from the terrible conditions they were in. But even before the ban was introduced, biking was a popular choice to tour the island despite the steep slopes. But don’t let that intimidate you –many people rent a bike and ride slowly to their way to the top and see the stunning mansions nestled on the sides of the roads they cycle. Make sure you give enough breaks to prevent burnout and bring water with you as you won’t see a market every ten minutes. Bike renting is available in all the four main islands for a reasonable price. Enjoy the bike ride that will allow you to absorb every beautiful inch of the island whether it is Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, or Kınalıada.
A sacred place for the Orthodox Christians, Aya Yorgi Church in Büyükada was built in 1751i yet has a history over a thousand years. A past this long gave birth to fascinating legends, holy practices, and solemn traditions in the Orthodox community. April 23rd and September 24th are the most important days for the church when people gather together to make wishes. It is a pilgrimage place of great importance for the Orthodox, but people from different religions and backgrounds climb up a steep hill to witness this great building and light a candle.
Originally built as a hotel by a French company in 1898, the faith of the building dramatically changed when it turned into an orphanage. It is regarded as one of the largest wooden structures in the world, fascinating the beholders with its magnificent size, old wooden walls, and gloomy atmosphere. Unfortunately, you can’t see the interior as it is too dangerous to enter due to the collapse hazard, but the exterior is well worthy of your time in Büyükada.
In Büyükada there nestles Sevastapol Mansion, also known as Leon Trotsky’s house where he spent four years of exile. The Marxist revolutionary wrote his autobiography and The History of the Russian Revolution in this mansion which is not in a very good condition but still a fascinating building. You can’t enter the house but take magnificent pictures of the exterior and witness a mark of the political history.
There are many recreational areas in four of the islands, all promise splendid views and fresh air among the tall green trees. Particularly Değirmenburnu in Heybeliada and Dilburnu in Büyükada are widely visited by those who wish to grab their basket filled with cold-served dishes and enjoy the serene nature of the islands. But be careful not to bring too heavy loads as the only transportation means to ascend the slopes are either on foot or by a bicycle.
If it is a brilliantly sunny day during summertime, one of the most refreshing things you can do is to get yourself in the clear waters and enjoy the beautiful swimming spots where blue meets green. There are many coves to the islands, some of them are untouched, some of them are operated, but all of them are equally beautiful, promising a pleasant day you can never get to experience in downtown. Eskibağ and Yada Beaches in Büyükada along with the Akvaryum Beach in Heybeliada are some of the examples to the beaches, but you can travel around the islands and discover your personal perfect spot.