The Princes Islands (Turkish: Adalar) are a nine-island archipelago located in the Sea of Marmara. Horse-drawn phaetons keep the pace of life on the islands known simply as Adalar, and the attractive clapboard homes, pine trees, and fresh air give the islands a really rural atmosphere. Heybeliada and Büyükada are also excellent starting points for exploring the city.
Visitors to Büyükada can participate in a variety of activities. The renowned Çankaya Street is surrounded by wooden buildings, one of which was the home of Léon Trotsky, a prominent Russian politician. The Greek Orthodox Monastery Aya Yorgi (Saint George) is another must-see attraction. This is the island's biggest attraction; it's perched atop Büyükada's tallest peak and offers breathtaking views of the archipelago and Istanbul.
Büyükada is full of hidden gems; only an hour by boat from Istanbul, you'll find yourself in a lovely and natural setting that's a far cry from the turmoil of Istanbul's metropolis. The other islands, especially if visiting the archipelago on weekends, are also worth seeing because they are quieter and less touristy than Büyükada.
In addition to its lush greenery, Heybeliada is home to magnificent wooden cottages, a Greek Orthodox monastery on top of the island, and the Halki Institute of Orthodox Theology, a high education institution dedicated to theological development of Orthodox clergy.
Degirmen is a lovely picnic spot on the side of the island towards Kasik. On this side of Heybeli, there is also a public beach in a lovely cove, as well as a water sports club. Around the pier, there are several restaurants and cafeterias where visitors may try local cuisine and fresh seafood.
Burgaz is the archipelago's third-largest island, a peaceful island that was populated by Greek residents of the Ottoman Empire. In Turkish, the island is known as Burgaz, while in Greek, it is known as Antigoni. The name originates from Demetrius I, one of Alexander the Great's successors, who erected a stronghold named after his father Antigonus (Burgaz meaning "castle").
The island is also known for the residence of Sait Faik Abasiyanik, a well-known Turkish writer from the early twentieth century. His home has been turned into a museum, and at Kalpazan Kaya, a site he frequented, there is now a café with spectacular sunset views. A great sailing and water sports club, as well as several rocky beaches, are available, but the island doesn't offer many places to overnight, unfortunately.
Kinaliada offers lovely vacation houses that are rented out for the season. Its beautiful beaches, including Ayazma Beach, draw a large number of visitors from the city. The Water Sports Club also includes an Olympic-sized pool. The Byzantine emperor Romanus IV constructed the Hristos Monastery while he was banished here, and it is also where he was buried. The monastery is open to the public only on Fridays.
Along the pier, there are numerous restaurants and cafeterias, as well as a highly contemporary mosque to the left. There aren't many options for spending the night on the island.