The Princes’ Islands are a group of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey, in the Sea of Marmara. They are a popular destination for day trips from Istanbul, especially during the summer months, when visitors can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and the scenic views. The islands are also rich in history and culture, as they have been inhabited since ancient times and have served as a refuge for exiled royalty, religious minorities and political dissidents.
The four largest and most visited islands are Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada. Each island has its own charm and attractions, such as churches, monasteries, museums, beaches and forests. The islands are also known for their lack of motor vehicles, as the only means of transport are bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.
To visit the Princes’ Islands, you can take a ferry from various points in Istanbul, such as Bostancı, Kadıköy, Kartal and Maltepe on the Asian side, and Beşiktaş and Kabataş on the European side. The ferry ride takes about an hour and a half and costs around 10 Turkish lira (about 1 US dollar) per person. The ferries operate daily from early morning until late evening, but the schedule may vary depending on the season and the weather.
Some tips for visiting the Princes’ Islands are:
- Plan your trip ahead and check the ferry timetable online or at the terminal.
- Avoid weekends and public holidays if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy a more relaxing experience.
- Bring sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and water, as the sun can be very strong and there may not be many shaded areas on the islands.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, as you may have to walk or cycle a lot to explore the islands.
- Respect the local culture and customs, especially when visiting religious sites or interacting with residents.
- Do not litter or feed the animals on the islands, as they may cause environmental or health problems.
There are also various tours available that offer guided visits to the Princes’ Islands, either by boat or by bike. These tours may include transportation, lunch, entrance fees and commentary by a professional guide. They may also cover more than one island in a day. You can book these tours online or through your hotel or travel agency.
Some of the prohibitions on the Princes’ Islands are:
- Driving or renting motor vehicles on the islands, except for emergency or service vehicles.
- Smoking in public places, such as parks, beaches, ferries and restaurants.
- Camping or lighting fires on the islands, as they may pose a fire hazard or damage the natural environment.
- Swimming in unauthorized areas or without proper supervision, as there may be strong currents or dangerous marine life.
- Disturbing the peace or causing nuisance to other visitors or residents on the islands.
Some of the things to see on the Princes’ Islands are:
- The Hagia Triada Monastery on Heybeliada, a Greek Orthodox monastery dating back to the 9th century that offers panoramic views of the sea and the city.
- The Museum of the Princes’ Islands on Büyükada, a modern museum that showcases the history and culture of the islands through exhibits, artifacts and multimedia displays.
- The Church and Monastery of St George on Büyükada, a Greek Orthodox monastery located on a hilltop that attracts pilgrims from all over the world who seek miracles or blessings from St George.
- The İnönü Evi Müzesi on Heybeliada, a historic villa that belonged to İsmet İnönü, Turkey’s second president who played a key role in shaping modern Turkey after Atatürk’s death.