Princes’ Islands take their name from the fact that during Byzantine and early Ottoman period, members of dynasties who fell out of favor were sent to exile there. Until late 19th century, when regular steamer transportation showed up in the seas around Istanbul, these islands were considered remote and far-away places. Apart from the exiled princes, only a handful of monks found these islands inhabitable then, a fact which gives the islands their former name in Turkish: Keşiş Adaları(“Islands of the Monks”).
Princes’ Islands consist of four major and five minor islands. Major ones are as follows (from west to east, also from smallest to biggest): Kınalıada, Burgaz, Heybeliada, and Büyükada. Apart from these, only one more island of the archipelago is inhabited, that is Sedef which lies east of Büyükada. The other, unhabited ones are: Tavşan south of Büyükada, Kaşık (between Burgaz and Heybeliada), Yassıada and Sivriada (both lying further away in the sea, southwest of Kınalıada). This article will focus on the four major ones, as public transport to uninhabited islands is virtually non-existant, and much of Sedef is private property with limited access.
The islands are an interesting anomaly because they allow for a very rare, albeit incomplete, insight into a multicultural society in modern Turkey, possibly alike to the multicultural society that once existed during the Ottoman Empire in places such as nearby Istanbul/Constantinople. Prior to 1950s, each of the inhabited islands had significant communities of ethnic minorities of Turkey, which still is the case to a much smaller extent.
PRINCES’ ISLANDS TOUR – FULL DAY (ESCAPE FROM THE CITY)
Pick up from your hotel or the Istanbul cruise port, you will visit the following sights with an experienced and licensed professional guide.
Take the ferry to one of the Princes’ Islands, Buyukada (Big Island) which is a quiet sea front town and summer holiday escape from the city. Leaving the Golden Horn by ferry, you will round Sarayburnu (Seraglio Point), the headland on which the domes and minarets of Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque can be seen. We will pass four islands with their charming old Ottoman houses and finally reach Buyukada, the largest of the islands. Upon arrival to the island, you will see the lavish Ottoman mansions and other beautiful Victorian summer villas around the island.
We will take a tour of the island by Phaeton (horse and cart) and will pass elegant old wooden mansions and beautiful natural scenery. you can enjoy a delicious lunch in a cozy sea-side fish restaurant and relax looking back at the domes and minarets among skyscrapers of modern Istanbul’s skyline. This a perfect day for relaxing and enjoying one of Istanbul’s residents’ favorite summer retreats. Return by ferry and drop off to hotel or port.
P.S. Itineraries subject to change according to weather and/or daily circumstances.
Hotel Pick-up & drop-off – by air-conditioned non-smoking tour coaches. Entrance Fees mentioned by the itineraries. Lunch , Professional Licenced Tour Guide. Services Charges & Local Taxes.