Near Istanbul, there are nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, with four of them being the most visited, these four islands named Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada are the only islands that people visit. They travel for fun. The name of the islands comes from the place where princes were exiled to these islands during the Ottoman and even Byzantine times. Still, today it has become a luxury place for recreation and relaxation, which has attracted the attention of many tourists. Among the islands, Buyuk Ada Island, also known as Prince Island, has the highest number of tourists, and of course, it is also the most significant island; In general, these islands are one of the most important tourist attractions in Istanbul.
A concise summary of all 9 Adalar (Princes’ Islands) in Istanbul
- Sedef Island
- Kaşık Island
- Tavşan Island
The Marmara Sea is home to nine Princes’ Islands, with the largest being Büyükada, which is located not far from Istanbul. Tourists may get about on foot, via bike (many shops rent bikes out by the hour), or in electric cars with batteries that run like taxicab and provide “round-the-island” excursions, just like they would on any other island where motorized automobiles are prohibited.
The Church of St. George, also known as Aya Yorgi, is located on Buyuk Ada Island, which is part of the Adalar neighborhood in Istanbul. This is one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. You might also go to the Yuchitepe restaurant, which has been around since 1978; kufte is one of the mouthwatering meals that are served at this restaurant.
This island has 4 hotels for travelers to stay, also the villas that are in these islands are very green and relaxing and the main part of the island is near the pier, and coffee houses, restaurants and shops are located around this pier. In the south of the island, there is a forest area that you can visit by boat. There is also a ruined hotel from the 19th century on this island.
In Buyuk Ada, you can see a wooden building with an area of 20,000 square meters, and other attractions of Buyuk Ada Island include Hamidiyeh Mosque, Ayia Yorgi Church, Monastery and Church of Aius Nicholas the Great. In addition, you can see Leon Trotsky’s former house and a hotel called Splendid with silver domes and red feathers on this island. You can also visit Osmani Street in Buyuk Ada.
The second island that you can visit after Buyuk Ada is Heybeliada Island. Heybeliada Island is one of the 9 islands of Istanbul, where British Ambassador Edward Barton is buried.
Heybeliada Island is served by service vehicles such as ambulance, fire engine, police, etc., the only way to this island is by passenger ships. Heybeliada Island has a population of about a thousand people and you can easily explore this island by renting a bicycle or a stroller.
Upon arrival to the island, you can visit the large building of the Turkish Navy School. You can see two historical monuments, the grave of Edward Burton, the British ambassador, and the Orthodox Church of Kamariotissa, which is the last church of the Byzantine era and remains from the 11th century. Also, Jadet Naval Academy is located on this island, in addition to this, there are beautiful old wooden houses on this island that are worth seeing.
Burgazada is the birthplace of one of the greatest poets and writers of modern Turkish literature. This island is a short distance from the city of Istanbul and you can easily go to this island by passenger ships.
The third island of the Prince Islands in terms of area, which is enough to visit in one day. In the fire accident of 2003, this island lost a large part of about 4 km of its trees and buildings, and today the Greek and Turkish minorities live on this island, and the oldest sanatorium in Turkey, called Burgazada Sanatorium, is located on this island, which is It is related to 1928. This island is recommended for walking, cycling, and nature tourism.
Kınalıada Island is famous for its Armenian population and is the closest island to Istanbul and the fourth largest island of this city, which has many beaches and summer houses for rent, and people who intend to stay can choose this island.
Ayazma beach is suitable for sunbathing and is the most famous beach of this island. Kinali Ada Island is more coastal than the rest of the islands and the first destination of the barges or sea buses that go from the city’s shores to the islands of Istanbul. You will experience a festival of food, drinks and music in Ada Channel Island, and the restaurants of this island, which are located along the coast, are very famous, and most of the travelers try the seafood of this area.
Sedef Island is a little island in the middle of the archipelago, yet it’s home to 108 people. The accessible part is mostly a beachside community. Owner ehsuvar Menemenciolu, who bought the island in 1956 and was instrumental in enforcing a stringent construction rule to safeguard the island’s natural and environmental resources, is responsible for most of the planting of the pine woods that cover the island today. He has put a stop to the construction of any buildings higher than two stories.
Terebinthos, the Greek name for the island, meaning “terebinth,” which may have played a key role in the island’s history. Following his exile to the island and subsequent ten-year imprisonment, Patriarch Ignatios of Constantinople was re-elected in 867.
Yassıada Island has an area of 0.05 square kilometers and is located in the Edalar district of Istanbul, Turkey. The Byzantines used this island as an exile for prisoners and a place for prominent people during the Crusades.
Visitors can see four prison cells underground. But apart from that, in 860 Patriarch Ignatius built a church in exile and the monastery of Plata also by Byzantine Emperor Theophilus.
During the Byzantine rule, Sivriada Island was chosen by the clergy for worship because it was a remote area and suitable for a relaxing worship. At the same time, Byzantine emperors used this island to imprison and detain prominent people such as Plato.
Sivriada, meaning useless island, is one of the main parts of the Prince Islands located in the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul. This small island is located near Istanbul and in ancient times it was considered a place of worship for Byzantine priests.
There is not much for tourists to visit on this island. However, they can visit the monastery to learn about Byzantine and Roman history and culture.
One of the important events that happened on this island is (massacre of dogs). In 1911, the governor of Istanbul ordered the massacre of the city’s stray dogs, during which 80,000 stray dogs were exiled to this island and all of them perished due to starvation or drowning.
Immediately after this event, a strong earthquake occurred, which the local Turkish people analyzed as a punishment for the massacre of dogs, and after that this island is known as “Hayırsızada”. It means miserable and useless. This incident is the main reason why this island was called an unfortunate island.
Kaşık Island means “Spoon Island” because its land is shaped like a spoon. One of the islands of Istanbul, which is privately owned by a Greek family named Danon.
So visitors are not able to spend time here unless they get permission from the owner or visit with a tour under the supervision of a tourist company. Be sure to register early. Because the tour of this island is one of the places that fills up quickly. To get to this island, you have to board a ship, and after arriving, the sandy beach and the green space there will be eye-catching for you.
The Tavşan Adas Island is the smallest of the Princes’ Islands, covering just 0.004 km2 in total (0.0015 sq mi). People often call it Rabbit Island because it is home to countless species of rabbits.
This small island is not a good tourist destination but if you come here with a tour group, they will take you to some ancient churches built in the 17th century.
Istanbul people often come to this island to feel the spirituality and beautiful peace. In addition, photogenic photographers will find numerous locations in Tavşan Island to capture beautiful images of nature.
Accommodation and comfort and entertainment facilities of Prince Islands
Despite being deep in nature and remote from the city, the Prince Islands provide comfort and enjoyment. Some of the hotels on Buyuk Ada Island are 100 years old, yet they still have amazing facilities. Ada Plus Hotel is one of the islands’ most renowned hotels, displaying the splendor of history with its historic architecture and offering good services. Splendid Palace, another popular hotel in Buick Ada, was constructed in 1908 and has architectural comparable to that of a French city. Kinali Ada Island rents suites and summer cottages to visitors at a reasonable price. In these islands, you may enjoy nature, city sightseeing by boat, and sunbathing. On this island, you’ll find some of Istanbul’s best restaurants serving real Turkish food.
Access and travel to Prince Islands
Going to the Prince Islands in Istanbul is only possible by sea because there is no airport on the island. The islands are not far from Istanbul, but the arrival time also depends on the type of boat you choose. On this route, regular passenger boats and all speedboats, of course, sea buses are always available, but they are usually a bit more crowded. And they move a little slowly, in general it should take at least an hour and a half to travel to these islands.