Princes' Islands, Istanbul
25 June, 2018
Not only do Uber fares add up, but being environmentally conscious is at the top of our radar when it comes to travel this summer. These nine islands (four of which are open to visitors) are completely car-free, meaning you can explore without adding to your carbon footprint. Rent a bike to make your way around or, if you feel like testing out the islands' other most popular mode of transportation, hop on a horse-drawn carriage.
The islands are a welcome respite from the hectic streets and bazaars of Istanbul, making them an ideal stop-off for a few days during a city break. Pedal down tranquil streets with stone walls dripping in bougainvillea, have a seaside lunch completely undisturbed and snap photos of blue-shuttered clapboard houses that don't require acrobatic attempts to crop out throngs of tourists.
The four main islands include Kinaliada, Burgaz, Heybeliada and Büyükada, and were once places of exile for certain members of Byzantine and Ottoman dynasties, hence their name. All four are spectacular, and the rustic hillside villas tucked away between mimosa trees and clip-clap of horses trotting down narrow winding streets make the islands feel like a snapshot of 19th-century Turkey.
Büyükada, which was once home to monks in addition to exiled princes, is the largest of the islands, and has two peaks upon which are perched Byzantine monasteries that are well worth the climb. Heybeliada, the second largest island, is perhaps our favourite of the archipelago. Home to lush pine forests and quasi-private promenades, it also has a sheltered horseshoe bay that is ideal for a sun-bleached stroll and a leisurely lunch on one of the area's waterfront terraces.
Who to take with you
This charming getaway is ideal for peaceful tête-à-têtes.
When to go
Summer for ambient boating temperatures.
Most likely to bump into
Istanbulites seeking refuge from their hectic daily commute.
Essentials to bring with you
A vintage camera for capturing the architecture.
How to get there
The only way to reach the islands is by boat. Catch the ferry in Istanbul's Kadikoy neighbourhood to reach any of the four publicly accessible islands.