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Prince Islands (Kızıl Adalar)
To escape the madness of central Istanbul, take a water ferry (or if you’re feeling glamorous, a private water taxi) out to this group of nine Islands in the Sea of Marmara. The name stems from their identity as places of exile for various nobles during the Byzantine era, but these days they are known for providing a car-free haven of tranquillity, wild beaches and good seafood restaurants. The views are excellent too, and you can rent bicycles to enjoy the islands to the fullest. Four islands are open to the public – Büyükada (the biggest), Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada (the first two being the most popular). Get the ferry from Kabataş – it can get very crowded during weekends and feast days so take the earliest one you can.
Aside from the fine dining available, SALT Galata is worth going to for the art exhibitions and its spectacular views. It’s a great place to end up at after you’ve spent a few hours traipsing around Beyoglu, and for when the myriad traditional tourist attractions becomes too much. The area near the Galata tower and Karakoy in general is a far more fulfilling place to chill out than over the water in the more chaotic parts of Istanbul.
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