The Serenity of Istanbul's Princes' Islands:
A Day Trip DiaryJust a short ferry ride from bustling Istanbul lie the peaceful Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, a favorite getaway for their serene natural beauty and slower pace of life. Here is an overview of this idyllic archipelago and what makes it a perfect escape.
Brief HistoryThe Princes' Islands have been inhabited since Byzantine times and used as a retreat from Istanbul. During the Ottoman era, they became popular vacation spots for the upper class. Wealthy Istanbulites built elaborate wooden mansions, many still standing today. The islands continue providing a peaceful urban escape.
Getting to the IslandsPassenger ferries to the islands depart from central piers along the European side of Istanbul like Kabataş. The ride takes around an hour, sailing past coastal towns and islands. Approaching by sea, one can already feel the tranquility. Ferries run daily, more frequently during summer months.
No Cars AllowedWhat makes the islands so idyllic is the absence of motor vehicles - no cars are permitted. Visitors get around via quaint modes like bicycles, electric vehicles, and walking. Hearing only clopping hooves, bicycle bells and footfalls promotes deep relaxation. Silence replaces urban cacophony.
Exploring Quaint TownsEach island has a main town dotted with ornate wooden mansions, cozy cafes and shops selling local crafts. Winding lanes reveal fruit stands, art galleries and historic sites like monasteries. Coastal paths connect quiet coves for swimming. The pedestrian-only centers exude old-world Mediterranean charm.
Outdoor RecreationNature is the main attraction. One can hike pine forest trails to hilltop monasteries and stop to picnic along secluded beaches. Cycling, swimming, sunbathing and walking fill hours here.
Sampling Island CuisineSeaside restaurantslining the harbors serve the islands’ famous seafood like grilled fish, mussels and calamari. Sample mezesand watch the fishing boats come and go. Cafesbrew Turkish coffee or refreshing gazoza drinks. For iconic Istanbul street foods, try roasted chestnuts or buttery baked kaymak.
Staying OvernightTo fully experience the islands’ tranquility, stay overnight in one of the charming inns. Waking up to ferry horns echoing through harbor mist without city noise is magical. Many restored Victorian mansions now operate as boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. Nighttime brings unparalleled peace. The The Princes’ Islands offer the perfect Turkish countryside escape - so near Istanbul yet beautifully far away in pace. Spend the day or stay overnight to fully embrace their relaxing allure.