When I was planning this trip several months ago, I wanted to pack at least one day trip into our time in Istanbul. The Princes’ Islands, and most notably the island of Buyukada, stood out as a must-see. Buyukada is not far from Istanbul, taking only 90 minutes by ferry through the Sea of Marmara.
We took the tram from Aksaray to Karakoy and then the IDO ferry from Karakoy to the islands. Buyukada is the last island stop, and the largest too.
The Princes’ Islands gets its name from the Byzantine Ottoman era, when princes and other royalty were exiled here. Given the beautiful homes, tree-lined streets and horse-drawn carriages everywhere, it doesn’t seem like such a bad place to be stuck in. Today, Istanbullus come here in the summer for a quiet break from the bustling city.
My family and I walked up and down the picturesque hilly streets for most of the afternoon, taking a break to buy some albaloo (Yes! Turkey has albaloo too!) to snack on later.
After we circled around much of the island, we stopped for ice cream and tea at a cafe while we waited for the last ferry of the day to arrive. On the ferry, we took in the most breathtaking views during sunset as the boat stopped at the other islands to pick up more passengers.
All that hill climbing had made us sleepy, so after we arrived at Eminonu dock in Istanbul, we hopped on the tram back to our apartment, just in time for dinner and a good night’s rest. Buyukada may not be as fast-paced as Istanbul, but what it lacks in action it makes up for with charm.