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The Princes’ Islands: a royal hideaway

You don’t have to go far to find a romantic retreat and escape Istanbul’s hectic traffic and noise. A short ferry ride takes you to the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, 20 kilometres off the coast of Istanbul. Relax in this oasis of beauty and tranquillity.

The Princes’ Islands, ‘Adalar’ in Turkish, is a group of 9 small islands. Once an exile for Byzantine princes, these islands are now a popular getaway for wealthy Turks and tourists looking for peace and quiet. Only 4 of the islands are inhabited. Go for a leisurely walk, enjoy some delicious food and admire the sunset. Motorised vehicles are forbidden, except for emergency services. People get around by horse-drawn carriage, bicycle or on horseback. A perfect opportunity to slow down the pace.

The Princes’ Islands are located in the Sea of Marmara
The Princes’ Islands are located in the Sea of Marmara

Istanbul

Travelling back in time: a horse and carriage on Büyükada

Büyükada: travelling back in time

It only takes an afternoon to walk around Büyükada, the largest island in the archipelago. This island is famous for its nature and sandy beaches. With only an old monastery, one square and one shopping street, it is easy to find your bearings. There are also a number of lovely patios and restaurants. To spend the night, reserve a room in the nostalgic Splendid Palas Hotel and soak up the historic century-old ambiance. The white wooden art-nouveau villa with charming balconies and red shutters offers a spectacular ocean view.

The beautiful nature of Heybeliada

Heybeliada: natural beauty

The green island of Heybeliada is also worth a visit. Take a walk through the forest and then find a comfortable picnic spot or a beach in a secluded bay. After sipping a cup of tea on one of the many tea patios along the village’s waterfront, ride a bike to the most beautiful bay on the southern part of the island. Perhaps take a one-hour carriage ride and circumnavigate the entire island. Enjoy the peace and quiet for longer and spend the night in the small and luxurious Halki Palas hotel.

Sedef Adasi: a tiny paradise

Sedefadasi, also known as the Mother-of-Pearl Island, is the smallest of the inhabited islands. The private property of a wealthy Turk, the island boasts just a few houses and holiday villas. The regular ferry only moors here in high season, but one can always charter a private boat to visit in the off season. Bring a basket full of goodies and a nice bottle of wine to spend a delightful afternoon on a beautiful beach.

Swimming in the turquoise waters around Princes’ Islands

Photo credits

  • Travelling back in time: a horse and carriage on Büyükada: Promotheus,72, Shutterstock