Weekend Getaway to Buyukada - A Delicious Corner of Heaven

Bicycle tours in sweet nature, long walks in the moonlight, good times in authentic fish restaurants, classy boutique hotels, and the exploration of its rich history and cherished culture… There are just so many reasons for a weekend getaway to Buyukada!

Buyukada is the largest of the Prince Islands, just next door to Istanbul. The Prince Islands, including Buyukada, are made up of nine islands. The other islands are named Heybeliada ("Saddlebag Island"), Kinaliada ("Henna Island"), Burgazada ("Fortress"), Sedef Adasi ("Mother-of-Pearl Island"), Yassiada ("Flat Island") ,Sivri Ada ("Sharp Island"), Kasik Adasi ("Spoon Island"), Tavsan Adasi ("Rabbit Island"). The name Prince Islands was given during the Byzantine era. The Romans would use the islands to exile those members of the palace. This tradition continued, even after the conquest of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the island was also where many of the nobility of their time had their summer homes.

The island was formerly known as Prinkipo to the Greeks, who predominately lived on the island during the early 20th century. After the establishment of the Turkish Republic the Greek population greatly reduced, and after the 1940s the Republic's dignitaries and the wealthy gravitated to the island. You'll find the island is decorated with mansions and elegant structures.


Much like yesterday, the interest of Istanbul's people continues today. Buyukada's population of 8 thousand grows as hundreds of thousands flock to the island during the summer months. A majority of this is comprised of day visitors. Yet, Buyukada is also a place for a romantic getaway, as well as a nice choice location for a long vacation. In the summer one can visit the picnic areas and beaches, and in the winter take a bike tour and long nature walks enabling one to make use of their day in the fullest. Furthermore, Büyükada possesses classy, and some old-century reminiscent, boutique hotels.

You can reach Buyukada by ferry, motorboat and sea bus in a half or one-and-a-half hours from Kabatas, Kadikoy and Bostanci. On the island, the use of motor vehicles, with exception to official vehicles, is prohibitied. Transportation on the island is administered by horse-drawn carriages and bicycles, also symbols of the island's.


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The Buyukada Pier offers many quick-bite eateries as well as fish restaurants with a sea view. Among the important eatery stops are fish restaurants, mussel stands, and kofte carts. The island's lokmas, waffles and icecream eateries are also well known. Here you will taste, in a cone, an endless variety of ice-cream flavors; one more delicious than the next. There are also many small souvenir shops around the pier. The clock tower adorns the island's square, and is a meeting point for Buyukada locals. Büyükadalıların buluşma noktası olan saat kulesi süslüyor. You also will not be able to get enough while viewing the, mostly, art nouveau style mansions.

During the summer months, transportation to the Prenses, Degirmen, Eskibag, Yorukali, Nakibey and Kumsal beaches is provided via the motorboats located to the right of the pier. Those wanting to picnic, the picnic areas and countryside restaurants in the pine forest are waiting.

For those wanting to explore the island, there are two tour programs; one long and the other short. You may follow the trails by carriage, bicycle or on foot. The long tour is 14kilometers, perimeters the whole island, and goes to both sides of Dil Burnu. Along this tour you will see Yorukali and Nizam Beaches, the Amusement Park, Lovers and Viranbag outdoor music halls and coppices. The short tour, at 7km long, starts at Araba Meydani and goes to Dil Burnu, Lovers Outdoor Music Hall, the Amusement Park and comes back to the starting after stopping at Maden.


Established as an archeological site in 1984, without a doubt Buyukada's most visited site, is Hagia Yorgi Church. Located on Buyukada's highest peak, Yucetepe, this Orthodox church's past is over a thousand years old. Yet, it isn't so easy to reach Hagia Yorgi. First, you must ride a carriage or walk for over an hour to the Birlik area. After this, you must climb a long and steep hill on the back of a donkey or hike. That is why it is known as the "path of suffering." On April 23rd and September 24th those with a devotional oblation climb this path of suffering with bare feet, and without looking back. After that feat, visiting the church and taking in the exceptional view, you will not want to leave. Located nearby is a restaurant to where you can wine and dine your day away.

Buyukada's other peak is Hristos, and houses a Greek Orphanage. Although today in ruins, in the year 1898 it was designed to be operated as a hotel, but due to some issues this was never realized. A Greek woman by the name of Eleni Zarifi purchased it and in 1902 opened its doors for service as an orphanage. The building has ben vacant since the 1960s.

There are just so many more places to visit in Buyukada! The Anatolian Club that was built in 1926, and the Water Sports Club. The abode of Lev Trocki, the politician and theorist whom was once exiled by Soviet Leader Stalin, and lived from 1929-1933. The famous author, Resat Nuri Guntekin's home, now a museum, and the Buyukada Cultural Home (Fabiato Mansion). Abdulhamit II's Hamidiye Mosque, Hristos Monastary and Church, Hagia Nikola Monastary and Church, and the Hagia Dimitri Church, are all but a few. The Islands Museum is also among the sites to visit, and houses the fossilized armored fish, that once lived in these seas 400 million years ago, along with the photo albums of the island community, the memories and songs among over 20 thousand documents.

Also, check out these essential travel tips everyone must know before planning a trip!

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