See the Travel Guide to Istanbul

Discover the Princes' Islands archipelago

exploration

Take a stunning hour-long journey by boat from Istanbul to the favourite vacationing spots of Istanbul’s rich families in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Located in the Marmara Sea, about 20 kilometres from Istanbul, the archipelago is served by boat several times a day from Kabatas, on the European side, and from Kadikoy and Bostanci, on the Asian side.

Ideally, put a day or two aside to bask in their retro charm, enjoy the natural surroundings, and swim in the turquoise waters. Their name ‘Princes Islands' was given to them during the Byzantine period, when disgraced aristocrats were exiled here. In the 19th century they were transformed into posh beach resorts, popular with Greek, Jewish, and Armenian merchants, and wealthy Istanbul Ottomans. They settled on the four largest islands Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kinaliada and built sumptuous wooden mansions (yalis).

The largest, the island of Büyükada, is the favourite of Istanbuls wealthiest families, many of whom have their summer residences there. No cars are allowed, only bicycles and horse-drawn carriage taxis (fayton).

To learn
more about

See the Travel Guide to Istanbul