Adalar is a suburb of Istanbul, Turkey. It incorporates Princes’ Islands, an archipelago of nine picturesque islands in the Sea of Marmara. Adalar is made up of four major and five minor islands, each with their own individual personalities. Visitors seeking a day away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul will find their tranquil oasis here.
The islands which hold greatest areas of interest are perhaps Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada. There are no motorised vehicles on any of the islands. Instead, bicycles glide by and horse-drawn carriages transport visitors through the streets. Narrow roads are dotted with Victorian era wooden houses, in addition to lush pine forests and beautiful harbourside cafes and beaches. Culture seekers will enjoy a trip to the Museum of the Princes’ Islands in Büyükada. The largest of the islands, Büyükada has numerous historic churches, mansions and monasteries. These include the house where Leon Trotsky spent four years in exile following his deportation from the Soviet Union. Agia Yorgi Church and Monastery is well worth the visit, as it dates to the 6th century and is one of the highlights on the island. There are plenty of places to eat and drink by the waterfront in Büyükada, enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine as the ferries arrive and depart. Heybeliada island is a little quieter, with streets sprinkled with Ottoman-style houses atop the mountainside, with an 11th century Greek Orthodox monastery which housed the famous Halki Theological School. Heybeliada island is perfect for families, with parks, picnic areas and pretty areas of picturesque coastline.
The only way to reach Adalar is via ferry boat from Istanbul. Depart from Kabataş on the European side of the city, and from Maltepe, Kartal and Bostanci on the more convenient Asian peninsula. The journey can take up to an hour. Ferries frequently run during summer months, although the last ferries of the day can be overcrowded. Most of the islands are only a couple of square kilometres, therefore walking, hiring a bicycle or a horse and carriage ride is the perfect way to get around.
During Byzantine times, Adalar was known as “Islands of the Monks” due to the many monasteries which had been established. The islands also served as an area of exile. Many emperors, empresses and patriarchs who came here never returned to the city of Constantinople. In more recent decades’ Greek fishermen, mariners and prosperous Jewish and Turkish families built residences on Büyükada. The islands are home to a unique offshore landscape, close to the city, but far enough away for ultimate peace and tranquillity.
Princes' Islands travel FAQs
Where is the best place to stay in Princes' Islands?
Our travellers prefer to stay in places like Büyükada, Burgazada, and Heybeliada while in Princes' Islands.