Istanbul: The Princes Islands Day Trip Guide

Istanbul: The Princes Islands Day Trip Guide

If you’re visiting Istanbul for longer than five days, you should fit a day trip to the Princes’ Islands into your itinerary. Full of scenic views and with no sign of traffic on the roads, each of the Princes’ Islands offers a unique experience. 

So read our Istanbul: The Princes’ Islands day trip guide to get a better idea of how to get to the Princes’ Islands and what to do there. Then plan to head to one or two of the islands and get ready to start pedalling. You’ll discover a lot of historical and colourful houses and sites on your day trip to the Princes’ Islands. 

What are the Princes’ Islands?

The Princes’ Islands, or just “Adalar” (Islands) in Turkish, are four main islands located on the Marmara Sea near Istanbul. These are Kinaliada, Burgaz Island, Heybeliada, and Buyukada. These four islands are accessible via ferries from Kabatas, Besiktas and Bostanci. 

During the Byzantine era, the islands were used as an exile for nobles. After the Ottomans took over, the islands served as a touristic place for the wealthy Turks and the residents were mainly the Greeks. Over time, the Armenian and Jewish communities also planted their roots here.


Buyukada literally means “large island”, and it is the largest and most popular one among all the Princes Islands.  It’s the birthplace of the Famous painter Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid, and many other important people have visited it in their time. 

There are many beautiful buildings to see in Buyukada, so you will need an entire day. The most famous ones are Hamidiye Mosque, Hagia Yorgi Greek Orthodox Church, Agios Dimitrios Church, Franciscan Church of San Pacifico, Surp Astvadzadzin Verapolium (an Armenian Church), Splendid Palace Hotel, and Yanaros mansion where Leon Trotsky lived after he was deported from the Soviet Union.

You can also see the Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage, which is the largest wooden construction in Europe and the second-largest in the world. The island also has many beautiful historic mansions such as the Con Pasa, Yelkencizade, Fabiato and Mizzi.


After Buyukada, Heybeliada is the second-largest island in the Princes’ Islands. It’s less crowded than Buyukada, but you may still need an entire day to explore it. Heybeliada has a beautiful pine forest, a couple of beaches and historic buildings from the Byzantine, Greek and Ottoman eras.

The most famous pieces of architecture are Monastery Aya Triada (a seminary built in 1844), Panagia Kamariotissa (a Byzantine Church built before the Conquest of Constantinople), and Aya Nikola Greek Orthodox Church. There are also many lovely Ottoman-era wooden mansions, such as Abbas Pasa Mansion and the Haunted Mansion, and more you can discover on your stroll on the island.


Kinaliada is the nearest island to Istanbul. The name means "Henna Island" in Turkish, as the land is reddish from the iron and copper that has been mined here. The island’s old Byzantine name was Proti, and emperor Romanos IV Diogenes was exiled here in 1071. 

Apart from visiting beaches and eating good food, there is not much else to do in Kinaliada. You can visit Hristos Greek Monastery, Panayia Church, Kinaliada Mosque, and Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church.


Last but not least, Burgazada is the next stop after Kinaliada. Burgazada is the quietest among the Princes’ Islands, and it offers a nice break from the hustle and bustle and the crowds of Istanbul.

Famous writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık resided in Burgazada and his presence is still felt throughout the island. When in Burgazada, you can visit Sait Faik’s house (which is now a museum), the Burgazada Sanitorium (which is one of the oldest sanitoria in the country), Aya Yani Church, Burgazada Mosque, and Belevi Mansion

How to go to Princes’ Islands in Istanbul?

The only way to go to Princes’ Islands is by ferries. They depart from Kabatas, Besiktas and Bostanci, and they operate often. Here’s the schedule

The ferry schedule changes in the winter as fewer people visit the islands. Though ferries still operate at least four days a week. 

As of 2022, it costs 21.90 Turkish liras (approx. £1.08) to get the ferry each way. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the Princes’ Islands.

When to go to Princes’ Islands?

Locals and tourists both love visiting the Princes’ Islands in summer, so you must make sure to choose a weekday for your day trip. The islands are beautiful throughout the year, but the best months to visit the Princes’ Islands are April, May, June, September and October. 

If you visit Istanbul during the hot summer months, you’ll have to beware of the crowds and the heat. So we recommend Spring and Autumn as the best times to visit the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul.

How to get around in Princes’ Islands

For people who love cycling, this is surely the best way to get around the islands. The public isn’t allowed to drive here; the roads are only used by permitted vehicles, the police and the fire brigade. The other option is to take the electric buses, which you can pay for with IstanbulKart. 

Renting a bike in Princes’ Islands

There are many bike rental shops on all of the islands, and you can rent a bike for the day for about 40 Turkish liras. 

Important tip: Don’t forget to check your brakes before renting your bike, you will often go downhill (especially in Buyukada) so you need to be safe.

Where to eat in Princes’ Islands

Whichever island you choose, you must do the three cliché things everyone does: have a filling breakfast, eat raki, fish and meze for lunch or dinner and ice cream for dessert!


  • Go to Ada Kahvaltı for breakfast

  • Go to Fıstık Ahmet’s Place Prinkipo Restaurant for raki and fish

  • Go to Yunus Dondurma for ice cream

  • If you want to try a traditional Turkish bakery, go to the famous Büyükada Pastanesi for some pastry


  • Go to Bahar Cafe for breakfast

  • Go to Halki Restaurant for fish and raki

  • Go to Tadım Roma Dondurma for ice cream


  • Go to Bahar Pastanesi for breakfast

  • Go to Teos Kınalıada for fish and raki

  • Go to Yeşil Roma Dondurma for ice cream


  • Go to Pyrgos Cafe & Restaurant for breakfast

  • Go to Sahil Restoran for fish and raki

  • Go to Sinem Dondurma for ice cream

There it is! Our Princes’ Islands day trip guide. Are you doing research to plan your Istanbul trip?
Book your flight and accommodation with us for the best prices on the market!


You can cancel your hotel reservation.
Check out all Cancellation & Refunds
By making a reservation today, you can protect the price with a low price.

Payment Dates and amounts will be displayed in detail on the Payment Page.