The Princes’ Islands are well known by locals but perhaps less known by visitors. The Princes’ Islands are actually an archipelago just off the coast of the Asian side of Istanbul. They consist of 9 islands in total, 4 larger and 5 smaller islands. They are perhaps most noted for their lack of traffic on the islands themselves. That is to say that the islands are not spoiled with cars, motorbikes and the like but that the preferred method of transport is by horse or donkey. The Islands are dotted with quaint villages and there is even an old Greek monastery to visit.
The Islands gained their names after the many sons of Sultans that were exiled here in an attempt to prevent the fratricide that was common during Byzantine and Ottoman times. Members of the royal family were often sent to the islands, seemingly far (not really) from the hub of the then named Constantinople.
Once on the island you will be able to truly feel how life is like without the pollution and noise of motored vehicles. The only methods of transport here are horse, donkey or pushbike. Of course walking is also a great option too and you will be sure to have a wonderful time exploring the quaint streets and shops.
Buyukada or in English Big Island is unsurprisingly the largest of the islands and will be the Island on which you dock and disembark to enjoy some free time. As you leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind you and approach the Islands you will be amazed at the beautiful coastline seemingly a stones thro w away from Istanbul. Once on Buyukada the opportunities to explore are endless.
There are carriages available to take you around the Island or for the more athletic you may wish to venture along one of the many hiking paths or hire a bike. You will see some fine Ottoman architecture and yes some of Istanbul’s most elite now reside on the Island melting the old extravagance with the more modern.
In 2024, price of Istanbul Princes’ Islands Tour is 20 € for adults, 15 € for children between age 4 and 7, free for children at and under 3 years old.
Your guide will greet you at the doors of your hotel and show you to a luxury transfer vehicle at around 08:30. You will make a short drive down to the harbour where your boat will be waiting for you to board. Your vessel for the day will be an old style boat adding to the rustic feel of your day out.
Once on board you will sail past the Golden Horn enjoying a sea view of Topkapi Palace and the Mosques in Sultan Ahmet Square. You will have a leisurely journey past some of the smaller islands until you reach your destination, Buyukada.
Upon arrival you will be able to take a carriage ride along the beautiful pathways of the village and surrounding pine forests. There may be a short waiting time but all good things come to those who wait and once you begin your carriage ride you will be sitting happy.
Lunch will be offered to you at a sea side restaurant renowned for its fish dishes. Here there will be a comprehensible menu from which you may choose. Following lunch you will have some free time to explore, shop, or simply sit and enjoy a drink in the peaceful surroundings.
At a time designated by your guide, you will meet back at the small harbour ready to rejoin your boat. You will then begin your Istanbul bound journey again passing by the famous silhouette of Topkapi Palace and the Mosques and the famous Maiden’s Tower. Your transfer coach will be waiting to take you back to your hotel feeling at peace and perhaps a little reluctant to use your own car again in a hurry! Approximate arrival back at your hotel is 18:30.
Cost of Istanbul Princes Islands Tour is 20€ for adults, 15 € for children between age 4 and 7, free for children at and under 3 years old in 2024.
Kids will absolutely love being on the boat and followed by a carriage ride will have every little prince and princess smiling from ear to ear.
The Islands are situated around 12 km from the main harbours in Istanbul and the journey takes around 1.5 hours.
Your guide will be with you throughout the day. They will be unobtrusive and there only to give you relevant information and assistance as required.
Yes, your lunch is included as well as your transfers, boat ride, carriage ride and guide service.
You may wish to buy drinks or souvenirs and should take this into account. Also if you are interested in hiring a bike once on the island you should budget for his too.
Cars were banned on the island to preserve the islands in their full glory. With no noise or air pollution the Islands are a real paradise.