The Princes Islands are a chain of nine small islands in the Sea of Marmara. They evolved from a place of exile during the Byzantine era, to a popular destination for tourists and Istanbulites alike to escape the hectic city life for a day. Of those nine islands, only four of them are open to the public: Büyükada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Kınalıada.
To travel to the Islands you can take an IDO Ferry from Kabataş, Kadıköy and Eminönü or if you are lucky enough like me you can travel by private boat. We took a 20 minute boat ride to Büyükada, the largest of the islands for lunch.
Most restaurants sell sea food but the best value is furthest along the seafront strip. The Milano, at no 20, has the nicest traditional premises, and the Yaman, no 16, is the newest and most stylish (but most expensive). Venge, at 23 Nisan Cad no 23, in front of the Splendid Hotel, looks classy and has a lovely view but unremarkable food. A cheap alternative is the cafeteria-style Yeni Façyo restaurant, at Recep Koç Cad 57.
I had a Turkish drink called “Raki” – you pour a shot in a glass then mix with water. The drink turns into milky white also known as the milk of the brave — said to have up to 50% alcohol content. (If I knew this I wouldn’t have tried it because I don’t even remember what happened after drinking it) – I wouldn’t recommend this if you aren’t a heavy drinker like me.
Apart from the many resturants on the island you can walk around and shop at the different stores or tour by horse-drawn carriage, or rent a bike and tour the island yourself.
Spending a day at Princes Island is a must when visiting Istanbul .