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The Complete Travel Guide to Buyukada Island

Buyukada Island is the largest amongst the Prince Islands of Istanbul and welcomes tourists all around the year. It is one of the most popular destinations of Istanbul for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Buyukada Island is famous for its beauty and serenity that encompasses all visitors. Flowers, cute cafes, beautiful views and ottoman houses are the things that characterize Buyukada.

While I was in Istanbul ringing on my 19th birthday, I was told by all my Turkish friends to visit Buyukada for sure. It is truly a beautiful island far away from the busy streets and cacophony of Istanbul city. In my current blog, I will give you a complete travel guide to visiting these islands.

bukuyada island

The best way to explore Buyukada Island is to rent a bike. This is me getting clicked at the pier with my cute rented bike at the island.

Buyukada Island

Buyukada Island literally stands for “Big Island” which it certainly is. It’s the last stop from Istanbul’s Eminonu dock and the most beautiful one amongst all too. Buyukada is one of the most visited islands amongst the Prince islands due to its size and the number of things one can experience and do there.

The visit to Buyukada was certainly one of the major highlights of my Turkey backpacking trip. The vibe of this place is entirely different. The moment you disembark from your ferry ride and get to explore this place you will really understand what I mean. It is a perfect place to avoid crowds of the city and get a relaxed day on your trip to Istanbul.

Location

Princes Islands

Closest Turkish City

Istanbul

How to Reach

Ferry Ride from Besiktas Dock or Eminonu docks

Ideal Visiting Time

1 Day

Top Things to Do

Rent a bike and explore the Island
Eat breakfast 
Try the Jumbo ice creams 
Go swimming on the beaches
Visit the Aya Yorgi Church 
Hunt for the Ottoman houses

Cost of a Day Trip

Half Day- 95 Turkish Lira (TL)

Full Day- 366 Turkish Lira (TL)



What are the Prince Islands?

Prince Islands, also known as “Adalar,” is a chain of 9 islands in total located off Istanbul’s coastline. Prince islands are one of the most popular destinations that you will easily spot on any traveller’s itinerary. However, only 4 of these islands are open for the public to visit.

These four islands are located in the Sea of Marmara and are called- Burgazada, Heybeliada, Kinaliada, Bukayada being the biggest and the most popular one.

Burgazada Island

It is the second stop if you take a ferry from Eminonu ferry dock. Burgazada is the third-largest amongst all other islands. It is much calmer as it doesn’t expect as many tourists as Buyukada Island does all around the year. Burgazada is a great place for those who enjoy a peaceful place and want to enjoy their own company for a while. There isn’t much to see in here, but you can always carry a book to read, interact with some locals and relax at this pretty little island.

Heybeliada Island

Third stop from the Eminonu ferry dock is the second-largest island called Heybeliada which comes from the word “Heybeli” that means a saddlebag. Heybeliada is all about beaches, pine forests and definitely is a perfect spot for picnic lovers.

Kinaliada Island

Kinaliada is the island you can easily identify owing to its easy to spot antenna towers. It is the first stop for ferries departing from Eminonu ferry dock at Istanbul city. Turkish people mostly have their summer houses and villas on this island. The island boasts a couple of beaches, so if you are a sun, swim and sand person, this place is surely meant for you. You can also consider visiting the Kinaliada mosque and the Armenian church whilst you stay at the island.

One thing to note here is that none of these islands has any motor vehicles or cars. You cannot bring your cars to any of the Princes’ Islands. You can either choose to walk, rent a bicycle or explore these beautiful islands on a horse-driven carriage.

Total Cost of Visiting Buyukada 

You can either plan a full day trip or a half-day trip to Buyukada Island. The costs totally depend on your visit duration.

Below I have given an approximate budget for an individual for a half-day and a full-day trip:

Full-Day Trip

  • Bike (10 TL)
  • Ice cream, coffee and tea (20 TL)
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (120 TL)
  • Swimming (50 TL)
  • Shopping (150 TL)
  • Ferry tickets including both to and fro (Istanbul Kart- 16 TL and without Istanbul Kart- 20 TL)

GRAND TOTAL = 366 TL

Half-Day Trip

I did a half-day trip to this beautiful island and this is exactly how much I had spent.

  • Bike (10 TL)
  • Ice cream and a water bottle (7 TL)
  • Brunch (20 TL)
  • Shopping (42 TL- 2 magnets, one necktie and a dream catcher)
  • Ferry tickets including both to and fro (Istanbul Kart- 16 TL)

GRAND TOTAL = 95 TL

Although I chose to do the trip on my own you can also book the entire day trip from Istanbul covering Buyukada and Heybeliada Islands at a fairly reasonable price. This a pretty good deal considering that it lasts for about 7 hours, they provide a guide, take care of transportation and lunch. 

buyukada island 1

I travelled from Istanbul to Buyukada islands from Eminonu ferry dock. Here is the ferry time table for the Eminonu dock.

How to reach Buyukada Island?

The Kabatas ferry docks are the best way to get to the Island, however, it has been closed until further notice for the construction of a new seagull shaped ferry dock. The ferries that commenced their journeys from the Kabatas ferry docks have now been spread over the Eminonu and Besiktas docks for the time being. Now there are 2 options for visiting these islands.

You can use the ferry line departing from the Besiktas docks that head to two islands each. (55 minutes)

Or you can choose to visit all the islands after a short-haul at Kadikoy via the Eminonu docks. (100 minutes)

I chose the latter one to reach Buyukada Island. Eminonu is very near to the Sultan Ahmet area and the Bazaars, hence, it is easier and more convenient to head to Eminonu ferry dock for any traveller. From Eminonu dock you can even get Bosphorus River tours easily at really affordable prices.

Ferries keep departing with a gap of an hour from morning 7 am to 11 pm at night.

ferry routes to Buyukada Island -min

This map has been taken from Google Maps. It shows the three possible free routes of reaching Buyukada Islands from Turkey

All about the Ferry Ride to Bukuyada Island

Ferries are the best way and in fact, I believe the only way to reach the Adalar Islands of Istanbul. They are highly affordable as well as very convenient to use.

I am sure you must be having various doubts about how much does it cost for a ferry ride? And how long does it take to reach the Island? Don’t worry I have it all sorted out for you.

Ticket price

Eminonu – 10 TL per person (one way)

Besiktas – 5 TL per person (one way)

Time taken

Eminonu – 100 minutes (stops at every island as mentioned above)

Besiktas – 55 minutes (stops at selected islands as mentioned above)

Istanbul kart

Buying an Istanbul Kart will definitely save you a lot of money when it comes to public transport in Istanbul. You can use it for commuting via metro, trams, buses and even ferries too. The ferry tickets will cost you much less with the Istanbul Kart than the normal sea bus ticket prices.

Eminonu – 7.80 TL per person (one way)

Besiktas – 3.85 TL per person (one way)

Just buy one Istanbul Kart and load it with around 30 TL if you are travelling solo to Istanbul. You can use the same card for other people travelling along with you and load more money in the card for the same. There is no need to buy different cards for each individual, try to cut down your cost that way by just buying one card and reloading the amount whenever required.

You can buy Istanbul Kart at major transit stops such as the airport, Sultanahmet, and Eminönü. You need to pay a non-refundable 10 TL fee for the card.

Ferry canteen

I travelled to Buyukada via the sea bus that departs from the Eminonu ferry dock which takes a longer time to reach the Buyukada Island. Certainly, I was hungry and wasn’t carrying anything along with me but luckily there is a small canteen inside the sea bus where you can buy snacks and juices from. Don’t forget to buy some bread to feed the seagulls.

Seagulls

Whether it is Istanbul or Buyukada Island, seagulls are a common feature at both places. It is just so incredible to watch them from the sea bus windows soaring high into the blue sky and dive their beaks into the ocean to catch fish.

Bread feeding

Watching seagulls in Istanbul and Buyukada is truly mesmerizing. I was so in love with these seagulls that I just couldn’t help getting down the sea bus on the outside and watch them fly high. The good part is you can even feed them. Isn’t that great? You can buy some bread from the canteen upstairs and break them into small pieces to feed the seagulls. Just take some on your palm and reach out for the seagulls to spot them. They will automatically come and have it from your hand.

Sitting outside vs. sitting inside

I wanted to experience both sitting outside in the open seating area as well as sitting inside the indoor seating arrangement of the sea bus. While you are sitting outside you can easily feed the seagulls and enjoy the cool breeze. However, I do not recommend sitting outside while you are going to Buyukada Island because your hair is sure to get messed up before you reach the island. I would suggest sitting inside and enjoying the views from the windows and not getting your hair all tangled before you reach the beautiful island only to get horrible pictures. You can sit outside once you are done with your photo sessions at Buyukada while returning to Istanbul.

Beautiful views

The reason why I took the longer route was that I really loved the views during the entire journey. I didn’t mind spending 100 minutes to reach the Buyukada Island because the entire journey is just so picturesque. You get a holistic view of the European and the Asian side of the transcontinental city of Istanbul. The stark differences between the two sides of Istanbul are so evident that you just cannot miss out on any of it.

Night journey vs. day journey

The best time to visit the Island is to start your trip around 8 in the morning and return around post-dinner. This way you can experience the entire of Buyukada Island during the day as well as night. This way you will also get the best day and night views of the city of Istanbul from the sea.

Overall experience

It was my first experience at a sea bus and it was a pretty good one. I had never seen such a huge sea bus before carrying about 300 to 400 people at one time. The entire journey is eye-pleasing and soothing. Having said that it is worth trying the ferry ride unless you have seasickness as it is highly affordable and very easy for any traveller to use. Plus there are always people to assist you with the tickets all around the Eminonu area. But I highly recommend buying an Istanbul Kart and loading it with around 30 TL to have a hassle-free ride while you are in the city for a couple of days.

The ferry schedule is quite a flexible one too, commencing from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and are available at an interval of almost an hour each. So make sure you get on the ferry docks at least 45 minutes prior to the departure to avoid long queues and get your desirable place to sit.



10 Reasons to Visit the Buyukada Island

The island boasts a number of cute boutiques, ice cream parlours, some really great cafes and breathtaking views. But often travellers seemed to be wondering if at all they should devote time to visit Buyukada Island during a short trip to Istanbul.

So, here is list to top 10 reasons why you should be visiting the Buyukada Island on your trip to Turkey:

1.    Bohemian paradise
2.    No cars allowed
3.    Perfect for beach lovers
4.    Short getaway
5.    Insta worthy place
6.    Close to nature
7.    Must try ice creams
8.    Serenity
9.    Great place for photoshoots
10.  Beautiful views
bukuyada shopping

Buyukada is a Bohemian paradise for shopaholics. There is a range of things to buy- headbands, jewellery, dream catchers, etc.

Bohemian paradise

Buyukada Island is a heaven on Earth for all shopaholics. The island has a number of shops and various cute boutiques selling all variety of items to visitors. Each shop is selling something unique and hence I recommend exploring as many as you can while your trip to Buyukada Island.

Most of the shops at Buyukada Island sell bohemian stuff. You will find everything ranging from dreamcatchers, sarongs with tassels, cushion covers with embroidery, bohemian neckpieces and finger rings, fringed skirts, kaftans with pompoms and what not. Buyukada Island is like a mini version of Bali’s Ubud flea markets. Now you don’t have to book flight tickets to Indonesia to do some bohemian style shopping. You can easily do it at Turkey itself.

No cars allowed

The fact that makes Buyukada Island stand out is that no vehicles are allowed here. This is one of the main reasons why people like coming to Buyukada Island from the busy and noisy streets of Istanbul city. You can either rent your own bicycles or choose to explore the island on horse-driven carriages. Bike rental cost at Buyukada Island is around 10 TL for an hour. Horse carriage cost at Buyukada Island is somewhere between 100 TL.

Perfect for beach lovers

Buyukada Island has many beaches but the cleanest one is the Halik Koyu Beach. It also is the longest beach on Buyukada Island. Beaches at Buyukada Island are well equipped with showers, cushions, sun loungers and umbrellas. The good part is that it is not very crowded unlike other beaches so you can have a good time with your friends and family here.

Short getaway

Peaceful and calm are the two words that are synonymous to Buyukada Island, no wonder why it is one of the favourite escapes for people living in Istanbul. Summer season is the time when you will witness a huge crowd here. The island treasures many beaches, eateries, resorts, shops and some really picturesque locations. Not only is the Buyukada Island beautiful but also is just so relaxing for a short getaway from the commotion of the city.

Beautiful streets of buyukada island

Bukuyada is a great place to click and get clicked. Instagrammers will love this place. These are the beautiful streets of the island.

Insta worthy place

If you are a social media addict like me, Buyukada Island is surely your kind of place. This place is surely an Insta worthy one. The quaint cafes and ancient ottoman style mansions on the streets are really worth getting clicked at and to be clicked. Another great place to look out for ottoman houses is the old Turkish city of Eskisehir

Close to nature

Buyukada Island is a perfect place for nature lovers. You will find a number of stray dogs and cats roaming all around you while you explore the island. Beware of the fat seagulls you encounter on your way, they have become really huge and fat because of the amount of doting and food they get from travellers. Surrounded by greenery and the Sea of Marmara, Buyukada Island is a nature’s paradise.

Must try ice creams

Ice creams at Buyukada Island are a really great experience too. As soon as you disembark you will spot people eating ice creams in chocolate and sprinkle coated cones with around 3 scoops at least. These aren’t the typical Turkish ice creams which are really gummy, they are more like sorbets. While you are here at the Buyukada Island, do not miss out on these jumbo ice creams.

Serenity

Buyukada Island is a vacation spot for many because it makes you come closer to nature, away from the chaotic lives of cities and busy streets of Istanbul city. More importantly, it is one place I believe that can really calm you down and give you great positive vibes. Serenity is one of the main characteristics of Buyukada Island. I believe that it is one of the best places to introspect about things in one’s life.

Buyukada Island

Buyukada island is surely a great place to introspect. You can spend some quality here time away from the hustle busy of cities.

Great place for photoshoots

I just love getting clicked at all picturesque locations and Buyukada Island was exactly the kind of place I was looking for. It has plenty of spots to get clicked at. All locations, be it cafes, shops, beaches, ottoman houses, streets or churches of Buyukada Island; they all are really very beautiful.

If you are looking for some great honeymoon or babymoon photo shoot destinations, Buyukada Island is a really affordable and great place to consider for the same.

Beautiful views

Buyukada Island has really spectacular views. Sunsets are just so gorgeous to watch on this island. While the others are busy swimming, shopping and eating at cafes in Buyukada Island, you can easily head to exploring beautiful destinations on your rented bicycles. I am sure you wouldn’t have ever seen sunsets and views as beautiful as those at Buyukada Island. No wonder why it is on the list of top five places to experience the best sunsets in Istanbul.

Buyukada Islands Blog Infographic

Here are the top 10 reasons to visit and things to do in Buyukada Islands. Pin it to your Board on Pinterest for later reference.

Top 10 Things to do in Buyukada Island

Buyukada Island is surely worth a visit while you are in Istanbul. You can take a ferry to this island where no cars are allowed and get to enjoy the best of it even during a short stay.

While you are here, consider the following top 10 things to do in Buyukada Island as mentioned in the list below:

1.    Rent a bike and explore the Buyukada Island
2.    Eating breakfast at the Island
3.    Jumbo ice creams are a must
4.    Go swimming on the beaches
5.    Visit the Aya Yorgi Church on the top
6.    Sunset at Aya Yorgi Hilltop
7.    Go shopping
8.    Hunt for the Ottoman houses
9.    Spend some time at the pier
10.  Don’t forget to click pictures



Rent a bike and explore the Buyukada Island

The very first thing you got to do once you arrive at this island is to rent a bicycle. This will surely make exploring the island easier and a lot more fun. There are plenty of rental places to rent your bikes from Buyukada Island.

Bike rental cost at Buyukada Island is just 10 TL for an entire day. All these bicycles are in good condition and some of them are really beautifully decorated with artificial flowers. I would suggest renting a bike that comes along with a basket so that you can keep your belongings in it and ride freely. You can rent your bikes from any shop as most of them have similar prices and the bike rental cost in Buyukada Island is highly affordable and very much in any traveller’s budget.

Eating breakfast at the Buyukada Island

Having breakfast here is another experience you shouldn’t lose out on. Turkish breakfast also called as “Kahvalti” is a vast one consisting of cheese, butter, eggs, tomatoes, olives, sausage, bread, borek, simit and a cup of tea or coffee. It is by far one of the most important meals of the day for Turkish people.

There are so many cute cafes and restaurants on Buyukada Island that I couldn’t decide which one is better. So any café you wish to head to whenever you feel hungry would serve as a great place for delicious food at the Buyukada Island.

buyukada cafes

While you’re at Buyukada Island don’t forget to have a Turkish breakfast here. There are a lot of cute cafes all around the island.

Jumbo ice creams are a must

Shops at Buyukada Island sell a minimum of 3 scoops of ice cream in massive chocolate and sprinkle coated waffle cones. These ice creams are very different from the Turkish ice creams you get in Istanbul city. They are more like a sorbet than gummy Turkish ice creams.

You will spot shops selling these almost everywhere on the island. These jumbo ice creams are a must-try while you are at Buyukada Island. I suggest buying it the moment you get down from the ferry so that you can finish it while walking till the bike rental shops. Once you get on your bikes it will be difficult to have ice cream. You can buy it from the shop named “FREDDO ADOR”. This shop is straight from the ferry dock and you get 3 scoops for just 5 TL here plus they have a good variety of flavours compared to other shops at the Buyukada Island.

jumbo ice creams buyukada island

These jumbo ice creams at Buyukada island are surely worth buying. I think the part I enjoyed the most about Buyukada were these. 

Go swimming on the beaches

The water at Buyukada Island is really super clean and blue. Halik Koyu Beach is one of the cleanest beaches on the island. Nakibey Plaj is also one of the most famous beaches at Buyukada Island; they charge you around 50 TL and provide you will all the amenities like umbrellas, showers and sun loungers. You also don’t need to worry about the Turkey dress code here and make sure you carry your swimwear. You can have a great time with your family and friends on the beaches in Buyukada.

Visit the Aya Yorgi Church on the top

Hike up to the Aya Yorgi Church on top of the hill on your bike. The church has magnificent interiors and is a really beautiful one. The church is located on the Aya Yorgi Hill which is around 3 kilometres from the pier. The bikes are not allowed after a certain point so you will have to hike up the hill to visit the church for about 30-40 minutes. Trust me the view from the top is worth the hike.

Sunset at Aya Yorgi Hilltop

If you head to the Aya Yorgi Church do not miss the sunset from this point. This is one of the most beautiful destinations and the best spot at Buyukada Island to catch a sunset. Many travellers head up to the hill but give up while they are halfway through the hike and lose out on the spectacular views and the stunning interiors of the Aya Yorgi Church. So if you plan to head up till there, know that you can easily get ample of time to yourself as you won’t be seeing many visitors around.

Go shopping

I am a big-time shopaholic. I spent plenty of time shopping in Istanbul, but shopping at Buyukada Island is a different experience altogether. This is because you won’t find the things you get here anywhere in Istanbul or even in entire Turkey.

Buyukada Island is a great place for those like me who love bohemian home décor, accessories, showpieces, outfits, crochet work and dreamcatchers. Do head to all the small boutiques and shops at Buyukada Island, I am sure you will definitely find something nice even if you were not looking for something to buy.

shopping buyukada island

Do buy magnets from Buyukada island. They have a really cute variety of magnets here which you won’t find anywhere in Turkey

Hunt for the Ottoman houses

The mansions at Buyukada Island will give you a glimpse of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. You will find such mansions at each and every street in Buyukada Island. Some of these beautiful houses are even made out of wood and you can easily navigate them while you’re on your bike going mansion hunting.

Spend some time at the pier

As I had mentioned earlier, Buyukada Island is a great place for introspection. I suggest spending some time in the tranquillity of this island at its pier. The view from here is enchanting. You can see the entire of Istanbul city from here along with beautiful waters of the Marmara Sea glittering under the sunlight.

This place is perfect for deep conversations and somehow heals you from within. I cleared so many doubts that were in my mind and felt so light after spending hardly 30 minutes at this place. It certainly is a wonderful experience to pause for a while and rest all your thoughts at the pier.

Don’t forget to click pictures

Buyukada Island is one place that you should not forget to get clicked at. The island hosts a number of picturesque locations that are just so Insta worthy. Of all the pictures I got, I think the best ones have been not from even the Istanbul city but the Buyukada Island. This place is a heaven on Earth if you love getting clicked or even if you love capturing the best shots on your camera. Buyukada Island has a perfect blend of nature, modernism, traditional ottoman mansions, blue waters complemented with spectacular sunsets and beautiful views and that is what makes it a perfect spot for photoshoots.

horse carts in bukuyada

Please do not take these horse carriages for Buyukada tour. These horses are kept in poor conditions and die within two years as per the reports. Please do not be a part of any animal cruelty of this sort. Rent a bike instead to explore the island.

What not to do at Buyukada islands?

While it is totally up to you to choose the things that you wish to do in Buyukada Island, there is one thing I would certainly not recommend to do. You will see many horse carriages taking visitors for Buyukada tour. But please do not ride on these horse carriages while you are at Buyukada Island.

All the horses are kept in really poor conditions which you can easily spot looking at how malnourished they are. Some of the horses have wound on their knees and can’t even walk properly and die within two years due to being worked up excessively. Not only is it really upsetting to see their situation but also one should not be supporting animal cruelty and abuse by choosing to ride over these horse-driven buggies for Buyukada tour.

Almost around 300-400 horses die each year at the island due to the poor conditions they are kept in. During peaks seasons these horses are worked more than they should be and hence they tend to die even sooner than two years as per the reports.

Bike rental costs in Buyukada Island are very much budget-friendly and hence I would suggest you explore the island on your bike by yourself rather than going for the Buyukada tour on horse-driven carriages.

It is way better to rent a bike, in this manner you will not only enjoy exploring the island yourself but you will also come across some really cool locations while you are roaming around town going for typical Buyukada tour.

I urge all the visitors to be responsible travellers and not support such rides! 



Frequently Asked Questions about Buyukada Island

I have tried to cover all the essential details of travelling to Bukuyada Islands above. However, there are still some frequently asked questions that need to be addressed. Here are a few:

When is the best time to visit Buyukada Island?

Buyukada Island gets really crowded during the summer season when everyone heads to spend their vacation at Buyukada Island. Hence the best time to visit Buyukada Island and avoid the crowd is between April-May just before the summer seasons starts and between September-October before the winter sets in so that you get to spend some time in tranquillity.

How long to spend at Buyukada Island?

Buyukada Island is a really beautiful place to chill out at however it isn’t that huge to explore or cover. A day at Buyukada would be enough. If you are short on time and still want to have a glimpse of this stunning island, you can consider taking a half-day trip to the same. If you wish to spend some more time at Buyukada Island, you can spend a night or two at the resorts and hotels here.

Is it worth to plan a day at Buyukada Island during a short trip to Istanbul?

Definitely a big YES! It is truly worth the money and time invested to visit Buyukada Island. In case you have a really short trip to Istanbul, consider taking out at least half a day from the same to visit Buyukada Island. You must visit the Buyukada Island while you are in Istanbul. It is surely an experience you would cherish for a long time.

Is it safe to go to Buyukada Island?

A lot of travellers seem to be worried about their safety in Turkey. Buyukada Island is extremely safe for travellers. Most importantly I can say that it is pollution-free to an extent because no cars are allowed on this island. While you are at Buyukada Island your experience will totally hassle-free. You do not have to worry about your safety while you are Buyukada Island at all.

How much does the horse carriages cost at Buyukada Island?

The horse carriages that conduct the Buyukada tour cost somewhere between 80-120 TL. However, it is not recommended to go for Buyukada tour on these buggies as they keep these horses under pitiful conditions and work them up to death. Please do not support such animal torture by booking for Buyukada tour on these horse carriages. Rent a bike instead.

What is the bike rental cost in Buyukada Island?

The bike rental cost on Buyukada Island is very affordable. You can get bikes at Buyukada Island for 10 TL for the entire day. Mostly all bike rental shops have the same prices all over Buyukada Island. Whether you rent the bike for an hour or an entire day, the bike rental cost in Buyukada Island remains the same- 10 TL only. Do take the ones with baskets attached to it so that you can stuff in your belongings and bags after shopping in the basket and ride freely.

What to pack for Buyukada Island?

This list of the items to pack for a one day trip to Buyukada Island is for the summer season as nobody really visits the island during winters unless they don’t mind the harsh, cold and gloomy weather. So, if you are planning to visit the Buyukada Island, make sure you include these items in your packing list for Turkey –  a swimsuit, a hat or a cap, a backpack, sunscreen, sunglasses, flip-flops, sports shoes (for hiking), a comfortable dress or jumpsuit (women) or shorts and a t-shirt (men), a camera (for good pictures). 

What to shop at Buyukada Island?

Souvenir shopping in Turkey was one of the best parts of my Turkey visit. However, shopping at Buyukada Island is a different experience altogether. While you are here do not come up ready with things to buy in your mind. I really enjoyed shopping here because I didn’t plan to buy things and randomly picked up some stuff from here and there. The best part about Buyukada Island is every shop would be selling something unique. So there is no shop that I would suggest going to and not consider going to.

Explore and go to any random shop or boutique that interests you. If you want to shop for anything bohemian, this place will surely be your favourite one. Although answering what to shop in Buyukada Island would be bizarre because it totally depends on what you like and wishes to buy for the given price. But just to get an idea I will tell you what all me and my friends bought from here- dreamcatchers, headbands, neckpieces, rings, crochet tops, scarves, bracelets, magnets, keychains, neckties and Turkish eye.

Don’t forget to buy magnets at Buyukada Island as they are different than those you get in Istanbul and you will not find any like those here back in Istanbul.

The view of the sea bus from inside

Sea buses from the docks in Istanbul will take you to any of the four islands of Princes Islands. This is how it looks on the inside.

What are the other islands that can be visited apart from Buyukada Island?

Prince Islands are a group of 9 islands out of which only 4 are open to the public. Buyukada Island is the largest and the most famous one hence attracts most of the tourists every year.

Apart from Buyukada Island, you can consider visiting the other three islands open to the public which are – Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kinaliada. You can reach them by either of the ferries departing from Kabatas or Eminonu ferry docks. Make a stop at the island of your choice first, then from there get into another ferry to the next island. If that seems like too much work, consider booking a  Princes’ Island day trip from Istanbul.

Should I visit other islands apart from Buyukada Island?

If you have a lot of time and you wish to explore the other islands too then surely you should. If you are short on time then consider visiting Buyukada Island only because there is as such nothing you would lose out on not seeing the other three islands. But if you see the other three islands and not visit the Buyukada Island, it will certainly be a shame to lose out on it.

What to eat on Buyukada Island?

There are some really cute cafes and restaurants all around the Buyukada Island. Do not miss to grab the Turkish breakfast over here. You must try the Turkish tea, coffee and sunflower seeds too.

Also, do not forget to have ice creams over here. You get 3 massive scoops in jumbo waffle cones just for 5 TL.

What to do in Buyukada Island on a full day?

If you are wondering how to plan a day at Buyukada Island, we have a complete itinerary for the same. Consider doing the following things in the respective order.

  1. Get down on the ferry dock.
  2. Grab an ice cream and walk up to rent the bikes.
  3. Rent a bike and start exploring.
  4. Have a delightful Turkish breakfast along with Turkish tea or coffee.
  5. Go shopping at Buyukada Island.
  6. Head to check out the beautiful mansions on the streets.
  7. Go swimming at the beaches.
  8. Have lunch at a restaurant.
  9. Sit at the pier and introspect.
  10. Park your bikes and hike up the Aya Yorgi Hill to catch a spectacular sunset.
  11. Visit the Aya Yorgi Church and see its beautiful interiors.
  12. Head back to return your bikes.
  13. Have dinner at a restaurant Buyukada Island.
  14. Get an ice cream and head back to Istanbul on a ferry from Buyukada Island.

Feel free to ignore any of the above-mentioned things if you do not wish to do them. You can curate your own itinerary on how to spend a day at Buyukada Island like the one mentioned above.

Turkish coffee

Apart from the ice cream and breakfast, do try some authentic Turkish coffee at Buyukada island. It is simply wonderful.

What do to on a half-day trip at Buyukada Island?

If you are wondering how to plan a half-day trip to Buyukada Island, we have a complete itinerary for the same. Consider doing the following things in the respective order. Do not forget to start your day as early as possible.

  1. Get down on the ferry dock.
  2. Grab an ice cream and walk up to rent the bikes.
  3. Rent a bike and start exploring.
  4. Have a delightful Turkish breakfast along with Turkish tea or coffee.
  5. Go shopping at the Island.
  6. Head to check out the beautiful mansions on the streets.
  7. Have lunch at a restaurant.
  8. Sit at the pier and introspect.
  9. Head back to return your bikes.
  10. Get an ice cream and head back to Istanbul on a ferry from Buyukada Island.

Feel free to ignore any of the above-mentioned things if you do not wish to do them. You can curate your own itinerary on how to spend a day at the island like the one mentioned above.

What are the best beaches on Buyukada Island?

Buyukada Island has many beaches but the cleanest one is the Halik Koyu Beach which also happens to be the longest beach on the Island. All the beaches at the Island are safe to swim and are clean too. Beaches at Buyukada are well equipped with showers, cushions, sun loungers and umbrellas; you are charged about 50 liras for the same. You can consider visiting the following beaches on the island.

  • Halik Bay
  • Yada Beach Club
  • Aya Nikola Beach
  • Prenses Koyu Beach
  • Eskibag Beach
  • Naki Bay Beach
  • Yoruk Ali Beach

If you do not wish to swim you can park your bike and sit at the pier and enjoy the beautiful view from here and the tranquillity of this place.

Buyukada Islands are a must-visit if you are travelling to Istanbul. Although all the islands on Princes’ Island are beautiful, if you are running short of time, make sure you visit at least Buyukada. It is going to be a visit to cherish.

Happy Wayfaring 🙂

About the Author

buyukada Island

Nimisha Modi hails from the beautiful pink city of Jaipur in west India. Nimisha is a traveller at heart and firmly believes that travel is an investment in itself. Keeping this thought in mind, she has been saving since childhood to fulfil her wanderlust bucket list and will surely keep doing the same for the rest of her life. Each place she has travelled to has changed her as a person and has become a part of Nimisha somehow. She loves the feeling of being anonymous in a city and enjoys travelling solo. Nimisha’s ultimate goal is to run out of pages in her passport and travel far enough to discover her ‘self’ even more. You can reach out to her on Instagram

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