By renting a boat in Istanbul on the Bosphorus, you can also organize a fantastic little escape to the Princes’ Islands in search of charm and tranquility, away from the chaos of the big city. On such tours you will be able to visit some of the islands including Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kinaliada, Sivriada, Yassiada, Sedef Adasi, Tavsan Adasi and Kasik Adasi.
Sailing from the center of Istanbul to the shores of the Princes’ Islands is an incredible opportunity to experience the natural beauty and historical surroundings together with your family and loved ones. You can either rent a boat per hour or even for one full day and enjoy a pleasant tour of the charming Islands of Istanbul.
In this article, we will equip you with the necessary knowledge of the area before you take your tour of the Princes’ Islands.
Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kinaliada and Sedef Adasi are the first group of islands that are open for tourism and residence. The use of motor vehicles except limited official service cars is prohibited on all of these islands. When the islands were used as areas of residence during the Roman Empire they became an exile destination for the Byzantium princes – hence the name Princes’ Islands. The Islands have thus faced many exiles and periods of torture for over 700 years and were also frequently plundered by pirates. After the islands were purged and abandoned during the Ottoman period with The Tanzimat Reform Era, they were later revived and have now become part of the city as a residential area.
“Prinkipo” is the former name of Buyukada, which means “prince” in the Romanic language. It is the largest and most populated of the Princes’ Islands.
This island has a larger population in the summer season, and hosts a high number of both local and foreign tourists, especially on the weekends. You can often see boats that are rented per hour or boats anchored for longer-term holiday purposes on the shores of the Island.
Although Buyukada has unfortunately lost some of its natural and historical characteristics due to some of its previous settlements, it is still today considered one of the most outstanding parts of Istanbul; notably during the summer where you can visit the old Rum houses from the last century. These are delightful wooden mansions with towers and lavish balconies, as well as Neo-Baroque-style buildings and historic piers.
The Hagia Irini Monastery is one of the places that is most recommended to visit on the island. The Women’s Monastery (Hagia Irini) has been built on the Mine Quarter, but it sadly has been partially destroyed over time, and now just a very little part of it remains to be seen.
Heybeliada is the second biggest island of Istanbul. Previously it was called Halki, which means copper due to the copper mine that was on the island. Over time, the name changed to Heybeliada, as its silhouette resembles a saddlebag which means “Heybe” in Turkish. It is not just famous for its nature, sea and fresh air but also for its historical institutions such as the maritime, sanatorium and school of clergy (priest).
Heybeliada has four hills called Degirmen Hill, Koy Hill, Heybeli Hill and Umit Hill. It is one of the best destinations to sail by renting a boat and also a remarkable spot to enjoy the moonlight.
The island of Burgazada, which is famous for its historic church and charming mansions, is one of the favorite destinations for local and foreign tourists, especially during the summer. The first place to visit on the island is the church which embodies the dungeon where St. Mehodios was imprisoned. There is also the mansion where one of the most famous Turkish writers Sait Faik and his mother used to live.
Next to the museum, there is Hagia Yani Church which was built in the 9th century. It was constructed above a dungeon in which an exiled reverend was kept. There is also a holy spring in the courtyard of the church that is a must-see.
We suggest you also include the shores of this island to your list of places of interest, you can easily sail to this beautiful location by renting a boat from Istanbul.
Kinaliada is an amazing destination to sail with a rented boat from Istanbul. The island gets its name from back before it was settled when it was covered with red scrubs and resembled henna from a distance. The climate of this island is more severe than the others and the geography is a lot less green and more rocky.
The first inhabitants of the island were from an Armenian settlement during the Ottoman period, and since then the island has hosted both Greeks and Turks after the island ferry service was started in 1846. The only Armenian church on the island is Surp Krikor Lusavoric. A Greek Orthodox Christian Monastery is also settled on the Monastery Hill. The island is fairly small, and you can walk from one side to the other in just 20 minutes whilst enjoying the scenic landscape. You also have the option of renting a bike from the bike shops across the pier to discover the island.
Kinaliada hosts some of the longest beaches in comparison to the other islands. The Armenian Sirakyan Twin Houses, Hristos Monastery, Tasciyan Mansion and Panayla Greek Orthodox Church are also places of interest on the island.
Of all the Princes’ islands previously mentioned, Sedef island is the farthest from Istanbul. It gets its name from its flora which resembles a pearl from a distance. It’s also known as Rabbit Island as there used to be a large rabbit colony living on the island. Sedef Island is known as the most important exile destination during the Byzantium period and for this reason, it is possible to encounter many historical landmarks.
This magnificent island is cool even during the summer. It is always good to have several layers to wear with you, even if the weather is warm. There are 110 private houses on the island but there is no accommodation available for staying overnight.
Sedef Island is one of the favorite destinations for rental boats as the sea is very clean. Since a large part of the island is private property, it is not allowed for visitors to wander freely, however, there is a restaurant and a private beach to cater to tourists.
Since the hours for the ferryboat to this island are infrequent, you can rent a private boat to visit easily and have a layover at the restaurant and private beach.
These Istanbul islands are a destination that must be seen by those who love to travel by boat. You can plan a fantastic trip on an hourly rental boat whilst enjoying the gentle breeze of the Istanbul shore.
Head to viravira.co to organize an hourly or daily boat trip to Princes’ Islands and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Istanbul!