Buyukada (Big Island): One-Day Trip
Büyükada is one of the most beautiful and green places near Istanbul. The biggest among Princes’ Islands, it has parks, beaches, hotels, restaurants, walking trackways, bicycle rental and another activities for guests. Here you can enjoy the beauty of nature among green trees with great sea view.
Just take small backpack, choose the ferry which will bring you to Buyukada and watch the beauty of the sea while your trip from Istanbul to the Islands. On the ferry you can drink tea, coffee or fresh orange juice, or even try some tost.
So let’s find out some facts about Buyukada — what to see and visit here with IstanbulPoints.com
Büyükada: Istanbul’s big island
The Princes’ Islands are arguably the most beautiful places to visit on a trip to Istanbul. The islands are gorgeous and springtime truly brings out the best in them, although they are perfect all-year round.
If you are headed to Istanbul, regardless of the season, the Princes’ Islands are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Moreover, the islands offer you a spot that many tourists overlook during an excursion of the Turkish city.
Of the islands that make up the Princes’ Islands, the most popular and largest is Büyükada. Situated in the in the Sea of Marmara, Büyükada, which means “Big Island”, is just five square kilometers (two square miles).
The Big Island is popular thanks to its serenity and beauty. You will find idyllic cafes to while away your time, gorgeous views, and natural scenery to spend hours wandering around.
While you may not believe there is much to do on Büyükada due to it being only five square kilometers in size, there is plenty to see and experience. Perhaps the best part about Büyükada is it provides you an escape from Istanbul.
Places to See and Visit on Büyükada
If a derelict mansion once owned by exiled Marxist, Leon Trotsky, doesn’t excite you, that is okay. Büyükada has plenty of great places to see and things to do on a visit.
One of the most popular activities to do is rent a bicycle. The island is just five square kilometers, which means you can easily cycle from one end to the other. Cycling around Büyükada gives you the chance to see just about everything.
Another reason to rent a bicycle, other than to simply riding it around the entire island, is there are no cars allowed. The absence of cars provides complete peace and quiet to the island. There is also a lack of air pollution without combustible engines burning fuel. It will cost around 20-30 Turkish Lira to rent a bicycle.
If you are seeking out unique trinkets and treasures, then Büyükada is ideal for your shopping needs. Büyükada is full of quaint boutiques and shops selling items you won’t find anywhere else. Each shop is unique, and the Big Island isn’t one of those tourist traps that has 100 souvenir stands with each selling the same items. You will definitely need some time to explore the different shops.
You won’t want to miss Aya Yorgi Church. The church is located atop Aya Yorgi Hill, which offers breath-taking views of the island and surrounding seas below. Cycling to the top of the hill at the end of the day is worth it once you see the amazing sunset. Aya Yorgi Church was built in 1751 by St. George. On April 23rd and September 24th of each year, the church is filled with visitors all making a wish on those days.
The Adalar Museum is another great place to visit. There, you can learn a little more about the island’s history. “Princes Islands in 10 Minutes”, an exhibition created by Nikola Hangari delivers a quick lesson on Büyükada.
Interesting Facts about Buyukada
- To travel around the Island you can use electric bus (there are stops), bycile or your feet:)
- There are no cars on the islands — the aim is to save the beauty of nature and to avoid negative effects of car sound and exhaust gases
- Some time ago there were horse carts on the island but, thanks to animal protection law, now there are electric cars. Most of the horses were in poor condition and their owners didn’t care, and also, there was not any medical facility to help them. That’s why it was a big step to free all these animals.
- Don’t expect great service and luxury ambience from local beaches because it’s incomparable even with public beaches in Antalya. Marmara sea is not bad but also not as clean as Mediterranean.
- Try not to visit Buyukada on weekdays especially in summer, because everyone wants to go to the beach and to spend time in the shadow under the tree:)
How to Spend Time on Büyükada
The atmosphere around Büyükada is very Bohemian. Whether you are shopping or spending time in the local cafes, you will definitely feel the Bohemian vibe coming through.
In addition to spending time shopping, Büyükada provides visitors with some of Turkey’s most beautiful beaches. Locals spend plenty of time in the waters of the Sea of Marmara.
Nakibey Beach is the most popular beach on the island. It is located not far from Mimoza sokak bus stop. You will find sun loungers and umbrellas along the beach, making it ideal for a day out.
The mansions of the city are beautiful and take you on a trip back in time. You can explore the quaint streets of Büyükada while taking in the architecture of the island’s past.
Büyükada is one of the gems of Istanbul that many travelers may not be aware exists. It is easy for travelers to visit Istanbul and be unaware of this island paradise.
Büyükada is just a short ferry trip away and the automobile-free island is ideal for anyone wanting to escape Istanbul’s hustle and bustle. Whether you rent a bicycle or walk the island, you will find plenty of culture, architecture, and fun as you explore.
The History of Büyükada
The island of Büyükada has done a little bit of everything over the centuries. In the beginning, Büyükada was used as a place for Byzantine emperors to relocate their enemies. Büyükada provided a safe distance for the emperors to keep an eye on individuals they believed to be dangerous.
Along with housing prisoners, the island became home to some remarkable structures. Byzantine emperor Justin II built a monastery and royal palace on the Big Island in 569 CE. The monastery was the first of several religious buildings constructed on Büyükada. The religious buildings were built prior to Büyükada being used to house those individuals the emperors wanted to keep at arm’s length.
During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Büyükada became the “it” place to visit. The Big Island was suddenly a vacation destination for wealthy individuals living in and around Istanbul. In the summertime, wealthy Jewish, Armenian, and Greek citizens would head off to Büyükada to get away from the busyness of Istanbul.
While many of the wealthy individuals from the previously mentioned communities took holidays on the island, people from the Turkish parts of Istanbul went elsewhere. Most Turks spent their vacations at other areas along the Mediterranean Sea.
The island’s history can still be seen by visitors today. Many of the ornate buildings, villas, and manor homes are still standing. Büyükada also has leafy gardens and glorious trees that date back centuries.
Famous Marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, lived on Büyükada in 1929 after being exiled to the Turkish island. Trotsky lived on Büyükada for four years. While in exile, he wrote his autobiography and History of the Russian Revolution.
Tourists can still visit Trotsky’s mansion. The building is abandoned, but still looks amazing. In 2015, it was on the property market for $4.4 million. There have been no recent updates on whether the Marxist’s mansion was purchased.