Islands of Istanbul-Prince Islands

One of the great joys of spring and summertime in Istanbul is the chance for a daily get away or  weekend get away to one of the Princes’ Islands–just a short ferry ride away from the city.

In Istanbul, there are 9 islands called Büyükada; Heybeliada; Burgazada; Kınalıada; Sedefadası-all with great lifestyle; whereas Sivriada; Yassıada; Kaşık Adası have no living habitants….

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During Byzantium Empire, these islands have been used as exile places of people within main palace. Thus, today they are so called ‘Prince Islands.’

Prince Islands are located at 7 to 13, 5 sea mile distance. Sea transportation is provided with sea motor boats and sea buses.

 

How to get there?

1-Istanbul Public City Lines : Kabataş-Kadıköy-Prince Islands & Bostancı-Prince Islands

2- IDO-Istanbul Sea Buses: Kabataş-Prince Islands-Bostancı

3- Dentur Tours: Kabataş-Heybeliada-Büyükada

4- Prens Tour : Kartal-Heybeliada-Büyükada

5-Turyol: Eminönü& Karaköy & Kadıköy to Prince Islands lines

6-Mavi Marmara: Kabataş & Bostancı & Yeşilköy & Maltepe to Prince Islands Lines

Let’s make a tour to 3 main islands: Büyükada & Heybeliada & Burgazada

buyukada2BÜYÜKADA:This is the biggest island among all Prince Islands and main weekend get-away place for locals…

Yörük Ali Beach & Nizam Beach, Local Amusement Park, Viranbağ & Aşıklar Traditional Beach Bars and many beautiful garden and copses are worth to experience…Büyükada is the best location to get a ride on a horse drawn carriage!! For the route, you can choose from a big tour or a small tour options…

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For a sporty weekend, you can rent a bike and tour the whole island until you get to ‘Lunapark’ Square in which you can take a ride on fancy donkeys :)  One of the most beautiful historical buildings of this island is Aya Yorgi Church and Monastery…Giving an eye to Istanbul from Aya Yorgi Hill is a spectacular experience…Seafood restaurants, cafes and bars right along the seaside are great dining options…

heybeliadasanatoryumHEYBELİADA: The island of peace and silence…Looking the island from far away, the shape of the island looks like a saddlebag (heybe); thus, it is so called ‘Heybeliada.’

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Aya Yorgi Kilisesi1

 

 

 

 

 

Besides its natural beauties, the island offers spectacular historical buildings….Marine High School, Clergy School and Turkey’s first Sanatorium.

There are two main piers in the island, called Çam & Bahriye where you can enjoy swimming…In order to preserve the natural beauties in this island, here as well it is a car-free environment…Enjoy riding on horse carriages and bikes and walking !!!

BURGAZADA:

burgazadaAs the third largest island of Istanbul, Burgazada is known of its climate and historical wooden mansions…Pine trees in the island creates a peaceful atmosphere in the middle of Marmara Sea. The only hill in the island is called Bayrak Hill- great place to watch the sun set and get a rakı & fish dinner at island’s various charming waterfront restaurants … The island has few easily accessible beaches and picnic areas compare to other islands.

kalpazankaya restWe highly suggest you to see Kalpazankaya area which is 10 min by horse carriage, 45 minutes by walking from the ferry terminal to the right until it comes to an end…Then, you will hit to a hidden and an absolute romance place-Kalpazankaya Restaurant!! It offers a wide variety of grilled or fried fresh fish, and different types of kebabs, including the house specialty: lamb slow-roasted in a clay oven.  In this open air meyhane, you will start your dinner with a Turkish tradition of meze tray….

As you go through the inner parts of the island, you will find traditional street tastes to munch on….Before you leave from the island, it will be great to get one of those snacks: gözleme (Turkish flatbread), lokma (ball shaped sweets) and ice cream with gum mastic…

 

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Must-Do Things in Old City Istanbul/ Be a Local

Joy of being local in Old City Istanbul…Get spoiled at hamam, drink Turkish coffee or apple tea, shop for evil eye beads and Turkish coffee cup sets, munch on famous street food all day…

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1. Getting Naked at Hagia Sophia Hamam/ Hurrem Sultan Hamam

IMG_1925Great treat for you!!  Selection of different packages of massage, body scrub, bubble wash, peeling at hot water temperature varies between 380C-600C. Very good opportunity to spoil yourself with the reel sense of traditional Turkish bath…

This hamam was built in 1556 by Mimar Sinan on the name of Hurrem Sultan- beautiful wife of Suleiman the Magnificentand restored in 2008 as a private Hamam…For online reservation and further information on packages, please visit AYA SOFYA HAMAMI

 

2. Drinking Apple Tea or Turkish Coffee at Grand Bazaar/Spice Market

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APPLE TEA:  Once you get to Istanbul Spice Market, as a foreigner in Turkey you will be most likely offered apple tea…And, apple tea will be promoted as a Turkish national drink.  Ironically, most locals have never tried this tea :) yet, all the tourists find this ‘Turkish national drink’ very tasty and would definitely get a box of it! It is much smoothing than a strong brewed Turkish black tea…

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TURKİSH COFFEE: Coffee means in Turkish ‘kahve’ and breakfast means in Turkish ‘kahvaltı-before coffee! Drinking Turkish coffee is almost a ritual in Turkish culture. Fined filtered coffee is made in cezve’- a metal coffee pot and it is got to be really foamy! You will be asked the level of sugar-plain/mid sugar/sweet…Drink your coffee slowly and feel the moment :)  And if someone offers you to read your fortune from coffee cup, go for it and enjoy !

3. Shopping for Turkish Coffee Cup Sets & Evil Eye Beads-‘Nazarlık’ 

Major economic souvenir shopping is usually for Turkish coffee cup sets or evil eye beads.

IMG_1929There is a Turkish saying: ‘a memory of good a cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years!’…To make a good coffee, you need to buy coffee pot- cezve, finely grind Turkish coffee, and a set of Turkish coffee cups. Sets are sold usually 2-6 cups which are nearly the size of espresso cups, a bit narrow in the bottom.

Porcelain coffee cups are usually produced at Iznik or Kütahya region as it is done traditionally in the past. These porcelain cups can be covered with decorative golden, wooden, copper or silver wares.

IMG_1908Another good choice for a real Turkish souvenir is ‘evil eye beads,’ so called ‘Nazar Boncuk.’  You can find decoration pieces with evil eye patterns or jewels with evil eye beads in various colors besides its real color-blue!!

Traditionally in Turkish culture it is believed that ‘nazar boncuk– evil eye beads’ can prevent one from getting negative energy of others. This is only a superstition, has no religious reference.  Historically Anatolian craftsman have created blue glass ‘eyes’ and called them nazarlık.’ People who believe in protection power of these ‘evil eye beads,’ use this specially for their babies and kids

 4. Snacking on Local Street Food

IMG_1907You can start your day with a common Turkish street breakfast ‘simit’ (Turkish sesame bagel) and strongly brewed black tea…

Simit’s characteristics such as crunchiness, size, chewiness, and taste of molasses on the top may vary from region to region. For instance in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, simit sizes are smaller and crisper than other cities whereas in İzmir simit, which is known as ‘gevrek,’ is a bit bigger. In Istanbul, one can find all the variety of Turkish simit.

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While touring the historical peninsula, if you crave for sugar, you can munch on ‘kağıt helva’– a kind of thin disc of light, crispy, sweet wafer, with ice cream inside, or ‘osmanlı macunu’- a traditional Ottoman sweet paste, or ‘pamuk şeker’– sweet, pink, cotton like candy that kids never  resist !!

 

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For a nice touch on your stomach, you can end your day with a fresh fish sandwich on the stable boats on the sea side. You can recognize the boats from its fancy traditional look and the smell of fresh fish :)

 

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East Meets West- THE BOSPHORUS STRAIT

istanbul3Istanbul is a unique city that bridges two continents Asia and Europe through its gem- The Bosphorus Strait. Two bridges-Boğaziçi & Fatih Sultan Mehmet- connects Asia and Europe over the beautiful Bosphorus.

In both sides, the coast line of the Bosphorus is called ‘Boğaziçi,’ where you will find water side mansions- Yalı’, and glorious hotels, spectacular palaces, and historical buildings…Traditional and historical sense of these structures on the Bosphorus make Istanbul unique, extraordinary and outstanding…

BEBEK BAYTo get the juice of Bosphorus on the European side, you can start your day walking by the Bosphorus. As you get close the Rumeli Hisarı, you will find various options of breakfast places.Totally casual and traditional Turkish style breakfast!! From Rumeli Hisarı, walking towards Bebek, you can first hit to Bebek Park and enjoy sipping on a cup of Turkish coffee! If you are a bit hungry, you can munch on the best couple in the world- waffle&ice cream :)

Passing through Arnavutköy, you will hit to Ortaköywhich literally means a middle village! Great place to stop by to take a break, and shop on the street for some souvenirs. You can also get on a boat trip on the Bosphorus from Ortaköy.

If you have realized the big vessels or passenger cruises passing by on the strait, they stop over in Karaköy Port. Walking along the Karaköy Port, you should cross the Galata Bridge on foot!! People fishing on the bridge and eating fresh fish sandwiches on the boats at Eminönü are very local and common taste of historical peninsula’s water side…

Anatolian side of the Bosphorus is a bit more a chill out place compare to European side. On a nice summer day, you can take a ferry trip to Prince Islandsjewels of Asian side. Boats and ferries leave from Bostancı, Karaköy, and Kabataş piers for each of these islands. In the middle of the Bosphorus strait, you will see one of the symbols of the cityMaiden’s Tower!! kız kulesıDining on the top of the tower in the middle of the Bosphorus would be a romantic and unforgettable experience. If not, dining at any seafood restaurant that you like on any side of the Bosphorus is a unique Istanbul experience.

Kanlıca is one of the nicest spots to enjoy the Bosphorus from Asian side. Do not miss on “Kanlıca Yogurt” with sugar added on the top!! Beylerbeyi Palace is one of the must-see activities of this side.

VAPURYou can travel back and forth between Asian and European sides of Istanbul by public ferryboats- called “vapur.” Without “vapur” tour, your bosphorus experience cannot be completed…Just get a nice spot on “vapur” and enjoy “simit (Turkish sesame bagel) and çay (tea)”-the best buddies of Turkish culture!!

 

The Bosphorus blends the past and present and its unique texture promises you unforgettable memories….

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Top Notch Hip Hotels in Istanbul

Having passion to travel lures you into making passionate travel plans…’Where you should stay?’ becomes the most important question of these plans…

Among the various options, looking for unique, unusual, funky, outrageous, ‘Highly Individual Places’ to stay…check out our Top Notch Hip Hotels for Istanbul

A’ija HotelA'İJA HOTEL
A traditional Ottoman waterside mansion- ‘Yalı’ revolutionized to a distunguished boutique hotel on the Asian side of the Bosphorous. With is spectacular contemporary interior design and its a bit hidden location, A’ija Hotel is a great Istanbul Highly Individual Place…Your private boat will take you to European side of the Bosphorous only if you want to leave from its charming environment. Enjoy your stay in one of 16 fabolous A’ija rooms and the spectacular views.

The Sofa Hotel IstanbulTHE SOFA HOTEL
Located at Nisantasi, Istanbul’s art and fashion district, The Sofa offers a chic venue at the hearth of most popular shopping, entertainment and dining area. With its exclusive personal services, high tech room amenities, comfortable and peaceful interior design, The Sofa becomes the symbol of sophisticated city life…Also enjoy eating and dancing at chic fine dining place-Frankie Restaurant at the top of the Sofa.

W IstanbulW-ISTANBUL HOTEL
The W Istanbul Hotel is located at the center of the historic Akaretler Row Houses, an upscale neighborhood filled with restaurants, cafes, and design & art galleries. Its 136 rooms and suites jewels with the soul of history and contemporary luxury. Enjoy drinking your cocktails at The W Istanbul Hotel’s unusual funky W Lounge!!

The House Hotel Galatasaray The House Hotel Galatasaray

Located in Çukurcuma, Istanbul’s bohemian culture center, The House Hotel Galatasaray is the place to get the vibe of art deco life of Istanbul. Çukurcuma is famous for its small shops and art galleries in which you will find the most authentic and sophisticated traditional gifts for you. Historic 1890’s Zenovitch Apartment becomes the House Hotel in 2010 with its interior aesthetics. Enjoy your stay in one of 20 suites with high ceilings, freestanding showers and spacious comfort areas. You mingle the vibrant crowd of Beyoglu by jumping on a nostalgic tram, ferry, subway or just walking on Istiklal Street.

Opera Hotel OPERA HOTEL
Opera Hotel, located at the art and cultural center of Istanbul, has a unique historical peninsula and Boshporus view. For unforgettable Istanbul experience, enjoy Opera’s cool environment and feel yourself at the top of Istanbul.

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Must-Do Things in Old City Istanbul/Hidden Gems of Istanbul

Meeting with the four hidden gems of Istanbul is a must-do activity to get a OMG experience  of Old City Istanbul. Enjoy your museum pass and see other tips.

For all the museum tours, you can get a 3-day museum pass!
For full information, please visit Istanbul Museums

1. Topkapı PalaceTOPKAPI PALACEYou can get your tickets online or for full information please visit official page of

TOPKAPI PALACE

2. Hagia SophiaHAGIA SOPHIA
Another gem of Istanbul, please visit official page of HAGIA SOPHIA

3. Blue Mosque

Blue-Mosque-Free Entrance

Visiting Time: Blue Mosque located in Sultanahmet area of Istanbul, is called also as Sultanahmet Mosque. Respect to Muslim religion, prayers happen 5 times a day, starting at sun rise and ending at nightfall. During all prayers the mosque closes for 90 minute. To avoid visiting this mosque at prayer time, Best Time to visit is early in the morning 8.am-11.30.am or listens to voice of Ezan (chanted from minarets of mosques) and visit half an hour after Ezan.

Dress Code: Respect to Muslim religion, one has to be barefoot within the mosque.
You will be given plastic bags for free at the entrance of the mosque, and you need to take of your shoes and put it in the bag. For women only, the head needs to be covered in order not to show the hair only…You will be provided for hair covering fabrics for free prior to your entrance to the mosque.

4. The Basilica Cistern

BASILICA CISTERN
Located next to Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern (Sunken Palace/ Yerebatan Sarayı) was built to provide water for the city of Istanbul during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century CE. Medusa and Gorgon heads are must-see masterpieces of the First Age Art.

For more information on its history, please see the offical page of BASILICA CISTERN

Visiting TimeOpen every day between 9.00 am until 6.30 pm.

Entrance Fee: 10 Tl for foreigners. It is about 4€ or about 5$usd

BOUTIQUE HOTEL SUGGESTIONS AROUND OLD CITY AREA

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lock hotels.tvHotel Sultania- Boutique Class is located close to Cagaloglu Hamami, Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern. Additional points of interest include Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar.

With a stay at lock hotels.tvKalyon Hotel, you’ll be centrally located in Istanbul, minutes from Mosaic Museum and Blue Mosque.This 4-star hotel is close to Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome.

lock hotels.tvNiles Hotel Istanbul – Special Class is located close to Beyazit Square, Grand Bazaar, and Suleymaniye Mosque. Nearby points of interest also include Hippodrome and Cemberlitas Bath.

lock hotels.tvSura Design Hotel and Suites is located close to Le Arts Turcs, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Nearby points of interest also include Hippodrome and Blue Mosque.

With a stay at lock hotels.tvSenatus Hotel – Special Class in Istanbul (Sultanahmet), you’ll be minutes from Mosaic Museum and Hagia Sophia. This hotel is close to Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern.

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The place to find out the latest news and offers!

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