The largest of the nine Prince’s Islands in Turkey, Büyükada was once an islands used by the Ottoman Empire to send exiles. Now a days it is home to around 7,500 inhabitants and is a car-free island, with the exception of an ambulance, fire truck and police car. Most people get around in carriages or bicycles and there are many horses that roam the cobblestone streets freely.
To reach Büyükada from Istanbul takes around an hour and fifteen minute by ferry, which crosses the Sea of Marama while en-roue. A round trip ticket will cost around $15USD and the ferry leaves every hour. The ferry ride offers beautiful views of the surrounding regions and the ferry is often followed by dolphins and seagulls. There is an outdoor viewing deck best for taking in the fresh sea breeze and an indoor seating area for those that want a more comfortable journey.
Once in Büyükada, it will not take long to notice the silence that governs the small island. The best way to get around is by renting a bike, which will allow enough time to go around the whole island and admire the old villas, churches and streets that are all dominated by beautiful flower gardens. Make time to stop at Lover’s Hill, where many locals from Istanbul escape the city to experience the serenity of the island. There are also many swimming beaches scattered around the island, many of which offer beautiful backdrops of Istanbul in the distance.
On the journey back, time the return ferry ride to Istanbul accordingly to when dusk is scheduled to begin, so that the sunset can be enjoyed at Dilburno during the last few minutes in Büyükada. Then, take in the spectacle of lights on the ferry as the city of Istanbul begins to light up the night sky in the most enchanting way.
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