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Wajiha Zubair
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Visited Istanbul in December 2017 for a day

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Asia > Turkey > Istanbul
Submitted on Nov 08, 2018 Trip Brief

Princess Island

Did you know Istanbul’s Asian side is something more than your fairytale dream? Well, I didn’t, until I explored it on my bare feet and horse carts, Yes, HORSE CARTS.

Before I went to Istanbul, I had a couple of friends visited there and mesmerized of the charm and lust of the city because of some amazing attractions residing there in-Particularly Princess Islands. Well, it was my 18th birthday when I booked my ticket to the beautiful Istanbul and decided to travel all alone.

Time to celebrate-I AM EIGHTEEN AND LEGAL.

I was 18 and badly looking for some peace-THE REASON I DECIDED TO TRAVEL TO ISTANBUL. I was always inspired of the calmness and piousness of the conventional Istanbul. As soon as I landed there, my first destination was Princess Islands. Well, before I visited them, I use to think them of as a city-Busy and hustling with horns, nightlife, and concrete jungles but the moment I visited there, it was something beyond reality!

Princess islands

Horse hoofs, horse-drawn carriages, flower baskets, bicycle bells, Victorian wooden cottages and narrow streets edged with pine forests best describes the cluster of 9 islands on the Sea of Marmara. Princess islands are actually 9 islands in total however, only four of them are open to public. Visiting these four was the most beautiful and memorable experience of my life. It was something I have ever dreamed of admiring the Stone Age days in Disney Fairytales.

I was overwhelmed with the calmness of the place. From Relaxing on the cruise with cold breeze hitting your face while getting there to Riding on horse carriages, plucking flowers, and cycling on the narrow streets wearing my sunflower dresses and hats!

How to get there?

Many people are confused about how to get to the princess islands. Well, honestly I was confused too!

To get to the princess islands, one need to catch a ferry as there are no other means of transportation. The best spot to catch a ferry is Kadikoy. A number of ferries run there throughout the day and take people from one spot to another. There are two options for the ferries, there are public ferries that are slower and cheaper taking about 2 hours to take one to any of the chosen island and then, there are sea buses-the fast ferries run by ODI that are relatively expensive but faster taking about 45 minutes to maneuver to the islands. I choose to travel via a public ferry as I was travelling all on my own expense, so I was saving pennies every moment and the lust of sea breeze was another reason for choosing the public one!

Islands I visited

I decided to visit two islands, The Heybeliada Island and The Island.

Things to do in Heybedliada

Heybeliada is the first and the smallest island which is not on most people’s ittelinary. However, it was my first priority as I wanted to admire the sound of nothing except…Silence. The island is calm with small restaurants and cafes lined with the waterfront and an information office from where I immediately picked the map and begin to explore.

Book a bicycle

  • Ride on the horse carriage
  • Explore the impressive building of navy academy built in 1700’s
  • Hike up the hill to see the Greek orthodox school
  • Paddle the little coves
  • Walk through the villas dotted to admire the old French valley architecture.

My next spot was Buyukada Island, which is the busiest and the essential on everyone’s ittelinary.

Things to do in Buyukada

  • Eat a Baklava as soon as you enter the terminal
  • Ride a horse
  • Ride a horse carriage
  • Explore the clock tower
  • Explore the handicraft market
  • Eat the famous Turkish ice-cream

There are few other tips that I consider sharing with you guys to avoid any unnecessary hassle

  • Avoid weekends
  • Arrive as early as possible as cruises are crowded in peak hours
  • Wear reasonable clothes as the islands are all about walking and cycling through its beauty and calmness
  • Try carrying cash instead of credit cards as smaller islands may reject them.