Culture & Travel31 July 2023
Güncelleme Tarihi: 9 August 2023
Büyükada, located right next to Istanbul, is like stepping into a whole new world with its unique climate, nature, and history. If you're familiar with this island, you'll know that its culture and climate differ significantly from the bustling city, offering a refreshing escape. The historical mansions nestled under pine trees, beautiful beaches, and scenic observation hills will instantly captivate your heart.
As the largest of the Prince Islands, Büyükada attracts many tourists, especially during the summer months. However, we recommend rethinking your visit during peak season, as you'll encounter large crowds and long ferry lines. To truly savor the island experience, we suggest planning your trip in the spring when the weather is delightful and the island is less crowded.
So, get ready for an unforgettable Büyükada adventure, just a short ferry ride away from Istanbul!
Places to Explore in Büyükada
Reşat Nuri Güntekin's House
Reşat Nuri Güntekin's house is one of the must-see places in Büyükada, holding a special place in the hearts of writers. The house, showcasing the author's personal belongings, is also captivating with its unique architecture.
Çankaya Street and Yirmiüç Nisan Street
You should absolutely visit these two streets to see the historical mansions, which are some of the most beautiful sights on the island. Fans of the series "Remember Dear" will recognize the Yalman Mansion on Çankaya Street. Additionally, you can spot the Fabiato Mansion, Mizzi Mansion, and the Izzet Pasha Mansion, which serves as the Cultural Center of the Islands.
On Yirmiüç Nisan Street, the first mansion worth seeing is the Anatolian Club. This place, where the island's dignitaries gathered, immediately catches the eye with its historical charm. You can also spot the elevator specially built for Atatürk here.
Another gem on the street is the nostalgic Splendid Palace, which was featured in Yeşilçam movies. Today, you can sit in the cafeteria of this building, which holds the status of a 1st-degree historical monument, and even stay overnight if you wish.
Saatli Meydan (Clock Tower Square)
This touristy square welcomes you right as you step off the ferry, and it's also the go-to meeting spot for the islanders. Erected in 1923, the clock has become one of Büyükada's iconic symbols over the years.
Yücetepe stands out as one of Büyükada's most beautiful viewpoints. From this hill, you'll have the entire island sprawled at your feet, making it a popular spot for photo enthusiasts. Of course, to enjoy this stunning view, you'll need to brave a long uphill climb.
Adalar Müzesi (Islands Museum)
If you want to delve into the history of the Princes' Islands, make sure to visit the Museum of the Princes' Islands. Exploring the island's past through historical photographs and intriguing collectibles is quite fascinating.
St. George's Church
The best time to visit St. George's Church, one of the most popular landmarks in Büyükada, is before sunset. The church, which you can reach at the end of a long and steep hill, is a massive structure that people of all faiths visit to make a wish. St. George's Church is considered one of the holy pilgrimage sites for Christians and sees a huge crowd, especially on April 23rd and September 24th.
St. George's Hill offers one of the most beautiful views of Istanbul. Sitting and relaxing at the Countryside Casino here is the best treat you can give yourself, especially during sunset.
It's impossible not to mention the unique structure known as the second largest wooden building in the world. While you can't visit the inside and can only view the exterior, we think it's a place you'll definitely want to see. Since 1964, the building has been unused and suffered a fire in the 80s, and it has been designated as one of the 7 endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe.
If you've come to the island to enjoy the sea, we have a few suggestions for you. First, there's Aya Nikola Beach. This beach, known for its calm waters, is quite popular as it's free of charge.
For those who prefer Beach Clubs, Yada Beach Club is a great option, reachable by motorbikes departing from the pier. If you visit on weekends, you might even catch one of their live performance parties.
Halik Bay is one of the cleanest beaches in Büyükada, with a long stretch of sandy shoreline, camping, and picnic areas. You can get there by motorbike from the center. Lastly, let's talk about Naki Bey Beach. Since it's a family-friendly beach with shallow, sandy waters, it's particularly ideal for families with children and not so much for groups of friends.
What to do on Büyükada?
- Happiness has a lot to do with an island breakfast. That's why you can't leave Büyükada without enjoying a brunch, and there are even folks who come just for that.
- If you're up for a swim in the sea, you can opt for boat tours instead of hitting the beach.
- For those craving a more active seaside vacation, sailing courses come to the rescue.
- The best way to explore the island is definitely by renting a bicycle. Many places have long and challenging walking routes. Of course, for spots like Aya Yorgi, where bicycles are not allowed, you'll need to take a little stroll, but still, bicycles are a game-changer for Büyükada. This way, you can discover serene places away from the crowds. Don't miss out on the 12-kilometer route known as Aşıklar Yolu.
- Indulging in ice cream on Büyükada is a timeless tradition. You'll find ice cream parlors everywhere, and everyone, without exception, has one of those giant ice creams in their hands. But if you want to feel like a true islander, keep an eye out for Büyükada's mobile ice cream vendors.
- Speaking of embracing the islander lifestyle, relaxing in one of the tea gardens on the beach and playing backgammon or okey is a typical islander pastime.
- Lastly, if you get the chance, spend at least one night in one of those historical mansions you've seen and fallen in love with. Island evenings are best enjoyed here.