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Day trips from Istanbul to the Prince Islands are super easy. I just visited and had an awesome time escaping from Istanbul’s constant crowds and recharging in nature for a day.
If you want to slow down and enjoy some time in the great outdoors, this guide will cover absolutely everything you need to know to visit the Prince Islands!
If you know this first it’ll help the planning process go smoothly.
First, the Prince Islands are also called the Adalar Islands. There are nine Prince Islands but most people only visit the four largest. The biggest, Büyükada, is also the most popular and the furthest away. The second largest, Heybeliada, is the second most popular stop. The third and fourth islands are called Burgaz and Kinaliada.
Also, if you want to visit the Prince Islands in the winter and Google “Visit the Prince Islands in Winter” (like I did) you’ll see an article saying that the ferry doesn’t run in the winter anymore. That’s only talking about one specific line though – you can still take the two below any time of year.
We visited in February and had a fantastic time. You’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, though, so just make sure you plan your trip on a sunny day.
How to Get to the Prince Islands
Obviously this is the most important information that you need to know. You can take two different ferries to get to the Prince Islands. We ended up trying them both, so I’ll share all the details below.
Sehir Hatlari Ferry
The first option is the ferry line run by Sehir Hatlari. On the plus side, you can pay for this with your IstanbulKart (metro card) and the ride only costs 5.20 lira / 1 usd. If you don’t have the card the price goes up just a bit to 7 lira / 1.30 usd per person.
The most frequent route runs from Eminönü (near Sultanahmet) to Kadikoy (on the Asian side of the city) to the Islands. It stops at each of the four main islands so you can get off at whichever one you please. The largest and most popular island, Büyükada, is last (although a few ferries go even further to a port called Bostanci).
This route takes 1 hour and 45 minutes and runs often – click here to see the full timetable.
Dentur Avrasya Ferry
The second option is the the Dentur Avrasya Ferry. We actually went out on this ferry and returned with Sehir Hatlari.
The Dentur Avrasya ferry runs less often than the Sehir Hatlari ferry, but it’s also faster and only takes an hour and ten minutes instead of 1:45. Th trip costs 10 lira / 2 usd each way.
Keep in mind that this ferry only stops at the two largest islands – Heybeliada and Büyükada – so if you want to go to the smaller ones instead the other ferry will probably be more convenient.
The Dentur Avrasya ferry leaves from the Kabataş port and the Beşiktaş port (both on the European side of Istanbul) and you can see the full timetable here.
Lively streets in the small town of Adalar
How much does a day trip to the Prince Islands cost?
Honestly, this is a pretty damn budget-friendly day.
The transport cost to and from the islands is crazy low. If you take the Sehir Hatlari ferry, you’ll only pay 10.40 lira / 2 usd for the round trip.
Once you’re on Büyükada the best activity – hiking to the view point – is free. So, if you’re on a super budget, pack a lunch for this and you can honestly enjoy your day for practically nothing.
What to Do in the Prince Islands
Eat and hike.
We grabbed some borek from a bakery when we got off the boat and wandered through the small downtown area. It was quite cute and lively even in February.
Then, we took a super long walk up to the viewpoint at the Aya Yorgi Church. You can walk around the island or up over the top of it through the large park. In the park, there’s a massive abandoned orphanage that’s kind of creepy and interesting to visit as well. If you opt for this route, it’ll take about 45 minutes to walk 3.5 km from the ferry port to the viewpoint.
Although there are tons of bike rentals on Büyükada I really advise against it. The island is super hilly and everyone who I saw riding the bikes looked like they definitely had some regrets.
Cows in the park on our walk to the viewpoint
After you walk about halfway to the church you’ll come to a parking lot with some shops and market stalls and the Lunapark restaurant. Here, the hill gets super steep and you have a 30ish minute climb to the top. It’s definitely too steep for a bike and even the horse and carriages refuse to take customers to the top. If you want to enjoy the view, you have to work for it.
It’s tough, but it’s worth the effort.
The tiny church on top of the hill is nice but it’s the view that is truly spectacular. The main viewpoint looks out over the right side of the island but I actually prefer the view to the left. There’s a bunch of trees and paths so you can find a private rock and spread out a picnic in the shade.
In the summer there are some beach clubs scattered across the islands as well. If you’re a museum person, check out the Adalar museum on Büyükada to learn more about the culture and history of the islands. Whatever you do, it’s honestly just nice to breathe the fresh air and spend some time in nature for a day!
View from Aya Yorgi church
Where to Eat
Dan and I ate a fantastic meal at a seafood restaurant called Balıkçı Süleyman.
I thought the food on the Prince Islands would be expensive ’cause it’s a tourist hotspot but it definitely wasn’t. We had a meatball platter, gilled sea bass, hummus, bread, and two waters and the whole meal only set us back 70 lira / 13 usd. Plus, it was all flavorful and fresh – so perfect after our exhausting walk across the island and back.
Where to Stay
Like I said the Prince Islands are so close to Istanbul that you can definitely explore them on a day trip. But, there were some really cute hotels there so in the summer I think it would make for a great weekend escape.
I picture walking around the island, eating ice cream, floating in the hotel pools and then watching the sunset on a private balcony. Pretty romantic, right?
Visiting the Other Islands & Returning to Istanbul
Dan and I only visited Büyükada but all the islands are very close to each other the ferry ride between them is only 10 to 20 minutes each.
Use the two timetables linked above to plan your visits to the other and your return trip to Istanbul. The Dentur Avrasya ferry only stops at Heybeliada on the way back to Istanbul but the Sehir Hatlari ferry stops at Burgaz and Kinaliada as well.
The ferry schedules change based on the day and season so double and triple check that you’re looking at the right one and know when the last ferry is departing!
Use this guide to Enjoy a day trip to the Prince Islands!
I hope this guide helps you plan the perfect day or weekend trip to the Prince Islands.
If the weather is nice they’re definitely worth visiting, even in the winter. It’s just so nice to escape the crowds and stretch your legs and breath some fresh sea air on Büyükada Island. If you’re feeling extra energetic, visit Heybeliada as well or all four of the main islands!
The ferry is super cheap and easy to navigate and all the food we had in Büyükada was fantastic – honestly, there are no downsides to this day trip. Check out the Prince Islands while you’re in Istanbul for a low-key and relaxing experience and I’m sure you will enjoy it.
This article is part of the Instant Istanbul Itinerary series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore all 20 articles in the Turkey Series for more insider tips on what to see, eat, do, and discover in the country!