International travel enthusiast and expat from New Zealand, currently living in Germany. https://indie-road.com
Published June 10th 2017
Escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul
Istanbul is a very big and beautiful city, however, with a recorded population of around 15 million, not including the huge number of tourists it accommodates all the time, the hustle and bustle is often headache inducing, particularly for those who come from little towns, like me, and it's nice to escape from the crowds and to breathe some fresher air.
My Turkish friends recommended I spent some time on The Adalar Islands, a collection of nine islands floating around in the Archipelago of Istanbul. While these can become very popular amongst the locals in the warmer months, they are certainly more peaceful than the likes of Karaköy and Eminönü. The ferry from Eminönü is a peaceful ninety minute to two hour cruise through the archipelago with fantastic views of both the Asian and European side of the city, and costs only a few Turkish lira each way.
The main island to visit is called Büyükada, but is often referred to as "The Big Island", even by the tourism companies. The ferry lands in a small town with a variety of restaurants and some artisanal shopping, where you can indulge in some local cuisine and buy some unique souvenirs.
The main activities to do on the island are cycling and tours from a horse drawn carriage. There are no automobiles on the island, and so transport on the little roads is done mostly by bicycle and by horse drawn carriage. Renting a bike costs around 30TL for three hours, and can be done from the main town. If you have a reasonable level of fitness, you will be able to cycle around the big loop road as well as up to the lookout point cafe in the middle within three hours, as well as having plenty of time to stop for some of that world renowned Turkish tea at the top and to take all your photos.
As you cycle along the road next to the ocean, be sure to keep one eye on the road and the other on the sea as there are chances to see dolphins playing in the waves. It doesn't take long to leave behind the urban town and to find yourself immersed among the trees and nature.
Be sure to take sunscreen and plenty of water, as well as some warm clothing for the ferry as the sea breeze can make it a little cooler than one might anticipate. Ferries are not leaving 24/7 so it pays to know when the last ferry leaves so you don't get stranded on the island.