To the south of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara, four islands make up the Princes Islands. Shannon and I decided to spend the day touring the islands via ferry. The one hour trip took us to the islands of Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Buyukada. Our first stop was the sleepy island of Heybeliada for lunch. Walking around, I couldn’t help but notice the strong Greek influence throughout the island. Many of the signs were in Greek and the people looked slightly different than on the mainland. Heyamola Ada Lokantasi, the restaurant we ate at, is a family owned place with one of the best seafood meals I have ever eaten.
This restaurant was recently reviewed in The New York Times as well. After lunch we made our way to Buyakada, home of the highest peak in the Princes Islands. This island is more tourist centered with rows of waterfront restaurants and hotels. We walked through town on our way to the peak which is also home to a church. After a one hour climb, and a disgruntled Shannon, we made it to the top for unparalleled views overlooking all of Istanbul, both the European and Asian sides.
For the journey down the mountain, we decided our best option was via horse. The ride was interesting to say the least since the horse weaved across the narrow road while galloping and pooping. I was now disgruntled because the buggy almost flipped numerous times over the edges of the cliffs and the foul horse smell. We made it to the port physically unscathed, but I could not shake the smell. After a quick nap on the ferry back to Istanbul, the lights on the Bosphorous Bridge began to flash welcoming us back to town. This excursion is definitely a must-do when in town!