Büyükada, the largest of Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands, offers a serene retreat from the urban flurry, distinguished by its rich history and picturesque landscapes. As a car-free haven, the island invites you to enjoy its quiet streets, scenic paths, and the gentle breeze off the Marmara Sea. Whether you are seeking a peaceful day of exploration or an active adventure, Büyükada has a myriad of experiences waiting for you.

In this guide, we’ll cover the top things to do in Büyükada that will ensure your visit is both memorable and enriching. Let’s dive into the charming escapes Büyükada has in store!

Discover the Historical Splendors of Aya Yorgi Monastery

Nestled atop the island’s highest peak, the Aya Yorgi Monastery, dating back to the sixth century, offers more than spiritual solace. The hike up to the monastery is rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the sea and the Istanbul skyline beyond. Particularly on April 23, the feast day of Saint George, the trail becomes a lively route of pilgrimage filled with visitors and locals alike.

Take a Leisurely Bike Ride Around the Island

Embrace the freedom of a car-free environment with a leisurely bike ride. Rent a bicycle and explore at your own pace, cycling through lush pine forests and past charming Victorian-era cottages and grand villas. The full island circuit is not only manageable but also filled with picturesque spots perfect for a scenic break or a casual picnic.

Relax at One of Büyükada’s Beaches

Büyükada boasts a variety of beaches that cater to all preferences, from bustling public shores to tranquil hidden coves. Yörükali and Aya Nikola Beach are among the favorites, offering excellent facilities and inviting clear waters. Sample some delicious seafood at a beachside café or restaurant, enhancing your beach day with the flavors of the island.

Explore the Dilapidated Splendor of the Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage

The Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage, once recorded as the largest wooden building in Europe, offers a ghostly yet fascinating aura for visitors. Though entry to the building is not permitted, its imposing exterior and historical significance make it an intriguing site for those interested in architecture and history.

Pedal or Walk Along the Island’s Panoramic Trails

Instead of the traditional horse-drawn carriages, why not explore Büyükada on foot or by pedal? The island’s trails are perfect for those who enjoy a bit more adventure. Traverse the same routes, enjoying the lush scenery and historical architecture, at a pace that suits you.

Indulge in Local Cuisine at the Waterfront Restaurants

No visit to Büyükada would be complete without trying the local cuisine. The island’s restaurants, many located along the scenic waterfront, offer a mix of traditional Turkish dishes and fresh seafood. Dining by the water, with views stretching out over the sea, is an unforgettable experience—especially if you try the famed “ada ice cream.”

Visit the House of Trotsky

For a touch of historical intrigue, visit the house where Leon Trotsky lived during his exile in the 1920s. Although the house is a private residence and not open to the public, its historical significance as the one-time home of a prominent Soviet political figure makes it a point of interest for history enthusiasts.

In Summary

Büyükada is a treasure trove of activities that can cater to any interest. From its rich historical tapestry to its serene natural landscapes and vibrant local culture, the island offers a diverse range of attractions. Whether you’re up for historical exploration, leisurely beach days, or culinary delights, Büyükada promises a rich and varied adventure.

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