Heybeliada is one of the Princes’ Islands, an archipelago of nine islands situated off the coast of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey. There are four major islands popular with the Turkish elite during summer months, and five minor islands. Heybeliada is the second largest island and home to numerous places of interest. Visitors will be able to visit a beautiful Byzantine church, a Greek Orthodox Monastery, and the Turkish Naval Academy. The main town is home to a variety of bars, cafes and attractive wooden houses dating back to the Ottoman era.
When first arriving on Heybeliada, take some time to sit by the waterfront in one of the charming cafes or restaurants. It’s the perfect way to get acquainted with the island. As everything is relatively close together, it’s easy to explore some of the wonderful Ottoman era houses. Step back in time and imagine how it was to live on the island during this period. During summer months, the jetty and beaches play host to suntanned bodies and parasols, as boats arrive and depart for the mainland. To indulge in local culture head for the Halki Theological School and Greek Orthodox Monastery, the latter attracts visitors from all over the country. Families will enjoy a trip to Heybeliada Degirmenburnu Mesire Yeri, a popular local picnic area with a mini market, restaurant, bicycle hire and a children’s playground. There is the possibility to rent a barbeque and enjoy dining with picturesque sea, forest and mountain views.
Travellers can discover the island on foot, via a hired bicycle, horse and carriage or boat. The island encompasses 2.4 square kilometres and is easy to walk from one side to the other. It’s the ideal way to soak up the local atmosphere and admire stunning scenery of the pine forests. There are no motor vehicles allowed on the island allowing for safe walking and clean, unpolluted air. Scheduled passenger ferries operate regularly from Istanbul, although the first and last ferries of the day are usually busy.
Heybeliada was traditionally a fishing town. When steamboat services began operating in 1846 the island grew steadily, wealthy Turks developed an interest and began to build summer homes. Today, the island attracts visitors who enjoy the serenity of its natural beauty, its idyllic paradise lifestyle and shady forests.