A ferry ride away from metropolitan Istanbul is the Princes’ Islands, a chain of nine small isles in the Sea of Marmara. Historically Byzantine princes and other inconvenient royalty and later problematic members of the Ottoman sultans’ families were shipped off to exile on the islands. At the end of the Ottoman era, during the nineteenth century, stays on the isles became voluntary; Princes’ Islands became a popular resort for Istanbul’s wealthy. Today the islands are a fashionable day trip for Istanbulites looking for an escape from city life.
Though the ferry stops at several islands, the most popular islands for the tourists are the largest. Except for service and emergency vehicles the islands are car free. Transportation is by foot, bike, and horse drawn carriage. (Highly dangerous horse drawn carriages, I might add. I was nearly impaled by a harness’s bow spirit as a carriage rapidly turned.) The bikes and the horse carts take visitors past the shops and Victorian-era cottages and up and over the hills.
Princes Islands are not a must see three star sight. Still, whether you are tourist or a local, the islands offer a pleasant break from Istanbul’s urban intensity. It is quite agreeable place. Today being exiled to Princes Islands would be a good thing.