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Turkey's most beautiful islands

Turkey is home to some of the world's most divine islands, from a car-free archipelago just a short ferry ride from Istanbul, to the likes of Gökçeada, where olive groves are lapped by the clear waters of the Aegean Sea. Here are a few of the best Turkish islands.

The Princes’ Islands

The Princes' Islands, Turkey

The Princes' Islands, Turkey

Despite being just a short ferry ride from Istanbul, the Princes' Islands feel a world away from the Turkish capital. It’s an archipelago of nine that floats in the Sea of Marmara and quietly enthrals visitors with its slow pace of life. The islands are all car-free and known for their romantic horse-drawn carriages (phaetons), which enhance the feeling that you’ve been transported back in time. Explore streets scented with magnolias, mimosas, tangerines, and lemon trees, and lined with wooden country mansions dripping with wisteria. Büyükada, meaning “big island,” is the largest and farthest from Istanbul, making it great for a day trip. Here you can visit one of the superb local fish restaurants, stock up on supplies from the main bazaar, or rent bikes and head off to a shady picnic spot beneath the pines lining the coast. The islands of Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada or the smaller Sedef Adası, Yassıada, Sivriada, Kaşık Adası, and Tavşan Adası are all equally enchanting. Regular ferries depart from Istanbul – more specifically from Eminonu, Kabatas, Kadıköy, or Bostanci. After a day trip to the islands, head back to Loka Suites in Kadıköy for the night.

Akdamar

Akdamar Island, Lake Van, Turkey

Akdamar Island, Lake Van, Turkey

Akdamar is a tiny, charming island in the middle of Lake Van in eastern Turkey. Aside from the naturally beautiful setting—picture a small hill rising out of the cobalt-blue lake and the snowy stratovolcano, Mount Süphan, dominating the background—the main attraction is the 10th-century Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This incredibly well-restored cathedral is a rare remnant of Lake Van’s Armenian population, with a honey-coloured exterior decorated with exquisite reliefs and an interior filled with faded frescoes. Climb up the island’s solitary, small hill for the best views of the lake ringed by mountains checkered with blooming almond trees. While you can’t stay on the island, you can base yourself right on the lakeshore with a stay at Doubletree by Hilton Van.

Bozcaada

Bozcaada, Aegean Island, Turkey

Bozcaada, Aegean Island, Turkey

The breezy Turkish island of Bozcaada in the Aegean Sea—Tenedos in Greek—has a split heritage. On one side lie crumbling clock towers, Greek taverns, and white-washed houses. On the other, you’ll find a mosque and elements of Ottoman architecture. The island’s cuisine is the Mediterranean, bearing flavours of both cultural influences and its viticulture ever blossoming – grapevines cover almost every hill. Rent a bicycle or cruise from winery to winery, tasting fine local vintages. And be sure to buy a bottle to take down to the harbour to watch the sunset over the Aegean Sea. Just a few minutes' walk from the harbour, you’ll find the local artisanal food market, where you can buy a fantastic Greek delicacy unique to the island – tomato jam. Base yourself at the island’s highly rated Ege Han Hotel.

Gökçeada

Gökçeada, Çanakkale Province, Turkey

Gökçeada, Çanakkale Province, Turkey

Gökçeadav is Turkey's largest island and is revered for its arid mountain landscape. It was even mentioned in Homer’s epic, “The Iliad,” as the island of Poseidon, the Sea God. Sitting in the Aegean Sea, it's another Turkish island with a palpable Greek feel. The journey there is a scenic delight. Rent a car in Istanbul and drive down to the pine forest-covered Gallipoli Peninsula, where you can catch a ferry to the island. Between swimming and sunbathing in clear waters, snack on island delicacies such as “efibadem” (almond cookies) and “cicirya,” a Greek pastry filled with melted goat cheese, mint, and thyme. Tour the Greek villages of Tepeköy, Dereköy, and Zeytinliköy for cobbled streets, historic churches, and views across the entire island. Then head home to Cinarli Kasri Gökçeada Town for the night.

Cunda

Cunda Island, Turkey

Cunda Island, Turkey

Cunda Island (also known as Alibey) is part of an archipelago near the Greek island of Lesbos, just off the coast of Turkey. Visitors are drawn here for the inconspicuous beaches along the Aegean Sea, attractive ruins of Greek orthodox cathedrals and monasteries, and the fruity local olive oil. Hike through pine groves seeking out stellar views or walk down the cobbled streets along the coast and stop for a Turkish tea in the island’s most popular café, the family-run Tas Kahve. Wake up to a delightful local breakfast at the Hotel Sobe in the heart of the city.

Article by booking.com

Pexel images


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