the largest of Istanbul's Princes
is the most-visited, and for good reason:
it has the most to see and do because
of its size (5.4 square
km, 1334 acres).
If possible, schedule
your visit for a weekday.
On Saturday and Sunday in summer
the ferries, the streets, the restaurants,
the cafés— everything's
super-crowded (which is nothing new—see
the photo from 1943 at the lower right
corner of this page).
The ferry from Kabataş,
or the fast
"seabus" catamaran from
Pendik, brings you to the ferry dock
at the town center, with its sign in
both Latin and Ottoman characters.
As you approach the island, you can
marvel at the many fine old Ottoman-Victorian
houses, crowded now by more
through the historic Ottoman
ferry terminal and you emerge in the bustling
town center with shops, restaurants
and a few hotels. There are more restaurants
and shops along the market street to
the left (east), as well as seafood
restaurants along the shore. To the
right are a few cafes, a park, and
docks for private ferries and yachts.
Walk straight up the slight hill to
Meydanı) the main square,
landmark clock tower.
Just off Dock Square to the left is which
is where you can board a horse-drawn
carriage (fayton) for
either the Short Tour (Küçük
Tur, 20 to 25 minutes) of the
town, or the Long Tour (Büyük
Tur, 1 hour) of the town, the
shore and the hills. Prices are fixed
by the municipality, so there should
be no haggling. This is the most delightful
way to get around the island. In fact,
it's the only way
(except for bicycles, and walking).
Private motor vehicles, including taxis,
are not allowed on the island.
Around Dock Square you'll also see
many places to rent
bicycles, the second-best
way to explore the island.
a few tiny beaches from
which you can take a dip in the chilly
water. Space on the beaches is at a
premium in summer. The least-crowded
time to go is probably in the morning
The island's two hills are
163 meters (535 feet) and 202 meters
(663 feet) in height.
restaurants, cafes and snack
shops are expensive, and ripoffs are
common in some: 20% "cover" charges
and 15% "service fees" added to your
bill, for example. (Here's
a report.) Better to bring
your own picnic. (It's a pity:
restaurateurs could make a very good
return just serving the hordes of visitors
at moderate prices, without the ripoffs.)
can put you up for the night,
well in advance in summer. My
favorite is the grand old Splendid
Oteli), which doesn't seem
to have changed a bit since its Victorian
heyday. A few facilities have been
modernized here, but don't expect
modern comforts. Rather, come for
period atmosphere and
superb views from
buildings on Büyükada.
Below, the main street to