[[Image:IstanbulPrinceIslandSq.jpg|thumb|Central square of Büyükada, with the historical harbor building at the back]]
Princes’ Islands take their name from the fact that during Byzantine and early Ottoman period, members of dynasties who fell out of favor were sent to exile there. Until late 19th century, when regular steamer transportation showed up in the seas around Istanbul, these islands were considered remote and far-away places. Apart from the exiled princes, only a handful of monks found these islands inhabitable then, a fact which gives the islands their former name in Turkish: ''Keşiş Adaları'' (“Islands of the Monks”).
Princes’ Islands consist of four major and five minor islands. Major ones are as follows (from west to east, also from smallest to biggest): '''Kınalıada''', '''Burgaz''', '''Heybeliada''', and '''Büyükada'''. Apart from these, only one more island of the archipelago is inhabited, that is '''Sedef''' which lies east of Büyükada. The other, unhabited ones are: '''Tavşan''' south of Büyükada, '''Kaşık''' (between Burgaz and Heybeliada), '''Yassıada''' and '''Sivriada''' (both lying further away in the sea, southwest of Kınalıada). This article will focus on the four major ones, as public transport to uninhabited islands is virtually non-existant, and much of Sedef is private property with limited access.
These islands prove to be a good day-trip especially when you are bored of the crowd, noise, and traffic of Istanbul. Quite a shock is what many travellers experience upon their return to the city, when full-blast car horns are still the way how they were when left behind early in the morning.
If you don’t have time to visit all of the islands, pick '''Büyükada''': it’s undoubtedly the “queen” of the islands.
The only way to get to islands is by sea: whether '''Istanbul liners''' or '''fast ferries''' [http://www.ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm], available at various hours every day. From [[Istanbul/European_Side|European Side of Istanbul]], you can take a boat from [[Istanbul/Galata|Kabataş]], while from [[Istanbul/Asian_Side|Asian Side]], the piers with a connection to the islands are located in Kadıköy and
Bostancı. The most frequent departures are from Bostancı (especially in winter), which also has private mid-sized boat connection to the islands in addition to liners and fast ferries. See [[Istanbul/Asian_Side|Asian Side]] article for an extensive detail of how to get to Bostancı from more central parts of the city.
A trip on liners typically take around an hour and a half from European Side, and 45 minutes from Asian Side.
* On the other summit of Büyükada, amidst the pine woods lies the abandoned and dilapidated '''Greek Orphanage''' (''Rum Yetimhanesi''), looking like a haunted manor. Originally built as a hotel in late 19th century, this completely-wooden, 4-story building is the second largest wooden construction in whole world (the largest in Europe). It’s dangerous to enter the building itself (because it’s slowly decaying), and also forbidden.
* Both the eastern and western side of Büyükada is full of wooden Victorian-style '''mansions''' dating back to late 19th/early 20th century, similars of which have been bulldozed in the rest of Istanbul (with the exception of neighborhoods on Bosphorus banks) to make way for concrete, multi-story apartment buildings. The ones on the western side (right side when looking out of quay) seem more splendid. Just don’t be surprised and don’t start looking for them as soon as you get off the ship: Around the quay is more like a town centre. They are located about 15 min walk away from the quay.
* '''Great/Total Circuit''' (''Büyük Tur'', about 15 km in Büyükada): Either by ''fayton'' or bike. It’s not as hard as it may sound, except a few slopes.
* Enjoy '''swimming''' (water is not that clean anymore though).
* Have a '''picnic''' in a scenic spot.
* <eat name="Alibaba Restaurant" alt="" address="Gülistan Cad. no: 18, Büyükada" directions="in the town centre, on the left side when walking out of the ferry quay" phone="+90 216 382 37 33" email="" fax="+90 216 382 36 00" url="" hours="10AM-1AM" price="Visa, Mastercard and AmEx accepted">Seafood restaurant in Büyükada. Reservation is advised on Saturdays.</eat>
* <eat name="Konak Lokantası" alt="" address="Recep Koçak Cad. no: 87, Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382 54 79" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="Visa and Mastercard accepted">Kebab and traditional
Turkish cuisine.</eat> *<eat name="Ada Ev Yemekleri" alt="" address="Recep Koçak Cad" directions="walk toward the clock tower as you exit the ferry and take a left at the clock" phone="" url="" hours="10-10" price="very reasonable prices" lat="" long="">Small quaint resturant run by a family. Features traditional Turkish and Eastern Med cuisine at great prices. Very tasty and an authentic slice of the Islands and Turkish cuisine.</eat>
Sukru" alt="" address=" Gulistan Cad #16" directions="" phone="216 382 1245" url="" hours=" 10:00 3:00" price="$20" lat="" long="">By Sukru is located right on the sea front with a variety of fresh seafood, kebob and vegitarian dishes. You can enjoy live music every Saturday night in the tavern, and for those of you who miss a good T-Bone Steak or Shrimp Scampi you may visit By Şükrü's Winehouse. Just minutes away from the pier, By Sukru is easy to get to and one of the most visited restaurants on the island. Reservations are suggested for weekends. (216) 382 1245. For Group or Fixed Menu pricing please call Susan at (532) 700 2211</drink>
Büyükada and Heybeliada both have a limited range of hotels, some of which serve in a boutique style, preferred by many tourists but not spectacularly clean.
* <sleep name="Mimoza Pansiyon" alt="" address="Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382
35" email="[email protected]
" fax="" url="http://www.mimozapansiyon.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="">Guesthouse offering rooms with central heating, air conditioner, hot water, and wireless internet.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Splendid Palace Hotel" alt="" address="23 Nisan Cad. no: 53, Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382-
" email="[email protected]
" fax="" url="http://www.splendidhotel.net" checkin="" checkout="" price="">Located in an Art-Nouveau building which dates back to 1908.</sleep>