Heybeliada: Istanbul’s Charming Getaway Destination

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Heybeliada: Istanbul’s Charming Getaway Destination

Sometimes I do not do enough research about places that I visit, since the spontaneity aspect of the trip is somewhat very exciting! Consequently, this particular time I did not realise that our Istanbul visit coincided with three days of Ramadan Bayram, meaning that on the first day of that holiday pretty much everything that you can do in Istanbul was off limits! Feeling slightly annoyed with myself for not planning our visit more carefully, I asked the hotel concierge if there was anything we could do that day, other than wandering around the city centre and perspiring like mad under the scorching sun (note to self, never again go to Istanbul in the midst of summer, it is way too hot!). After thinking for a minute or two, he suggested we visit one of the Princes’ Islands, a group of islands 20km southeast of the city, and a favourite getaway destination with İstanbullus who are desperate to escape the heat and the pollution of the city.

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Quickly peeking in our guidebook, we decided to go to Heybeliada, second largest of Princes’ islands, since it looked like it had the most to offer …

And I am so glad that we made the effort to come here! Heybeliada is a complete antithesis of Istanbul, a welcome oasis of calm and fresh air. Here (like on all the other islands) there are no cars in order to prevent these islands becoming polluted; the only way to get around is either by foot, bicycle, or a horse drawn carriage! The quiet streets are lined with sandy coloured houses and embellished with vivid fuchsia of bougainvillea. Heybeliada, unlike Istanbul itself, did not feel touristy at all; it was interesting to experience ourselves what the city dwellers like to do on their days off. They come here for a breath of fresh air, for a picnic in the shade of the pine grove, or for a refreshing swim from one of the little, albeit a little overcrowded, beaches.

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I suppose most people who visit Istanbul overlook going to Princes’ Islands since a visit here requires a full day as the ferry ride takes somewhere between one or two hours, depending which one you pick. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend coming here, if you have a day to spare during your Istanbul visit.

What to do on Heybeliada:

  • Take a horse-drawn carriage around the island (very romantic!)
  • Climb to the top of the hill for panoramic views of the sea and the city
  • Have a picnic in the shade of a pine grove or go for lunch of fresh seafood at Heyamola restaurant
  • Explore Heybeliada on foot and get a little lost in the quiet streets
  • Go for a cooling dip in the sea

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9 responses to “Heybeliada: Istanbul’s Charming Getaway Destination”

  1. Alissa says:

    Beautiful post! Mazing photos and writing. Just found your blog, have to catch up on some reading now haha!

    —————————————-
    I’m a 21 year old traveller with a thirst for adventure
    http://globeetrotter.blogspot.co.nz/

  2. These photos are so pretty, I would love to visit Istanbul! x

    Favorite fonts for the week #2

  3. Istanbul is one of my top “really want to travel to” destinations!

  4. Trina says:

    Beautifu! Btw I am in love with that Tiffany blue couch thats too cute.

    http://TrinaLaVie.wordpress.com

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