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Concierge.com

Princes' Islands, Istanbul

Istanbul
Turkey
Concierge.com's insider take:

Situated in the Sea of Marmara, just off Istanbul's Asian shore, the Princes' Islands were a former place of exile and home to a large number of the city's Armenian and Greek communities before the 19th century, when it dawned upon Istanbullus what a vacation treasure they had on their very doorstep. There are nine islands in all, four of which can be visited, and they make a great and relaxing day trip away from the bustle of Istanbul. Büyükada is the largest and most popular: Traditionally home to a sizable Jewish population, and onetime refuge of Leon Trotsky, the island is a peaceful showcase of gorgeous summer homes, a small monastery on a hill, and a somewhat busier town center. As on all the other islands, there are no cars, so the best way to get around is by horse and cart (agree on a price with your driver first) or by renting a bicycle. Large old colonial-style hotels like the Hotel Princess (90-216-382-1628; www.buyukadaprincess.com) or the Splendid Palace Hotel (90-216-382-6950; www.splendidhotel.net) are a great place to spend the night, and well-being enthusiasts might also be interested in the Naya retreat center for yoga classes, meditation, and massages (90-216-382-4598; naya.ecobytes.net). The other, smaller islands, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada, are also worth a look; if you start early, it's theoretically possible to hop between them all in one day. Slow and fast ferries to the islands leave a few times a day from the dock in Kabataş, on the European side just north of Karaköy.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.