1. From Istanbul: Full-Day Princes Island Tour with Lunch
Explore Büyükada, the largest of Turkey’s Princes islands, on this 9-hour excursion from Istanbul. Cruise across the Sea of Marmara, watching the sights of Istanbul slip from view. See the pedestrianized island in the best possible way – by bike (not included) or spend time at leisure, perhaps relaxing on one of its beaches, before returning to Istanbul. Travel from your hotel by air-conditioned coach to the port with your guide, and board the boat that will take you to the Princes islands. The largest and most interesting of the islands is Büyükada, which is your destination for the day. From the boat, look back on the sights of Istanbul, seeing iconic landmarks such as Topkapi Palace and the pretty Kiz Kulesi (also known as the Maiden’s Tower), which was featured in the James Bond film, The World is Not Enough. Dock in Büyükada and then take a stroll through the streets on your own, soaking up the laid-back atmosphere of island life. Return to the boat and listen as your guide talks about the island’s history during the ride. Learn about its time as a place of exile for banished statesmen and royalty, and of its life as a monastic settlement during Turkey’s Byzantine-Christian period. Pass lovely wooden mansions that are stunning examples of the island’s late Ottoman-era architecture, and look out over the sparkling sea. Seagulls are everywhere in Büyükada, and if you’d like to feed them your guide will give you simits (bread with sesame seeds) so you can toss them a treat. Have lunch on the boat in summer or in a restauarant in the winter, then spend the rest of your day at leisure on the island. Later, meet your guide at a pre-arranged time for your boat ride back to Istanbul. The last leg of your journey will be by coach, and you’ll be dropped off at your Istanbul hotel.