Burgazada, Istanbul, Turkey

Burgaz island, in the Sea of Marmara (map), has been a favorite island getaway for Istanbul‘s Greek-heritage residents for a century, as you can instantly determine when you approach the island and see the grand Greek Orthodox Church of St John towering above the town.

But there are mosques and a synagogue here as well, testifying to the islands’ rich Ottoman mix of populations and traditions.

Few tourists bother to visit Burgaz which, at 1.5 square km (150 hectares, 371 acres), is only slightly larger than its neighbor Kınalı.

The lack of visitors is the island’s main attraction: unlike Büyükada, which is always crowded with visitors, on Burgaz you interact mostly with locals.

That having been said, it is also a smaller island with less to see and do than either Büyükada or Heybeli. But if all you want is a sunny cafe, a shady restaurant table, a place to stroll, poke around and explore, Burgaz will do quite nicely.

The beloved Turkish short-story writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık (1906-1954) lived with his mother on Burgaz from 1939 to 1954, and their house is now is the small, modest Sait Faik Museum, worth a look as it is a period piece. His stories, by the way, are delightful character studies. Many are placed in the Islands, especially Burgaz.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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