Ferries to the Princes Islands

Last Updated on June 24, 2024

If you happen to have enough time in Istanbul, you should definitely visit the Princess Islands, also known as the Princes’ Islands or Princes Island (Adalar in Turkish), a tranquil, serene, and breathtakingly beautiful island set consisting of nine neighboring islands: Büyükada, Heybeliada, Kınalıada, Burgazada, Sedef Adası, Yassıada, Sivriada, Kaşık Adası, and Tavşan Adası. Ferries do not stop by Sedef Adası, Yassıada, Sivriada, and Kaşık Adası because these islands are not open for sightseeing. However, people do live and own houses on Sedef Island.

Transportation to Princes Islands

ship, ferry, boshphorus, istanbul, marmara

Transportation to the islands is provided by ferries. Passenger ferryboats from Istanbul sail regularly to the Princes Islands (Adalar) from ferry ports. While there are Istanbul ferry lines, car ferries do not go, as private cars are not allowed on the islands. There are three companies that provide this passenger ferry service: Şehir Hatları, TurYol, and Dentur. When boarding Şehir Hatları ferries with your Istanbul card, you need to buy a separate ticket for Turyol and Dentur, and the fee is higher.

You can also reach the islands by sea taxi, a new service of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB). These taxis, which serve like a private boat, are, of course, more expensive than ferries but more comfortable. In this way, you can reach the city in sudden situations as well and choose when your ferry departs. This is a major advantage, considering the Princess Island Istanbul ferry schedule may not fit your plans. You can download and check the IBB Sea Taxi application for more info.

Why Visit Princes Islands?

These islands are totally different from the bustling streets of Istanbul and are a popular destination for those seeking tranquility and peace. Here, you can visit popular historical sites and magnificent old villas, enjoy the beach clubs, and take in the fantastic views of the Marmara Sea and Istanbul from afar. You will feel the relaxing wind and the calm atmosphere of the islands right after you disembark at the ferry port.

Travel Tips

Suluada Island, Turkey

The biggest of the nine islands, called Büyükada, Big Island, is the most popular destination when visiting the Princes' Islands. Büyükada was first used as a monastic region and as a home to local fishermen. During the Byzantine Period, the Princes' Islands served as exile sites for Byzantine empresses, and Büyükada was a popular exile site. You will need a full day to visit Büyükada (Big Island), as there are so many things to do on this amazing piece of land. These islands used to mainly serve as a monastery region in the Byzantine period, but this changed in Ottoman times. However, you can still visit some of the most significant churches in the region. When visiting Büyükada, a must-see destination is Yücetepe, the island's tallest hill, where you can explore Hagios Georgios Koudounas Church, take in the stunning views, and have a delicious lunch in the nearby tavern. Also, George Church, the house of Leon Trotsky (who lived in Büyükada after the Russian Revolution), and Europe's largest wooden construction, the Prinkipo, a former Greek orphanage, are among the popular destinations.

For this reason, you can go on the first ferry and return with the last ferry if you do not plan to stay the night, but you can stay and enjoy raki and fish (rakı balık) in a meyhane (tavern), and many restaurants on the island in the evening. There are also public beaches, beach clubs for those who want to spend their time on the beach, and a set of magnificent old villas that reflect both modern and Ottoman architecture. For other islands, half a day will be sufficient. For example, you can visit Heybeliada and Burgazada in one day by taking the ferry again and going to the other island. In Heybeliada, you can visit the Aya Nikola Greek Orthodox St. Church and enjoy many beach clubs.

Note that there are no shuttle boats among the islands, only the scheduled ferries. To travel from one island to another (for example, from Büyükada to Heybeliada), you must check the ferry schedules to find voyages that will both take you to the other island and take you away from it so you don't end up spending the night (unless you want to).

Şehir Hatları Ferries

You can board these Şehir Hatları ferries with your Istanbul card, but the ferry boarding fee to Adalar is more expensive than other means of public transport, such as buses and metros, and normal ferry prices. You will need to reuse your card separately when traveling to and from the islands, asit is not a two-way (round trip) ticket. If you do not have an Istanbulkart, you can also board with a QR code via the Istanbulkart mobile application, with the same tariff. You can also use your MasterCard debit or credit card, but your ride will be more expensive with this method.

Şehir Hatları ferries depart from Kabataş, Beşiktaş, Kadıköy, Bostancı, and Maltepe. There are also infrequent services from Eminönü (map). Although the trips from Kabataş and Beşiktaş vary depending on the island you go to, they last approximately two hours. In this direction, you can visit Kınalıada, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Büyükada (map), respectively. Bostancı and Maltepe ferries take a shorter time because they are closer to the islands.

Şehir Hatları schedules are updated during the summer and winter periods. You can access the most up-to-date planning here

İstanbul Ferries

On many summer days and on all warm-weather weekends, the Şehir Hatları ferries fill quickly, even though they can hold upwards of 1500 passengers. It's best to take one of the earliest ferries and to be at the ferry dock at least 15 minutes before departure (30 minutes is even better) in order to get in line to board. When boarding begins, passengers near the front of the line can choose the best seats: interior, exterior, upper deck or lower deck, on the sunny side or the shady side, in the bow or the stern.

On busy days, it's best not to plan on taking the last or even second-last ferry of the day to return to Istanbul, as these boats fill to capacity (or over-capacity) early in their voyages. You may not be able to board, and if you are able, you may have to stand in crowded conditions during the entire voyage.

For example, if you plan to leave Heybeliada for Eminönü on a late afternoon or early evening ferry on Saturday or Sunday, you may find that the ferry is filled to capacity when it arrives at Heybeli, and you won't be allowed to board.


İstanbul Ferry

TurYol organizes ferry services from Bakırköy, Eminönü, Kadıköy, and Karaköy to Büyükada (Big Island), Kınalıada, and Heybeliada. Here, you can access the departure times (ferry timetables) by entering your starting point and the island you want to arrive at.

TurYol boats depart the TurYol Karaköy ferry docks at the northern end of Galata Bridge, on the west side by the fish market, in the warm months, especially on weekends. Schedules meet demand. 

You need to buy a ticket when boarding Turyol ferries. You can see ticket prices after entering your boarding and arrival points and your personal information.

Dentur Avrasya

Dentur Avrasya provides transportation to the islands from Kabataş, Beşiktaş, Avcılar, and Yalova. You need to buy a ticket for these ferries going to Heybeliada and Büyükada. You can see the one-way ticket prices and departure times on this site. Keep in mind that you will need to buy return ferry tickets as well.

—by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Melike Kocaer

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