Turkey is a land of history and scenery. When you want to explore the country’s strong connection to powerful empires of a long history, there’s the mainland, with its historical ruins and grand buildings. But for those seeking a tranquil experience away from the chaos of daily life, the numerous idyllic islands surrounded by clear blue waters and magical sandy beaches offer such peace and beauty that you wouldn’t want to leave.
These islands are perfect for strolling with their quiet cobblestone streets lined with charming houses and immaculate gardens. Many of these islands are so alluring that it is often difficult for visitors to choose which ones to explore. Of course, you can always visit all of them, but here are seven of the best islands that will make you wish you owned a home there:
1. Bozcaada Island
If you are all about the Grecian aesthetic while enjoying that laid-back island feel, Bozcaada Island is the place for you. One of the Turkish islands in the Aegean Sea, the former Greek island is Turkey’s third-largest island.
The island is famous for its gorgeous houses, windmills and vineyards, a few historical monuments, and captivating beaches next to the Aegean’s cool, clear waters. Its streets are absolutely wonderful to stroll along, with colorful window panes on either side, enhancing the island’s already picturesque look.
Bozcaada’s famous vineyards are a source of a sweet wine culture that gives the island’s visitors company during their stay. On top of this, you can enjoy a wide variety of seafood in the numerous restaurants that dot the town. The sandy shores and quiet coves next to the cold sea waters make for a great relaxing spot during summer. Bozcaada Island is also a must-visit when exploring the island.
How to get there: ferryboat transportation service from Canakkale.
When to visit: the summer months of June -September is ideal for enjoying the sandy beaches.
2. Gokceada Island
Gokceada island is another Aegean Sea special only this one is famous for untouched natural beauty and a unique landscape. The island sits west off the coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula and treats island fans to nature’s charm with a rural feel. Home to numerous multi-colored pines, dense olive groves, and clean waters, this island attracts foreign and domestic travelers alike. In the Iliad, Homer refers to Gokceada as the island of Poseidon.
During the summer, visitors enjoy the lovely beaches of Aydincik and Kapikaya. Windsurfers also get to surf the waters at Aydincik beach. In winter and spring, tourists get to spot the glamorous pink of flamingos at the island’s Salt Lake. Mountain biking is also a popular way to explore the island.
Greek-style villages are also a thing here, but this is more of a nature-lover paradise. Those who manage to visit the island during the off-peak periods get to make the most of this peaceful place. However, this does not come easy! During the off-season, you need to keep an eye on the ferry schedule as they might get canceled for the whole day due to bad weather.
How to get there: regular car ferries from Kabatepe and a passenger-only ferry from Canakkale (twice a week).
3. Cunda (Alibey) Island
This heavenly island fascinates its visitors with a vibrant spirit that reflects the Aegean culture. The island was once home to the Ottoman Greeks and still holds some of its original inhabitants’ charming architecture. Anybody up for serious aimless strolling will absolutely love the cobblestone streets that weave between pretty houses with colorful shutters.
The island’s beach is also a major attraction, and the shore is lined with restaurants that serve Aegean-style dishes with traditional Cretan and Turkish elements. The island is truly a resort town, and visitors love its magnificent dining-out scene.
It is also home to several historical sites like monasteries, mosques, and churches. The island’s most famous historical monument is the grand Taksiyarhis Church from the 19th century. It has a beautiful interior with intricate marble designs and frescoes depicting the life of Jesus.
The island is close to Ayvalik; therefore, it is often a day trip destination.
How to get there: you can visit the island by a 15-minute boat ride from Avyalik. You can also get there on a minibus via the causeway connecting Ayvalik to Cunda.
4. Princes’ Islands
If you are familiar with Istanbul, you have probably heard of the Princes’ Islands that sit in the Sea of Marmara. The islands are a famous escape from the hectic city life and have won both tourists and city residents’ hearts with their quiet and peaceful aura.
The islands in the chain that are open to the public include Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kinaliada. All islands have quiet streets perfect for strolling since no vehicles are allowed. Visitors here enjoy peaceful walks along streets lined with beautiful wooden Victorian-style mansions and decorated by gardens.
There are various lookout points in the islands that will give you panoramic views of the sea and Istanbul. Since motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island, it is a perfect opportunity to do cycling or hop on electric public transport to explore the exciting spots. For the best experience, avoid visiting the islands during the weekend since they are usually crowded.
How to get there: there are ferries connecting the islands to Istanbul.
5. Akdamar Island
This island in Lake Van is a valued treasure by the many nature lovers that frequent Turkey. It is also an area of archeological importance and is surrounded by steep rocks with a height of up to 80 meters.
The island offers an enchanting view, but its alluring beauty becomes mesmerizing during spring when the almond trees bloom. It also sits along the migratory paths of numerous birds and is usually crowded by several birds during the migratory seasons, making Akdamar a real sightseeing masterpiece.
It is also home to the magnificent Church of the Holy Cross. Today, the cathedral is a monument museum, but it holds significant religious heritage and is opened once a year for prayers. The church displays many stone relief carvings, among them one of David and Goliath.
How to get there: twenty-minute boat ride from Gevas.
6. Kekova Island
Although the island is explorable, it is the fascinating ruins of a sunken Lycian city that draw many visitors to Kekova. Around 2000 BCE, the sea-trading city of Simena once stood here. In the 2nd century CE, the city was hit by a series of earthquakes and sank beneath the sea.
Today, this is one of Turkey’s most attractive sections of the coastline. The partially submerged ruins in the waters of the island’s shore are a stunning view.
How to get there: most people arrive at Kekova on tours from Kas.
7. Gemiler Island (St. Nicholas Island)
The island is a popular stop for boats and yachts on trips from Oludeniz or along the coast from Fethiye. It is an excellent place for history enthusiasts, thanks to the ruins of five Byzantine churches sitting in the island hills. Visitors can explore the island’s historical ruins or enjoy the irresistible view from the sea.
If you are not on a group tour, you can access the island from Gemiler Beach via small motorboats; you can also hire a kayak or embark on a private yacht for a blue cruise from Marmaris to Fethiye for a week.
Discover the Best Islands in Turkey
Turkey has around 500 islands, and these seven barely scratch the surface. Nonetheless, they are an excellent place to start if you want to explore Turkey’s collection of enchanting islands.
For a better touring experience of this beautiful country’s islands and many other gems, book a tour with us today! Made in Turkey Tours is your go-to professional tour company for any travel services in Turkey.