Istanbul is magical city situated on two continents, with a seemingly endless number of places to go and things to see. But it’s also the fifth largest city on earth, with overcrowding so overwhelming even the most urbane will find themselves longing for an agrarian lifestyle.
Thankfully, four islands just south of Istanbul in the Marmara sea (technically still part of the Istanbul municipality) offer a respite from the pollution and pavement of the city. Easily accessible by public ferries from Eminönü and Kadıköy, the Prince’s Islands (simply adalar, or islands, in Turkish), are one of my most cherished getaways. Although Büyükada is the largest and most popular, and Heybeliada offers the most stunning views, the best, in may humble opinion, is also most the most underrated: Burgazada.
Like the other three islands, Burgazada features no cars, beautiful mansions, and old orthodox churches and monasteries. But there’s several reasons why if you only have time for one island, you should make it this one.
Four Letter Word Coffee
What happens when childhood best friends from Chicago decide to open a coffee roastery on a Turkish island? The answer is Four Letter Word Coffee. This charming little third wave shop is a great place to get out of the sun and cool off with an iced latte, beautifully layered in a rocks glass. All of the coffee is roasted on the premises in a six kilo Giessen coffee roaster, which we can only imagine was a challenge to get off of a boat!
Sait Faik Museum
Author Sait Faik Abadıyanık is considered one of the most important Turkish writers from the 20th century, and his family home on Burgazada is now a museum, featuring his writing desk, original correspondence, and first editions of many of his books. Often drawing comparisons to his contemporary Ernest Hemingway, Faik’s short stories offer a realist perspective on the early Republic period and are a must read for any Turcophile.
Beautiful Rock Beaches
On the far side of the island, looking south across the Marmara sea, you would never know there’s a megacity of 15 million people around the corner. The Marmara might be Turkey’s least impressive sea, but the water is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.
Although there’s plenty of places where someone will rent you a beach chair and umbrella, we much prefer to stash our stuff under a rock and just wade in. We've even seen some people camp overnight.