Best Islands In Turkey You Have To Visit
We all know that Turkey is beautiful and has countless places to visit. However, did you know that there are around 500 islets and islands in Turkey?
With so many Turkish islands, it is no wonder you may be finding it hard to narrow down your choice of which islands of Turkey to add to your Turkey travel list!
If you’re visiting a busy city, a quick visit to an island could be a great way to enjoy a slower pace of life. If you’re visiting a beach resort, heading to an island could give you the ideal change of scenery and allow you to enjoy a different view of your destination.
Of course, knowing which islands in Turkey are worthwhile versus those that are too difficult to get to or aren’t worth the effort is essential. Turkey has many islands that are more than worth a visit, so it was hard to make this list of top-rated islands in Turkey, but we did our best.
Let’s check out some of the best Turkish island escapes and explain why they’re so great.
Best Island In Turkey For Beach Time – Bozcaada
You’ll find one of the best Turkish islands to visit, Bozcaada, just off the coast of Canakkale. This island was part of Greece back in the day, but it became part of Turkey in 1923. It is a slice of heaven in the Aegean.
The island is stunningly beautiful and ideal for a chilled-out day on the beach. There isn’t a huge amount to do away from the beach, but that’s what makes it perfect for beach time! During the peak season, the island does become quite busy, especially during the Turkish school holidays. Be sure to head to Ayazma Beach or Cayir Beach if you’re a fan of windsurfing.
Finish your day with a walk through the Greek Quarter and check out the castle dating back to Byzantine.
Best Island In Turkey For Off The Beaten Track Travel – Gökçeada
Gökçeada (Gokceada) is impressive and home to pink flamingos around the salt lake. There are countless active things to do here, such as mountain biking, hiking, walking, and checking out the beaches on the south coast, but it’s also a very rugged island and, therefore, a little off the beaten track. That only adds to its beauty!
Visiting the island is only possible via a passenger ferry from Canakkale, which leaves twice weekly. Accommodation is also sporadic, and it’s likely to be family-run guest house vibes rather than large hotels.
However, that adds to the island’s charm, and if you’re up for an adventure, this island will not disappoint. It’s one of the best islands in Turkey to get away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful getaway surrounded by quiet nature and local culture.
Best Turkish Island Near Istanbul – Büyükada
If you’re staying in Istanbul for more than a few days, you’ll probably need a break from the hustle and bustle! This is a huge city and one which can be stressful on its busiest days (which is most days). Some go to a spa or hammam to chill out, but why not head to an island and have a break from city life? There are no better islands of Turkey in that case than Buyukada Island.
Büyükada is one of the Princes’ Islands that lie off the coast of Istanbul and is one of the islands closest to Istanbul.
Ferries leave Bestikas and Karakoy daily, with several ferries there and back everyday. This is the largest of the Princes’ Islands, and its beauty is simply divine.
This is also a Turkish island without any cars. Visiting it is almost like going back in time, seeing the horse-drawn carriages and the huge villas that line the hillside. Be sure to check out the Monastery of St George and its stunning views back to Istanbul. If you want to learn more about the island group, there is also a museum.
Best Island In Turkey For History Buffs – Kizkalesi Island
Kizkalesi is an island south of Turkey, on the south coast, and it’s a fantastic spot for beach lovers and history buffs. The island is tiny, and it’s possible to swim back to the mainland, although why bother when you can catch a boat?
The island’s primary focus is the castle dating back to Byzantine times, known as Maiden’s Castle. The castle is very well preserved on the outside, although the inside is in ruins.
The island is in Mersin, a coastal town just east of Antalya. This is an excellent area overall for anyone into history, but if you want to combine that with beach time, it’s a great choice.
Tavsan Island, Bodrum
Tavsan Island translates as ‘Rabbit Island,’ and its name is derived from the rabbits that live there! Aside from the cute animals that call this island home, it’s also a beautiful spot with some unique rock formations that edge down into the impossibly blue sea. The water here is usually quite calm, so it’s ideal for swimming and a good spot for family beach days. This is also one of the best sunset spots.
Best Island In Turkey For Families – Gemiler Island
If you’re staying in Olu Deniz on the south coast, be sure to arrange a boat day trip to Gemiler Island. This is ideal for families because the beach is perfect for splashing with the kids and because there is a history that children will connect with.
Not only are there churches on the island dating back to Byzantine times, but this is also reputed to be the site of the original resting place of St Nicholas, famously known as Santa Claus. Yes, Santa was born in Turkey!
Even without the heavy historical presence on the island, Gemiler is perfect for a chilled-out day enjoying the scenery and spending time as a family.
Best Island Of Turkey For Adventurers – Akdamar Island
Akdamar Island isn’t a spot that many tourists reach, as it is located in the far east of Turkey. However, if you have time to explore, you should check it out. Lake Van is huge, larger than you can comprehend, and many small islands are within it. Akdamar Island is one of those many islands, and its most famous residence is the Church of the Holy Cross.
With beautiful snow-topped mountains in the distance, the island was formerly home to a substantial religious settlement dating back to the 10th century. At this time, King Gagik Artzruni of Armenia ordered the settlement to be built, and the churches still sit on the island.
You’ll find the Church of The Holy Cross is the largest and most prominent, and it has stone carvings that tell the story of the Old Testament.
You can get to the island by boat trip, which leaves Akdamar itself, but boats don’t tend to go frequently, and you may have to wait until the boat is full before it sets sail. Alternatively, you can head to Van and book a guided excursion.
Kinaliada, Princes Islands, Istanbul
A short distance away from Istanbul, you will find the Princes Islands, and Kinaliada is the fourth smallest of those islands. Many aren’t inhabited, but this one is. The beauty of visiting Kinaliada is that it’s the closest to the mainland, so the journey won’t take you quite so long.
The name of the island means ‘Henna,’ and it’s given that name because of the red color of the land, thanks to the copper and iron that was mined there for many years.
Best Turkish Islands For Ancient Ruins – Kekova Island
If you’re staying in Antalya, make sure you find the time to head to Kekova Island, one of the best Turkish islands near Kalekoy village. Here you’ll find underwater ruins which date back to Lycian times, and you can visit them directly by boat or kayak. The ruins were thrown into the sea by a massive earthquake believed to have occurred during the 2nd century. The ruins are now known as the “Sunken City.”
It’s impressive to see first-hand, but the whole island is nothing short of beautiful in its own right. This part of Turkey is packed with ancient ruins, and even a quick visit to Kalekoy will allow you to see the ancient ruins of Simena and a massive fortress on the hilltop.
You can find day trips that head to Kekova easily from most beach resorts in the Antalya region, with Kas being the closest.
Lesser-Known Islands In Turkey
Are you tired of hearing about the same old popular tourist destinations in Turkey? Well, we’ve got some good news for you! Turkey is home to numerous lesser-known islands that are just waiting to be explored. From pristine beaches and crystal clear waters to historic ruins and charming towns, these hidden gems offer a unique experience that will leave you wanting more. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the best-kept secrets of the Turkish islands!
Cunda Ada, Ayvalik
Cunda Ada is a small island located in the Ayvalik archipelago off the western coast of Turkey. The island is home to several small fishing villages and is a popular tourist destination for its natural beauty and tranquility. There are several small beaches dotted around the island, as well as some hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding islands and coastline. Cunda Ada is also home to a number of historical sites, including the ruins of an ancient Greek temple, which can be reached by taking a short boat ride from the main village, and the Ayvalık Strait Bridge connects Cunda Island with Lale Island.
Sedef Adasi, Istanbul
Sedef Adasi is one of the lesser-known islands in Turkey, a part of the “Princes’ Islands.” It is located in the Marmara Sea, just off the coast of Istanbul. The island is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. There are several small beaches on the island and a few restaurants and cafes. Sedef Adasi is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul for a day or two.
Avsa Island, Balikesir
Avsa Island, located in the Sea of Marmara off the coast of Balikesir, is a lesser-known but still beautiful island in Turkey. it is the 3rd largest in the Sea of marma and is a part of the Kapıdağ Peninsula. Crazily enough, the population swells from just 3500 in the winter months up to 130 thousand in summer. Visitors to Avsa Island can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and exploring the island’s many scenic hiking trails. The island is home to several small villages, as well as several beaches and historical sites.
Kalem Island, Izmir
Kalem Island is one of the lesser-known islands in Turkey, but it’s definitely worth a visit! This beautiful island is located in Dikili, Izmir, and it’s perfect for a relaxing getaway. The island is home to stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. There are also plenty of activities to keep you busy, such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and hiking. And if you’re looking for some relaxation, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to enjoy on the island. So why not add Kalem Island to your list of places to visit in Turkey?
Island Resort Heybeliada, Istanbul
Heybeliada is located in the Marmara Sea, just off the coast of Istanbul, and is the 2nd largest island in the group of Princes’ Islands. Heybeliada is a great place to relax and enjoy the Turkish sun and sea. There are plenty of beaches to lounge on and restaurants and cafes to enjoy. If you’re looking for a more active vacation, there are also plenty of activities to keep you busy, such as hiking, biking, and swimming.
Orak Island, Bodrum
Orak Island is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Bodrum in southwestern Turkey. The island is just over half a kilometer long and less than 200 meters wide, making it one of the smallest islands in the Aegean Sea. Despite its small size, Orak Island is home to several interesting features, including several rare plant and animal species.
The island’s vegetation is primarily made up of low-lying scrub bushes and grasses. However, there are also a few trees, including olive trees and fig trees. The island is also home to a number of rare bird species, such as the black-headed bunting and the Audouin’s gull. In addition to its unique flora and fauna, Orak Island also has a number of interesting archaeological sites.
One of the most notable archaeological sites on the island is the remains of an ancient Greek temple. The temple was built in honor of Zeus Lykaios, the god of light and hunting. The ruins of the temple are still visible today, though they are somewhat overgrown with vegetation.
In addition to its archaeological sites, Orak Island is also home to a number of beautiful beaches. The island’s beaches are made up of sand and pebbles, offering stunning views of the nearby coastline. Visitors to Orak Island will find that there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing on the beach.
Sedir Adasi, Marmaris
Sedir Adasi, or Cleopatra Island, is located in the Gulf of Gökova and is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. There are several small beaches on the island and a few restaurants and cafes. The main attraction on the island is the ruins of an ancient city that was once home to Cleopatra.
Burgazada is the 3-rd largest of the nine islands that make up the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, just off the coast of Istanbul. Although it is one of the largest of the islands, it is by far the least developed and most rural. Visitors to Burgazada can enjoy a slower pace of life, spending lazy days swimming and sunbathing on its sandy beaches or hiking through its forests and fields. The island’s small size means that it can be easily explored on foot, and there are plenty of quiet spots to relax with a book or picnic.
Suluada island off the coast of Antalya, Turkey. It is a small island, only about 1 square kilometer in size, but it is a beautiful place with clear turquoise waters and lovely beaches. An uninhabited island means that it is very quiet and relaxing place to visit by boat. If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Suluada Island is the perfect place for you.
Marmara Island, Balikesir
Marmara Island (Turkish: Marmara Adası) is an island in the Sea of Marmara. It is the largest island in Turkey and is administered as part of Balıkesir Province. The island has an area of 117.6 km2 and a coastline of 97 km. The highest point on the island is Mount Ida (Turkish: Kaz Dağları), which is also the highest point on the Turkish Straits.
The island is separated from mainland Turkey by the Strait of Istanbul, and its northwestern tip lies only about 6 kilometers from Cape Passion in Sarayburnu, Istanbul. The nearest point on the mainland is at Sarayburnu, about 10 km southwest of Marmara Island.
Marmara Island is rich in history and culture and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was initially settled by the Leleges, an ancient Anatolian people, and later by the Greeks and Romans. In 657 CE, it was conquered by the Muslims and became known as Arabic: المرمرة al-Marmarah or Persian: جزيره مرمره Jazireh-ye Mormar). It was later ruled successively by the Byzantine Empire, Seljuq Sultanate of Rum, Empire of Nicaea, Latin Empire, and finally, the Ottoman Empire.
The island is best known for its role in the Greek War of Independence when it was the site of the Battle of Marmara Sea in 1807. During World War I, it was the site of several naval battles between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In recent years, its beauty and historic sites have made it a popular tourist destination.
Karaada or Kara Ada is a small island near to Bodrum. It’s a very popular boat trip destination, and many yachting enthusiasts often visit there too. The island is not only beautiful and great for swimming in peace and quiet, but it’s also known for its mineral springs. These are said to have healing properties and are particularly potent at the famous cave on the island, with the water and mud the best things to smother yourself in.
Tersane, Gocek, Fethiye
The name of this island translates to ‘Shipyard Island,’ and it’s given that name because it used to be home to the Ottoman Navy. This island is quite large and is the biggest in the Fethiye Gulf. However, it’s not only about maritime history, as the island is packed with bays and covers that are ideal for swimming and enjoying summer days. There are also ancient ruins from Byzantine times to explore.
If you find some of the Turkish islands near Greece, might we suggest you go to Greece also? You can find Greek islands here.
Now that you know all of the islands of Turkey, I wish you many great sailing days to enjoy them.
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