Best Things To Do In Buyukada

As Istanbul warms up, the bustling crowds can become overwhelming. For those seeking a quieter, more scenic alternative away from the city noise, Buyukada offers a perfect escape. This island is accessible by a delightful sea voyage and is close enough to Istanbul for a quick getaway. There is clean air, peaceful streets, charming houses, stunning views, and nature, making them especially tranquil during the weekdays.

The islands also offer numerous spots for sightseeing, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors. If you’re planning a visit and wondering what to do and see, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Buyukada.

1. Spend a nice time on the beach

Eskibağ Beach Buyukada

One of Büyükada’s most stunning beaches is Eskibağ Beach, tucked away at the back of the island. Though it may be a bit challenging to get there, the journey is well worth the effort. The beach is situated along the grand tour route of the island. For a quicker option, you can catch a motorboat from the island’s center and arrive at the bay in about 25 minutes.

Once there, you’ll find all the essentials for a relaxing day at the beach, including umbrellas, sun loungers, cushions, and shower facilities. There’s also a restaurant on-site, so you can enjoy a meal with a view. Whether you’re looking to soak up some sun or just escape the hustle and bustle, Eskibağ Beach offers a perfect slice of paradise.

Eskibağ Beach location

2. Go Sailing

Sailing In Buyukada

On Büyükada, you also have the opportunity to enjoy some sailing. Kamino Yelken, located in the Fethi Okyar Bağı area of the island, operates a sailing club where enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the world of sailing. The club offers courses for children between the ages of 7 and 15, making it a great family-friendly activity.

Additionally, the club provides training in various water sports and activities for different skill levels, including sailing, catamaran, windsurfing, and even yoga.

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3. Rent a Bike

Cycling In Buyukada

As soon as you arrive in Büyükada, consider renting a bike to escape the bustling crowds at the beach and bazaar. Start pedaling right away and explore the island’s beautiful landscapes. You’ll ride past gorgeous waterside mansions and breathe in the fresh air as you climb the pine-covered hills. Cycling is truly the best way to experience all that Büyükada has to offer.

While there are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the island, you might also enjoy a quieter picnic. Pack a blanket and pick up some snacks and drinks from the local delicatessens or markets. Find a secluded spot away from the tourist areas to relax and enjoy your meal.

Bike rental shops are plentiful near the bazaar, but the quality of bikes can vary. For a better cycling experience, we recommend renting from Gündoğdu Bisiklet. They provide sturdy bicycles and helmets, so you can take a safe island tour.


4. Explore the Nostalgic Streets Full of Magnificent Mansions

Best Things To Do In Buyukada

Once you’re on your bike, you have the freedom to explore the stunning streets of Büyükada at your own pace. The island’s charm largely stems from its historic, ornate wooden mansions. As you ride along, you’ll find these grand residences on nearly every street, each seeming more impressive than the last.

Set out on a mansion-hunting adventure, pedaling from one street to the next. While the Nizam area has some of the island’s most beautiful mansions, the Maden region also features many exquisite buildings worth seeing.

Make sure to include Aya Yorgi Hill in your itinerary. It’s crucial to time your visit so you reach the hill before sunset—watching the sun dip below the horizon from this vantage point is a breathtaking experience not to be missed.

5. Visit Aya Yorgi Church

Aya Yorgi Church Buyukada

By renting a bike and pedaling up the island’s hills, we’ve managed to escape the bustling crowds, moving us closer to a serene experience at Aya Yorgi Hill. Indeed, it seems that a bit of physical effort is all it takes to find peace, as the crowds thin out significantly on the way up. To reach Aya Yorgi Church, you’ll start at the Amusement Park area, about 3 kilometers from the pier, which marks the beginning of both the large and small tours of the island. Here, you’ll need to lock up your bikes, as the steep climb to Aya Yorgi must be tackled on foot—no vehicles are allowed. The hike isn’t too demanding but expect it to take at least 25 minutes.

Once at the top, you find yourself virtually isolated from the rest of the island, surrounded by three notable attractions: the Aya Yorgi Church, the Yücetepe Kır Casino, and the spectacular view of the sunset.

Aya Yorgi Church, originally known as Agios Georgios Greek Orthodox Monastery, was built in 1751 in honor of St. George. It’s a place of pilgrimage that transcends religious boundaries, drawing Muslims, Christians, and Jews who come to make wishes on April 23 and September 24 each year. The church houses a treasured icon of Saint George slaying a sea monster, which, according to legend, was buried by priests during an occupation to protect it and later rediscovered based on the visions of a shepherd.

Given its sacred status, the church sees a massive influx of visitors on its two annual feast days. Pilgrims often approach the church barefoot and in silence, tying rags to branches along the way to make wishes. If you’re merely interested in touring the church, it’s best to avoid these dates due to the large crowds.

Aya Yorgi Church location

6. Enjoy a Meal on Aya Yorgi Hill with an amazing view of Istanbul

Yücetepe Restoran &Amp; Kafe Buyukada

Cycling 3 kilometers and hiking up the hill for about half an hour is completely worth it just to revel in the tranquility that awaits at the top. Right beside Hagia Yorgi Church, you’ll find Yücetepe Kır Casino. Since opening in 1978, this charming and peaceful spot has maintained its original spirit. It’s a quaint, family-run establishment with rustic wooden tables and chairs, offering a simple yet delightful menu. Highlights include their famous meatballs, Afyon sausage, homemade olive oil-drizzled stuffed vine leaves, spicy paste, and cheese muska pastry. The meatballs and potatoes are highly recommended.

Moreover, the moonlit view on full moon nights is breathtaking. If you’re lucky enough to be there during one, choose to dine here over the beachside restaurants. Yücetepe Kır Casino is open year-round and stands out as one of Istanbul’s best-kept secrets.

Yücetepe Restoran & Kafe location .

7. Enjoy the Sunset on the Cliffs of Aya Yorgi

Sunset On The Cliffs Of Aya Yorgi Buyukada

This spot is arguably the most picturesque on the island, with a sunset that ranks among the top five in Istanbul.

And here’s a tip for a lesser-known gem: behind the meatball restaurant near Aya Yorgi, rocks are perfect for sunbathing. The stunning view from there offers a sweeping vista of the surrounding area. There’s even a rock shaped like a throne. If you find it unoccupied, don’t hesitate—claim it quickly and soak in the majestic scenery in royal style.

8. Have Dinner at Eskibağ Teras Restaurant

Eskibağ Teras Restaurant Buyukada

While the beachside restaurants have become a classic spot on the island and offer a lively atmosphere if you want to escape the typical tourist experience, consider heading to the more secluded Eskibağ Teras Restaurant. Located at the far end of the island, this spot is perfect for those looking to steer clear of the usual tourist paths.

Eskibağ Teras offers a simple yet beautiful dining experience with its wooden chairs and more intimate setting. This is our tip for truly escaping the hustle of Istanbul while in Büyükada.

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9. Enjoy Unique Ice Cream

Ice Cream In Dondurmaci Yunus Buyukada

When you step off the ferry in Büyükada, you’ll instantly notice the crowd indulging in towering, five-layered ice creams. This spectacle is a quintessential tourist experience on the island. However, for a more authentic taste, head straight for Yunus, a mobile ice cream vendor cherished by the locals. Yunus Usta, runs this family business where they craft ice cream from seasonal fruits and sell it fresh daily from wheelbarrows around Büyükada and neighboring islands. Look for his cart usually stationed in front of the Anatolian Club.

Yunus offers a select range of flavors including lemon, cherry, peach, chocolate, and cream. If you visit during the summer, try to catch the cherry or peach flavors—the fruits are freshly crushed, enriching the ice creams with intense aromas. Note that Yunus’s ice cream is more sorbet-like since it’s not milk-based, meaning it melts quickly. His signature touch? Serving the ice cream shaped like a rose instead of the typical ball.

If Yunus’s stand is too crowded or you’re looking for alternatives, consider these options:

Dondurmaci Yunus location

10. Join the Locals in the Nostalgic Tea Gardens on the Beach

Bahcede Sinek Kafe Buyukada

One of the most cherished traditions on the Island is to visit a beachside tea garden with friends after dinner. Here, you can enjoy classic games like backgammon, and cards. These tea gardens are not just about relaxation and fun; they also provide a perfect opportunity to mingle and chat with the islanders, making them a great spot for anyone looking to connect with the local community.

Bahcede Sinek Kafe location