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Cycling Istanbul's Princes Islands

Casting one's mind to Istanbul conjures images of soaring minarets, the bustle of the Grand Bazaar, the waft of kebabs and the exotic intrigue of the city that straddles Asia and Europe. 


For the first time visitor, Istanbul and the buzz of its 15 million inhabitants can be at once exhilarating and a little overwhelming. Luckily, there are some calmer areas to explore - perhaps the most beautiful being the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara - which even allow for a little cycling!



The Princes Islands are a cluster of nine islands a short distance by ferry from the centre of Istanbul. Topographically the islands are very similar to those of the French Mediterranean, and architecturally they are a throwback to the later years of the Ottoman Empire. Culturally they have significance as home for several years to a few famous Turks, and also to Leon Trotsky - who was exiled on Büyükada for four years. Something to pique everyone's interest!



Kate and her friends visited Büyükada a few summers ago and hired bikes from one of many bike rental shops at the port. With motorised vehicles banned, cycling is by far the best way to explore the island, and there's a great outer loop that skirts the coastline. 



Allow a couple of hours for a very relaxed ride, and a stop at a beach or two. Then drop the bikes back off, jump back on the ferry, and re-enter the metropolitan madness.