Explore Heybeliada, Istanbul: Best Things to Do, See, Dine Guide

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Formerly known as Halki and the second largest of the Princes’ Islands, Heybeliada in Istanbul is notable for its nature that encompasses every shade of green, pine forests, vibrant Judas trees, historical mansions, and its peaceful and modest setting far from the chaos of traffic. In this article, you can find general information about Heybeliada, places to visit, historical sites, activities to do, beaches, popular dining spots, and transportation details.

Located right next to Buyukada, Heybeliada offers a tranquil escape with its historical texture and lush nature. It holds the title of the greenest island among Istanbul’s islands. The island is open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, as motor vehicles are prohibited, adding to its unique tranquility and peace.

One of the most striking features of Heybeliada is its historical mansions and buildings scattered all over the island. Additionally, from Değirmenburnu Hill, one of the island’s peaks, you can enjoy breathtaking sea views.

About Heybeliada Island

The old name of Heybeliada, Halki, means copper in ancient Greek. It is said that there were once copper mines on the island. The island is believed to have received its name because its pine forest-covered, sloping structure resembles a saddlebag.

Heybeliada stands out with its four hills named Ümit Hill at 85 meters, Değirmen Hill at 136 meters, Köy Hill at 128 meters, and Baltacıoğlu Hill at 98 meters, along with the valleys and beaches between these hills.

Quick History

The history of Heybeliada dates back to the 16th century. It is said that during that period, the Christian population saw the island as an escape point to protect themselves from the plague epidemic in the city. In 1924, under the directive of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a sanatorium was opened on Heybeliada to provide a peaceful environment for patients with long-term illnesses like tuberculosis.

The sanatorium, which served until 2005, is no longer in operation today. Prominent figures like Rıfat Ilgaz and İsmet İnönü also stayed here for treatment purposes at one time. The island also hosted the Greek Orthodox Theological School for a period.

Top Things to Do, Places to See

There are many places to visit and activities to do on Heybeliada. Değirmenburnu Hill, one of the highest points on the island, offers visitors stunning views. From here, you can watch the magnificent panoramic views of the island and the Marmara Sea. Değirmenburnu Picnic Area is also an excellent place for having a picnic and spending a day surrounded by nature.

Among the historical structures on Heybeliada worth seeing are the Halki Seminary, Aya Yorgi Cliff Monastery, and the Greek Boys’ High School, which can be reached by passing through charming streets.

Aya Yorgi Cliff Monastery, one of the oldest religious buildings on the island, offers visitors a historical journey. The Halki Seminary, a significant educational institution from the Ottoman period, still attracts attention with its impressive architecture.

No Regrets Booking Advice

Other activities you can enjoy on Heybeliada include nature walks, bicycle tours, and sea activities. In addition to swimming in the summer, rowing and sailing are among the most popular activities on Heybeliada.

When you visit Heybeliada, the must-see places and activities include:

  • Touring the island by electric vehicles or bicycles
  • Enjoying the sea and beaches during the summer at Heybeliada’s beaches
  • Visiting Değirmen Hill and Değirmenburnu
  • Exploring the Naval High School
  • Visiting Aya Yorgi Cliff Monastery and Aya Nikola Greek Orthodox Church
  • Exploring the Heybeliada Sanatorium and Theological School
  • Visiting İsmet İnönü Museum House and Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar Museum House
  • Dining at seaside restaurants

Heybeliada Pier

Heybeliada Pier is the first place that greets you when you set foot on the island. It’s an excellent starting point to escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul and step into the serene atmosphere of the island. The historical pier building, dating back to the 19th century, reflects the nostalgic texture and elegant architecture of the island. The cafes and restaurants around the pier offer a pleasant break with a sea view.

The walking paths and flower-adorned parks around the pier allow you to start your island exploration in a peaceful manner. Additionally, you can rent a bicycle or walk to various points of the island from the pier.

Island Streets

The narrow and charming streets of Heybeliada are among the favorite spots for island visitors. Historical mansions from the Ottoman period, pastel-colored houses, and gardens adorned with flowers add a unique beauty to the island’s streets. While strolling through these streets, you may encounter a different beauty at every corner.

Walking or cycling provides visitors with a wonderful opportunity to discover the island’s tranquil atmosphere and natural beauty. Moreover, you can take a break at the small cafes along the streets and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the island.

Aya Nikola Church

Aya Nikola Church, one of Heybeliada’s significant religious buildings, reflects the island’s historical and cultural richness. Built in the 19th century, the church exhibits elegant examples of Byzantine architecture. The interior of the church, adorned with icons and frescoes, offers visitors a mystical atmosphere.

Aya Nikola Church is also the center of the island’s religious life. Religious ceremonies and festivals held throughout the year attract both locals and visitors.

Terk-i Dünya Monastery

One of the oldest religious structures on Heybeliada, Terk-i Dünya Monastery, is located in the southeast of the island. As the name suggests, this monastery served as a sanctuary for monks who had renounced the world. It is notable for its peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.

The natural beauty and pine forests surrounding the monastery offer visitors the chance to be in close contact with nature. A walk to Terk-i Dünya Monastery provides both physical and spiritual renewal.

Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar House

The house of Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar, one of the prominent figures of Turkish literature, on Heybeliada is a special stop for literature lovers. The house where the author lived for many years and wrote many of his works is now open to visitors as a museum. Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar House showcases the lifestyle of the period and the author’s personal belongings.

The interior of the museum house is filled with the author’s study room, library, and personal items. The garden offers a peaceful environment.

İsmet İnönü Museum

The house of İsmet İnönü, the second President of the Republic of Turkey, on Heybeliada, now serves as the İsmet İnönü Museum. The museum, which houses many items and documents related to İnönü’s life and political career, is an important visit point for history enthusiasts. The museum exhibits items and photographs from the period when İnönü lived with his family, as well as items gifted to him by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Halki Seminary

The Halki seminary, formally the Theological School of Halki is one of the island’s most important historical and cultural structures. Founded in 1844, the school served as a center for the education of Orthodox clergy for many years.

The history of the Greek Orthodox Theological School dates back to the 9th century. It was established in an expanded area of the building named Aya Triada, constructed to train clergy.

The Halki Seminary, which was closed in 1971, is a subject of ongoing discussions about its reopening. Various events such as conferences, exhibitions, and festivals are held here periodically. The school’s garden and surroundings are ideal for meditation or relaxation in a quiet and peaceful environment.

Aya Yorgi Cliff Monastery

Dating back to 1583, Aya Yorgi Cliff Monastery is located on a hillside in the south of the island. Due to its location, it is named “cliff.” It served as a refuge during the plague epidemic in Istanbul.

The monastery, with its pink architecture, stands out, and the view from its location is breathtaking.

Naval High School

Another historical site on Heybeliada is the Naval High School, founded in 1773 under the name Mühendishane-i Bahr-ı Hümayun. With its historical buildings and large campus, the Naval High School is one of the symbols of Heybeliada.

Greek Boys’ High School

Heybeliada Greek Boys’ High School, which has trained many Orthodox clergy throughout history, dates back to the 1200s.

Değirmenburnu Picnic Area and Beach

Değirmenburnu, with one of Heybeliada’s most beautiful bays, is a popular picnic area. With its picnic area and beautiful beach, it is always a favorite spot for visitors to the island.

Değirmenburnu picnic area, ideal for those who want to have a picnic, offers picnic tables, buffets, and a country tavern.

Island Tour with Electric Vehicles

One of the most recommended activities when you visit Heybeliada is joining a tour around the island with electric vehicles. This allows you to explore Heybeliada thoroughly while enjoying beautiful sea and nature views.


As is well known, after the disease that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of horses, carriages were banned in the islands, and since August 2020, island tours are conducted with electric vehicles.

A total of 40 13-seater and 20 3-seater electric vehicles serve the islands. These vehicles can travel at a maximum speed of 25 kilometers per hour.

Island Tour by Bicycle

One of the best options to explore Heybeliada with pleasure is to rent a bicycle. You can pedal through all the beautiful spots of the island, stop wherever you want, and enjoy your drinks against the view at lovely cafes.

When you arrive at the island, you can find bicycle rental places almost everywhere as you head towards the center from the pier.

Beaches and Beach Clubs

The island offers beautiful beaches and beach clubs with various alternatives and services. Heybeliada’s beaches, with their beautiful sea and beach facilities, are preferred by both adults and families with children.

Among the popular beaches and beach clubs on Heybeliada are Ada Beach Club, Değirmenburnu Beach, Çam Limanı Bay Beach, German Bay Beach, and Aquarium Beach.

Dining Places on Heybeliada

Heybeliada offers a wide range of dining options for its visitors. The restaurants along the island’s coastline are famous for their fresh seafood and various mezes. These venues, ideal for a dinner with a sea view, provide unforgettable moments with their delicious dishes and tranquil atmosphere.

One of the most popular spots on the island is Heyamola Restaurant, known for its fresh fish and seafood. The patisseries on Heybeliada also stand out with their fresh cookies and sweets. While strolling through the island’s market, you can take a break at these patisseries and enjoy their delicious treats.

Shopping on Heybeliada – What to Buy?

Heybeliada not only impresses with its natural beauty and historical texture but also offers a delightful shopping experience. The island is notable for its small boutique shops that sell local products and handmade souvenirs. While exploring the island’s market, you can find unique souvenirs, jewelry, and decorative items specific to the island. Freshly made cookies and jams from the island’s patisseries are also quite popular.

Accommodation on Heybeliada – Where to Stay?

Heybeliada doesn’t offer a wide range of accommodation options. There are only a few small hotels and pensions. For those who wish to rest in a peaceful environment surrounded by nature, Heybeliada is a perfect destination.

Manzara Ada Hotel is one of the popular accommodation choices on Heybeliada. For those looking for a more economical option, Heybeliada Yalı Pansiyon or Prenset Pansiyon could be an ideal choice.

How to Get to Heybeliada? Transportation

There are various alternatives to get to Heybeliada. One option is the city line ferries, and the other is motorboats.

You can directly reach Heybeliada from Beşiktaş, Kabataş, Kadıköy, and Bostancı with public ferry lines.

Additionally, you can reach Heybeliada directly by passenger motorboats from Eminönü, Yeşilköy, Beşiktaş, Kabataş, Bostancı, Kartal, Avcılar, and Yalova.

Upon arrival at Heybeliada, there are bicycle rental services at the pier, which are very convenient for those who want to explore the island by bike.

* You’ll need IstanbulKart to pay.

* Check en.sehirhatlari.istanbul for all above routes, timetables and prices.

Princes’ Islands (Adalar) by Private Boats

Round-Trip Ticket for Princes’ Island Ferry & Audio Guide

You’ll have about 75 minutes ferry ride to the Princes’ Island, the Buyukada. While you have a fantastic Bosphorus ride, you can admire the beautiful skyline of Istanbul at the open air deck, enjoy refreshments from the kiosk or listen to the stories about the Bosphorus from the audio guide app on your smartphone.

  • Round Trip Tickets mostly Include: Round-Trip ticket to the Princes’ Island, Fast track entry on boat from the online ticket window, audio guide app for IOS and Android in 10 languages: English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese

You can pick one of the best ones below

  1. Round-Trip Ticket for Princes’ Island Ferry & Audio Guide
  2. Princes’ Islands Cruise w/Music, Lunch & Transfer
  3. Full-Day Princes Island Tour with Lunch from Istanbul

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