The Marmara Region gets its name from the Sea of Marmara, an inland sea wholly within the borders of Türkiye. Marmara is where Europe meets Asia Minor. To the east is the Aegean Sea and the Dardanelles (Gallipoli Straits), to the west is the Bosphorus Strait leading to the Black Sea. It is best known for İstanbul, Türkiye’s largest and most famous city.
Extending on the two sides of the Bosphorus bordered by green groves, it also possesses beautiful shores along the internal Marmara Sea. Facing the city there are small, pretty islands, adorning this big sea, lying in the middle of the region.
The Princes' Islands
Nine islands off İstanbul coasts are amongst the top destinations, especially in spring and summer. Visitors can enjoy coach rides in streets lined with historical mansions with mimosas and other colourful flowers in their gardens.
There are daily ship services to the islands of Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kınalıada and Sedef Island from İstanbul.
The highest point of Büyükada, namely Yüce Tepe on which the Hagia Yorgi Church is situated, hosts hundreds of Muslims, Greek-Orthodox, Armenian and Jewish people on April 23 and September 24 each year. There are lots of sights on the island including historical mansions and religious buildings.
Splendid mansions with large gardens, Yörükali Beach, Dilburnu Picnic Area, Lovers' Road, Yücetepe Hagia Yorgi Monastery and Church, Europe's biggest wooden building Greek-Orthodox Orphanage, novelist Reşat Nuri Güntekin's house, the Hamidiye Mosque, Hristos (Metamorphosis) Monastery and Church, Hesed Le Avraam Synagogue are among the must-see places.
Another island densely populated by Turks, Heybeliada is famous for its forest. As the second biggest island, Heybeliada hosts the Naval High School, War Academy and the Sanatorium. The house which was once used by Türkiye's second president Ismet Inönü and turned into museum later is another sight on the island. There are also breath-taking bays.
Although they are smaller and quieter islands, Kinalıada, Burgazada and Sedef Adası are favourite places for residents of İstanbul to have a picnic among pine trees.
The Marmara Islands
The Marmara Islands (Marmara Adaları) are an archipelago in the Sea of Marmara located in its mid-west portion, near the Dardanelles (Gallipoli Straits) on the Asian coast.
The group consists of 4 islands: Marmara Island, the major island of the group, mostly mountainous with windswept hills to north and pine forests to south; Avşa, the most popular (and accordingly crowded) island with sandy beaches and vineyards; Paşalimani, a low-lying rural island with several villages along its amoeba-like coastline and Ekinlik, the smallest island, inhabited by locals with a conservative worldview
Marmara Island (older name in Turkish: İmroz) also formerly known as Prokonessos, rose to prominence in the Roman period and retained its importance during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras thanks to the marble quarries which supplied stone for extravagant imperial building programs. Near Saraylar Village, Marble Beach derives its name from the natural marble that lies just off the water’s edge. In the town an open-air museum displays artefacts which date back to Roman and Byzantine times. At the marble quarry you can witness every step of the quarrying process. With an area of 118 km2 it is the largest island in the Sea of Marmara and is the second largest island of Türkiye after Gökçeada. Transportation is possible from İstanbul by ship and ferry, and by motorboat from Tekirdağ and Erdek.
Avşa (sometimes known as Türkeli) is another holiday island that boasts spectacular beaches and clear water as well as vineyards and wine cellars. In the Manastır district stands the Byzantine Meryem Ana Monastery.
The islands of Marmara and Avşa are famous for their fish, wine and historical treasures. They also have wonderful shorelines. The famous Marmara marbles come from here.
Kızkulesi (The Maiden's Tower)
One of İstanbul's most recognizable landmarks, Kizkulesi (Maiden's Tower) is a small tower that sits on an islet where the Bosphorus Strait meets the Sea of Marmara. The current building dates from the 18th century, but a tower was first built here during the Byzantine era and was used as part of Constantinople's defences to guard the city's waterways. Today, the tower contains a café-restaurant on-site, which is worth a visit simply to enjoy the tower's iconic city views. Boats leave from the shore just opposite the island in Üsküdar (which was traditionally known by foreigners as Scutari) on İstanbul's Asian side. You can admire views of the tower itself from the cafés that surround the boat ticket office.