With its bursting population Istanbul can get overwhelming. For a daytime reprieve, take the ferry from Kabataş to the islands. Cars aren’t permitted on the islands, and this is a welcome change from the traffic and noise of Istanbul proper. Take some time away, rent a bike, and enjoy the peace and beauty of Istanbul on the islands. The brightly decorated faytons (horse drawn carriages serving as taxis) are an entertaining alternative to the more self-dependent modes of transportation in Istanbul’s only car-free municipality.

Büyükada, the largest of the islands, is a popular destination for cycling and hiking enthusiasts. While it can get crowded during a sunny weekend, there are still plenty of more remote pine-covered hills and backstreets off the beaten track to be explored.

Beside the district’s beautiful konaks (wooden mansions) the island is also home of the Aya Yorgi Monastir, a hilltop monastry with panoramic view on the surrounding islands.

Heybeliada and Burgazada attract a smaller share of the tourist crowd, but their cafes, restaurants and forest trails offer comparable pastime and leisure.