By Justin Mays:
When people think about island destinations, most look to the Caribbean, Maldives, or the Pacific. Yet Turkey has an abundance of delightful island destinations to explore. Here’s a starting list to help you discover Turkey’s hidden gems for your next island experience.
In Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van, in the far eastern reaches of the country you will find Akdamar island. This small island is home to the 10th-century Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Day-trippers come to wonder at the cathedral’s stunning frescos and exquisite reliefs while enjoying the natural beauty of this saline soda lake with the snowcapped volcano, Mount Suphan, hovering in the distance.
Wine lovers will appreciate this windswept isle in the northern Aegean Sea. Visit a vineyard for wine tastings or buy a bottle to watch the sunset from the windmill-capped hills. The historical small-town center is home to tavernas, small local shops, and a historical fortress overlooking the harbor.
Cunda Island (Alibey Island)
Facing the Greek Island of Lesbos, the lovely Cunda is surrounded by deep cold waters and natural areas. Wander the cobblestone streets and partake in a meze-filled meal. Many of the dishes here are local and are not found outside of the region.
The famed Turquoise Coast is home to many islands, best toured by gulet, the traditional Turkish sailing boat. Dive into local seaside culture and get lost in one of the many pineclad coves.
Turkey’s largest island is a mountainous island with Turkey’s only underwater national park. Goats roam the steep hills sides and visitors enjoy touring the historical Greek villages and sandy beaches of the island.
Hop on a glass-bottomed boat from Kas and view the sunken city of Kekova as you take swim breaks around Kekova island. The cultural, historical, and natural riches located in the crystal blue waters attract tourists from around the world.
Istanbul’s favorite day trip is to the Princes Islands, a nine-island archipelago, a mere ferry ride away from the city proper in the Sea of Marmara. Explore the car-free streets filled with lovely pine forests and Victorian homes or take a dip off the pebble-filled coast.
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