A breath of fresh air in Istanbul

Büyükada, the largest of the Princes’ Island located in Istanbul’s metropolis, holds a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. The beautiful landscapes and the absence of noise pollution gives the impression that time slows down. With the bikes and electric cars, it is the complete opposite from the city.

Only 75 minutes away from the capital of Turkey, going to Büyükada is like entering a whole different world. Where cars, honks, exhaust fumes and smog are omnipresent in Istanbul, the island gives a breath of fresh air. According to the website IQAir, the air quality index of the capital is up to the worrying value of 53. On the other side of the Marmara Sea on Büyükada, the air quality index is over two times less than Istanbul (25).

This is explained by the increase of tourism on the island, that pushed the island to make a radical change. Until 2020, the main transportation on Büyükada was horse carriages. But when more and more tourists came, there was pressure to make the island more sustainable. The activists for human rights were also not happy with the traditional transportation. A decision was then taken to replace the horses with bikes and electric vehicles. It became one of the main touristic attractions; people can now rent a bike and discover the island on two wheels. Berat Yavuz (35), a bike rental shop owner, explains: “We have a lot of people visiting, families, couples who want to rent a bike. The number of tourists has increased a lot these last years.” In 2022, 16 million tourists visited the capital of Turkey.

Considering the difference between the city and the island, we can talk about a true utopia regarding the air and noise pollution. This Princes’ island is the perfect escape from an overwhelming city.

A lot of traffic before entering the Beskitas neighborhood, in front of the Dolmabahçe Mosque. The traffic signalization is not respected, which causes a lot of drivers to honk. Therefore, this street quickly becomes noisy and overwhelming. 

A city that doesn’t slow down.

The ferry on the way to the Princes’ island, full of some locals, but mostly tourists.

  Electric tuk-tuks are the most used vehicle on the island.

A group of young men casually talking on their electric scooters.

The young generation choosing the ecological option; every person under 30 was either walking or by bike.

In the middle of this picutre, you can see an electric bus, often filled with people. Tourists, locals…it’s a smart, easy, and silent option to move around the island

A quiet picture. Peaceful and without traffic.

Lots of green in the middle of the street. A bowl of fresh air.

A couple looking at the bike rental company. Not a car in sight.

Nature and transports co-existing together; the electric tuk-tuk driving down the street with a seagull next to it. The street was peaceful, with only the sounds of people walking and shopping at this little market.

A rental bike company on the island, promoted on the ferry as well. They encourage tourists to follow the green pace that’s been settled.