Surrounded by Turkish grape vines, restored, whitewashed houses and Mediterranean-influenced food, these are just some of the reasons we returned to Bozcaada two years in a row.
To me, Bozcaada, an island off the western coast of Turkey, is one of those rare, magical places where you can relax without hordes of tourists. There are hidden beaches and swimming holes to explore. A short walk down an uneven cobblestone path may lead to a charming café.
Oh, and don’t forget about the wine! This 15-square-mile island is planted with field after field of grapevines – a beautiful site to see in the summer and in the fall. Last year, the New York Times referred to Bozcaada as “one of Turkey’s most promising wine destinations.”
|Autumnal-colored, empty grapevines on the island of Bozcaada, Turkey.|
In July 2011, four of us traveled to Bozcaada for the first time because we had fallen in love with drinking Corvus wine here in Istanbul. (Corvus is considered the most prestigious producer on the island.) Our plan was to drink wine and sunbathe on the beach. That was it.
Last October, hubby and I returned to Bozcaada because we just couldn’t resist. The island was more subdued at that time of the year, but was perfect in our quest for a relaxing weekend. With temps between 10-15 C, we didn’t swim in the icy Aegean Sea this time.
Like Turkey, this small island has captured my heart.
Here are my Top 10 Things to Do on Bozcaada:1. Eat ahtapot! Who knew this steak-lovin’ girl would fall in love with ahtapot (octopus) once she moved to Turkey? I like this tasty Mediterranean morsel best grilled with lots of olive oil and spices. Be sure to save your bread for some dunking. Delicious ahtapot can be had at Şişman, Lodos and Mistik restaurants.
2. Go wine tasting! Bozcaada is known for its Turkish wines, so you can sample the likes of Talay, Corvus and Çamlıbağ in the city center. There’s also a new, hip restaurant called Bakkal that offers a large wine list, locally-sourced dishes and imported Italian pork salami on the menu.3. Rent a bike. This was my husband’s brilliant idea, just like when we traveled to Bali. I like hiking, but I am no cyclist. However, renting a bike for just 15tl is a good way to see the island (if you don’t have a car), but be prepared for hills. Lots of hills! I didn’t remember Bozcaada being so hilly, and my legs were on fire the next morning.
4. Explore the beaches. The island’s beaches are a bit more fun when the weather is warm and sunny. We pedaled out to Ayazma Plajı, but it was deserted at the end of October. During the summer, the beaches, such as Çayır Plajı and Tuzburnu Plajı, are also good places to rent a chair and take a dip in the crystalline water. We even found several practically-deserted swimming holes when we drove around the island in 2011.
|Grab a beach chair on the island of Bozcaada.|
|Or find a swimming hole like this one.|
|Hubby made his famous nar-garitas for Turkish customers at the bar.|
7. Climb on top the Bozcaada Castle. In 1455, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror rebuilt the castle on ruins that had been used by the Genovese and Venetians. In the following years, the castle, considered the best preserved castle in Turkey, was restored several times due to wars.
|A nice view of the Aegean Sea from on top the castle.|
|A nighttime view of Bozcaada Castle.|
9. Drink wine by the harbor. BYOB. Head down to the opposite side of the harbor from the castle with a bottle of wine in tow. Sit on the rocks and swirl your newly purchased bottle of Turkish wine.
10. Watch the sunset. A popular activity to do is pack a bag full of wine and snacks and head out to the Polente Feneri (Lighthouse) on the western side of the island. You’ll notice the giant electricity windmills as you approach. Grab a spot by the rocky ledge, spread out your towel and watch one of the best sunsets you’ve ever seen in Turkey.
11. Fly via a seaplane. I couldn’t resist throwing in an extra reason to visit Bozcaada. As mentioned on recent posts, my husband and I flew the new Seabird Airlines from Istanbul for a long weekend in October. At 80 minutes, the seaplane is the fastest way to get here or you can take a bus/your own car and make the trip in 6+ hours.
Update August 2015: The Seabird Airlines has stopped flying to Bozcaada, according to the Turkish news.
Once you get to Bozcaada, all you may want to do is eat some divine local food, swirl some Turkish wine and relax on the beach or in a white-washed chair.
|The harbor area on Bozcaada, Turkey.|
How to get there:
By car: take the fast ferry from Istanbul to Bandırma, and then drive 210 km to the port of Geyikli. From there, take a 35-minute car ferry to Bozcaada. Total time is about 6 hours. If you don’t mind driving longer, you can also drive west from Istanbul through Tekirdağ, and then take a ferry boat from Gelibolu or Eceabat, crossing the Dardanelles Strait. You’ll need to drive a bit more before you reach Geyikli.
By bus: Truva Turizm runs frequent buses from Istanbul to Geyikli. Then, hop on the ferry boat. 7 hours.
Where to stay:
Aika, a new boutique hotel in the city center, is ideal for couples or friends traveling together.
Çapraz Resort Hotel, located 3 km. from the city center, is more family-friendly and has its own pool and private beach area.
|An aerial view of Bozcaada's town center as we flew over in the Seabird plane.|
|Bozcaada grape vines during the summer months.|