On my first visit to Burgazada, I was actually on my way to Büyükada but was annoyed at all the tourists on the ferry. I noticed that very few people were getting off at Burgazada, so I decided to stop and explore that island for the day. When I got off the ferry and started walking around town, it felt as if I had the whole island to myself!
The ferry terminal is in the middle of town. Next to it is a row of several fish restaurants. I chose to eat at Barba Yani, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Burgazada has some of the typical Ottoman homes just like the other Princes’ Islands. I would say the main attraction on the island is the home of Sait Faik Abasıyanık, one of the greatest Turkish storywriters and poets. The home is now a museum open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10am-6:30pm. I never visited.
Just downhill from the museum is the Greek Orthodox church of St. John. Many of Istanbul’s Greeks live on the island, which they call Antigone (Αντιγόνη).
This church was built in 1896 on top of the prison of St. Methodios. He was imprisoned in a cell on Burgazada with two murderers for leading a rebellion against the Iconoclast Byzantine Emperor Theophilos from 821 to 829. He lived on nothing but fish thrown down through a hole. When he was released, Empress Theodora ordered a church to be built on the site. He ended up serving as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 843 to 847.
There is a mosque just a bit north of the ferry terminal. It’s the only mosque on the island and wasn’t built until 1953.
On the outskirts of town to the north is St. George Greek Orthodox Monastery, built in 1728. It was closed each time I visited.
Getting around the rest of the island is possible on foot. It can get hilly and difficult at times, but the views are worth it from every part of the island. Note it is not possible to go around the entire perimeter of the island.
On the south side of the island, you get some nice views of neighboring Heybeliada.
On the west side of Burgazada is a reasonably priced restaurant, Kalpazankaya, and Kalpazankaya Beach. The restaurant is great, but skip the beach. I was hoping to go swimming but it smelled of dead fish and there was lots of broken glass. Locals say this is a great place for a sunset. You can reach Kalpazankaya by fayton or on foot by walking along the north side of the island for about a half hour.
My favorite spot on the entire island is on the top. Unfortunately, there was a terrible forest fire in 2003 that left the island quite bare, but the peace and quiet up there is unmatched just about anywhere in Istanbul. I’ll tell you a secret – climb up near the top and there will be an appropriately placed bench. Take some snacks, drinks, and maybe a book, and enjoy the view. I like to sit there for a couple hours when I visit Burgazada.
At the highest point on the island is the Greek Orthodox Metamorphosis Monastery. It didn’t appear like anyone was around when I visited.