Gokceada Guide: Places To Visit In Gokceada & Things To Do

Gokceada Guide: Places To Visit In Gokceada & Things To Do

Welcome to this joyful blog post where we embark on a mesmerizing journey to Gokceada, a hidden gem that captivates with its enchanting streets, beautiful villages, and unforgettable experiences. Join me as I share my own trip and introduce you to the must-visit places in Gokceada.

As I made my way to Gokceada, I unintentionally overlooked the fact that it is the largest island in Turkey, assuming it would be similar to Bozcaada. However, upon disembarking from the ferry and setting foot on the island, I quickly realized I was mistaken. Gokceada’s town center resembles a bustling city, rather than the laid-back ambiance of an island. While the initial impression of the town center may be a bit underwhelming, fear not! The roads that traverse the island will lead you to wondrous worlds waiting to be explored.

Gokceada Video

Typically, I share videos alongside my blog posts, catering to those who prefer visual content. However, this time, I highly recommend both watching the video and delving into the text to fully immerse yourself in the Gokceada experience.

How to get to Gokceada?

Gokceada can only be reached by ferries departing from Canakkale Kabatepe. It’s crucial to check the ferry schedule before planning your trip, as they don’t operate every hour. During the summer season, there are approximately six ferry services per day. Make sure to align your itinerary with the ferry timetable. You can check Gokceada ferry times here.

If you purchase tickets online from Gestas, you can skip the line and enjoy the convenience, especially during peak periods. However, note that online ticket sales are not available before the season starts. Once the season commences, buying tickets online will save you time. Keep in mind that online ticket prices are dynamic, meaning they can be significantly more expensive as demand increases and the departure time approaches. In some cases, you may end up paying double compared to purchasing your ticket at the port. Click here to buy Gokceada tickets online.

Places to visit in Gokceada

places to visit in Gokceada

Narrowing down the list of places to visit in Gokceada is a daunting task since the island boasts an abundance of captivating destinations. To begin your journey, I recommend exploring the villages, particularly the Greek villages, known for their charming architecture and hospitable locals.

During my short trip, I had the pleasure of visiting Derekoy, Tepekoy, Kalekoy, Zeytinlikoy, and Eski Bademli among the island’s ten villages. Each village had its own unique charm and allure (you can catch a glimpse of these places in the video). I must mention that Kalekoy and Zeytinlikoy stand out as more vibrant and popular with tourists compared to other villages. Allow me to delve deeper into the two villages that left a lasting impression on me: Tepekoy and Derekoy.

Tepekoy: A Charming Greek Village

places to visit in Gokceada

Tepekoy, an ancient Greek village located 9 km from Gokceada’s town center, completely won me over. The stone houses, the breathtaking natural beauty, and the unwavering warmth of the locals despite their troubled history were the highlights of my visit. I strongly urge you to include Tepekoy in your list of must-visit places in Gokceada.

Unfortunately, Tepekoy, once a thriving village where Greeks resided and agriculture thrived, is now much quieter. In the 1960s, the island’s population, numbering around 1,200, faced political events that forced many to leave their homes. Consequently, the village remained deserted for several years. However, in 1996, Barba Yorgo returned to his village, and gradually, some of the people who were forced to leave their homes started to return.

When you visit Tepekoy today, you’ll be welcomed by Barba Yorgo’s tavern at the village entrance. Although I couldn’t personally experience it due to the pandemic, you can enjoy a warm atmosphere in the evening, sitting on chairs and tables placed in the village square. Additionally, I recommend visiting the coffee shop in the village square, the church attributed to the Virgin Mary, and Agridya Café. Every year, Tepekoy celebrates the Feast of the Virgin Mary on August 14-16. For more detailed information about this holiday, I invite you to visit Barba George’s website. Reading it directly from his pen will give you a more authentic perspective. You can read it here.

Derekoy: A Ghost Village with a Rich History

Derekoy is another place I highly recommend adding to your Gokceada itinerary. Situated in the far west of the island, 14 km from the center, Derekoy was once home to approximately 2,000 households, making it the largest village in Turkey during the 1970s-80s. However, today, Derekoy stands as a ghost village.

Derekoy shares a tragic history with other villages on the island. The Greek inhabitants were forced to leave their homes, leaving behind everything they held dear. Over time, the village saw an influx of people from the southeastern region. Presently, a significant portion of the village’s population comprises these individuals.

Due to the extensive destruction of houses, there aren’t many specific places to visit in Derekoy. However, strolling through its streets, absorbing the ambiance, and exploring the Hagia Marina Church, Koimesis Tis Theotokos Church, and the old laundry is a valuable experience in itself.

The Historical Background of Gokceada

Until the 1980s, Gokceada was predominantly inhabited by Greeks, following its inclusion within Turkish borders through the Lausanne Peace Treaty signed in 1924. However, political events unfolded, forcing the locals to leave their ancestral homes. As the Greeks emigrated, people from the Black Sea and Southeast regions were resettled in Gokceada, resulting in an increase in the Turkish population. Though some of the Greek population have recently returned to the island, their numbers remain relatively low.

These events, which send chills down my spine, have left an indelible mark on the island’s history. As you walk through the streets of Tepekoy and Derekoy, you may find your heart heavy with the weight of these stories. May we strive for a future where governments work not to inflict suffering upon their people, but to alleviate their burdens and make their lives easier.

Choosing the Perfect Accommodation in Gokceada: Where to stay in Gokceada?

places to visit in Gokceada

Gokceada offers a wide range of accommodation options, allowing you to tailor your stay to your preferences. While hotels in the town center may not provide the most fulfilling experience, I recommend exploring alternatives in the villages and bays for a more authentic and enchanting holiday.

If you plan to spend 3-4 days on the island, consider dividing your stay into multiple locations. Depending on your interests, you can choose suitable accommodation in Tepekoy, Zeytinlikoy, Kalekoy, and Eski Bademli to explore the island’s culture and historical structures. If surfing is your passion, there are bungalows, hotels, and camping options near the surfing schools in Kafelos.

Zeytinlikoy, Eski Bademli, and Kalekoy offer a plethora of accommodation choices. During my exploration of the smaller Tepekoy village, I came across Hostel Agridia, boasting a magnificent view. Although I didn’t stay there personally, I wanted to share it with you due to its stunning lakeside setting.

During certain periods, you can find affordable accommodation options on Airbnb. Check out this link to explore the available options. Booking through this link will also make a small contribution towards supporting me.

Camping in Gokceada: Embrace Nature’s Beauty

places to visit in Gokceada

Yes, camping enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Gokceada offers numerous camping grounds, both for tents and caravans. Whether you prefer paid camping in private facilities or free camping in the wilderness, the island has options to suit your preferences. However, do exercise caution when camping in tents, as the island experiences strong winds.

Gokceada’s camping areas are primarily located along the coastline. Paid camping sites can be found in Yildiz Bay in the north, Kefalos in the southeast, and Ugurlu.

Gokceada boasts numerous free camping areas that allow you to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty. The picturesque spots of Eselek Beach, Yildiz Bay, Ugurlu, Secret Harbor (Gizli Liman), Kefalos, and Laz Bay are perfect for a tranquil stay. Keep in mind that these camping locations lack facilities, so remember to stock up on supplies before setting up camp.

Sunset in Gokceada

places to visit in Gokceada

For those who revel in the beauty of sunsets, Gokceada offers three enchanting suggestions: Eski Bademli, Kalekoy, and Pinarbasi. At Eski Bademli, you’ll discover a magnificent view from the village’s hilltop, near the parking lot. Although it may not be an ideal spot for a leisurely stay, the vista is truly worth the visit.

At the observation terrace of Poseidon Cafe in Kalekoy, you can witness a mesmerizing sunset while enjoying your own food and drinks. Please note that the cafe may have specific entry policies, so it’s best to inquire beforehand. Pinarbasi provides another excellent option for sunset viewing. Although you won’t have a direct view of the setting sun, the unique surroundings offer a relaxing atmosphere. Underneath an ancient plane tree, you’ll even find a charming tea garden where you can sip your tea and unwind.

places to visit in Gokceada

In Pinarbasi, which is another great option for watching the sunset in Gokceada, you cannot watch the sunset directly from the opposite side, but you can still sit and relax against a unique view. There is also a small tea garden located here under the ancient plane tree. If you wish, you can sip your tea here.

Places to swim in Gokceada

places to visit in Gokceada

Laz Bay, Kefalos Beach, Secret Harbor (Gizli Liman), Yildiz Bay, and Kefalos are among the most popular choices for swimming in Gokceada. Personally, I adore Laz Beach and Kefalos Beach—their beauty is unparalleled. However, keep in mind that Gokceada is known for its constant winds, so don’t wait for windless weather to enjoy a refreshing swim.

If you want to swim in Gokceada, you should also know that the wind never ends on the island! So do not wait in vain for windless weather to go swimming.

Vegan food in Gokceada: Vegan Delights for Foodies

Gokceada offers a variety of restaurants in its central area that specialize in delicious home-cooked meals, many of which are entirely plant-based. These dining establishments cater to those seeking animal-free options. One delightful spot to try is Ihlamur Café, a small and charming place I stumbled upon by chance in the town center. They serve vegan toast with three different vegan cheese options. Additionally, their delightful raspberry soda pairs perfectly with the meal. For precise location details, check out their Instagram account: @ihlamurimbros.

Adventures Await: What to Do in Gokceada

Gokceada provides a wealth of activities that cater to different interests and preferences. From exhilarating water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing, with numerous surf schools available, to diving at Divepark Gökçeada, the island offers endless opportunities for exploration. During my visit, I experienced the thrill of a discovery dive and eventually pursued a 1-star diver certification at Divepark Gökçeada. I highly recommend them for their personalized training and reasonable prices. Feel free to mention my name for a potential discount!

For a more relaxed experience, consider taking a boat tour, capturing stunning photographs, or strolling through the charming village streets. You can also embark on a scenic coastal drive along the southern coast, enjoying breathtaking views at every turn. Additionally, don’t miss the chance to swim in the morning and marvel at the starry night sky in Yildiz Bay—a truly magical experience.

places to visit in Gokceada
  • You can do sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing in Gokceada. There are multiple surf schools and many educational options available.
  • You can dive. There are two diving schools on the island. I went to Divepark Gökçeada which was located in Kefalos Beach. First, I did a discovery dive and later I decided to get my training to become a 1-star diver. I parked my van next to DivePark Gökçeada and stayed there for 3 days until my training finished. I highly recommend DivePark Gökçeada since they provide one-on-one training and reasonable prices. If you ever want to dive here, you can give them my name just in case to get a discount maybe. 🙂
  • You can take a boat tour.
  • You can watch the sunset with wonderful views.
  • You can walk on the streets of beautiful villages.
  • You can take photographs.
  • You can make a great journey on the road along the seacoast in the south of the island.
  • You can swim in the morning and watch the stars at night in Yildiz Bay.

Timing Your Visit: When to go to Gokceada?

places to visit in Gokceada

Gokceada offers diverse experiences throughout the year. May provides a serene atmosphere with fewer visitors, while August sees a moderate level of crowds. The peak season spans from June to September. However, it’s advisable to avoid visiting during winter, as temperatures drop significantly, and many summer residents prefer to spend the colder months elsewhere.

Travel Tips for Gokceada

To make the most of your Gokceada adventure, here are some valuable tips:

  • Duration: Plan a minimum of 4-5 days to fully indulge in all the activities and visit the popular attractions. Allocate a day for diving, another for surfing, and dedicate the remaining days to exploring the island.
  • Unforgettable Sunsets: Pinarbasi and Kalekoy are my top recommendations for watching the sunset. Their beauty is unparalleled.
  • North Route: To visit the northern parts of the island, follow this route: Zeytinlikoy, Eski Bademli, Kalekoy, and Yildiz Bay. This itinerary allows you to visit Zeytinlikoy and Eski Bademli during the day, witness a breathtaking sunset in Kalekoy, enjoy your meal, and then head to Yildiz Bay for stargazing.
  • South Route: For the southern regions, explore Tepekoy, Derekoy, Secret Harbor (Gizli Liman), Laz Bay, and Kefalos. Especially after Laz Bay, take the scenic coastal road for a fantastic journey with mesmerizing seaside views.

In my personal experience, Gokceada was a delightful destination that offered unique adventures and beautiful landscapes. If you’re an avid traveler who appreciates diverse experiences, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting this stunning island.

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