In this blog post, we will visit Gokceada, which fascinates even when you look at its photos, where a different story is hidden in each street, and which has beautiful villages and experiences. I will both tell you about my own trip and give you information about places to visit in Gokceada.
I forgot the fact that it was the largest island in Turkey on my way to Gokceada and thought it would be like Bozcaada. However, when we got off the ferry and started moving forward, I realized I was totally wrong. The center of Gokceada resembles a small city, far from the friendly atmosphere of an island. Even though the city center may disappoint you a little when you first enter the island, you can be sure that the roads leading through the island open up to different worlds.
Normally, I also share a video for those who do not enjoy reading text while sharing content on the blog. But this time, I recommend both watching the video and reading the text.
How to go to Gokceada?
Gokceada can only be reached by ferries departing from Canakkale Kabatepe. You should always check the ferry times before making your Gokceada trip plan, because there are no ferries every hour. There are about 6 ferry services a day in the summer period. So, it is extremely important that you adapt your plan to ferry services. Click here to check Gokceada ferry times.
If you buy tickets online from Gestas, you can take the ferry without waiting in line and it is a great convenience during peak period. But they do not open online ticket purchase before the season starts. You can save time by buying tickets online when the season opens. Click hereto buy tickets to Gokceada online.
Places to visit in Gokceada
I do not know where to start making a list of places to visit in Gokceada. There are really many places to see on the island. I recommend that you start your trip from the villages. Especially Greek villages are very prominent with both their architecture and their kindly people.
On this short trip, I visited the villages of Derekoy, Tepekoy, Kalekoy, Zeytinlikoy, and Eski Bademli out of 10 villages on the island. Each one was pretty good. (You can watch how the streets of the places I visited look like in the video.) I can also say that especially Kalekoy and Zeytinlikoy are more dynamic and touristic than other villages. I would like to tell you a little more about the two villages that impressed me the most: Tepekoy and Derekoy.
Honestly, Tepekoy, an old Greek village located 9 km from the center of Gokceada, won my heart. The stone houses, the beauty of its nature and the inexhaustible intimacy of its people despite all that has happened, were the things that impressed me the most. I think Tepekoy should be on your list of places to visit in Gokceada.
Tepekoy, where Greeks used to live and where both production and agriculture are intensively maintained, is unfortunately much more inactive today than before. In 1960s, when the island had a population of close to 1,200 people, most of the people were forced to leave their homes due to the political events. Therefore, the village remained a ghost village for many years. When Barba Yorgo returned to his village in 1996, some of the people who were forced to leave their homes began to return gradually.
When you go to Tepekoy today, Barba Yorgo’s tavern will welcome you at the entrance of the village. Although we did not see it due to the pandemic, you can enjoy it in a warm environment at night on the chairs and tables thrown in the village square. On the other hand, the coffee shop in the village square, the church attributed to the Virgin Mary and the Agridya Café are also places I recommend you to see. Every year in Tepekoy, the Feast of the Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 14-16. If you would like to get detailed information about this holiday, I invite you to visit Barba George’s website. I would like you to read it directly from his pen than quote it. You can read it here.
Derekoy is another place that I recommend adding to your list of places to visit in Gokceada. This is an old Greek village located in the far west of the island, 14 km from the center. Derekoy, which was once home to about 2,000 households, had a distinction of being the largest village in Turkey in the 1970s-80s. But today, Derekoy is literally a ghost village.
What happened in Derekoy is a tragedy like what happened in other villages on the island. People from a village of thousands of households were forced to emigrate with a single suitcase. Over time, people from the southeastern region were placed in the village. Today, a large part of the population of the village consists of these people.
Since the village consists mostly of destroyed houses, there are not many places to visit. I think it is more valuable to walk the streets of the village than anything else. Also, you can also visit Hagia Marina Church, Koimesis Tis Theotokos Church, and the old laundry.
What happened in Gokceada?
The Greek population was predominant until the 1980s in Gokceada, which joined the Turkish borders with the Lausanne Peace Treaty signed in 1924. However, as a result of the political events that have taken place since then, the locals were forced to leave their homes. While the Greeks emigrated, people from the Black Sea and Southeast regions were placed in Gokceada, and thus the Turkish population increased. Some of the Greeks forced to leave Gokceada have started to return to the island in recent years, but it is said that their population is still quite low.
It is extremely sad that someone had to experience these events that made my blood run cold even when I only heard about it. I am sure that you will feel a great sadness in your heart, especially when you walk on Tepekoy and Derekoy streets by knowing these events. I hope we see the days when governments work not to make people suffer, but to make their lives easier.
Where to stay in Gokceada?
There are many different options for accommodation in Gokceada. I would not recommend staying in hotels here because there is not much to do in the center. Instead, you can have a different holiday experience by considering other options in villages and bays.
If you are planning a 3-4 day trip, I think it makes sense to spend your holiday in different places by dividing it into several parts. If you are here for a specific purpose, you can also choose a suitable accommodation for it. For example, if you want to see the culture and historical structure of the island, you can stay especially in Tepekoy, Zeytinlikoy, Kalekoy and Eski Bademli. Or, if you are here to surf on the island, you can consider bungalows, hotels and camping options close to the surfing schools in Kafelos.
Zeytinlikoy, Eski Bademli and Kalekoy are very rich in terms of accommodation options. While walking around Tepekoy, which is much smaller than them, I noticed Hostel Agridia, which has a wonderful view. I did not stay in this hostel, but I wanted to share it with you because it has a great view of the lake.
In some periods, you can find affordable accommodation using the Airbnb app. Click here to see accommodation options on Airbnb. If you book from this link, you will also have made a small contribution to me.
Camping in Gokceada
Yes, there is! In many parts of Gokceada, there are places suitable for both tent and caravan camping. If you want to camp instead of staying in hostels or hotels, you can do both paid camping in private enterprises and free camping in suitable places. However, it would be great to be careful when camping in tents, since there is a lot of wind on the island.
Gokceada camping areas are generally located on the coastline. You can find paid camping areas in Yildiz Bay in the north, Kefalos in the southeast, and Ugurlu in the southwest.
Gokceada is also very rich in terms of free camping areas. It is possible to stay free of charge, especially around Eselek Beach, Yildiz Bay, Ugurlu, and Secret Harbor (Gizli Liman). It is not possible to find any facilities in the camps you will make in these regions, so be sure to do all your shopping before you go to your campsite.
Sunset in Gokceada
If you like to watch the sunset, I have three great suggestions for you: Eski Bademli, Kalekoy and Pinarbasi! There is a wonderful view at the top of the village next to the parking lot in Eski Bademli, but honestly, this is not a place to sit and have a good time.
It is possible to watch a magnificent sunset on the observation terrace of a cafe called Poseion in Kalekoy. You can easily watch the setting sun, accompanied by the food, and drinks you bring. But I would like to add one thing in particular: Since this place was closed due to the pandemic, we were able to enter and watch the sunset. I do not know if it is possible to enter and watch the sunset when the business is open, but there is no harm in trying.
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. If you wish, you can sip your tea here.
Places to swim in Gokceada
Laz Bay, Kefalos, Secret Harbor (Gizli Liman), and Yildiz Bay are among the most preferred beaches to swim in Gokceada. However, when we went, unfortunately we did not swim because some of the bays had sea saliva.
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
Yes, sure! You can find restaurants that make home cooking in many places in the center of Gokceada. Most of the food you can find in places like this has no animal ingredients. You can also eat vegan toast at Ihlamur Café, a small and cute establishment that I saw completely by chance in the center. They offer 3 different vegan cheese options, and they have a great raspberry soda you can drink with it. (You can learn their location on their Instagram account: @ihlamurimbros)
What to do in Gokceada? Activities you will enjoy!
- 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 places where you can get information at the port in Kalekoy.
- 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.
When to go to Gokceada?
We visited the Gokceada in May 2021. Due to both the pandemic and the season, the region was almost empty. But as far as we have learned, the island is extremely crowded during the season. The season here starts in June and ends in September. I do not know if it will be as crowded as it used to be in the pandemic. However, if you secure your job and come back in the off-season, you can go for a ride.
They do not recommend visiting this place in winter, since the temperature on the island drops considerably in this season. That is why so many people who spend the summer on the island do not stay here in the winter.
Gokceada Travel Tips
How many days to stay in Gokceada?: If you want to experience all the activities that can be done in Gokceada and visit all famous places, I recommend making a plan for at least 4-5 days. After dedicating one day to diving and one day to surfing, you can dedicate the remaining days to visit the island.
Sunset suggestion: I think you should choose Pinarbasi and Kalekoy to watch the sunset. They are both very beautiful places.
Route suggestion: To visit the places in the north of the island, you can set your route as follows: Zeytinlikoy, Eski Bademli, Kalekoy, Yildiz Bay. Thanks to this route, after visiting Zeytinlikoy and Eski Bademli during the day, you can go to Kalekoy and watch the sunset. After sunset, you can eat your food and go to Yildiz Bay, where you can watch the stars at night.
Route suggestion: When you set your route to the south of the island as Tepekoy, Derekoy, Secret Harbor (Gizli Liman), Laz Bay, Kefalos, especially after Laz Bay, you can reach Kefalos from a great road with sea views.
Personally, I really enjoyed my Gokceada trip. If you enjoy traveling and are open to different experiences, I recommend visiting this beautiful island.
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