Gokceada- Things to do

Gokceada- Things to do


It was tough to decide on vacation spots in 2022. We are pretty much fans of the Aegean side more (e.g. Ayvalik-Cunda), but, this year we simply wanted to explore Canakkale and the islands- Gokceada and Bozcaada even though the combination of Aegean and Marmara seas looks less joyful at first glance.

The decision was made very much supported by the intense history of Canakkale. Early ages of the town, Troy, I. World War, what else can you put in a town except being a summer spot?

We will be spending a total of 10 days in Canakkale (a kind of road trip) and hope you also like it and find out what you are looking for.

In addition, we will not be explaining these details in other posts and you will find other Canakkale-related posts below in a sequence and we will make sure those are cross-linked for you to make it easier. Here is the high-level road trip plan.

We also had the shorter version of this trip (Gokceada- 2 days, Gallipoli– 2 days, and Bozcaada-2 days). We will provide what we experienced differently in 2023 at the end of this post.

The post about Gokceada is more like explaining the lifestyle and let’s start with Gokceada’s location and then jump to its history.

Where is Gokceada?

You can see the location of Gokceada below. It is part of Canakkale.

Gokceada – Information and History


Let’s start with basic info.

Gokceada is the biggest island in Turkey. The population is around 10,000 people combining both dominant Turkish and Greek people. Except for the center, there are villages constituting the island itself. The island is at the entrance of Saros Bay, part of Canakkale and it has the most western spot in Turkey.

The main income of Gokceada (also known as Imroz, Imvros, or Imbros) comes from tourism. Even though we think that the island can not show its potential, its popularity increased over the years. But, it is still one step down compared to Bozcaada.

Lastly, the island is one of the cittaslows in Turkey. This could be the final info in this section. Do you know that Bartholomew I (Ecumenical Patriarch) is from Gokceada? He was born in Zeytinlikoy.

History [1,2,3]

Greek Mythology and before BC

It is better to start with Greek mythology. The palace of Thetis (you may remember the king of Phtia – the mother of Achilles) was situated between Imbros and Samotrache (you may also remember from the Troy movie, Achilles visited his mother in this region before going to the war).

In addition, Homer also stated in the Iliad, the stables of the winged horses of Poseidon were in between Tenedos (Bozcaada) and Imbros (Gokceada). Homer also defined the island as “craggy” which could still be a great definition still in the 2000s. There are also several other referrals about Imbros from the myth.

Due to its close location to the straits, Greece, and Turkey, the island was/is always strategic.

It is thought that there were inhabitants before the Greeks (prohelen). The original inhabitants of Imbros were Pelasgonians also mentioned by Herodotus and Homer. Also in the Iliad, Eetion, a lord or ruler over the island of Imbros also mentioned that he had bought Priom’s son- Lycaon captured by Achilles and sent back. From this fact, Imbros was at Troy’s side and against Athens.

Right after, you know Persians started to capture Anatolia step by step and the islands were part of it like Imbros. But later, Athens conquered the island from Persia after the battle of Salamis (around BC 500). And, this is the time that the island was colonized. Chians, Rhodians, and Byzantines attached Imbros and Lemnos during the social war. Before the AD, you may know the different wars spread to years between Romans and Athens, the island became part of the Romans.

After BC

By the time Romans divided into two portions, Byzantines took control. The territory was under the control of Venetians and Genoese and after the Fourth Crusade (Latin Invasion), Genoa expanded its influence in this region.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Byzantines left the island. In 1455, it became part of the Ottomans but Venetians and the Ottomans were ruling the island at different times. Even though several occasions happened over the centuries around the island, the stable years have been seen after Sultan Suleyman- the Magnificient.

During the Balkan War, the island was invaded by Greece in 1912. Even though there were several problems (or conflict of interest) between the major European countries, the control over Gokceada and Bozcaada were left to the Ottomans.

But after the explosion of the 1st World War (WW1) and further agreements, Greece controls the island for over 10 years. During WW1, the island has been used by Britain, France, Anzacs, etc., as a force base.

The island was left to the Turkish Republic after the Treaty of Lausanne following the Turkish Independence Wars.

Over the years, especially due to exchanges, the Greek population decreased, and the major population is inhabited from different areas of Turkey.

Day 1 in Gokcecada

Traveling to Gokceada

Started the day from the Anatolian side of Istanbul in the morning. After trying to skip the traffic jam in Istanbul (oh God, the city has traffic everywhere), we were getting more excited. This time, we didn’t want to follow the Osmangazi bridge and we wanted to experience the road we basically haven’t used so much. We went to Kabatepe Pier over Tekirdag and spent 4-4.5 hours reaching out there. Found the road overall quite good and the quality of the road is not bad at all.

After reaching out to Kabatepe, we got the ticket and ate a toast as a quick launch just next to the pier. (Tip: You can buy the ticket online. However, it is more expensive which means you really buy it because of having the chance to skip the queue. And in case it is very crowded, you will not miss it and guarantee your place on the ferry. Could it happen- less likely if you do not come here during a festival time or if Gokceada gets more popular).

It took around 1.5 hours to reach out to Gokceada and it was a little bit windy. It is good to keep in mind that Canakkale is generally windy throughout the year.

We preferred a more relaxing spot to stay- Kotinos Hotel near Kefalos Beach.

Dinner and Kalekoy

You may know that there are villages in Gokceada and one of them is Kalekoy. We will be targeting Kalekoy to catch the sunset and try Imnoz Toraman Kokorec on the way near Kalekoy. Kokorec is a kind of street food.

Surprisingly, it had a great Google rating and we kinda agree on this rating. Conversating with Toraman (the owner of the place), we also promised a good rating. They deserve it, if you like Kokorec, simply try them.

After dinner,  just checked the sunset and it was fantastic. You can check the photo below and you will understand it (Tip: Mustafa’nin Kayfesi is a good spot to drink Turkish coffee)

Gokceada Kalekoy view during sunset
Sunset at Kalekoy

It was a tiring day and we will spend most of the day at Kefaloz beach tomorrow and try to relax first before exploring the gems of the island.

Day 2 in Gokceada

Swimming at Kefaloz

After having breakfast at the hotel, we were hopeful that the wind would settle down. We can talk about every kind of aspect, but, some of them are decided by nature itself, so you can only hope and/or pray the wind does not take the joy. A local in Canakkale told that Canakkale has wind for 350 days of a full year. It is always good to look for weather forecasts, however, please note that you can not get away from the wind here in Canakkale.

As planned, we started relaxing at Surf Inn beach and it was not windy at all. Kefaloz could be the top of the swimming area as it was mainly recommended by the locals.

Luckily the beach was not crowded and it turned out to be a personalized location. (Tip: If the wind comes from the south, try north and if the wind comes from south, try north beaches).

The sea was fantastic. It was warm and not wavy. Surf Inn is a good camping area and we are sure that you will see many people regardless of timing. And, this is also a good area for surfing. The products served are good enough. After swimming and relaxing, we will spend some time at the Gokceada Center and Zeytinlikoy.

Gokceada Kefaloz beach
Kefaloz beach

Visiting the center and Zeytinlikoy

For dinner, we have chosen Dayinin Yeri at the center which was recommended by a local. The dinner was pretty average at all (we ate lamb). After checking the streets, we headed to Zeytinlikoy. One of the reasons is Gokceada Center pretty much represents city life and also looks a little bit rushed. For vacation, it may not be a good idea to spend more than a few hours. (Tip: There is a free parking lot in the center, you can directly go there for parking)

Fortunately, Zeytinlikoy saved the night. The village is a Greek one. Start walking from the bottom and walk to the top. You can’t get in with your car unless you have the card to open the gate. It is weird to enter a village with a card or to have a gate which will also be experienced at Tepekoy as well.

You will also observe Greek-style stone houses all way along, the school, and the church. This place is great, surely.

Gokceada Zeytinlikoy

We tried dibek coffee at Nostos. There are cool cafes around the avenue. The owner of this place has a good Greek Accent and it was a good conversation thanks to this gentleman.

We walked a little bit more and saw “Yesilev butik otel&cafe”. As Istanbulians, seeing green is always fascinating. We tried pudding and black mulberry juice. Rather than enjoying the taste, we liked the staff and ambiance.

Let’s see what we have on Day 3.

Day 3 in Gokceada

Swimming at Laz Koyu

After having breakfast at the hotel, we have chosen Laz Koyu for swimming. It was around 30 km (18 miles) from where we stayed and the road was full of asphalt (if you choose the longer one). The parking is challenging at the end. (Tip: The island is very big and the roads have ups and downs a lot. Especially, driving at night is quite challenging. In the meantime, I wouldn’t come here w/o a car since the villages have distances from each other.

Let’s go back to business. Laz Koyu experience was satisfying and the sea was again warm/cold and not wavy. The service of this restaurant was not fast and the products were average. The main problem of Gokceada could be a lack of human power and service quality that is less than the expectation even though the island is mainly costly.

We will go to Tepekoy for dinner.

Dinner at Tepekoy

Alright, after this very challenging (please note that this is so challenging) road at the end, we reached the village. Tepe means “hill” and this village is at the top of the hill. Again, it is a Greek village and there is a gate at the entrance like Zeytinlikoy. You should be parking at the entrance. You can see the very dominant Greek style again here.

Walking thru the houses, you will observe great views and there are taverns on the avenue. They dominated Gokceada and they are simply the most popular ones (Meraklis, Barba Yorgo and Angelikis).

We preferred Angelikis and do not go there w/o reservation. As for the dishes, there are very good mezes (appetizers or side dishes) and we also got “ahtapot begendi- octopus with aubergine puree with milk and browned flour. This could be their signature. The service was fast enough and the tavern was entertaining with a mix of Greek/Turkish music. The show (breaking plates) was quite satisfying.

In the end, while sitting at Angelikis, we requested “Galata bureku”. They served it from the cafe on the left and it was state of art.

Ahtapot begendi at Angelikis

Prices are again relatively costly. Final note and another reminder, do not drive after consuming alcohol/raki. Try a taxi or sleep here. The road is challenging.

Day 4 in Gokceada

It is time to go back to Gallipoli and explore more and more. Overall, spending three nights was a good choice. The island is very big, and the places/villages are not close to each other. We will keep on traveling, next we have 2 days for Gallipoli and the center.

Gokceada vs. Bozcaada

It would be better and decided by your side after reading the Bozcaada post as well. We will be having similar ideas in the Bozcaada post also. This versus would be shaped based on the expectation, surely.

In summary, we’d prefer Bozcaada. The culture in Bozcaada has a better structure and you can feel a general style and it could be better as a vacation spot. Sometimes, you will observe this style pretty much reflecting Istanbul. But Gokceada is a bit diverse. Another thing is that Bozcaada is more compact since the island is small compared to Gokceada. However, you will not regret a vacation in Gokceada.

How to reach Gokceada – Transportation Guide

Gokceada airport is not active and there are no commercial flights. It is in the center of the island and opened to the public in 2010 and has just been used for three years.

The only way to come to Gokceada is to use the ferry from Kabatepe. You can both come here with or w/o your car. But, per our experience, it is better to come by car since the island is big.

The ferry is very active (for two hours) and you can both buy online or directly when you reach the pier.

From Istanbul, it is not far away, you can drive 4-4.5 hours to reach the pier, and 1.5 hours of sea transportation is needed.

Other Recommendations

Not much left to say but you can keep in mind that few other options exist.

  • Ugurlu Plaji could be a good location for swimming.
  • Derekoy is mostly empty but another village may be worth visiting.
  • Yenibademli hoyuk is not open for visiting but there was an excavation work that could lighten the island history better in the near future.
  • Yildiz koyu/mavi koy could be good spots for swimming in the northern area.
  • Museum of Troy has more information about Imbros some pieces dating back to 6000 BC and Ugurlu Zeytinlik settlement is thought that is the first settlement on the Aegean islands.

What we experienced in 2023?

  • In 2022, we skipped visiting Kalekoy Marine. There are restaurants with the raki-fish concept and some cafes serving waffles. It was very crowded.
  • We watched the sunset just next to the Marine with pizza from Mina Cafe. It was not like Bozcaada, but very pleasing.
  • We visited Eski Bademli village close to Kalekoy. This is not a must-do activity if you already cover other Greek villages.
  • We had dinner in Zeytinlikoy at Ilissos Imbros Restaurant.The portions are very small here, we would not prefer to go there.
  • We re-visited Nostos, and the desserts (Nostos special and bureku were delicious)
  • Before catching the ferry, we had two hours for lunch. We tried kokoreç at Midyeci Ahmet since Toraman was closed, unfortunately. The Kokorec of this restaurant is well below the average and we will not compare it with Toraman’s Kokorec, surely.
  • We enjoyed ice cream at Efibadem. It was perfect.
  • Kotinos Hotel’s breakfast is very improved this year.


Gokceada is a big island and has a diverse culture including city life, and dominant Greek or Turkish villages. The seas are wonderful and clean. And, you will be having a similar experience in case there is no dominant wind.

In the meantime, please note that the island does not show all of the potential for a reason (it is an intense topic, and we will not go beyond this).

Overall, we enjoyed the time we spent in Gokceada. If you want to relax and see a diverse culture, Gokceada would be a great choice.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbros
  2. https://gokceadaninsesi.com/yunan-mitolojisinde-ve-antik-donemde-imbros-gokceada/
  3. https://www.gokceadarehberim.com/nm-Tarih-cp-92
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