The Princes' Islands are a slice of seaside heaven far from the chaos and scorching sun of the city, yet only a hop, skip, and a jump from Istanbul. For some reason, ancients and Ottomans banished their prisoners to the most idyllic spots; the islands were originally used as a place of exile for members of the royalty and clergy during the age of Byzantium. They were later taken over by the more clever residents of the city as summer homes. The atmosphere is one of pure repose thanks to the prohibition against vehicles; the only form of transportation on Büyükada (besides your own steam) is the characteristic and enchanting horse-drawn phaeton. In summer, the islands' populations swell with weekenders eager to stake out a lounge chair on one of the islands' many marvelous beaches. And thanks to the introduction of sea buses that shorten the ferry trip by an hour, the islands are only a half-hour away, making them an accessible retreat from city life.