Avşa (pronounced aav-shaa) is one of the Marmara Islands of the Southern Marmara region of Turkey. As of 2019 it had a resident population of 3173, which swells to over 50,000 with summer visitors.
Although it's one of the smaller Marmara Islands, Avşa is the most heavily touristed. It's a short journey from Istanbul and developed in the 1970s as a budget resort, while the other islands restricted tourist development. Officially it's called Türkeli, but only government documents use that name. To everyone else (including the ferry companies) it's Avşa, from its Greek name of Ἀφησιά, Afissia.
The island has an hourglass shape and two settlements: the main town, also known as Avşa, on the west coast and the village of Araplar (officially Yiğitler) on the east coast. A ridge of hills runs down the middle, and attractive coves indent its coast.
Although Avşa is touristy, very few visitors come from outside Turkey. A small minority speak English or German, which is a far higher proportion than on the other Marmara islands. Confused conversations in shops or restaurants are resolved either by pulling out a mobile with a translation app, or by dispatching a small boy, who will return in five minutes with an English-speaker.
IDO ferries for foot passengers normally sail from Istanbul in summer, but they're not running in 2022.
Gestaş car ferry sails twice a day from Erdek on the mainland to the south, taking two hours via Balıklı on Paşalimani island. It then continues to Marmara Island, also calling at Ekinlik two days a week, then returns to Avşa, Balıklı and Erdek. The boat is based on Avşa so the first early morning sailing is from here out to Marmara, and the last evening ferry from Erdek returns here via Marmara. In 2022 the single fare from Erdek is 25 TL, car 65 TL.
May-Aug a Gestaş waterbus for foot-passengers also plies from Narlı, the beach resort 15 km northwest of Erdek main town. It's a single daily sailing via Balıklı.
Marmara RoRo also sails once a day between Erdek, Avşa and Marmara. Most of this company's ferries are from Tekirdağ on the European mainland, but these bypass Avşa: you could change boats in Marmara town.
1 Avşa ferry pier is central in the main town, with the bus station beside it.
2 Araplar (or Yiğitler) is the east coast port and settlement. No ferries, but there's a marina and long breakwater sheltering the harbour.
Buses and dolmuşes fan out from Avşa main square by the ferry port.
The roads are in variable repair, so scooters and cyclists especially need to watch out for potholes. No self-respecting Turkish driver cares a hoot for the safety of cyclists.
Between Avşa and Yiğitler on the east coast is only 2 km so you could walk, but it's a ratty road under a hot sun.
- 1 Maviköy is the marina at the island's north tip. Come here to watch the sunset.
- 2 Ekinlik is the small island north, about 3 km long by 500 m wide. The ferry to Marmara Island calls here M W and a day-trip from Avşa is feasible. This was a Greek community named Koutalis, prospered as a resupply station for the ships at the age of sail, but the subsequent earthquakes wrecked the architectural heritage, so there is not much to see or do here except stroll along the south shore road to Voli beach then stroll back to the village. It's likely the inspiration behind fictional Ant Island of the An Island Story tetralogy by Yaşar Kemal, one of Turkey's most internationally acclaimed writers and who regularly took his holidays in nearby Marmara Island.
- 3 Koyun is the island seen to the west towards Paşalimanı. It has no permant residents, although there is a small collection of summer cottages around its southern tip, and no ferry service.
- 4 Paşalimani is a low-lying island, larger than Avşa but with very few visitor amenities. It's an easy day trip from Avşa, the ferry drops you at Balıklı en route to Erdek, and you'll want a bicycle to explore its quiet lanes.
- Lunapark is a funfair just north of Avşa ferry pier at İnönü Cd 7. It's not open in 2022.
- Beaches are sandy, many public, with a series of little coves around the island.
- Hills are low, not exceeding 200 m, so they're an easy hike.
- Stores are clustered near the ferry port. Migros at Iskele Cd 22 is open daily 08:30-22:00.
- At the fish market by the port you can make your choice and have it cooked up.
- Avşa town has a slew of places along the shore, mostly serving fish. Choose from Köşem, Meral, Rıhtım, Yarar, İskele Lokantası, Dürümcü iso, Erol'un Yeri, Karadeniz Pide, Seagull Bar and Omer Deniz Restaurant.
- Richie Beach by Araplar harbour is open daily 09:00-02:00.
- Bortaçina is a local vineyard, offering wine-tasting with meals.
- The island lacks free-standing bars, so cafes and restaurants are the best bet for a drink.
- Island water is drinkable, but is produced by desalination so it's flat and dull. Restaurants will offer bottled water.
- Yuksel Motel, Manastır Cd 43/B (200 m south of ferry pier), ☏ +90 535 739 9744. Clean friendly central place. B&B double 450 TL.
- 1 Cane Motel, Okullar Cd 2, ☏ +90 536 767 5424. Comfy apart-hotel with a/c. B&B double 500 TL.
- Avşa town also has Ataş Aqua Otel, Avantgarde Hotel[dead link], Hotel Europa, Pegasus Motel, Güneş Motel, Hotel Avşa[dead link] and lots of pansiyons.
- 2 Arena Beach, Deniz Sk 108, ☏ +90 539 799 6377. Smart resort hotel on the beach strip north of town.
- Araplar on the east coast has Bahar Otel Aqua Resort, Afissia Garden Hotel and Lavinia Butik Otel.
- 3 Avşa Camping, Büyükyol Küme Evleri, Araplar, ☏ +90 544 188 1110. Clean well-run campsite 500 m from east coast.
- Bahar Aqua Resort, Marina Mevkii Küçük Küme Evleri, Yiğitler, ☏ +90 266 606 06 83, email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00.
Standard advice: safeguard valuables, beware traffic and stay clear of idiot drunks.
The sun is fierce, there's little shade, and in the breeze you may not realise how frazzled you're getting. Avoid the midday sun, cover up with broad hats and long shirts and slacks, and apply high-factor sun block.
As of May 2022, there is 4G from Vodafone across much of the island. There's a patchy signal from Turkcell and nothing from Türk Telekom. 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- The other inhabited Marmara Islands (Marmara, Ekinlik and Paşalimanı) can all be reached by ferry from Avşa. A day-trip will be long enough.
- Erdek the closest mainland port has little to detain you. Head east for the historic sights of Bursa.
- Tekirdağ on the north mainland coast is in an industrial region of Thrace. Northwest is the fine Ottoman city of Edirne.
|Routes through Avşa|
|Tekirdağ ← Marmara Island ←||N S||→ Erdek → END|