Every visitor to Istanbul wants to—and
should!—take a Bosphorus cruise on
the 32 km (20-mile)-long
strait which joins the Sea
of Marmara to the
south with the Black
Sea to the north of Istanbul.
Click here to see what you'll see on a Bosphorus cruise.
Your cruise can take as little as 25
minutes, or a full day; it may just
be transport across the water, or may
include sightseeing and lunch.
are many varieties of Bosphorus cruises:
In 30 minutes or less, for only a few Turkish liras you can board a ferryboat in Europe at Eminönü, Kabataş or Beşiktaş and cruise across the Bosphorus to Asia: Üsküdar, Harem, Haydarpaşa or Kadıköy. The cruise takes as little as 10 minutes (one-way/single between Kabataş and Üsküdar on a Dentur Avrasya commuter ferry) to 1 hour (round-trip/return Şehir Hatları or TurYol ferry between the Golden Horn (Eminönü or Karaköy) and the Asian ports of Haydarpaşa or Kadıköy.)
You'll get to see the domes and minarets of Old Istanbul, Leander's Tower (Kız Kulesi), the magnificent façade of Dolmabahçe Palace, the sprawling new districts of office towers, and the sweep of the Bosphorus to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south.
This is the shortest and least expensive kind of Bosphorus cruise. It's not really a cruise, of course. It's the short but pleasurable voyage that Istanbul commuters get to experience every day. More...
Short Bosphorus Cruises
Several companies operate short Bosphorus cruises that take you part way up the Bosphorus and back down. They run frequently in warm weather, so it should be easy to find a date and time that suits your plans.
Avrasya operates 1-hour 40-minute Hop On - Hop Off loop cruises from Kabataş, taking you to the Fatih Bridge about half-way up the Bosphorus and stopping at docks that allow you to visit several Ottoman palaces and interesting sights along the way. You can stay on the boat and finish the cruise in less than two hours, or you can hop off, visit a palace for an hour, then hop on the next ferry to continue your voyage at no additional fare. It's the most efficient and pleasurable way to combine a Bosphorus cruise with visits to Ottoman palaces! More...
90-minute cruises that take
you nonstop from Eminönü by the Galata Bridge, up the Bosphorus to
Bridge, then turn around and
return to Eminönü for TL12. There are departures from Kadıköy and Üsküdar on the Asian shore as well. The trip is transport-only,
with no stops nor commentary. In spring, summer and autumn boats depart every hour on the hour from mid-morning until the evening, allowing you to depart when you want and to see much of the Bosphorus
in a short time for a reasonable price. More...
Şehir Hatları Short Bosphorus Cruise
Traditional Şehir Hatları ferryboats depart the Eminönü docks by the Galata
Bridge each afternoon, sail up beyond the Fatih Bridge, turn around and return, taking about 2 hours, for TL10.
Full-Day Bosphorus Cruise
Two companies will take you from the city center all the way to the northern Bosphorus port of Anadolu Kavağı where you can visit the hilltop Byzantine fortress of Yoros Kalesi, enjoy panoramic Bosphorus views, have a pleasant lunch, then return by the same boat to the city center, all in about 5-1/2 hours.
The Dentur Avrasya cruise departs before noon and takes you from the Kabataş and Beşiktaş docks all the way to Anadolu Kavağı and return on a modern ferry in 5-1/2 hours for TL20—the best value. More...
A traditional Şehir Hatları ferryboat departs the Eminönü
docks by the Galata
Bridge mid-morning and cruises all the way up the Bosphorus to Anadolu Kavağı and return in about 5-1/2 hours for TL25. The bonus here is that you sail on a traditional Istanbul ferryboat. More...
Numerous tour companies operate their own Bosphorus cruise vessels offering half-day, full-day, evening, dinner, moonlight, or Istanbul-by-night cruises, usually with a meal and sightseeing commentary included. This is perhaps the most comfortable way to cruise, but also the most expensive.
—by Tom Brosnahan