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Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul

Every visitor to Istanbul wants to—and should—take a day cruise on the Bosphorus, 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.

Here's 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. There are many varieties of Bosphorus cruises:

 

Intercontinental Ferryboat (1 hour)

For only a fewTurkish 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 25 minutes (one-way/single; an hour round-trip/return.) You'll get to see the domes and minarets of Old Istanbul, Leander's Tower (Kız Kulesi), 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.

Dolmabahce Palace and Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahçe Palace and Mosque,
one of six Ottoman palaces you'll pass.

Short & Frequent (1.5 to 2.5 hours)

Several companies operate short Bosphorus cruises that take you up the Bosphorus and back down. They run frequently in warm weather, so it should be easy to find a date and time to cruise:

TurYol operates frequent 90-minute cruises that take you from Eminönü up the Bosphorus to the Fatih Bridge, then turn around and return to Eminönü. The trip is transport-only, with no stops nor commentary, but it allows you to see much of the city in a short time for a low price. More...

Dentur Avrasya operates 2-1/2-hour cruises from Kabataş, making several stops at docks along the way. More...

 

Full Day Public Ferryboat Cruise

A traditional Şehir Hatları ferryboat departs from the Eminönü ferryboat docks (on the Golden Hornbetween Galata Bridge and Sirkeci Station) mid-morning and cruises all the way up the Bosphorus to Anadolu Hisarı on the Asian shore, arriving around noontime. After a 3-hour layover—plenty of time for lunch in a local seafood restaurant (not included in the fare)—you cruise back down the Bosphorus, arriving by late afternoon. It's a full day, but there are alternatives. More...

Leaner's Tower (Kiz Kulesi), Istanbul, Turkey

 The Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi), once a customs post, and a set for the James Bond movie From Russia With Love.

Bosphorus Cruise-Tours

Numerous companies operate their own Bosphorus cruise vessels offering half-day or full-day cruises, usually with lunch and sightseeing commentary included. This is perhaps the most comfortable way to cruise, but also the most expensive.

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