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. There are many varieties of Bosphorus cruises.
Below you'll see several options as well as our top recommended experience which is a 2 hour sunset cruise with superior value:
#1 - History Travel's Sunset Cruise
If possible I recommend avoiding the typical overly crowded tourist boats and enjoy the enchantment of Istanbul along the beautiful Bosphorus with a smaller group on a luxury yacht at sunset! History Travel's Sunset Tour has focused on one thing for 15 years and that is to help visitors to Istanbul have the very best experience on a Bosphorus cruise at an affordable price. More about the company History Travel Bosphorus Tours.
- 2.5 hour scenic sunset cruise between two continents.
- The tours are not overcrowded, allowing for a much more enjoyable experience.
- Unique views of the most famous waterfront sites and Istanbul’s magnificent skyline.
- Private guide aboard to answer questions and give background to waterfront palaces, mosques, mansions, and more.
- Sipping your welcome drink and tasting deilicious canapés on board an elegant yacht.
- Perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.
#2 - Intercontinental Ferryboats
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 portof 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...
Dentur 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...
|32 km (20 miles) from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara...|
TurYol operates 90-minute cruises that take you nonstop from Eminönü by the Galata Bridge, up the Bosphorus to the Fatih Bridge, then turn around and return to Eminönü for TL15. There are departures from Kadıköy and Üsküdar on the Asian shore as well. The trip is transport-only, with no stops nor commentary. In June, July and August 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...
#5 - 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. You can also sail on the Eminönü-to-Rumeli Kavağı or Üsküdar-to-Anadolu Kavağı ferries for a medium-length cruise. More...
Don't let the term "private yacht" scare you. If you have a group of 10 passengers, you can cruise the Bosphorus on a chartered yacht for as little as 38€ per person!
Efendi Travel, a TurkeyTravelPlanner.com partner, offers a variety of private yachts for charter for private Bosphorus cruises. Most vessels have capacities of at least 10 voyagers, several can host larger groups. Minimum charter time is 2 hours, but longer times are available, as are food and beverage services on board, and the services of a professional guide. More...
Full-Day Bosphorus Cruise Options:
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 six 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 six hours for TL25 round-trip/return. The bonus here is that you sail on a traditional Istanbul ferryboat. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan
|Northern Bosphorus Sights|