Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul

Last Updated on January 12, 2024

Every visitor to Istanbul wants to—and should!—take a Bosphorus cruise on the 32-kilometer (20-mile)-long strait that 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 2.5-hour sunset cruise with superior value:

1. Velena Travel Bosphorus Tours

We recommend avoiding the typical overly crowded tourist boats and enjoying the enchantment of Istanbul along the beautiful Bosphorus with a smaller group on a luxury yacht at sunset! Velena Travel Bosphorus Tours 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.

You can learn more about the company history of Velena Travel Yacht Cruises.

Velena Travel offers two Bosphorus tour options. Bosphorus and Black Sea Cruise with Lunch Tour and Bosphorus Sunset Tour, both offering amazing views of the Bosphorus stride. 

While Bosphorus Sunset Tours aim to provide the best Bosphorus sunset scenery, the Bosphorus and Black Sea Cruise with Lunch Tour includes a two-course lunch along the Bosphorus up to the Black Sea.

Key Highlights

Although both the Bosphorus Sunset Tour and the Bosphorus and Black Sea Cruise with Lunch Tour offer unique experiences, anyone can enjoy our tour. 

  • 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 delicious canapés on board an elegant yacht.
  • The perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off service

You’ll receive a 10% discount if you mention TurkeyTravelPlanner.com or TTP when booking with Velena Travel.

2.  Bosphorus Tour & Cooking Class

Sojourn Travel offers a unique combination tour: Bosphorus Tour & Cooking Class. The tour offers a unique cultural and culinary experience in Turkey. Participants embark on a private boat trip across the Bosphorus to a peaceful village, where they are introduced to traditional Turkish cuisine. Under the guidance of an English-speaking head chef and local team, attendees learn to prepare dishes like eggplant moussaka, using ingredients sourced from the village garden. 

The experience includes a family-style meal, dessert, and the opportunity to make new friends. The tour also includes a visit to the village market and garden, hands-on cooking instruction for at least five dishes, and a recipe book of Turkish dishes. This immersive experience promises unforgettable memories and new cooking skills, making it an ideal choice for those seeking to explore Turkey's rich culture through its food and scenic views of the Bosphorus.

3. 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 port of Kadıköy.)

You'll get to see the domes and minarets of Old Istanbul, Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi), the magnificent facade 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 through their ferries.

4. Dentur Avrasya Hop On - Hop Off

Dentur Avrasya operates 1-hour 40-minute Hop On - Hop Off loop cruises from Kabataş, taking you to the Fatih Bridge about halfway up the Bosphorus and stopping at docks that allow you to visit several Ottoman palaces and interesting sights along the way. 

You can also 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!

5. TurYol Short Bosphorus Cruise

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. There are departures from Kadıköy and Üsküdar on the Asian shore as well. The trip is transport-only, with no stops or commentary. 

In June, July, and August, boats depart every hour on the hour from mid-morning until the evening, allowing you to leave when you want and to see much of the Bosphorus in a short time for a reasonable price.

6. Şehir Hatları (Public Ferries) 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. You can also sail on the Eminönü-to-Rumeli Kavağı or Üsküdar-to-Anadolu Kavağı ferries for a medium-length cruise.

7. Other Bosphorus Private Yacht Cruise Options:

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 at least ten voyager capacities, and 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.

8. 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.

Dentur Avrasya Long Bosphorus Cruise

The Dentur Avrasya cruise departs before noon and takes you from the Kabataş and Beşiktaş docks all the way to Anadolu Kavağı and returns on a modern ferry in 5 and a half hours.

Şehir Hatları Long Bosphorus Cruise

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 returns in about six hours. The bonus here is that you sail on a traditional Istanbul ferryboat.

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