Decades ago, officials
of Istanbul's Şehir
Hatları ferryboat system noticed
a strange thing: foreign tourists were
riding the ferryboats up the Bosphorus all
the way to the Black
Sea at Sarıyer and Anadolu
they rode them all the way back to
Horn without getting off!
(The tourists may have gotten the
idea from a guidebook.)
Of course, these smart travelers were
getting a good cruise-tour
of the Bosphorus,
guidebook in hand, for a fraction of
the price they'd have paid to a tour
company to take them in a private boat.
Fast-forward to today: there are now lots
of boats embarking on
cruise. The traditional Şehir
Hatları Istanbul ferryboat trip, once fun and inexpensive, is now a relatively expensive, not-as-comfortable all-day excursion.
You must arrive at the Eminönü ferry dock at 30 to 45 minutes before departure, stand in line to buy your ticket, then stand in the sun waiting to board the ferry—no place to sit. A loudspeaker blasts unintelligible promotional messages all the while. This is not comfortable.
The cruise itself is alright, but somewhat overpriced at TL15 one-way/single Eminönü to Anadolu Hisarı, or TL25 round-trip/return. The Dentur Avrasya Full Bosphorus Cruise offers a similar itinerary, and better value. More...
voyage from Eminönü to Sarıyer,
a northern Bosphorus town
on the European shore,
takes just over one hour,
but the entire round-trip voyage
from Eminönü past Sarıyer to
Anadolu Kavağı on the Asian shore (with a 3-hour wait at Anadolu
Kavağı), and return to the Eminönü ferryboat
docks, takes 6
In summer, another full cruise may depart in mid-afternoon.
people cruise on the traditional
ferry for 1.5 hours, get off at Sarıyer (23
km/14 miles north of Istanbul by
road), have lunch (especially
seafood), then take a bus, minibuses
or taxis southward to return to the
city, stopping at various
sights along the
you continue to the end of the line
Kavağı, you'll have three
hours for a picnic or
restaurant lunch and/or
to climb to the ruined Yoros Kalesi fortress of
seven towers on Yuşa
Hill), dating from time immemorial, reconstructed by the Genoese
in 1350, and repaired thereafter
by Byzantines and Ottomans.
if you've done the cruise from south
to north, you needn't do north to
south. But if you end up at Anadolu
Kavağı, it's a longer trip back to
the city along the Asian
bus, minibus or taxi, so most passengers
wait for the
Bosphorus Tour ferry to depart
for its return trip to the Eminönü ferryboat
To take this Bosphorus cruise, get
to the Eminönü ferryboat
docks at least 30
minutes before departure if possible to
buy your ticket. ( I got to the dock 45 minutes
before departure and there was already
a crowd, and it wasn't even a weekend.) Then you'll stand in the sun until about 10 minutes before departue time, when you'll be allowed to board the ferry.
the guys asking "Bosphorus
as you approach the docks. Buy your
ticket from the clerk in the ticket
Here are alternatives to
the full-day cruise.
Istanbul ferries were one the heart of the city's transport system. Sitting on the rear
deck of a traditional Istanbul ferry
on a fine summer's day with a glass
my lips is a living example of the
title of my humorous travel memoir, Turkey:
Bright Sun, Strong Tea.
—by Tom Brosnahan