Bosphorus boat tours

Bosphorus boat tours

Thousands of tourists annually fill ships, ferries and boats, going on the Bosphorus tour. This is not just a boat trip. It gives something that is impossible to get while walking around the city: picturesque pictures of luxurious villas, palaces and Istanbul roofs, immersed in greenery, a vigorous, fresh breeze that brings echoes of muezzins calling to prayer, the cries of seagulls, which almost take pieces of fresh simites. It is a boat trip that allows you to appreciate the scale of the Istanbul flavor.

Bosphorus boat tours
Bosphorus boat tours

What can you see on Bosphorus boat tour?

Bosphorus Cruise in Istanbul is a wonderful opportunity to see the many beauties and historical sites of the centuries-old city. When sailing from the pier, a view of the European part of the city opens, which is crowned by the Galata Tower.

In addition to it, travelers will see the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque.

The ship, following its route, sails under three bridges that connect the city along opposite banks. At the same time, the Dolmabahce Palace is shown – the former residence of the sultans, and at the moment a museum open to the public. Near the palace there is a mosque where the sultans who lived in the palace spent time in pray.

The end of the walk falls on the narrowest point of the Golden Bay, in which the Rumeli fortress is located. Once it performed a defensive function, and today it is an open-air museum.

Also, a boat trip allows you to see such sights of Istanbul as:

  • Maiden Tower – a symbol of the city with a rich history, full of secrets and legends;
  • Sariyer – a well-known place of entertainment and recreation near the Second Bridge;
  • Ortakoy and Arnavutkoy – urban areas with lush gardens, well-groomed and flowering parks, majestic mosques, sculptures and churches;
  • Beylerbey Palace, built in the neo-baroque style in the second half of the 19th century as the summer residence of the sultans;
  • The European Fortress is a military structure of the 15th century.

Big tour (description, route)

This is one of the oldest sightseeing tours in Istanbul. It has been held since 1841. It is perfect for those who have a free day and want to effectively explore all the sights of Istanbul accessible from the water.

Bosphorus boat tours
Bosphorus boat tours

The duration of a large tour of the Bosphorus is 6 hours. Start from the Eminonu pier with small stops at the Uskudar and Besiktas piers and further – almost to the exit to the Black Sea.

Due to the length of the walk (about six hours), boats operate one route per day. They start from the piers of Eminonu, Kabatash and Besiktas.

Route and schedule of cruise

At 10:35 departure from Eminonu pier.

At 12:25 arrival in Anadolu Kavagi. Free time. Walk around the neighborhood. Optional visit to Yoros Fortress. It is also called the Genoese fortress due to the fact that in the XIV century it was controlled by the Genoese. The purpose of the fortress was a defensive function and observation of the strait. At night, the lights in the fortress were always extinguished so that the enemies would lose their bearings and run aground.

Usually a walk is crowned with lunch at one of the coastal restaurants, which are famous for their fish dishes at very affordable prices.

At 15:00 departure from Anadolu Kavagi.

At 16:40 arrival in Eminonu.

State Carrier

The long tours are organized by the state carrier Sehir Hatlari. It has huge and modern ferries where you can buy tea, coffee, snacks.

The pier from where the ferries leave is not difficult to find, since it is the very first in a row and is located on the right side of the Galata Bridge on Eminonu Square.

Commercial ferries

The commercial carrier Dentur Avrasya directs the main passenger flow from the Kabatash and Besiktas berths to the Uskudar pier, connecting the Asian and European shores.

The private company Turyol carries out tours of the Bosphorus of Istanbul on small nimble boats that start from almost all berths.

Short Cruises

Short boat tours can last from 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, depending on the organizer.

Among the carriers there is a lot of competition for customers, there are plenty to choose from.

Dentur Avrasya organizes its tours from the piers of Kabatas and Besiktas on small nimble and comfortable boats. In addition to the long and short tours, they have a cruises called Hop-on-hop-off on the Bosphorus.

The feature of this opportunity is to visit the palaces of Istanbul. This cruise repeats the route of the short tour, but only with stops and disembarkation. A great opportunity to visit the palaces of Beylerbey, Kuchuksu and Emirgan Park.

The Turyol company practices only short tours of the Bosphorus, but, unlike others, operates tours every hour. Motor ships keep as close as possible to the coast, so you can see all the sights in great detail. Boats depart from the berths of Kadikoy, Uskudar, Eminonu. A short tour of the Bosphorus is suitable for those tourists who plan to visit other sights of Istanbul on the same day.

Public transport (city routes)

You can go along the Bosphorus by public public transport.

It goes according to the schedule, which can always be found next to the ticket office on the pier. To pay for it, you need to purchase a token or use Istanbulkart. The fare is the same as on other public transport in Istanbul.

Private boats

The Bosphorus sightseeing tour is organized by many enterprising citizens using their own boats and yachts. The advantage of buying a ticket from a private owner is that their boats go on tours much more often than large companies and it is possible to go on such a trip from any marina, and not just from Eminonu (Besiktas, Uskudar, Ortakoy, Kabatash and others).

It is possible to charter a boat individually. The price of a boat trip will directly depend on the desire and ability to bargain, the time of renting a boat and the type of boat being rented (a yacht will cost more than a boat).

Excursion tours

There are various excursions along the Bosphorus, including those on an individual basis. Of those that have been put on stream, the following are the most popular.

Great Tour On Bosphorus

The tour lasts 8 hours. It is carried out for 1-2 adults on a small boat. During the boat trip, stops are made for sightseeing in places such as the Kyuchuksu Palace, the Maiden Tower, Belerbey Park and others.

The guide tells not only about historically significant places, their features, but also shares the secrets of real life in Turkey: how not to run into a “tourist scam”, the subtleties of Turkish cuisine, where the most delicious coffee is brewed, etc.

During the tour, stops are made in order to taste the national dishes of Turkish cuisine and drink Turkish coffee on the banks of the famous strait.

Bosphorus waters: legends and history

A 2.5 hour excursion on a small boat for those who are limited in time but want to get a general idea of ​​​​the life of Turkey, its history since Byzantium and the main attractions of Istanbul. The guide talks about cultural features, touches on religious issues. And in the end, he will recommend places where you can eat well. This format is well suited for the elderly and families with children.

Treasures of the Bosphorus

Tour duration – 3.5 hours. Of these, only 45 minutes is a boat trip on the sea deep into the Bosphorus, and the rest of the time is a walking visit to historical places.

Boat trip along the Bosphorus on a boat includes an interesting and concentrated story of the guide about the history of Istanbul. And the walking part allows you to get acquainted with the ancient fortress. This format of the tour will be convenient for those traveling with children.

Evening Tour on Bosporus with dinner

Bosphorus boat tours
Evening Tour on Bosporus with dinner

Entertaining night route. Starts at 19:00 and ends at midnight. The boat cruises along the coast of Istanbul, allowing you to enjoy its evening beauty and the myriad of lights reflected in the water.

Dinner and entertainment program with national dances are provided on board.

Night walk along the Bosphorus

In the summer, sea carriers introduce another tour – the so-called Mehtap turu. It is also called “Moonlight Cruise”.

It lies along the path of the big tour, from Eminonu Pier. But the departure time is different – at 19:15, in Uksudar – 19:30, Besiktas – 19:40, Ortakoy – 19:50, Cengelkoy – 20:05, Rumeli Kavagy – 20:40.

The final station on the journey is Anadolu Kavagi. The ship arrives here at 20:50.

The ship leaves for the return journey at 22:00 and follows the same route with the same stops.

This feature allows you to enjoy the beauties of Istanbul at night, to fully experience the charming reflection of night lights in the coastal waters.

The ship arrives back at the pier at 23:30.

Interesting facts

The history of the Bosphorus is shrouded in legends of various origins. One of them says that the daughter of the river god Inah, whose name was Io, fell in love with the god of thunder and sky Zeus. Hera, the wife of Zeus, suspected her husband of infidelity. And he, trying to save his beloved, turned her into a snow-white cow. But Io became Hera’s slave, because she liked the cow and she took it for herself, tying it to a tree.

After some time, Zeus tried to free his beloved, but Hera sent a wasp with a poisonous sting at her. Poor Io, fleeing from a deadly bite, threw herself into the water of the strait. Thus, he got his name “cow ford”, or Bosphorus.

Bosphorus boat tours
Bosphorus boat tours

The strait itself is quite narrow, and thanks to this, there are three bridges over the Bosphorus that do not interfere with navigation in any way.

Under the strait, along the bottom, there is an underground railway tunnel. Its construction was discussed back in the days of the Ottoman Empire, but the opportunity to implement this idea appeared only in the modern period.

During the construction of this bridge, a Byzantine port dating back to the 4th century BC was found. It was built by Emperor Theodosius the First. During the excavations, the remains of an ancient armada of ships of the Christian Byzantine Empire were discovered.

Bosphorus tours for kids

Children of any age will like a boat trip along the Bosphorus: Kids under 7-8 years old will be interested in taking a tour on a sea vessel with a breeze, feeding insatiable gulls with pieces of bread.

Children over 8 years old will be interested in listening to the history and entertaining facts about the strait itself, about Turkey’s difficult relations with other states, about its culture, art, and religion.

If you are planning a tour with children, we recommend choosing a short program, as the Big Tour can be tiring.

Helpful Hints

When planning a boat trip along the Bosphorus, it is necessary to take into account the time of year.

In the summer, travelers are in for a scorching sun, so you need to bring sunglasses, hats and skin protection creams.

If the tour is planned in the autumn-winter period or in the summer, but at night, you will need warm clothes to protect yourself from the wind.

A feature of the walk is the abundance of seagulls begging for refreshments. It would be useful to take something tasty with you, treat the birds and take pictures in the process. Of course, they don’t take treats from their hands, but they perfectly grab it on the fly.

Traveling along the Bosphorus will awaken interest in the sights that are clearly visible from the water.

A Bosphorus tour can be an introduction before a full immersion in the exploration of Istanbul. Or in order to understand exactly where you want to go for a closer acquaintance with the sights of the city. After all, a wonderful view of both the Asian and European coast opens from the water.

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