Bosphorus Cruise in Istanbul – How to Choose The Right One
No visit to Istanbul is complete without a Bosphorus cruise .
The Bosphorus is a strait of water in Turkey about 30 kilometers long. It goes from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and forms a natural border between Europe and Asia. The name of the strait means “crossing the bull” and comes from the Greek myth of the priestess Io, which Hera, the wife of Zeus, turned into a cow. Crossing this strait, Io was saved from the wrath of the enraged goddess.
How to choose a Bosphorus Cruise in Istanbul
Today, the shores of the Bosphorus are connected by two automobile bridges. The first, the Ataturk Bridge, was built in 1973 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the republic. In 1985, a second bridge was erected and named after the Sultan of Fatih. More recently, a tunnel has been laid along the bottom of the strait meaning it will take you no more than fifteen minutes to cross the strait by metro and get from the European part of the city to the Asian part.
There are several options, from inexpensive ferries and tour boats to private boats with dinner and drinks. Whether by ferry or yacht, a Bosphorus cruise will reveal places you have not seen. And it is one of the best things to do in Istanbul. And definitely one of the best ways to see the city!
Where to buy Bosphorus Cruise tickets in Istanbul
There are many bays in the strait, the most beautiful of them is the Golden Horn Bay. The name of the bay is very obvious, because its shape resembles a curved horn. The shores of the Golden Horn are very picturesque, the lowlands are interspersed with hills, and in the middle of the bay are two large islands, but construction on them is prohibited. In addition, the waters of the Golden Horn were purified so fish have begun to return to the area – mackerel, mullet, tuna and even oysters. Five bridges are thrown across the bay. The most famous and beautiful is the Galata Bridge, and of the last bridges erected here, it is a cable-stayed metro bridge.
Bosphorus Cruises and Ferries in Itanbul – how to choose the best
One of the most popular things to do in Istanbul is to take a Bosphorus cruise or ferry tour and there are plenty to choose from. Ferries leave daily from the pier in Eminenu at the Galata Bridge. There are several stops on these small cruises. One of which is a stop at the village of Kanlydzh where passengers are shown to the square behind the pier. Here you will be treated to the most delicious yogurt, served with honey or jam. A little further along the ferries pass by Enikey which is famous for its luxurious Art Nouveau mansions that stand along the watersedge. Before returning to Istanbul, the ferry is docked for three hours in Anadola Kawagi, so that travelers explore the Genoese Castle on a hill and dine at a coastal restaurant. As the tour draws to an end, quietly sailing back to the city in the evening, you are guaranteed to witness a breathtaking sunset over the Bosphorus Strait waters.
You don’t have to buy tickets ahead of time . When you are on the promenade, near the Eminenu or Kadikoy Harbor, you will notice kiosks with posters advertising Bosphorus tours – choose any official carrier – Turyol or Şehir Hatları. The benefit of using an official company is that they have fixed tariffs (as a rule, not exceeding 30 lira for a long tour). Private firms cost much higher. When purchasing a tour of the Bosphorus, take into account that there are no guides on tourist ferries, so rent an audio guide.
Strait tours are held daily. The majority of sightseeing ferries depart from the Eminenyu Pier. You will find many boating companies and their bookings desks along this pier but the most popular of them is Şehir Hatları (pronounced “Shehir Khatlary”). This particular tour group seems to offer the most extensive tours and discounted rates for various memberships. They offer a range of tours from short, long to special sunset tours.
A short tour (Kısa Boğaz Turu)
is the most popular Bosphorus cruise amongst tourists. It lasts about 2 hours, which is just enough time to enjoy the sites between the Eminenu Marina and the Second Bosphorus Bridge. The ferry makes two brief stops next to the Ortakoy Mosque: the first time on the way to the Bridge, the second on the way back.
A long tour (Uzun Boğaz Turu)
lasts about six hours and is obviously more extensive. One and a half hours into the tour, the ferry moors at the village of Anadolu Kavaагı. This is a fishing village, and tourists are allowed three hours to explore this fascinating area. An interesting place to visit is the local Yoros Fortress (Yoros kalesi). The structure is immense and after conquering this height and climbing to the very top of the fortress, you can enjoy the magnificent views of the strait and the Black Sea.
The sunset tour (Mehtap turu) is only available in the summer and only on Saturdays (from June 5 to September 15). Other ferry companies will call it their ‘Moonlight Cruise’. This short, but bewitching journey begins at the Marina of Bostanji Kadıköy. It is a truly special opportunity for tourists to see Istanbul at night in all its glory.
You can choose another tour option – take a walking tour along the Bosphorus with stops in Emirgan (Emirgan Park and Sabanci Museum) and Beylerbey (Beylerbey Palace, marina and Beylerbey Mosque), Kuciuksu (Heksu Palace and Anadolu Hisary Fortress) and Besiktas (Beshiktas marina , the square and the mausoleum of Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha, fish market, walk to Dolmabahce), and then return to the marina of Kabatash.
Coming out at each stop of the route, you can join the next ferry after 60 or 120 minutes and continue the journey. Such a tour is a great alternative to a standard tour, plus you will see the sights which are less likely visited by public transport.
Sights Along the Bosphorus
Here are some of the cool things you will see on your Bosphorus cruise
Maiden’s Tower: one of the symbols of the city, a cultural center with a history shrouded in interesting legends and secrets.
Dolmabahçe Palace: a magnificent building, the residence of the Ottoman padishahs, dating from the mid-19th century.
Beylerbey Palace: a non-barreled structure, erected in 1860s as the summer palace for the Sultans.
The European Fortress was erected in the middle of the 15th century for military purposes. This fortress was to cut off Constantinople’s access to the sea and help the Ottomans in the assault on the city.
Sariyer – a cozy harbor near the Second Bridge. A popular place for recreation and entertainment.
Arnavutkey and Ortakey are magnificent urban areas with lush gardens, parks, churches, mosques and sculptural groups.
Tips for Travelling on The Bosphorus
When going on a Bosphorus cruise , keep in mind that in the summer in Turkey the sun burns mercilessly, so stock up on sunblock, sunglasses and hats. At the same time, on the open deck of the ferries it can be quite windy, so be sure to bring along a windbreaker or jumper, especially if you are planning to visit in the autumn or winter.
Tourists love to be photographed with local gulls who can be attracted from the air with a piece of food. So if you are looking for a fun Instagram before departure, you should buy a bag of simit, and offer it up to the gulls. You are sure to get some fun pictures!
The Bosphorus is the heart of Istanbul, and having been here, you will fully see and feel how this waterway connects the Eastern and European culture together, at the same time dividing it into two parts. The Bosphorus and Istanbul is an inseparable phenomenon, and the city, reflected in the clear waters of the strait, draws new strength and gives inspiration to all those who visited these two parts of the whole.