No Istanbul experience is complete without a cruise up the Bosphorus. A bold statement? Sure, but in my opinion, it is as crucial as visiting any of the other major sightseeing spots. Certainly from June to September it’s one of Istanbul’s greatest pleasures. There are several ways to take a tour on the Bosphorus. But take my advice, don’t get tempted by the private bout tour offers ‘hustlers’ on the docks of Eminönü make. There is no better deal than the Scenic Bosphorus Tour operated by IDO – Istanbul’s Fast Ferry and Seabus Company. And did you know they also offer an unmissable night cruise on the Bosphorus?
With two shores laden with highlights over a 32 km stretch, I decided to break up the more detailed descriptions of the Bosphorus and its main attractions in the following pages:
- Do You Know These Bosphorus Facts and Figures?
- Map of the Scenic Bosphorus Tour Ferry Route
- Cruise Highlights of the Lower Bosphorus
- Don’t Miss These Spots of the Middle Bosphorus during Your Cruise
- Cruising On the Upper Bosphorus towards the Black Sea
- Bosphorus Tour Video Gallery
Bosphorus Cruises (Boğaz Turu)
As I said before, stay clear of the private companies that offer cruises on the Bosphorus. They are overpriced, offer smaller tours and operate boats that often barely look seaworthy. Instead, either opt for tours provided by Turyol or IDO, where the latter has my preference.
IDO Scenic Bosphorus Tour (IDO Boğaziçi Özel Gezi)
Standing in Eminönü facing the Galata Tower, you’ll find the IDO Bosphorus Tour dock on the right-hand side of the Galata Bridge. The full cruise takes you for TL 20 from Eminönü to the Black Sea and back. Each way takes about 90 minutes, but you also want to get off the boat and spend some time in Anadolu Kavağı (the last stop, close to the Black Sea). There you can have lunch in one of the many fish restaurants and/or visit the fortress. So don’t throw away your boat ticket, because you’ll need it to board the ferry again after your excursion.
Every day, there are three boats going in the direction of the Black Sea, and of course three boats back. You can get on and off the ferry at either of the following docks, but to make the most of your trip I suggest starting in either Eminönü or Kabataş. Please note that the timetables below are only valid from 15 June to 23 September 2009.
|Departures in the direction of the Black Sea||Arrival|
|Departures in the direction of the city center||Arrival|
Not applicable on Saturdays and Sundays
Applicable on Saturdays and Sundays
IDO Scenic Bosphorus Tour by Night (IDO Boğaziçi Özel Gezi)
If you ask me, this one really is top of the bill. From 1 July until 21 August, every Saturday you can make a nightly cruise on the Bosphorus. The ferry heads for the Black Sea just before the sun starts to set. Once in Anadolu Kavağı, you have 70 minutes to go ashore and enjoy a dinner in one of the many fish restaurants.
By the time you board the ferry again, darkness has fallen and you’ll enjoy the Bosphorus by night, in all its grace with nicely lit monuments and a variety of city lights, including the Bosphorus Bridge. So, for a mere TL 20, you get to see both shapes of the Bosphorus in one cruise.
Make sure though not to miss the boat back at 22:00, it really is the last boat!
Turyol Bosphorus Tour (Turyol Boğaz Turu)
If you’re pressed for time or don’t fancy a long cruise on the Bosphorus, then you may want to check out Turyol. They are located on the left-hand side of the Galata Bridge. For TL 9 Turyol takes you on a 90 minutes Bosphorus trip to the second bridge and back. From 12:00 onwards (11:00 on Saturdays and 10:00 on Sundays), boats depart approximately every hour. The last boat leaves the docks at 20:00.