Things to do in Istanbul

Best Bosphorus cruises in Istanbul for sightseeing on the waters

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Sail through the waters of the Bosphorus while you enjoy stunning views of historic Istanbul during a narrated cruise tour. The Bosphorus Cruise is one of the best ways to explore and enjoy what Istanbul has to offer.

The cruise takes you on a trail with views of Istanbul landmarks like the Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, Topkapi Palace, and the Rumeli Fortress. This Bosphorus cruises guide provides you with all the information regarding the different kinds of cruises available, what you can expect, tips, and more! Depending on your flexibility, you can choose between sightseeing cruises, and lunch or dinner cruises.

Types of Bosphorus Cruises

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Sightseeing Cruise Learn all about Istanbul in its truest essence and discover all about the centuries of history the city has to offer through available audio guides. There are several sightseeing cruises where you can catch a glimpse of Ciragan Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, the Dolmabahce Palace, and many other historical landmarks as you sail through the waters of the Bosphorus.
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Lunch Cruises Enjoy a great lunch on board as you continue to admire the popular landmarks of the city like the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque.
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Dinner Cruise Enjoy a dazzling night in the presence of dancers, live DJ performances, beautiful views, and unlimited drinks aboard an exotic Bosphorus dinner cruise. Experience Istanbul at its most atmospheric as you set sail between Europe and Asia on the Bosphorus Strait.
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Where is the Bosphorus Strait?

The Bosphorus Strait is the line that divides Istanbul between Europe and Asia, and the large city is located on either side of the southern end of the strait. The Strait makes Istanbul one of the few cities in the world that lie on two continents.

Bosphorus is 19 miles long and has a width of 2.3 miles at the northern entrance and a minimum width of 750 metres, situated between the Ottoman fortifications of Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 120 to 408 feet in midstream.

The Bosphorus Strait also connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Wrapped around Ottoman palaces, and spanned by three intercontinental bridges, the Bosphorus is the veritable heart of the city.

Since the channel is a seasonal migration route for fish to and from the Black Sea, the Bosphorus is heavily fished. Both shores are dotted with resorts, villages, and fine residences and villas.

Why Take a Bosphorus Cruise?

Tourists from across come to experience this Bosphorus cruise, which is a scenic and historic waterway that separates Europe and Asia, alongside the historic heart of the ancient city of Istanbul. The Bosphorus Sunset Cruise is another great way to enjoy with your family, and friends as you get to witness breathtaking views of Istanbul as you cruise through the stunning strait that divides the city into two continents, and is the only city that stands on two continents in the globe!

The Bosphorus Strait stretches 17 miles from the Sea of Marmara in the south, all the way to the Black Sea in the north. The strait is also famous for its concentration of Byzantine and Ottoman historic sites. Witness the three bridges spanning the Bosphorus strait connecting the two continents - the 15 July Martyrs Bridge (1973), Fatih Sultan Mehmet (1988), and Yavuz Sultan Selim (2016).

There is no doubt that taking the Bosphorus Cruise leaves one with an unforgettable experience and is a must-try on an Istanbul trip!

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The Best Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruises

Wanting to make the most of your trip? Here are some of the best Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruises that we offer:


Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise with an Audio Guide

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Audio Guide Sightseeing Family
from €10

Enjoy beautiful views of Istanbul and soak in spectacular sights such as the domes of Hagia Sophia, the Galata Tower that soars over the entire city, the iconic Bosphorus Bridge that connects Europe and Asia, and many more. You will learn all about the places you pass with the help of a free audio guide that is available in 9 languages. This 1.5-hour cruise is a unique experience one will cherish.

Meeting Point: DENTUR Istanbul Welcome Card Kabatas Pier, Ömer Avni, Mahallesi, Meclis-i Mebusan Cd. No:3, 34427, Istanbul

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Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruise From Old City

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History Audio Guide Attractions
from €10

Discover everything about the centuries of history wrapped around the place with the help of an audio guide that is available in 10 languages. In this experience, the cruise begins from the Old City on the European side and commences the same on the Asian side of the waterway.

Meeting Point: Hobyar, 34112 , Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey, Istanbul

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Bosphorus Yacht Cruise with Stopover on the Asian end

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Sightseeing Attractions Popular
from €45

As you sail along the Bosphorus Strait, admire the city’s European and Asian sides. The European side offers sights of the Galata Tower, Dolmabahce and Corgan Palace, and the Ortakoy Mosque. On the other end, the Aside side offers the Anatolian Fortress, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Turkey’s oldest military school.

Meeting Point: Cankurtaran, Alemdar Cd., 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye

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Maiden Tower Ferry Line

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Yacht Ride Family History
from €25

Another interesting experience offered is the ride to the Maiden Tower. Drift through the Bosphorus strait of Istanbul and enjoy an hour-long ride not just to the Maiden Tower, but as you circle back, you get to view attractions such as the Golden Horn, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque.

Meeting Point: Bosphorus Cruise Pier IWC, Ömer Avni, European Side, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Istanbul

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Istanbul to Princes Island Round trip Ferry

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Audio Guide Island Ruins
from €10

Get away from all the chaos of Istanbul with return ferry tickets across the Marmara Sea of the Princes’ Islands. Out here, you will witness the ruins of Trotsky’s house, St. George’s Church, and a 19th-century pharmacy. The ride is equipped with an audio guide available in 10 languages.

Meeting Point: DENTUR Istanbul Welcome Card Kabatas Pier, Ömer Avni, Mahallesi, Meclis-i Mebusan Cd. No:3, 34427, Istanbul

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Bosphorus and Golden Horn Cruise From The Old City Of Istanbul

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Continents Riverscape
from €12

As you venture out, you will learn more about the historical and geographical facts of the city and its famous waterways through an audio guide. Soak in the stunning riverscape as your sail through the waters of Europe and Asia. Make sure to catch a glimpse of some of the main attractions like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Bosphorous Bridge, and more.

Meeting Point: Cankurtaran, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 , Istanbul

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Istanbul In a Day Tour: Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, and More

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Guided Tour Attractions
from €130

This would be ideal if you’re short on time! Get an insight into all the old town’s famous sites like Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and more. Gain exclusive details on all these attractions from your English-speaking tour guide. At the end of your tour, you can unwind on a cruise as you sail through Bosphorus Strait and discover numerous palaces, mosques, and bridges as you pass by.

Meeting Point: Cankurtaran, Alemdar Cd., 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye

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Bosphorus 3-Course Dinner Cruise With Live Entertainment and DJ

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Night Cruise Turkish Entertainment
from €45

Go on a 3.5-hour night cruise along the Bosphorus and admire the beautiful city of Istanbul under the dazzling night sky. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the lit up Dolmabahce Palace and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. Have a meal onboard and enjoy a Turkish entertainment show featuring whirling dervishes and belly dancers.

Meeting Point: Cankurtaran, Alemdar Cd., 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye

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Tip: Also, if your hotel is located in the heart of Istanbul, hotel pickups and drop-offs are available.


Full-Day Tour Of Princes Island

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Culture Family Popular
from €45

Explore the three famous Princes Islands on a full-day guided tour. Sail through the shores of Golden Horns, towards Kinaliada, which will be the very first stop on your itinerary. You will then go on to discover Heybeliada which is wrapped around narrow beaches and pine forests. Finally, you will head to Buyukada and learn all about the princes that once relaxed on these islands.

Meeting Point: In front of THE MARMARA TAKSIM HOTEL by Ta, Istanbul

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Tip: Do not miss out on relishing a delicious luncheon spread of various kebabs, appetisers, rice, and salads.

Tips to Go on a Bosphorus Cruise

  • There’s no dress code but we suggest dressing warm.
  • The ideal time to go on a Bosphorus Cruise is between April and September and it also depends on the kind of cruise preference.
  • If you have the time, opt for the ‘long Bosphorus cruise’ for a full-day event that is inclusive of a 3-hour stop at a fishing village.
  • The Bosphorus cruise starts from Turyol Eminonu Bosphorus Station, but timings vary per season; make sure to check!
  • 3 days in Istanbul is ideal to make the most of the city!
  • Camlica Hill is the best place if you wish to get a panoramic view of the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea.

Bosphorus Cruise Facts

  • The strait creates a connection between the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The banks of the Bosphorus are very populated for the abundance of fish in the waters.
  • Discover centuries of history through an audio guide that is available in 10 different languages.
  • You will begin the cruise from the Old City on the European side and end it on the Asian side.
  • Venture through the picturesque sights of Ciragan Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, and many other iconic landmarks.


How much does a Bosphorus cruise cost?

The cost of a Bosphorus cruise depends on the kind of tour that you would like to opt for: Full Circle tour (6 hours) and Short Circle Tour (2 hours). The Full Circle tickets cost 25 TL for adults and 15 TL for kids under 12. The One-way Short Circle tickets cost 12.50 TL for adults and 6 TL for children.

Are there sharks in the Bosphorus?

Yes, it is possible to spot sharks in the Bosphorus Strait. White sharks have been recorded in the Marmara, Aegean Seas, and Libya, alongside the Bosphorus.


What do you wear on a Bosphorus cruise?

On a Bosphorus cruise, you can wear jumpsuits, tops, skirts, or dresses for women and men could hop into striped shirts and trousers. If you are into a formal dining experience, it is best to suit yourself up in a dinner coat and cocktail dress.

What does the Bosphorus cruise include?

The Bosphorus cruise allows you to explore numerous iconic landmarks that surround the Bosphorus Strait. Some of the popular ones include Topkapi Palace, Rumeli Fortress, Hagia Sophia, Küçüksu Palace, Ortaköy Mosque, Anatolian Fortress, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Galata Tower, to name a few.

The cruise is a whole day event, inclusive of a 3-hour stop at a fishing village.


Is the Bosphorus considered international waters?

The Bosphorus allows maritime connections from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean through Gibraltar, and to the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal. Thus, the Bosphorus is considered a crucial international waterway, especially for the passage of goods that come from Russia.


Can tourists wear shorts in Turkey?

Yes, shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops are very common to wear for both Turks as well as foreigners.

Best Bosphorus Cruises in Istanbul