An Istanbul trip is not complete without a Bosphorus tour, but it is often overlooked. Given Istanbul's richness of historical sites, this comes as no surprise. But sparing a few hours to take the tour will guarantee you an experience you cannot forget.
The sparkling Bosphorus waterway separates Istanbul's European and Asian sides. Viewing this mesmerizing metropolis from one of the many ferries and cruise boats that cross the Bosphorus adds a new perspective to this trip.
There are many options to choose from when touring the waterway so here are a few to give you an idea to get the most out of your experience.
Şehir Hatları, Istanbul's official ferry company, provides Bosphorus cruises to meet all budgets, timetables, and tastes. These are the Short Circle Bosphorus Cruise, the Full Bosphorus Cruise, and the Full Bosphorus Cruise by Night.
First up is the non-stop Short Circle Bosphorus tour. This is ideal for those who are short on time but do not want to miss out on a true Bosphorus experience. During the summer, this excursion is accessible every day. It lasts two hours and runs daily from April until the end of October, departing from Eminönü to İstinye past the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
The Full Bosphorus Tour provides an excellent Bosphorus experience and will last many hours. This voyage will take you from Eminönü to the Black Sea and back. Disembark in Anadolu Kavağı, the final stop before the Black Sea, to see the stronghold or eat lunch at one of the town's seafood restaurants. There are many cruises every day, as well as an audio tour detailing 70 sites of interest in 10 different languages.
It is the identical tour to the usual Full Bosphorus Tour; however, it takes place at night. The ferry departs before dark, affording spectacular views of the Istanbul sunset. It will stop again at Anadolu Kavagi for around two hours so that people may dine at the fish restaurants on the coast. Around 22:30, the ferry makes its return for a moonlight trip on the Bosphorus.
In addition to the official tours, there are several private tours for every budget and preference. These range from modest boat tours to luxurious yacht tours with entertainment and full course meal.
Different seasons and even different times of day improve and change the perspective. Cruising the Bosphorus, whether in a tourist boat, a private yacht, or a public ferry, allows you to experience Istanbul in all its splendor.