Bosphorus cruises - If there is one outstanding activity you should definitely do in Istanbul, it is the Istanbul Bosphorus cruises. It is a real moment of magic that cannot be experienced anywhere else. Even the cruise ships in Paris are no match for the experience of a cruise on the Bosphorus!
Sailing on the Bosphorus is not only very pleasant but also a journey through history and incredible landscapes. You will see palaces, Yali (the mansions along the Bosphorus), vegetation, bridges, and other unique attractions in the world.
Before jumping into the adventure, you will have to find out what type of cruise you want to do, because there are many Bosphorus Cruises
1. The simple crossing from one bank to the other
Let’s start with the basics. You already know that Istanbul is a city split in two by the Bosphorus. One side of the Bosphorus is called the “European” side and the other is called the “Asian” side.
Well, you have boats that cross from one side to the other every day, every 15 minutes, from the Istanbul piers. They are called “vapur” or “steamers” of the Bosphorus.
Some take the vapur to go to work, others to visit friends on the opposite bank or still others, like the travelers, to discover the mysteries of the opposite bank.
To take these vapors nothing could be simpler, go to a pier (in Europe: Besiktas, Eminonu, Kabatas, Karakoy, Sariyer… in Asia: Uskudar, Kadikoy, Beykoz…), take a ticket for a few pounds and get on or reload your Istanbulkart and go through the turnstiles. You can make a round trip in about 50 min. if you count the waiting time for the second vapur.
2. 2h stroll on the Golden Horn + Bosphorus
One of the favorite Bosphorus Cruises is the Golden Horn and Bosphorus combined. This cruise is a rare offer but really interesting because it allows you to kill two birds with one stone.
You will have the opportunity to see a very large panel of monuments and neighborhoods located along the Bosphorus. No audioguide for this cruise but you will be accompanied by a local guide who will give you all the information about what you see!
The details of this cruise :
- Duration: 2h
- Starting point: Saint Sophia Mosque, the guide will pick you up and take you to the pier
- Ticket price: 15 € (blog readers get a 5% discount)
- Advantage in +: A guide accompanies you during the cruise (in English and Turkish).
3. The Hop On Hop Off cruise (multiple stops)
The Hop On Hop Off cruise is the right option for those who want to explore the popular areas of the city while cruising on the Bosphorus.
With Bosphorus Cruises, you have the option of getting off at the ports of call, then getting back on the next boat to continue your exploration and finally return to your starting point.
You will be able to explore the city at your own pace thanks to the multiple stops on the Bosphorus and enjoy all the famous sites (Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, Rumeli Fortress, Leander Tower, Bosphorus Bridge…).
- The ticket includes : The cruise all day with as many ascents and descents as you want + a map of the Bosphorus + an audioguide in French (with my voice :))
- Starting point : Kabatas (European bank, access by streetcar)
- Stops : Kabatas, Emirgan, Kucuksu, Beylerbeyi, Besiktas then Kabatas.
- Ticket price: 12 € (blog readers get a 5% discount)
- Duration: If you never get off, the whole trip takes 100 min
4. Night cruise with dinner and entertainment on the Bosphorus
One of the most popular options for visitors is the high-end dinner with entertainment during a night cruise on the Bosphorus.
Being in the middle of the water, on a beautiful boat, a whole evening with your loved ones with music and shows as a bonus…
- The 3-hour cruise in a large and luxurious cruise ship
- High-end dinner with appetizer, main course and dessert.
- All-you-can-eat local non-alcoholic beverages
6 different shows in the same evening (belly dancing, folk dancers…)
- Incredible view of the monuments and mosques of Istanbul at night.
Price: 50 € (blog readers get a 5% discount)
Departure time : 7pm
5. The 90 minute cruise on the Bosphorus
This cruise is the most famous and best selling cruise on the Bosphorus… and we would say also the simplest. It offers you 90 minutes on the Bosphorus, sailing in one go to the second bridge of the Bosphorus and back.
The cruise is simple and efficient, but does not offer much privacy. You’ll stand in line, wait for the boat, which will soon be very crowded, and admire the Bosphorus with a hundred other people.
- Included with the ticket : The cruise + a drink + a map of the Bosphorus + free Wifi + an audio guide in English and other languages.
- Departure point: Kabatas (European shore, access by streetcar)
- Departure every hour
- Duration : 90 min
- Price : 10 € (blog readers get a 5% discount)
6. Bosphorus cruises on a luxury yacht (15 pers. max)
This cruise is for sure the most fun! It is a cruise on a luxury yacht for small groups (max. 15 people) with very affordable prices.
You can take it at noon or at sunset, depending on your mood and schedule. The cruise lasts 2 hours and takes you around the emblematic monuments of the Bosphorus.
It is a very special and intimate moment that I recommend you to offer yourself… With your family or friends, you will really spend an unforgettable moment.
Please note that this is not a private cruise, it’s an intimate cruise because there are only a few people, but if you are 3 for example, there will surely be other people in addition (up to 15 max.). For the rental of a private yacht, see the next point.
- The private cruise
- A crew at your disposal
- Snacks, fruit plates, wine, tea and coffee
- Free Wifi
- A local guide who accompanies you to describe the monuments! (too good)
Price: 44 €
7. Cruises to the Princes' Islands
Concerning the Bosphorus Cruises to the Princes’ Islands of Istanbul, you have 2 options:
1/ A round trip to one of the Princes’ Islands from the pier of Yenikapi, Kadikoy or Bostanci.
2/ Take a unique and complete cruise that goes around the islands and really shows you the area in detail.
The first option is simple. Just go to Kabatas or Bostanci pier and pay with your Istanbulkart or by buying your round trip ticket to the Princes Islands here and get it with a free audio guide in English.
Regarding the second option, you can book a cruise online below and enjoy a really nice and unique moment. Ideal for groups of friends or couples… (and even solo actually). This second cruise is not yet available online before the summer.
8. Private yacht rental (from 3 to 50 people)
This is the top of the line in terms of cruising on the Bosphorus. You can indeed privatize a Yacht for you and your relatives and make a tailor-made cruise on the Bosphorus of Istanbul.
The experience is a bit expensive: about 150 € per hour off season and more like 200 € per hour in high season, but it is quite unique, especially for events like bachelor/wife parties, birthdays etc.
The advantage is that you can really get away from the city and swim, dive, or swim in the Bosphorus out of sight.
You can also rent the yacht for a romantic evening or a marriage proposal on the Bosphorus of Istanbul. Really many options are available.
9. Dinner cruise on private yacht
This brand new cruise offers you a dinner on the Bosphorus, but in the privacy of a private yacht.
This is an opportunity to have a romantic dinner or an evening with friends, without being disturbed by the crowds of people.
The great thing about this dinner on the Bosphorus is that there is entertainment during the cruise. Local shows and a DJ are there to keep you moving to the music after your dinner. Frankly a good experience and quite economical (more economical than renting a yacht for several people).
Price : 79 € for the yacht