The Bosphorus

Separating East and West, the dramatic Bosphorus strait is perfect for a fabulous cruise.

TravelCurious Tip

If you’re feeling extravagant, try a dinner cruise of the Bosphorus by night - a truly magical experience.

Dire straits

The Bosphorus has been an important strait for centuries. It joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea (the flooding of which may have been the basis for Biblical tales of a great deluge), and divides Europe from Asia. It varies in width from 500 metres to three kilometres, running about 31 kilometres through the heart of Istanbul.

Jason and the Argonauts had to battle its currents in the quest for the Golden Fleece. Legend also has it that Byzas, the founder of Byzantium - later Constantinople, later Istanbul - sailed up and down looking for the perfect place to establish his village; he chose the Golden Horn, a natural harbour created by the flooded estuary that branches west from the Bosphorus’s southern end.

Cruise for views

Flanked on either shore by the metropolis of Istanbul, the waters are overlooked by 620 Ottoman-era waterfront mansions known as yalı - some of the most expensive residences in the city - and a number of palaces, including Topkapi Palace. Also within view from the Bosphorus are the Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Galata Tower and countless other attractions.

The best way to admire the scenery is on a cruise: the Bosphorus is a very busy commercial shipping channel and also teems with ferries, but there’s plenty of space for tourist boats as well. Cruises can fit any schedule, from a 25 minute crossing to a full day’s round trip from the city centre to the northern port of Anadolu Kavağı.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Istanbul
Spice Bazaar
An indoor market built in the 17th century, famous for its fantastic herbs and spices.
Galata Tower
This medieval stone tower offers stunning vistas over Istanbul.
Neve Shalom Synagogue
Located in the Karaköy quarter of Beyoğlu district, the synagogue was built due to an increase in the Jewish population in the old Galata neighborhood in the late 1930s.
Turkish Han
Ottoman structures built as urban hotels, stables, and wholesale marketplaces.
One of the city's historic districts, dating back to the Byzantine Empire, the district is now full of cool shops and cafes.
Galata Köprüsü
The famous bridge over the Golden Horn, with wonderful views of old Istanbul.

Related Tours

All-Inclusive, Bosphorus Strait Cruise in a Private Yacht
Enjoy an all-inclusive, private sail of the Bosphorus, where you’ll see the best of the city’s spectacular skyline. Your tour comes complete with a captain, skipper, tour guide, food and drinks. On your private boating trip, you will:

  • Step into a world of luxury on a two-hour cruise down the Bosphorus Strait on a private yacht.
  • Enjoy the history of the magnificent strait from your private guide, who will point out the best of the sights, and engage with you according to your preference. 
  • Find out the impact of the strait on Turkey’s foreign policy, since the strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, and serves as the geographical border between Europe and Asia, and the world's narrowest strait used for international navigation. 
  • Admire the striking Dolmabahce and Ciragan Palaces, the stunning jewel-like Büyük Mecidiye Mosque, the medieval Rumelian Castle, the Maiden's Tower, and colourful Yali Mansions. 
  • Engage all your senses as you taste beautifully prepared appetisers made with local Turkish product (includes 1 glass of wine, a or bottle of beer per person, soft drinks, dried fruits, hams and cheeses, and bread).
  • Relax into the beauty of the city, and see some of the most iconic and beautiful views of Istanbul, with its fairytale skyline marked by the minarets of Haghia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.
  • Please note: This cruise is particularly stunning at sunset, so please contact us if you would like to make your trip a sunset cruise. 
As the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation, the importance of the Bosphorus Strait—and thus Istanbul’s existence—cannot be overstated. Still, the best way we know to learn about this critical waterway is simply to enjoy it in a luxurious way, at your own leisure on a private yacht. 

Your guide will be sure to show you the city’s key highlights, including the stunning Dolmabahçe Palace, with its ostentatious façade, as well as the 15th century Rumeli Hisarı Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace, where Ottoman sultans spent their summers. 

During the cruise, you will get the chance to truly experience the meeting of East and West, which comes together in the great city of Istanbul. While differences have been rooted within Turkish history, and have at times resulted in tension, the mix of different cultures and faiths in Istanbul has indeed fuelled the creation of the amazing, and utterly unique city that you see today. After two hours, your captain will dock in your original port, where you can then step off into the cool neighbourhood of Karaköy and enjoy the rest of your day or evening at your leisure. 


Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.


Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.