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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
Blue Mosque
A beautiful and elaborate place of worship, the Blue Mosque is the most important legacy of a roguish Ottoman Sultan.
Topkapi Palace
The Sultans’ royal residence for four centuries, today Topkapi Palace is a spectacular museum.
Süleymaniye Camii
Located on the Third Hill, Süleymaniye Camii is the largest mosque and one of the most distinctive sights in Istanbul.
Sehzade Camii
Dedicated to Sultan Süleyman's son, this peaceful place showcases the early talents of Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
Galata Köprüsü
The famous bridge over the Golden Horn, with wonderful views of old Istanbul.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Once the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, this museum houses a unique collection of calligraphy, tiles and rugs.

Related Tours

Explore Istanbul's Exotic Markets
Explore the sights, sounds, and smells of Turkey's cultural heart.

  • Start your tour visiting the colourful Grand Bazaar.
  • Explore the scents and tastes of Istanbul's markets. 
  • Browse the Turkish Spice Market.
The Grand Bazaar

On this three hour walking tour you will journey into the exotic world of Istanbul’s historic markets and bazaars. Your first stop will be the colourful Grand Bazaar, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, it expanded to eventually cover the vast labyrinthine treasure trove you see today. You will feel immersed in the ancient marketplace exploring your way through narrow lanes to watch craftsmen and artists at work and stopping off for an obligatory cup of traditional Turkish tea. 

As you wander the vast alleys of the Bazaar, your expert city guide will be happy to discuss the fascinating history of the area and the significance behind Istanbul’s strategic geographical position near the Bosphorus. Do not fear, your intrepid local guide will be able to direct you to the best hidden gems the market has to offer.

Historic Spice Market

Your next stop will be to the famous Turkish Spice Market where you will be able to peruse some of the best herbs and spices imported to Turkey from all over the world. This is sure to be a treat for the senses as you experience sights, sounds and smells you are unlikely to have ever come across before. Bustling with energy, the delightful market streets will satisfy your intellectual curiosity, as well as satiating any hunger pangs!

Travel Curious Tip: Politely ask market sellers to wrap your fragile craft gifts to ensure they survive the journey home.

We created this tour 
so that visitors can experience a local and immersive tour through Istanbul's markets.
The Best of Istanbul in Half a Day
This whistle-stop tour of Istanbul's highlights is great for those who wish to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time.

  • Wander through the mesmerising Blue Mosque.
  • Learn about Byzantine architecture and iconic Hagia Sophia.
  • Conclude with the colours and scents of Grand Bazaar.

Note: The Blue Mosque is a religious place of worship, so please dress respectfully. Shoulders and legs must be covered, and head coverings are available at the mosque entrance for free. You will also be given a bag at entry in which to put your shoes.

The Best of Istanbul

In this amazing half-day highlights walking tour of Istanbul, you will have the chance to be fully immersed in the history and culture of this great city. Your first stop will be to the absolutely stunning Blue Mosque, the 17th century triumph of Sultan Ahmet I, and one of the most beautiful buildings in Istanbul. Look out for the mosque's unique undulating exterior featuring myriad domes and six slender minarets. Gorgeous blue Iznik tiles adorn the interior, giving the building its unique name. 

Venturing forth to the Hagia Sophia, commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and finally promoted as a museum by Atatürk in 1935- you will find exquisite artistry of Byzantine architecture and rich history of the region than this great temple.

Divine Beauty 

As you enter the Hagia Sophia you can not help but be awestruck by the utter beauty of the extraordinary architecture and sense of the divine that will envelop you inside. The walls are covered with astonishing biblical images that miraculously have survived a tumultuous history. Do not feel overwhelmed, as your expert city guide will be talking you through the fascinating history of the building as well as the significance of the iconography and art you will find there.

Your final stop will be to the colourful Grand Bazaar, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, it expanded to eventually cover the vast labyrinthine treasure trove you see today. You will feel immersed in the ancient marketplace, exploring your way down narrow lanes to watch craftsmen and artists at work, whilst stopping for an obligatory Turkish treat and cup of mint tea. 

Travel Curious Tip: 
If you politely ask market sellers, they will wrap up fragile gifts for your flight home.

We built this tour because it allows visitors to appreciate the architectural beauty of Istanbul. 
Explore the Bosphorus Tour
A cruise along the Bosphorus allows visitors to see Istanbul's beautiful sights from the comfort of a boat.

  • Learn about the European and Asian cultures, which merge to make Istanbul unique
  • Cruise along the Bosphorus in a group cruise tour (1.5 hrs)
  • Photograph the beautiful architecture as you pass

Unique View of Istanbul

Explore the great city of Istanbul from the comfort and convenience of an extensive cruise on the Bosphorus. You will have the pleasure of learning about the famous stretch of water that straddles both the Asian and European continents as you cruise past some of the best sights Istanbul has to offer. Look out for 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.  Make yourself comfortable on deck and take in the beauty of the Bosphorus.

Melting Pot of Cultures

During the cruise you will get the chance to truly experience the meeting of East and West, focused in the great city of Istanbul, as well as learning more about the important historical effects of the meeting of diverse cultures and traditions. 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.

Travel Curious Tip: Visit the Grand Bazaar before your cruise slot, and pick up some authentic Turkish snacks.

We built this tour because 
it allows Travel Curious users to explore Istanbul in a unique way.


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