Ultimate Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise Map and Guide

Why take a Bosphorus Cruise

The Bosphorus cruise map takes you down the Bosphorus strait that bisects Turkey creating an Asian side and a European side. As you travel down the Bosphorus, you will see the magnificent bridges that connect the two continents across the Bosphorus. A vast number of commercial ships as well as the passenger and tourist boats and ferries all navigating the straight and staying within their respective lanes.

As you use the map to cruise along the Bosphorus, you will be rewarded with a view of stunning palaces, magnificent forts, fabulous mosques, small fishing villages. This scenic Bosphorus cruise map and route along the Bosphorus Sea can be explored in a number of ways as listed below. Attractions along the way and additional information at the different stops along the Bosphorus Cruise are in the map and guide below.

Video Bosphorus Cruise

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General facts to keep in mind during your cruise of the Bosphorus Strait

The 31 km Bosphorus strait connects the European and Asian side of Turkey. It is a natural strait that links the Sea of Marmara in Turkey to the Black Sea. It then connects to the world’s ocean making this an important and very busy shipping route. The Bosphorus Sea is narrow width in some areas makes it one of the most difficult waterways to navigate. It can vary 730-3300 meters wide and has a maximum depth of 110 meters. Approximately 48,000 ships pass annually through here. This is 3 to 4 times the traffic of the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal.

In addition, there are three bridges over the Bosphorus strait that connect the European side with the Asian side. The Bosphorus Bridge is 1,074 meters long and opened in 1973. The Faith Sultan Mehmet Suspension Bridge is 1,090m long and opened in 1988. The third bridge is the Yavuz Selim Bridge that opened in 2016 and is 1,408m long.

You will also find two tunnels under the Bosphorus strait. The underground Marmaray that runs between the neighborhoods of Yenikapi and Uskudar. Cars and vehicles travel under the Bosphorus Strait using the 76km Euroasia tunnel. This links the communities of Kazlicesme Asia community with the Goztepe Europe community.

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Ways to visit the sites along the Bosphorus Strait

  • Take the local public (Şehir Hatlari) ferry down the Bosphorus Sea / Strait and use this map and guide to visit the sites .
  • There are many “representatives” who are walking around the major sites selling Bosphorus cruises. Some are scams in that the price is much higher and duration shorter than comparables. To avoid these, Book one of the popular cruises from a reputable company. There are a number of Bosphorus cruises available, ranging from 1 hour to full day, private yachts to group tours including sunset and dinner cruises.

Bosphorus Cruise Map and Attractions

Download the Bosphorus Cruise PDF Map below

Images of Attractions on the Bosphorus cruise map

  • Click on the Bosphorus Cruise Map pins for images and additional information for the various attractions and ferry pier information. To decrease load time for the article, images related to the attractions are attached to Bosphorus Cruise map pins.

17 Top Attractions on the Bosphorus Cruise Map:

You can also book your own small group, private or luxury Bosphorus cruise with a local guide.

1. Galata Bridge (Galata Koprusu):

Galata Bridge is one of Istanbul’s most famous bridge, and it spans the Golden Horn. It is the first stop using the Bosphorus Cruise map. The bridge was originally made of wood and was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulmejid II around 1845. Over the years it has had a number or repairs and reconstruction.
Today the bridge is a two-level concrete bridge connecting Eminönü in the Fatih district and Karaköy and the Beyoğlu district.

The top level is very popular with local fisherman and you will find them fishing off the bridge. On the lower level there are many seafood restaurants frequented by tourists. As you cross the bridge you will see Europe towards the west. Towards the east and across the Bosphorus Sea, you will see the Asian side (Üsküdar).

Click on the Bosphorus Cruise map pin for additional information and images of Galata Bridge.

Attractions sites often have long lineup, I suggest you avoid spending your vacation time waiting in long lines. Visit the Galata Tower, by booking a fast entry ticket (Skip the lines) in advance, it includes an audio guide.

2. Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi):

A popular landmark in Istanbul, you can visit by taking the ferry from Üsküdar Salacak Pier or from Kabataş Pier. You will find a museum, a café, a dining room for special events, a gift shop and a terrace with fantastic views.

The Tower can easily be seen on the Bosphorus Cruise, the map provides its exact location.

Maidens Tower is also known as Leander’s Tower. It is built on a rock that broke off from the Asian mainland at the start of the Bosphorus Sea. The first tower was built in 341 BC to control ship traffic, collect taxes. It was eventually used to protect Istanbul from enemy ships. At one point in its history, the tower was used as a quarantine hospital for cholera or the plague.

There are three legends related to the tower:

  • The Legend of Leandros:
    • According to Roman Poet Ovid, Leandros fell in love with the priestess, Hero, who was devoted to Aphrodite. Hero lived at the tower and Leandros swam to the Island every night to be with her. She, in turn would light a fire, so he could find his way to her. On one occasion the fire was blown out by a storm and Leandros, unable to find his way to the tower, drowned. Hero found his body the next day and her sorrow led her to commit suicide.
  • The Legend of Battalgazi:
    • It is said that the daughter of the Christian ruler fell in love with a man named Battalgazi. The father disapproved and locked his daughter in the tower. Battalgazi rescued his beloved and rode away.
  • The Legend of the Princess:
    • This legend is similar to many who have heard of sleeping beauty. The King was informed by an oracle that his daughter will die from a snake bite. To prevent this, he sends her to the tower where she spent her childhood. A fruit basket was delivered to the princess and a snake emerged from it and bit her, ending her life.
Getting to Maidens Tower

The Maiden’s Tower Boat Service is available from both the Kabataş Pier and Üsküdar Salacak Pier. Check the times available as some only run on the weekend.

  •  Üsküdar Salacak Pier
    • from Beşiktaş , take the public ferries or boats to Uskudar
    • from Üsküdar, you can catch a public bus (5 min ride), a taxi, or walk to the pier. It is a 1.8km walk along the shoreline to Salacak pier.
  • Kabataş Pier:
    • from Sultanahmet, take the tram to Kabataş.
    • from Taksim Square, take the funicular to Kabataş.

3. Dolmabahçe Palace:

The fabulously ornate official residence of Sultan Abdülmecit I was built in1844. The construction pretty much drained the national treasury forcing the empire to take a foreign loan to complete. The total building cost was 1.5 billion in todays costs. The 285 rooms, 46 halls, 68 toilets, and 6 hammams palace was home to six sultans between 1856-1922. The palace largely stood empty when the Royal family was exiled in 1922. Today, it is occasionally used by the Turkish Parliament for important events. There are two sections open to the public; the administrative wing (selamlık) and the residential wing (harem).

The popular attractions in Istanbul, such as the Dolmabahçe Palace have long lines. I recommend that you book your tickets in advance and bypass the long lineups, especially in the heat. The best way is to purchase the “skip the lines” tickets online, There are a variety of options available. Book your Dolmabahçe Palace skip the lines 1 HOUR guided tour or Book your Dolmabahçe Palace skip the lines 1 DAY audio tour. The guides onsite are not always “official” guides, despite their official looking badges. We were caught up in one of these scams and the “tour” was distinctly underwhelming.

The administrative wing (selamlık)

Here you will find Bohemian Crystal, a crystal staircase, the imperial Hall for 2,500 guests, Egyptian alabaster bathrooms, hand-woven Turkish carpets and the ornate throne room. It’s a feast of magnificence and splendors.

You can click on the Bosphorus Cruise map pin for additional information and images of Dolmabahçe Palace.

The residential wing (harem)

The residential wing consists of eight interconnecting apartments, separated by a 2,000m hallway and a main entrance called a Medhal at its southern end. 

4. Çırağan Palace Kempinski:

The palace is the fourth attraction on the Bosphorus Cruise map. Today, this Ottoman era palace is a five-star hotel that is part of the Kempinski hotels. The palace was built between 1863-1867 and served as a residence for several Sultans, eventually being used as the Turkish Parliament in 1909. Unfortunately, the 1910 fire severely damaged the interior and many priceless books and works of art were lost, leaving the outer shell. The building was purchased by a hotel chain in 1987 and the palace was restored and opened in 1992 as a hotel.

5. Ortaköy Mosque:

This Instagram worthy picturesque Mosque sits on a pier at the edge of the Bosphorus Sea. It can be seen from the Bosphorus cruise and map. Originally it was the site of a small mosque built in 1720 and destroyed in 1731. It was rebuilt and damaged again, this time by the 1894 earthquake. The current baroque style mosque was designed by the same architects who designed the Dolmabahçe Place, which easily explains its splendor.

The mosque also known as the Buyuk Mecidiye Mosque is located in Ortaköy. Ortaköy was known as “the village in the middle” (orta) because it is in the middle of the Bosphorus strait. It was a small fishing village that has transformed into a modern, chic, and artistic neighborhood with waterfront cafes, bistros, tea houses, trendy boutiques.

The area attracts young crowds, both residents and tourists. The center of the neighborhood is within a triangle between a church, a mosque and a synagogue giving a cosmopolitan diverse flavor. If you are visiting on a weekend, you will find a street market in the main square and surrounding areas.

If you are in Ortaköy, take a scenic walk along the coast between Ortaköy and Bebek. Along the way you will pass Arnavutkoy, which is famous for its fish restaurants.

6. Bosphorus Suspension Bridge:

This 1.5km bridge connects the European Ortaköy neighbourhood and Beylerbeyi (in Üsküdar) on the Asian side. About 200,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily. The first attempt at a bridge between the two continents was in 511BC.

Today the bridge is a spectacular sight with LED lights that light up the bridge at night. The bridge is closed to pedestrians due to the high number of suicides which is ironic as it was originally designed as a pedestrian bridge. The Bosphorus bridge was renamed the “15 July Martyrs Bridge” after the attempted coup in July 2016. However the locals refer to it as Boğaz Köprüsü, the Bosphorus Bridge.

7. Beylerbeyi Palace in Üsküdar:

The lavish 24 room, 6 hall palace complete with a Turkish bath was the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans. It is located in the Beylerbeyi neighborhood of Üsküdar. Locals like to come to the palace for the popular Beylerbeyi traditional Turkish breakfast (kahvalti) in the gardens of the palace overlooking the Bosphorus Sea.

It gets very busy on weekends and difficult to get a table. It is a smaller version of the Dolmabahçe palace but without the crowds. A tour of the palace includes gold embroidery, wooden carvings and unique workmanship.

Click on the Bosphorus cruise map pin to see its location as you cruise the sea.

8. Çengelköy

A small fishing village in the Üsküdar district between Beylerbeyi and Kuleli. Famous for its cucumbers (gherkins) it also boasted a large number of historical seaside mansions. Strolling the main street is a walk into Turkey’s past with wooden houses, historical bakeries, kiosks/carts of fresh fish and countless seaside mansions.

A visit is not complete without a stop in one of the pastry shops. It is one of the most charming friendly villages along the Bosphorus Sea were everyone knows their neighbours. On the weekends, the population double or triples. You will find many people in the Tea Garden where one particular tree is about 500 years old, 15m tall and 6.6m in diameter.

9. Kuleli Naval Academy, Kuleli Askeri Lisesi

The Academy, located in Çengelköy, was founded in 1845 and it is one of the oldest Naval Academy in Turkey. The building was transformed into a military hospital during the Crimean War and supervised by Florence Nightingale. Once again it was converted into a hospital the First Balkan War in 1912. In the 1920’s it was converted into an orphanage. Eventually it became and military education institute after some major renovations. Along with other military schools, the Military High School closed in 2016.

10. Küçüksu Pavilion:

An elaborate hunting lodge built for Sultan Abdülmecid I on the Asian side near the Anatolian Fortress. This summer retreat has been meticulously restored and opened to the public in 1983. Today it functions as a museum with a small café. Here you can sit and enjoy a Turkish coffee or tea and watch the ships sail past.

The film enthusiasts may recognize the pavilion as the mansion of oil heiress Elektra King in Baku in the James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough”. The pavilion was also featured in the popular Bollywood film “Ek Tha Tiger”.

11. Rumeli Fortress (Rumelihisarı):

Rumelihisari meaning ‘Fortress on the Land of the Romans’ was built atop an old Roman. The view of the fortress from the air is in the shape of Muhammad’s name in Arabic. The ottoman Rumeli fortress in the Sarıyer district on the European side dates back to 1452. It took 3,000 people and 4 months to build and has been standing strong for 5 centuries. Originally built to protect Istanbul.

After the fall of the ottoman Empire in 1453, Rumeli Castle functioned as a customs house, then as a prison and in the 19th century it was a living castle with houses, mosques and shops. The neighborhood was destroyed in 1950. The fortress was eventually opened as an event venue including concerts/theater and today it is an open-air museum.

The Rumeli fortress was constructed by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II on the narrowest part of the Bosphorus Strait. It is directly across from the Anatolian Anadolu Fortress built by Mehmet’s great grandfather.

The restaurants and cafes in the area are famous for their breakfast service. A great weekend activity is to have a Turkish breakfast in Rumeli Hisari neighborhood, visit the museum or attend one of the may concerts or events at the fortress. Public buses 22, 22RE, 25E, 29D, 40T and 42T all stop at the fortress. Additionally you can also take the ferry from Eminönü Pier across to Emirgan Pier and walk along the river to the fortress.

12. Anatolian Fortress (Anadoluhisarı):

The fortress was built in 1393-1394 to allow the Ottoman army to cross from the Asian (Anatolian) side to the European side. Just south of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, the second bridge spanning Bosporus, which goes just to the fortress north. Originally built on the site of the old temple dedicated to Zeus, it has been damaged by earthquakes, invasions, weather and was restored in 1993.

The fortress consists of three towers, inner and outer fortress walls and an inner rectangular tower that is 4 stories high. Over the year, its functions changed from a military fortress protecting Istanbul, a watch tower, a military prison and today it is an open-air museum however you cannot climb the fortress, just walk around its outer walls. Around the fortified walls, you will find summer homes of prominent statesman and military officials. The area is a residential neighborhood with a road that passes through the middle of the fortress whereas Rumeli Fortress has maintained its fortress characteristics.

13. Erbilgin Mansion:

The home is said to be one of the most expensive palaces in Turkey. At 5,800 sq.mtr and with 64 rooms, it was the home of the son of Sultan Abdul Hamid II “Shahzadeh Burhanuddin Effendi Yalisi”.
It has exchanged hands many times including in  2015, when it was purchased by a Qatari businessman “Mane Abdul-Adi” for 100 million euros as a gift for his wife.

14. Sait Halim Pasha Mansion:

This was one of the colorful homes in Bosphorus Village. These were summer mansions of Istanbul wealthy families in the 1700 & 1800’s. These wooden mansions are called Yali and there are about 680 of them in the village.

The Bosphorus cruise map pins show the exact location of these mansions and you may be able to see them as you cruise down the Sea.

15. Tarabya (Restaurant village):

A small village on the European side in the district of Sariyer. The area was settled in the 12th century and Tarabya comes from the Greek work Therapeia (therapy). The forests and greenery were seen as a relaxing getaway and the sultans travelled to Tarabya for hunting and fishing. The wealthy and nobility built summer houses to escape the city and the plague. Today you will find great restaurants that still draws people from the city.

Attractions in Tarabya include the Church of Aya Paraskevi, Fountains of Sultan Mahmud II and of Bezim-i-Salem Valide Sultan, the Huber Mansion (current Presidential residence) and the Grand Tarabya Hotel.

16. Sadberk Hanım Museum (in Büyükdere):

The private museum run by the Koc family is in the Büyükdere neighbourhood of Sarıyer district. It house collections from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman era. The museum used to be the summer residence of the Koc family. It is a museum worth visiting and gives you a glimpse of the past. Onsite you will find a beautiful garden, a café and a gift shop.  If you want to travel by bus, take the tram to Kabataş. From Kabataş take bus 25E to Sariyer and get off at stop named Büyükdere Mah.

17. Anadolu Kavağı Village & Yoros Fortress:

A charming village near the entrance of the Black Sea, just prior to the third Bosphorus Bridge Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. The new bridge can be seen from the ruins of the Yoros fortress.

When you arrive, you will disembark near the square of this small village with a population of about 2,000 residents. It is well known for its fresh seafood including mussels and you will see a great many fish restaurants and locals enticing you to eat at one of their restaurants. Tourism and the restaurants associated with tourism has become important to the economic viability of the village.

The most prominent attractions are the Yoros Castle on the hills above the village, Cevriye Hatun Fountain from 1785 in the Anadolu Kavağı Square, Marko Pasha Mansion and the Ali Reis Mosque. Hacı Ali Reis, who had it built, lies in his tomb next to the mosque.

Yoros Fortress (Castle):

The castle dates back to the Byzantine era and was built in 1838 on the sire of the former temple in honour of Zeus. The castle was controlled by the Ottomans, then the Genoese, who renamed it Genoese Castle and then it went back under the control of the Ottoman Empire. At that time the castle changed functions into a customs office, a checkpoint for ships travelling to and from the Black Sea as well a quarantine building.

The hike to the castle is about 20-25 minutes, you will need comfortable shoes and the views are breathtaking. While the castle is in ruins, you will find the Yoros Kale Café and Restaurant near the castle that serves breakfast, daily fresh fish and other items.

Different types of Bosphorus Cruise:

Taking a cruise down the Bosphorus is the best way to experience the straight. There are three different options; the public ferry Şehir Hatlari, Private yacht and boat Cruises and Hop-on-hop-off cruise. In this article we will concentrate on the Şehir Hatlari cruise down the Bosphorus Sea

Option 1: Public Ferry Şehir Hatlari

1a.Şehir Hatlari Bosphorus Cruise

The public ferry (Şehir Hatlari) has two main lines: the Bosphorus Cruise line and Domestic Trips. the Bosphorus Cruise line is designated as Boğaz, meaning Bosphorus and have their own embarkation port that is different from the domestic/traditional Şehir Hatlari pier used by locals and is described in option 1b. below. The Şehir Hatlari Boğaz ferry provides a specific Bosphorus cruise line with three specific options:

  • a long Bosphorus cruise (takes you down to Anadolu Kavağı port) and is an all-day cruise.
  • a shorter 2-hour version called a short Bosphorus cruise.
  • a sunset/night/moonlight cruise along the Bosphorus.

All three in option 1a. are described in detail further down the article.

1b.Şehir Hatlari Regular Ferry down the Bosphorus (self guided Bosphorus Cruise)

Şehir Hatlari regular ferries (Domestic Trips) also travel down the Bosphorus, and you can simply travel from port to port purchasing a ticket to various ports creating your own hop-on-hop-off self guided cruise of the Bosphorus. Just buy a ticket to the stop you want to get off at, explore the area, then when you are ready to leave, buy another ticket for the next stop you want to get off at.

This would mean you would be riding on the regular ferry with the locals. The details regarding the domestic trip (self guided cruise) down the Bosphorus is provided below. This allows you to truly explore Istanbul at your own pace using the public traditional ferry as your main mode of transportation.

Option 2: Private Yachts and Boats with a local guide

However, there are some disreputable companies that are targeting unsuspecting tourists in search of a Bosphorus cruise. Many of these “scammer” are offering a cruise /tour that are costly (rates can be double or more of standard Bosphorus cruise). You will find many vendors and their representatives selling a private Bosphorus Cruise piers at Eminönü, Kabataş and Beşiktaş. Some are good value for money and others are scams and use questionable boats that may not be seaworthy. There are many options including dinner and sunset cruise down the Bosphorus.

You can personally book a private yacht by yourself from the Kabataş, Beşiktaş and Eminönü piers, or by booking online.

Option 3: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bosphorus boat / cruise Tour

Hop-on-Hop -off by the ferry company Dentur Avrasya operates a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bosphorus cruise starting at the Kabataş pier (near Dolmabahçe Palace). The cruise lasts about 2 hours to a full day depending on your stops. At each stop you can hop-on-hop-off at any off these ports Beşiktaş, Emirgan, Küçüksu, and Beylerbeyi. Keep in mind that anything offered in the way of drinks or snacks is NOT included in the price, so do not be caught off guard and have cash ready.

To save time, book your Hop-On-Hop-Off option in advance. Both Cruise and Bus options are available and include guides.

To get to Kabataş Pier: take and the funicular from Taksim Square or the tram to the old city of Sultanahmet.

Details for the Option 1a. for a Bosphorus Cruise on the Ferry Sehir Hatlari are listed above:

Public Ferry Şehir Hatlari Short Bosphorus Cruise (Kisa Boğaz Turu)

The short Bosphorus cruise is 2 hours long and departs from Eminönü Pier and stops at Üsküdar Pier and Ortaköy Pier. It does not make any stops along the way or at the end, so there is no opportunity for onshore exploration. At Ortaköy Pier, the ferry turns around and returns to the starting embarkation pier so you will not be able to get off at Ortaköy Pier. Always arrive at the pier at least 30 minutes before departure to get onboard as ferries get full during the busy season. Purchase ticket for the Şehir Hatlari short Bosphorus cruise from the Şehir Hatlari sales office is located on the left docks of Eminönü when coming off Galatea bridge.

Public Ferry Şehir Hatlari Long Bosphorus Cruise (Uzun Boğaz Turu)

Take the public ferry Şehir Hatları Bosphorus cruise Eminönü (called Hazerfen Ahmet Çelebi İskelesi) to Anadolu Kavağı. Theis a dedicated ferry for the long Bosphorus cruise and departs once at day from Eminönü in the morning. It stops along the way to pick up passengers at Beşiktaş, Üsküdar, Kanlica, Sariyer, Rumeli Kavağı and the last stop is Anadolu Kavağı Pier, just before the Black Sea. The ferry arrives at around lunchtime to Anadolu Kavağı, where passengers disembark and spend 3 hours in the area. This includes climbing the ruined fortress of seven towers on Yuşa Tepesi (Joshua’s Hill/ Yoros Castle). It is a 20 min climb with spectacular views and there are cafés along the way and at the clifftop. Passengers then reboard the ferry to return, thus making it a long cruise.

  • Anadolu Kavağı – A sleepy fishing village on the Asian side where you can get some lunch and walk to the Yoros Castle (Google map directions to Yoros Castle). It is a steep climb of about 25 minutes with breathtaking views from the top.
  • Tickets for the Şehir Hatlari long Bosphorus cruise can be obtained from the Şehir Hatlari sales office that is located on the left docks of Eminönü as you come off the Galatea bridge.

Public Ferry Şehir Hatlari Sunset / Moonlight Bosphorus Cruise (MehtapGezisi)

The Bosphorus Cruise at dusk (departs late afternoon/early evening and follows the same route as the daytime long Bosphorus Cruise. It stops in Anadolu Kavağı for two hours for passengers to disembark, enjoy an evening meal on the waterfront and head back to Eminönü at about 10.30pm. Check the season and times as it is not always available. Sunset cruises with a local guide can also be booked online.

  • Tickets for the Şehir Hatlari Moonlight Bosphorus cruise can be obtained from the Şehir Hatlari sales office which is near the Eminönü docks, close to the Galata Bridge.

Details for the Option 1b. for a Bosphorus Cruise on the public Ferry Şehir Hatlari (Domestic Trip / Traditional Ferry) from Eminönü to Sariyer (Self guided Bosphorus Cruise):

Istanbul’s public ferry Şehir Hatlari serves 48 piers using 34 passenger ferry boats via several routes including the Bosphorus sea route (not the ferry designated Bosphorus Cruise). You can catch this ferry at Eminönü Pier. Many people cruise the Bosphorus strait on the traditional ferry for 1.5 hours, get off at Sarıyer (23 km/14 miles north of Istanbul by road).

  • One of these routes is from Eminönü to Sarıyer – Rumeli Kavağı. The idea is to take the traditional Şehir Hatlari ferry from Eminönü, to Sariyer or Rumeli Kavağı, then disembark, explore and return either from Sariyer or Rumeli Kavağı. The return trip can be by the same public Şehir Hatlari ferry or returm along the coastline on a public bus (25E).
  • Another route is also from is from Eminönü to Sarıyer – Rumeli Kavağı but to disembark at Sariyer, explore the area and then to continue onto Anadolu Kavağı on the  Anadolu Kavaği – Rumeli Kavağı- Sariyer Şehir Hatlari ferry. At Anadolu Kavağı, disembark at Anadolu Kavağı, explore the area and return back on the traditional Şehir Hatlari ferry to either Sariyer or Rumeli Kavağı.
  • For either of the two routes above, along the Eminönü to Sarıyer – Rumeli Kavağı route, you can get off at any of the stops on the Bosphorus. You need to buy a ticket for each stop you want to get off (your destination stop), explore the area then buy another ticket for the next stop you want to get off at.
  • The Bosphorus Cruise map pins provides details of the different piers as well as images.
  • The Istanbulkart can be used to purchase tickets on the traditional public ferry (not dedicated to Bosphorus cruise). In this way you would be creating your own self guided tour version of a Bosphorus cruise.
  • All you would be missing is the audio guide that is on the designated Bosphorus tour (Bosphorus=Boğaz), which is glitchy at best. In other words you would be traveling from Eminönü to Sarıyer – Rumelikavağı (click on Eminönü departure tab) and then back using the route Sarıyer -Rumelikavağı to Eminönü (click on the Rumelikavağı departure tab).
  • Tickets for the traditional/domestic ferry, public buses and trams can be purchased using the Istanbulkart.

Traditional Public Ferry from Sariyer to Anadolu Kavağı and back to Sariyer

If you want to go to Anadolu Kavağı, I suggest getting off at Sariyer, take the ferry Anadolu Kavaği – Rumeli Kavağı- Sariyerı (click on Sariyer departure tab)and return to Sariyer on the same ferry Anadolu Kavağ- – Rumeli Kavağı- Sariyer (click on the Poyraz departure tab) and disembarking at Sariyer. Tickets for the public ferry can be purchased using the Istanbulkart.

  • Anadolu Kavağı – A sleepy fishing village on the Asian side where you can get some lunch and walk to the Yoros Castle (Google map directions to Yoros Castle). It is a steep climb of about 25 minutes with breathtaking views from the top. This is the traditional end stop of the Long Bosphorus Cruise.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before departure to ensure you get onboard as it can get full
  • This para is a repeat???

Taking a different route back from Sariyer – Scenic bus route from Sariyer back to Taksim/ Sultanahmet /Kabataş

In Sariyer, you can take the public bus back (local bus #25E or #40) back to Taksim/ Sultanahmet/Kabataş. It is a lovely scenic ride along the coastline. Ticket purchase for the public domestic/traditional ferry and local bus can be done using your Istanbulkart.

Public Bus from Sariyer:

  • From Sariyer Pier, walk to the bus stop (3 min) and take the bus to Kabataş then onto Taksim or Sultanahmet on Tram 1.
  • Take bus 25E Sariyer to Kabataş (1 hr 13 min and 53 stops, scenic route) to Kabataşbus stop. When you reach Kabataş bus stop:
    • To Taksim: from the Kabataş bus stop, walk 95m (1 min) southwest (straight ahead after you disembark) along the main road Meclis-i Mebusan Cd. to the Kabataş Funicular station and take the funicular (one stop metro) to Taksim.
    • To Sultanahmet: from the Kabataş bus stop, cross the street and take the tram T1 Kabataş–Bağcılar to Sultanahmet. An easy way to cross the street is to walk straight ahead to the Funicular station and take the pedestrian tunnel under the main street to cross over.
  • There are many attractions along the way back, if you want to get off and explore. You will have to purchase tickets again if you want to board the bus and continue the journey back.
  • Do not take Bus 25T towards Sariyer-Taksim, it is a longer and less scenic route.

Taking a different route back from Rumeli Kava – Scenic bus route from Rumeli Kavağı back to Taksim/Sultanahmet/Kabataş

Disembark at Rumeli Kavağıand take the public bus #25E back to Taksim/Sultanahmet/Kabataş.

  • From the Rumeli Kavağı pier, walk to the bus stop also called “Rumeli Kavağı”(2 min – google map directions to Rumeli Kavağıbus stop) and take the bus to 25E to Kabataş bus station or walk to the bus stop called “Mendirek” about (3min – google map directions to the Mendirek bus stop) from the Pier: (Check when the buses are running and weekend schedules).
    • At either bus stop catch the bus #25E to Kabataş bus stop.
  • When you reach Kabataş bus stop, simply take the funicular (one stop metro) to Taksim or catch the T1 Tram across the street to Sultanahmet

What is the Istanbulkart

Purchasing the Istanbul card is advisable if you are using public transport such as the local bus, Şehir Hatlari public ferry route and the tram system. It is a plastic card and can be used as tickets by touching or holding it over the card reader when boarding or going through the turnstile. We used one card for the whole family, touched it as many times as the number of people and topped it up as needed. There is no need to sign out when disembarking, its only used to enter the public transportation system.

The card, which looks like a credit card, can be purchased at ticket booths, tobacco shops and newsstands/kiosks. You can refill at designated kiosks located at any major bus, tram, to metro station, as well as some other places such as newspaper stands close to bus stops. They can also be refilled at the bus ticket vending machines. If you re using the vending machine, do not use large bills as the machine does not give out change and the entire amount will be loaded into the card.

Additional information can be found at Istanbulkart, call +90 212 444 1871 or download the app.

How to use the Istabnulkart

There is a non-refundable fee to buy the card. Then the card is loaded, and amounts are deducted as you use the card. The card can be used for transfers within a 2 hour window and the first transfer is 15min after activating the ride and it allows for 5 transfers within the 2 hour window. Use the card on trams, funicular, public buses, light rail, marmaray, underground metro, the tram system and the public/domestic ferry (as millions of locals cross the Bosphorus to go to work). It cannot be used with private tour companies that offer Bosphorus toursor the hop-on-hop-off tours.


We brought our old iphone to Turkey and purchased a local SIM card for internet packages available to tourist. This was a great way to travel and explore Istanbul.  I would highly recommend this: the sim cards can be topped up. Purchase of the SIM card can be done at one of the official cell phone companies and you will be looking to purchase a plan available to tourists. Your tourist status will need to be verified by showing them your passport so you will need to bring itwhen purchasing the sim card. Passports are not required for top ups.

Video: Anadolu Kavağı

Şehir Hatları, Eminönü, Istanbul, Turkey

Boğaz İskelesi Ferry Dock, Eminönü, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 313 8000
Website: sehirhatlari.com.tr
Facebook: sehirhatlari
Twitter: sehir_hatlari
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Flickr: sehirhatlari
Email: [email protected]

You will find the Şehir Hatları Bosphorus sales offices to the left Eminönü dock when exiting off the Galata Bridge. If you want a small group, private, luxury or personal cruise with a local guide, these can be booked online.

How to get to Bosphorus Cruise port:

From Sultanahmet, take the T1 tram to Eminönü station. Walk to the ferry dock and look for the Şehir Hatları ticketing office pictured in the pdf map (image 3 – Hazerfen Ahmet Çelebi İskelesi – ticket office)