Bosphorus Cruise and Old City

5.00 out of 5
(12 customer reviews)


Cruise along the Bosphorus and enjoy the stunning landscape of Istanbul with an English-speaking guide. First, you will visit Little St. Sophia and then take the cruise to marvel at the historical buildings and many popular sites from the water.

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  • Date/Hour

    Every day at 15:00am

  • Language


  • Duration

    3 Hours

  • Precio


  • Meeting point

    Sirvan Sofrasi Restaurant

  • Itinerary

    Bosphorus Cruise

  • End point

    Uskudar or Ahir Kapi

  • Wheelchair friendly tour


Enjoying Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise and Old City

Our tour starts in front of Sirvan Sofrasi Restaurant at 15:00 pm. Our first stop will be the beautiful St. Sergio and Baccus Church, popularly known as the Little St. Sophia. This magnificent building was built in the 6th century as an Orthodox church and turned into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire. Its location and interior decorations make it one of the most visited buildings in the city. This magnificent Byzantine building is at a short distance to Ahir Kapi where our cruise boat will be waiting for you. On your way to Ahir Kapi, you will see the existing parts of the Sea Walls of Constantinople that go back to 4th – 5th centuries.

The minute you embark on our comfortable cruise boat, you will start enjoying the breathtaking views of Bosphorus. The palaces, wooden houses, enormous bridges and the beautiful neighborhoods will be passing one after the other as you admire and photograph them.

While sailing along the Bosphorus, you will be seeing the most important landmarks of Istanbul, including The Golden Horn, The Spice Bazaar, Dolmabahce Palace, Topkapi Palace, Cıragan Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Rumeli Fortress, Anatolian Fortress, Ortakoy Mosque, The Galata Tower, Ortakoy neighborhood, Ortakoy Mosque, Uskudar and Maiden Tower. All these iconic places will be seen from the water during the Bosphorus tour.

During your boat tour, you will be accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide from whom you will learn a lot about the historical buildings as well as the everyday life around Istanbul’s popular neighborhoods.

After enjoying a 1.5-hour Istanbul Bosphorus cruise, you will disembark either at Uskudar in the Asian side or at Ahir Kapi in the European side where our boat tour had started.

 Tour Highlights

·     A professional guide fluent in English

·     A guided visit to the Little. St. Sophia

·     Travel by a cruise boat and see many popular sites from the water

·     Step back in time and enjoy the most beautiful historical buildings

·     Marvel at the iconic filming locations of popular Turkish TV series

·     A possibility to finish your tour in the Asian side of Istanbul


Attention: Pre-booking is not required.


What is included

·     Professional licensed tour guide

·     Service charges & local taxes


What is not included

·     Meals and beverages

·     Personal expenses

·     Tips and gratuities


More Information on Bosphorus Cruise Sights

Little St. Sophia is a former Greek orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople. It was built between 532 and 536. After the conquest of Istanbul, it was converted into a mosque. It is one of the most important Byzantine buildings in Istanbul.

Bosphorus Strait is a natural strait between two continents: Europe and Asia. It is located in the northwestern of Turkey, connecting The Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The two seashores of Istanbul are ornamented with royal palaces, mosques, prestigious universities, 5-star hotels, suspension bridges and world-wide famous wooden houses known as yali.

The Golden Horn has several places of interest for tourists. The historic coast pass through the neighborhoods of Fener and Balat, belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. Fener and Balat used to be Istanbul’s Greek Orthodox and Jewish neighborhoods. The Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars is located in Fener. In this neighborhood you can also see the Mosque of the Rose, an ancient Byzantine church converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest. The Fener Greek Patriarchate is located in the Fener neighborhood. Other sightseeing locations include Ferruh Kethuda Mosque and Ahrida Synagogue. The former was built under the guidance of Mimar Sinan, the great architect of the Ottoman Empire.  The latter is known as one of the oldest synagogues in Istanbul.

The Sea Walls of Constantinople consisted of defensive city walls stretching seven kilometers from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. It dates back to the 4th– 5th centuries during the Byzantine Empire. Some parts of the walls survived and are still standing in the northeast of Istanbul.

The Sea of Marmara is an inland sea which separates two continents; Europe and Asia. Princes islands are popular sightseeing places here. Princes islands are also a popular holiday resort for the local people as the islands are close to Istanbul. A trip to one of the princes islands will take a full day tour.

The Spice Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in Istanbul. It is also known as Egyptian Bazaar. It is the second largest covered market in the world after the Grand Bazaar which is also in Istanbul. The Spice Bazaar is located in the busy district of Eminonu, near the New Mosque.

The Galata Tower is an ancient tower built by the Genoese in 1348. As the most recognizable landmark of the Golden Horn, it is a must-see sight in Istanbul.

Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most glorious palaces of the Ottoman Empire. It is also known as the first European-style palace in Istanbul. The palace was commissioned by Sultan Abdulmecid between 1842 and 1853. Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most visited palaces in Istanbul, Turkey. Ataturk, the great leader of modern Turkish Republic, spent his last years in this palace.

Ciragan Palace is one of the most spectacular sights along the Bosphorus. The building is a former Ottoman palace turned into a 5-star hotel. This building is a popular spot for special occasions such as wedding ceremonies and celebrations.

Ortakoy Mosque is located just before the famous Bosphorus Bridge. It is one of the most popular photo shoot locations in Istanbul thanks to its picturesque setting. The mosque was designed by two Armenian architects; Garabet Balyan and his son.

Rumeli Fortress was built in order to prevent reinforcement arrivals to the Byzantine Constantinople during the Ottoman siege. Fatih Sultan Mehmet, known as The Conquerer, decided to build this fortress just in front of Anatolian Fortress.

Anatolian Fortress was built between 1393 and 1394 by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I who is known as The Thunderbolt. The fortress is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus to control all traffic along the Bosphorus Strait.

The mansions are historical wooden houses which were built right on the waterside on the Bosphorus Strait during the Ottoman Empire. Many yali houses are still occupied by the cream de la creme of the Turkish society. A number of old yalis are turned into luxury hotels.

Beylerbeyi Palace is located in Uskudar, a district at the Asian side of the Bosphorus. It was built as a summer residence for the Ottoman Sultan and a place to entertain his visiting foreign leaders.

The Maiden Tower is an ancient tower on a small island in the Sea of Marmara. It is also known as Leander’s Tower. There are many legends about this tower. It is one of the most iconic landmarks of Istanbul.

Which Bosphorus Tour to Take in Istanbul?

Taking a Bosphorus cruise is one of the best activities you can do while visiting Istanbul as it gives you the chance of seeing almost all historical sightseeing spots from the water on a half-day boat tour. Besides, no trip to Istanbul will be complete without a Bosphorus tour. To cruise along the Bosphorus, you need to choose what type of a boat tour you would like to have. Make sure you take the right cruise that suits your needs, expectations, budget and time constraints.

The first option is to enjoy the spectacular views of Bosphorus on a private yacht. Such tours are only for you and your friends or family as they take place on a private luxury yacht. This is the most luxurious way of exploring the two sides of the city; European and Asian. These boat tours are also very popular among locals because pre or post-wedding celebrations, parties and engagement ceremonies can be organized on a private yacht tour. If you want to enjoy Bosphorus on a luxury yacht, you can book a private Bosphorus tour on a luxurious private yacht by signing up here.

The second option is taking a tour that combines a boat tour and a guided sightseeing tour such as Bosphorus Cruise and Old City. First, you visit a historical landmark, Little St. Sophia, accompanied by a guide and later you cruise along Bosphorus with the same guide. After enjoying the breathtaking views of two continents, you might have a once-in-a-life-time experience if you prefer to disembark on Uskudar and watch the sunset there. This tour has another bonus, too. You can take Bosphorus boat tour after you have Free Tour Istanbul in the morning.

If you are looking for a more romantic activity, taking a Bosphorus dinner cruise and Turkish night show is a great idea. On a Bosphorus dinner cruise, you can discover the beauty and glory of Bosphorus at night and enjoy a traditional Turkish dinner and dance show on the boat. The typical Bosphorus dinner cruise lasts not less than 3.5 hours. On the dinner cruise you will have an amazing romantic night out in the city. Night cruise is among the top tours in Istanbul.

The the last option is taking the traditional public ferry service known as sehir hatlari. This is the shortest and least expensive option. Though the sightseeing spots will be more or less the same, the experience you get will not be the same because on these intercontinental ferryboats you will not be accompanied by a professional guide who is ready to provide information about the historical buildings and Istanbul’s popular neighborhoods as well as answer your questions.


Why is it called Bosphorus?

Since antiquity travellers have praised the natural beauties of the Bosphorus, for this historic strait is one of the loveliest and most dramatic sights in the world. New parks and promenades, particularly on the European side, have opened up the shores of the Bosphorus to strollers, so that it is now possible to walk for miles without interruption.

The Bosphorus derives its name from the myth of Io, a priestess of Hera who was seduced by Zeus. Zeus transformed Io into a heifer to conceal her from his jealous wife, but Hera was not deceived and sent to torment Io. Pursued by the gadfly, Io plunged into the strait that separates Europe from Asia, and thenceforth it was known as the Bosphorus, or the Ford of the Cow.

The Bosphorus also appears in Greek mythology in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, who travelled up the strait to the Black Sea, the ancient Euxine, in their quest for the Golden Fleece. Many places on the Bosphorus are associated with the adventures of the Argonauts on their way up tie strait, a heroic voyage which represents the expansion of the lonia Greeks along the shores of the Euxine at the beginning of the first milleur nium BC.

The Bosphorus first appears in Greek literature in the Histories of Herodotus, where he describes the bridge of boats Darius constructed in 512 BC to transport his army across the strait in his campaign against the Scythians. From that time onward it played an important and even decisive role in the history of the city founded at its southern extremity in 667 BC , as Gyllius eloquently points out, the Bosphorus is ‘the first creator of Byzantium, greater and more important than Byzas, founder of the City’. And he later sums up the predominant importance of this Strait that surpasses all straits’, by the epigram: “The Bosphorus with one key opens and closes two worlds, two seas’.

Topography and Oceanography of the Bosphorus

Bosphorus is a strait some 30km long, running in the general direction north-northeast to south-southeast, and varying greatly in width from about 700m at its narrowest to over 3.5km at its widest. Its average depth at the center of the channel is between 50m and 75m, but at one point it reaches a depth of over 100Om.

The predominant surface current flows at a rate of 3-5km per hour from the Black Sea to the Marmara, but, because of the sinuosity of the channel, eddies producing strong reverse currents flow along most of the indentations of the shore. A very strong wind may reverse the main surface current and make it flow toward the Black Sea, in which case the counter-eddies also change their direction.

At a depth of about 40m there is a sub-surface current, called canal in Turkish, whích flows from the Marmara to the Black Sea. Its waters, however, are for the most part prevented from entering the Black Sea by a threshold just beyond the mouth of the Bosphorus; these lower waters, denser and more saline than the fluid above them, are turned back by the threshold, mingle with the upper waters, and are driven back toward the Marmara with the surface current. The lower current is so strong, under certain conditions, that if fishing nets are lowered into it, it may pull the boats toward the Black Sea against the surface current.

Both shores of the Bosphorus are indented with frequent bays and harbors, and in general it will be found that an indentation on one shore corresponds to a cape or promontory on the other. Most of the bays are at the mouths of valleys reaching back into the hills on either side, and a great many of these have streams that flow into the Bosphorus. Both shores are lined with hills, none of them very high. Buyuk Camlica and Yusa Tepesi are both on the Asian side.

In spite of the frequent forest fires, both sides of the Bosphorus are wooded, especially with cypresses, umbrella-pines, plane trees, horse chest nuts, terebinths, and judas trees. The pink blossoms of the judas trees in spring, mingled with the mauve flowers of the wisteria and the red and white candles of the chestnuts, make the Bosphorus during that season even more spectacularly beautiful.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bosphorus Cruises

How long is the Bosphorus cruise tour?

Bosphorus Cruise and Old City Tour includes 1.5-hour boat tour.

How much does Bosphorus cruise cost?

The cruise cost depends on the duration of the tour, the activities that are included and the quality of the service you get. Bosphorus Cruise and Old City tour costs 15 Euros per person.

What is Bosphorus tour in Istanbul?

Bosphorus boat tours are popular cruise tours that you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Istanbul including palaces, mansions, fortresses and Istanbul’s neighborhoods. Boat tours are great for discovering both European and Asian parts of the city.

How far is Bosphorus from Istanbul’s old city?

The Bosphorus is close to Istanbul’s old city center namely the Sultanahmet district. The distance between them is 7 kilometers.

12 reviews for Bosphorus Cruise and Old City

  1. 5 out of 5


    It was an unforgettable trip with such a wonderful good-spirited and smart guide (Betul). She answered professionally with a lot of patience to our questions which we had a lot;)) I wish our day never ended !

  2. 5 out of 5


    Ce tour en bateau avec Pilar était top! On oublie le froid et on admire les batiments emblématiques tant du côté européen qu’asiatique, tout en écoutant les anecdotes intéressantes de Pinar. Elle nous a énormément appris sur la culture turque et sur la vie Istanbouloise. J’ai adoré l’avoir comme guide. Le meilleur moment a été lorsqu’elle nous a donné du pain pour nourrir les mouettes qui venaient par trentaine, ce fut incroyable!
    Pinar ne change rien, c’est toi la meilleure guide 🙂
    Prends soin de toi et à une prochaine si je reviens à Istanbul! (À 3 et avec des cheveux inch’allah) 😉

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