Istanbul Shore Excursions:
1) Public Ferry

Istanbul shore excursions are the best ways to explore this city, because Istanbul is a city to be enjoyed from both land and sea.

And hopping on a public ferry is a great way to do that.

If you have half a day, try this cruise...

You won't regret it!

If you have half a day to invest in the amazing Bosphorus, then my advice would be to take the “Bosphorus Cruise" (long version) or the "Bosphorus Tour" (short version)

Choose one of them according to how much time you want to invest and get on the ferry.

If you ask me, take the long version, go to the last stop which is “Anadolu Kavagi”, see the castle up the hill, enjoy the amazing views, have a lunch at the terrace café with a wonderful breeze and turn back watching the Bosphorus again.

On the Ferry you can;

  • See the Bosphorus Strait all along, from Marmara Sea to the Black Sea,
  • Have a glimpse of a small fishing village,
  • See the Black Sea through the eyes of the Byzantine,
  • Have a lovely lunch
  • Have a real Istanbul public ferry experience with a tea accompanying a “simit”.
  • See everything (actually way more!) than a private boat tour could provide,
  • Witness Interesting contrast of small boats fishing between the giant boats that are passing through,
  • See picturesque fishing villages (like Ortakoy and Arnavutkoy) and green forests behind them,
  • And,

  • And do all these on a budget!

Did you know?

This is not only one of the best deals in Istanbul but on the planet… Give yourself this gift!

Detailed info about the ferry cruise;

1) What is this "Bosphorus Tour"?

Ferry is a public passenger boat which we call as “Vapur” in Turkish. Municipality of Istanbul runs these ferry lines.

Istanbul shore excursions with an "Eminonu-Kavaklar" public ferry is called Bosphorus Tour and it is basically;

Zigzagging between Europe and Asia along the Bosphorus Strait, towards North, all the way to Black Sea ,

Making a leisurely stop in “Anadolu Kavagi” neighborhood for 2 or 3 hours and, Coming back all the way back towards the Marmara Sea.

2) What to expect?

On these Istanbul shore excursions, you will enjoy watching the beautiful waterfront houses, mansions, Ottoman palaces, castles, green hills and small fishermen’s villages on the way.

You will have lots of opportunities to have nice shots of this picturesque part of the city. And you will pass under two suspension bridges that combine Europe and Asia.

You can learn about the architectural and urban history of the Bosphorus Strait.

You will see small fishing boats, all kinds of motorboats and huge tankers and witness the liveliness of the strait.

It is a great way to spend an afternoon, that's for sure..

3) How long will it take?

Duration of the Istanbul shore excursions depends on the destination you choose.The trip to Anadolu Kavagi takes 1½ hours.

The ferry makes short stops at Besiktas, Kanlica, Yenikoy, Sariyer, Rumeli Kavagi and a long one in Anadolu Kavagi.

The public ferry;- Takes off daily at 10:35 and 13:35 (from June to September),- Docks at Anadolu Kavagi at 12:05 and 15:00, - Returns at 15:00 and 17:00. - Docks at Eminonu at 16:30 and 18:30.


4) What will you see along the way?

Istanbul shore excursions provide you stunning views of Istanbul along with the hundreds of years old architectural masterpieces like palaces and mosques, forts dating back to a thousand years, elegant waterfront houses, green forests…

And thanks to the lace-like geography, the scenery will change each moment providing you the most beautiful views…

Along the way, you will first notice the legendary Maiden's Tower. There are countless stories about why this tower was built in the middle of the sea. It is used as a luxury restaurant today. (A dinner here costs nearly 60$ per person.)

Dolmabahce Palace is on the seaside, a palace which was used after Topkapi Palace. Very close to that is another palace: Ciragan Sarayi, serving as a luxury hotel today.

Ortakoy Mosque, which I am sure you’ve seen at least one photo of it until now, is right after the Ciragan Palace, followed by the first suspension bridge of Istanbul; Bogazici Bridge reminding the fact that you are now sailing between Europe and Asia.

Kanlica, on the Anatolian side, is a lively fishing village and is famous for its yogurt, preferably eaten with some sugar on it. If you are lucky this delicacy will be sold on the boat shortly after it leaves this stop.

The most significant site on the Istanbul shore excursions will probably be the “Rumeli Fortress” (Rumeli Hisari) built by Sultan Mehmet II., the Conquerer, in the 15th century.

Remember there is a very nice, white lighthouse just before Rumeli Fortress. You will notice kids diving into water, right in front of the lighthouse.

There are countless buildings along the shore that will stun you..

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5) Where to pick up the ferry?

These ferries depart from the “Bogaz Hatti” dock (dock No: 3, Bosphorus Line) at Sirkeci, at the north of the Spice Market. Most of the Istanbul shore excursions depart from this dock.

The docks are on the shore of the Golden Horn between Galata Bridge and Sirkeci Station.

You can pick up the ferry at Sirkeci or at any other stop on the line.

6) Where to buy tickets? How much is it?

You can buy tickets for Istanbul shore excursions, Nostalgic Bosphorus Tour, right at the docks.

- A ticket costs TL 15 one-way.

- A ticket for a round-trip costs TL 25.

Buy a round-trip ticket unless you plan to get off at another stop and turn back with a bus or a taxi.

info: timetable and prices/

7) Quick tips for the ferry

  • The boats fill up early in summer – especially on weekends – so buy your ticket and walk aboard at least 45 minutes (preferably an hour) prior to departure to get a seat outside, especially on the upper-back deck.
  • Buy some simits before you get on, (A round bread covered with sesame). And buy 1 extra 'Simit' to feed the seagulls which make acrobatic moves to catch the simit parts you throw.
  • Try the special local “Kanlica Yoghurt” when yogurt vendors board at Kanlica stop.
  • Sit on the same side of the boat on both going and turning back. This way you’ll see both shores. And just enjoy the scenery rolling by.
  • Keep you camera ready, especially on the way back. Sun will be at a lower position while you’re heading back and will provide great photo opportunities.

8) What to eat?

On board:

You can find fresh orange juice, tea and other drinks and small snacks at the ferry cafeteria.

Kanlica Yoghurt right after the Kanlica stop.

At Anadolu Kavagi:

There will be enough time for lunch or quick snacks at Anadolu Kavagi.

  • You can eat a nice fish meal in one of the restaurants near the port. The seafood here is always fresh because it is the first stop for the fishermen who fish in Black Sea. You will have a nice lunch with fresh food; that is for sure. But be warned, it will not be a cheap meal. Be sure that you ask for a menu that lists prices of the courses.
  • You can have “midye-ekmek”, fried mussels in a sandwich from a stand near the port. This will be cheaper of course. Then you can buy an ice-cream and stroll around the streets.
  • Or you can have a nice lunch with amazing views on the terrace café, on half-way up the road to the castle. The best choice will be to stop here after you visit the castle. You will be tired, thirsty and hot (if it is summer) for sure and this will feel like a real treat. It is always windy there and never too crowded. Besides, the prices are not high as in the seafood restaurants at the port. And there are lots of dishes to choose between.

9) What to do at Anadolu Kavagi?

This small fishing village is famous for its seafood, the tiny streets and the 5th century castle on the hill.

Here is what I do when I go there;

I take a stroll around the streets of this small neighborhood, buy some water if I need.

Then I start to climb the never-ending hill to reach the castle with huffs and puffs. You can take a cab if you don’ feel like climbing a very steep hill though…

When I reach the castle, I look at the amazing view and I feel like all of those huff and puffs were absolutely worth it! The Black Sea channeling into the Bosphorus Strait, deep blue of the Bosphorus, green forests all around, ruined castle and the whistling wind; all add up to the picturesque scene up here. (And less noisy teenagers if you are lucky!)

After a while, I walk downhill and go to the terrace café on the halfway. Eat something depending on how hungry I feel. I am a vegetarian and even I can find so many delicious dishes here. Turkish cuisine is famous for its “Zeytinyagli” section, which are cold dishes cooked with olive oil. They always save my life...

And afterwards I have a beer or a tea or a Turkish coffee… All depends on the weather and the mood.

After a while, when the departing time of the ferry gets closer, I head back down to the port.

And maybe have an ice-cream before getting on the ferry. What life means without a nice, cute, small, delicious ice-cream anyway?

Overall, Istanbul shore excursions are the best way to explore the city, especially on hot summer days.

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