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A Bosphorus Cruise can add a great deal to your stay in Istanbul, especially between the months of May to September. The views of the city are truly magnificent, so even if you are pushed for time, try to include it on your “must do” list. Like most things, you will get the most out of it with a little research and planning.

Walking along the dockside you will find many operators offering trips for sale. The unaware tourist can easily be taken in and could end up grossly over paying or even worse booking a trip on an unsafe boat. If you visit one of the many agents, you will be able to see the price you will have to pay, and exactly what you are getting for your money.

Where the Sea of Marmara meets the Bosphorus, built on a small island is Leander’s Tower, sometimes referred to as Maidens Tower. A building has been on this site since 411 BC. Its original purpose was to act as a customs station. The Byzantines replaced the original building with a defence tower in the 12th century, with the role of protecting the Bosphorus. It continued in use during the time of the Ottoman Empire, then after the conquest of Istanbul, the old building was replaced by a new one. One of its roles was to act as a lighthouse, then in 1716 a fire destroyed the tower. The tower we see today was constructed in 1725 by the then Prime Minister,  Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pacha. The tower has recently undergone further restoration, and is now open to visitors.

Each tour can have their differences, but there are two basic tours, the Short Circle, and the Full Circle. The Short Circle Bosphorus Cruise, which is ideal if time is tight, it is a non-stop trip, although it might include a pick-up or two along the way, and lasts a couple of hours. The Full Bosphorus Cruise can take 4 hours or more with sometimes the opportunity to get off for a short time on route.

The easiest and cheapest way to get out onto the water is to take the Intercontinental Ferry, it will take you from Eminonu, Kabatas, or Besiktas on the Europian side, across the Bosphorus to Uskudar, Harem, Haydarpasa, or Kadikoy on the Asian side. This only takes 25 minutes one way, you should allow about an hour for the round trip. On the way you will be able to take in the minarets and domes of old Istanbul as well as the sprawling business district. You will also get a good view of Leander’s Tower.

Bosphorus Cruise

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