Bosphorus river cruises provide some of the most scenic and educational things to do in the city of Istanbul. Also called the Bosporus, this protected body of water is not actually a river at all. It is the narrow strait that separates the continent of Asia from that of Europe, and connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean Sea. The city of Istanbul sprawls across both sides of this watery highway, and Bosphorus sightseeing provides visitors with beautiful Istanbul pictures and the unparalleled sweeping vistas of one of the greatest and most historic cities in the world.
Almost everyone who visits the city will embark on Bosphorus cruises of one sort or another. Like Venice in Italy, the strait provides one of the main intra-city transportation routes. Water taxis of all descriptions travel back and forth from one attraction to another. Some of the finest luxury hotels on either side are set on their own piers, and convey their guests from place to place. Even ferries from as far away as Bursa on the beaches of the Sea of Marmara make daily trips.
But, there are organized and narrated Bosphorus river cruises that are the Istanbul shore excursions and tours most visitors will enjoy during their stay in this great city. Bosphorus cruises fall into a few different categories, and your Istanbul hotels will assist you in booking one. Most will include transfers to or from your hotel and a professional guide who will narrate the tour. It is possible for small groups to book an entire boat for special events, and you can also book onto a scheduled departure with other passengers.
Many people choose a Bosphorus sightseeing tour of about two hours, either in the morning or afternoon. This is a panoramic overview of the city’s waterfront, providing wonderful vistas of the top of Galata Kulesi (the city’s landmark watchtower), the slender minarets of beautiful mosques, the synagogues of the still thriving Jewish Quarter, and the elegant outlines of Topkapi Palace.
The city has a very chic and celebrated nightlife, and there are evening Bosphorus river cruises that take advantage of it. These are Bosphorus cruises combined with dining on traditional cuisine, ending with a drop off at one of the city’s night spots. The city, especially its most prominent landmarks are gloriously illuminated after dark, and there is no more memorable sight than seeing the magnificent Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia alight in the night sky. It is possible, though not inexpensive, to book a private yacht for a romantic dinner for only two. Or, if you are on a budget, you can book evening tours on a standard public passenger ferry.
You can also book escorted tours on the Bosphorus that last the entire day, with an included lunch break. These might stop for Bosphorus sightseeing and guided walks in the city’s legendary bazaars, including the Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market. Another stop might be a visit to one of the nearby mosques or even a tour of the opulent Topkapi Palace.