The harbor of this great city once known as Constantinople is full of large ocean liners and cruise ships throughout the year, with passengers enjoying Istanbul shore excursions of all sorts. Most cruise ships will spend two or three nights in this city that could take weeks to fully explore. What to see on an Istanbul cruise excursion includes everything from ancient bazaars and museums that chronicle the city’s history to opulent sultans’ palaces and extraordinary mosques.
Typical Istanbul shore excursions occur for two to four hours during the morning or afternoon. Others can last the entire day, with an included lunch in between major sights and some free time to explore independently or get in some shopping. There are often evening excursions during cruises to Istanbul that will take in a show of traditional dancing and music while dining on exquisite Turkish specialties.
What to see on an Istanbul cruise excursion includes so many attractions, that tours of two major sites in the same location will be fit into one typical excursion. For instance, the heart of Old City is centered around Sultanahmet Square. Here are the magnificent Blue Mosque, the Byzantine Hippodrome, as well as the beautiful Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. A morning tour might include two sites, with a break for lunch, and then tours of the other two. Alternatively, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is not far from this square. A morning could be spent at one or two of the most important of the structures, followed by an afternoon tour of the bazaar.
It is possible to embark on cruises to Istanbul from the Asian side of the city, as there are numerous water taxis making the trip throughout the day. There are also Bosphorus river cruises that explore the strait that divides Asia and Europe and connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. There are even ferries from as far away as Bursa making the round trip every day.