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Planning a Bosphorus Day Cruise

One of the most pleasant experiences in Istanbul—and an easy way to escape the chaos of the city—is a trip up the Bosphorus by ferry. If you want to go all the way to the mouth of the Black Sea, and have the time to make a day of it, you can take a "full Bosphorus cruise." These boats leave from Eminönü and zigzag up the Bosphorus with set stops, arriving in the middle of the day for a three-hour break at either Rumeli Kavağı (European side) or Anadolu Kavağı (Asian side), two fishing villages with fortresses at the opening to the Black Sea. Then they zigzag back down to Eminönü. Operated by Şehir Hatları, the ferries depart daily from the first quay on the Bosphorus side of the Galata Bridge (look for the sign that says "Boğaz İskelesi") at 10:35 and 1:35 in the summer months (approximately early June to mid-September) and at 10:35 in the winter. A one-way ticket is 15 TL, while the round-trip costs 25 TL. On Saturday nights in summer, a "Sunset Cruise" follows the same route, leaving Eminönü at 6:25 and returning around midnight (20 TL). The Dentur Avrasya company recently launched its own boat rides to Anadolu Kavağı from Kabataş (departing 11:15) and Ortaköy (departing 11:30), for a round-trip fare of 15 TL; as of this writing, it’s not clear whether these will continue year-round.

If your time is more limited, you can take a short cruise with no stops, lasting two hours or less, which goes to the second Bosphorus bridge before turning around. Two private companies operate frequent daily trips: Turyol, on the Golden Horn side of Galata Bridge, has a set timetable (12 TL), while Boğaziçi Yoltur, on the Bosphorus side, operates in a more ad hoc fashion (10 TL).

Alternatively, several commuter ferries leave from Boğaz İskelesi between 5 and 7 pm every day (more frequently on weekdays than weekends) and zigzag up the Bosphorus for a mere 3 TL—but you’ll have to catch a bus or taxi back later, as there are no return ferries until the morning. A number of buses run up and down both sides; most useful on the European side are the 25E (Kabataş to Sarıyer) and 25T (Taksim to Sarıyer). On the Asian side, several buses run from Üsküdar past Beylerbeyi, Anadolu Hisarı, and Kanlıca to Beykoz, from where the 15A continues up to Anadolu Kavağı.

This ferry is leaving the Eminönü docks near Sultanahmet to cross the Bosphorus.

Updated: 2014-03-31

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