Which Bosphorus Tour Should I Take? Boat Tour in Istanbul

The Bosphorus boat tour in Istanbul is the most booked and researched type of activity when visiting Istanbul. Without a doubt, it is a must-do activity when traveling to Istanbul, as taking a Bosphorus tour not only allows you to see the Bosphorus strait itself with its beautiful natural curvature, lush green hills with old wooden mansions, its natural bays and creeks but also provides you with an opportunity to see most of the city from its middle point, as the Bosphorus strait is the geographical center of Istanbul between the two continents.

With a lot of ferry piers on both sides of Istanbul, dozens of ferry and boat companies provide Bosphorus tour options, the options are so rich that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Let’s have a look at your options:

The Regular Bosphorus Boat Tour in Istanbul

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The classic, most standard Bosphorus tour takes about 1 hour 15 mins to 1,5 hour max, starts and ends at the same pier, and is easily bookable throughout the day without prior reservation and starts every hour from most piers. This kind of Bosphorus tour is made on crowded ferries that can take up to 200-300 hundred people, there is no service, although most of them have a little cafe on the first floor, and play a loud, unclear record that explains the historical sites that are seen on the Bosphorus in Turkish and English every 5-7 mins. These kinds of Bosphorus tours are ubiquitous, cheap, and non-luxury. If you just want to see the Bosphorus without spending much and don’t care too much about your comfort, this is your best bet.

Yacht Tour

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Judging by their name, yacht tours might sound expensive, but they are still quite affordable and are a lot more comfortable than regular boat tours. Typically takes around 20-30 people, yacht tours come with waiters that serve you drinks and snacks, which are usually included or partially included up to some limit, have cleaner toilets, comfy sofas, seats and tables and usually last longer than regular Bosphorus tours. A typical yacht tour lasts around 2 hours or more. Yacht tours that are specifically aimed at watching the sunset can also be found online.

Related: Top 10 Places to See in Istanbul

Dinner Cruise

Dinner cruises are a bit different than the previous two as they only happen at night, typically quite late, from 8 pm till 11 pm, last about 3 hours, goes all the way up north of the Bosphorus and back, with massive ships that have restaurants and facilities inside, and just like its name suggests, include dinner, dance shows, music and service. This is basically like doing a mini cruise ship tour on the Bosphorus. These

kinds of dinner cruises also generally provide hotel pick-up and drop-off services for an extra fee, and sometimes included in the price.

Bosphorus tour with a stop-over at the Asian side

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These types of Bosphorus tours are not as common as the other types but offer Bosphorus tours with a unique twist: a short stop-over at the Asian side where you can get off, walk around and come back to the boat. Since the Asian side of Istanbul is not just a tiny neighborhood but rather half of this mega city with 14 districts and over 5,6 million people, the Asian side of Istanbul alone is larger than most European cities. So stop-over destinations on the Asian side can also vary, it could be Kanlıca, Üsküdar, Beylerbeyi, Kadıköy… However they all have their specialties and unique texture, and one common thing about the Asian side of Istanbul is that it is generally less touristic and more residential, so this type of Bosphorus tour offers you a glance at the other half of Istanbul while enjoying the Bosphorus to the max.

Here’s our recommendation for booking a Bosphorus tour with a stop-over at the Asian side.

Private Yacht Rental

The last and most expensive type of Bosphorus tour is of course if you rent a private yacht all to yourself. Small, luxury yachts can be booked hourly, for as long as you want, reserved for small, private groups and they come in with waiters, guided and non-guided options, music of your choosing, stop wherever you want to take pictures or get off for a walk, it is clearly the best way to get the most out of the Bosphorus experience, but may not fit the budget of every person.

Click here to book a private yacht for Bosphorus