Newest Review: ... of the trip. Interestingly, people seem to have forgotten about this when it comes to the return journey, when the bow end offers the best ... more
Ferry Across the Bosphorus
Bosphorus (Istanbul, Turkey)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Bosphorus (Istanbul, Turkey)
Advantages: Good value, nice way to see other parts of the city
Disadvantages: Could be unpleasant in certain weather conditions.
When I told my colleagues that I was planning on visiting Istanbul, a colleague told me that a Bosphorus River Cruise was a must-do for my itinerary. I visited the city in early March and the city is still quite cold at this time, so I was concerned about the weather being suitable, but our Saturday was quite sunny and mild, so we picked this day as the best one to go and wandered over about lunchtime.
The cruises leave from Eminonu which is by the Galata bridge and Spice Bazaar. There is a tram stop here but it is walking distance from the Sultnahmet district. There are a a few places here and a number of companies touting their cruises. I am sure different companies have other departures but there seemed to be quite a few going at 2.30pm for either 90 mins or two hours. Here is also a good place to get a 'regular' local ferry too. We didn't really have enough time to justify a full day cruise (which, as I understand it, gives you three hours in a touristy village before heading back) for TL25 so we opted for a two hour cruise with Sehir Hatlari lines for TL10 (£3.60). They also do evening cruises.
Part of the reason we chose this company (prices were the same regardless of firm) is that the boats looked bigger and more steady. Some of our party were a bit nervous about the smaller boats and the fact that they were bouncing up and down a bit more. The top areas are outside and here you will get the best views, so if you are travelling out of season, I recommend wrapping up warm. Inside and down a level or two are inside areas and a bar that sells hot drinks and snacks. Toilets are on the lower level and left a lot to be desired so go before you board, if you can. They weren't horrendously dirty, but stank to high heaven.
We started out on the top deck where we managed to get seats, and on one side where we could see the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and later the Topkapi Palace and on the other the Galata Tower. Once the boat started moving, we ended up walking around and taking photographs. Even though it was out of season the boat was quite busy (I believe it only operates at weekends during the winter). The boat does a round trip and (I think) the right side is the best place to sit if you can, as this side is closer to the shore. Another point of interest is the Dolmabahce Palace, somewhere that we were not planning on visiting. 600m of the palace faces the river so you can see a lot of the building and it looks like it could be worth a visit if you have the time. Just past here the boat docks to allow other passengers on and off at a stop called Ortakoy. From the boat it looked a very pretty area, with a nice square with cafes and restaurants. There is a neo-baroque style mosque here also, but at the time it was hidden behind a lot of scaffolding.
Ortakoy is right by the Bosphorus bridge which makes for some striking photographs. There are no other stops until the boat loops around and comes back to Ortakoy and Eminonu. However it is interesting to look at the building and riverside. The European side is on your left and Asia is on your right. The Asian side at this point is more interesting, with a number of old palaces and buildings such as the Beylerbeyi Palace. Finally you will go under the Fatih Bridge and loop around and return home. At this point (for us) it started to get quite chilly and we retreated inside to the warmth where we enjoyed a sitdown in the warmth.
As advertised, the trip took two hours, and although quite chilly and windy at times, it wasn't rocky and no one felt ill. I do recommend trying to squeeze in a trip if you can, although if you have more time, I think it would be fun to get the 'regular' ferry and get off and explore some of the places further up
Summary: Add to your Istanbul itinerary.