Are you ready to experience the magic of Istanbul’s Bosphorus? This strait, which separates the European and Asian sides of the city, is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and breathtaking natural scenery. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for some adventure, Bosphorus has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ve compiled the top things to do and see on Bosphorus, as well as some tours and cruises to help you make the most of your trip.
What’s Special About Bosphorus in Istanbul?
Bosphorus is not just a body of water; it’s a cultural and historical landmark that has shaped Istanbul’s identity for centuries. As you cruise along the strait, you’ll be enchanted by the stunning architecture of Ottoman palaces and mosques, the lush greenery of the hills, and the sparkle of the sun on the water. You’ll also get to witness the daily life of locals, from fishermen casting their nets to ferries shuttling passengers between the two sides of the city.
Where is the Bosphorus in Istanbul?
The Bosphorus is located in Istanbul, Turkey, and stretches for 32 kilometers, connecting the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. It separates the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side, and the best way to explore it is by taking a cruise or a ferry.
Things to Do & See on Bosphorus in Istanbul
Public Ferry Cruise (Bosphorus Strait)
A public ferry cruise is a must-do for anyone visiting Istanbul. Not only is it affordable, but it also offers a unique perspective on the city’s skyline and historical landmarks.
The ferry runs between Eminonu on the European side and Uskudar on the Asian side, and the trip takes about an hour and a half each way. Along the way, you’ll see the majestic Bosphorus Bridge, the Dolmabahce Palace, and the iconic Maiden’s Tower.
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Have a Bosporus Sunset Cruise
For a more romantic and magical experience, consider taking a sunset cruise on the Bosphorus. As the sun sets behind the hills, the city transforms into a golden wonderland, and the water reflects the colors of the sky.
You’ll also get to see the illuminated Bosphorus Bridge and enjoy live music and drinks on board.
Bosporus Moonlight Cruise With Dinner and Show
If you’re looking for a more luxurious and entertaining experience, a moonlight cruise with dinner and a show is the way to go. You’ll get to enjoy a delicious Turkish meal, including meze, kebab, and baklava, while watching a traditional dance performance. The boat will also pass by some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Ortakoy Mosque and the Ciragan Palace.
Private Yacht Tour on Bosphorus
For a truly exclusive and personalized experience, consider renting a private yacht and exploring the Bosphorus at your own pace. You’ll be able to customize the route, the duration, and the stops, and have a professional captain and crew at your service. You can even add extras such as a barbecue or a fishing trip.
Look at Historical Sites from the New Perspective
As you cruise along the Bosphorus, you’ll get to see some of Istanbul’s most iconic and historical sites from a new perspective.
The Dolmabahce Palace
The Dolmabahce Palace, for instance, was the residence of the Ottoman sultans in the 19th century and is a stunning example of European-style architecture. Read more…
The Rumeli Fortress
The Rumeli Fortress, built by Sultan Mehmed II in preparation for the conquest of Constantinople, is a formidable structure that has withstood the test of time. Read more…
And the Beylerbeyi Palace, built in the 19th century, served as the summer residence for the Ottoman sultans and features an intricate mix of Ottoman and European architectural styles. Read more…
But the Bosphorus isn’t just about the historical sites; it’s also about the modern marvels that adorn its shores.
As you sail along the strait, you’ll be greeted by the Istanbul Sapphire, a 54-story skyscraper that towers above the city. And, of course, you’ll get to see the iconic Bosphorus Bridge, which spans the strait and connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Read more…
See the Bridges
15 July Martyrs Bridge
One of the most impressive feats of engineering on the Bosphorus is the Bosphorus Bridge, also known as the 15 July Martyrs Bridge. Completed in 1973, the bridge spans over 1,000 meters and connects Europe and Asia.
As you sail under the bridge, you’ll get a unique perspective on this impressive structure. The bridge is especially impressive at night, when it’s lit up and the lights reflect off the water, creating a mesmerizing display.
The Galata Bridge connects Karakoy and Eminonu neighborhoods on the European side of Istanbul. It’s known for its fishing spots and street vendors selling traditional Turkish street food.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, also known as the 3rd Bosphorus Bridge, is the newest and widest bridge in the world that spans the Bosphorus. It’s an impressive sight to behold, whether you’re driving across it or admiring it from afar.
One of the most recognizable landmarks on the Bosphorus is the Maiden’s Tower, also known as the Leander’s Tower. This tiny tower sits on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus and has served many purposes throughout its history, from a lighthouse to a quarantine station.
Today, the Maiden’s Tower is a popular tourist attraction and restaurant. Visitors can take a boat to the tower and enjoy a meal or a drink while taking in the stunning views of the Bosphorus. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening and get a unique perspective on Istanbul’s skyline.
Located on the European side of the Bosphorus, Galataport is a new development that has transformed the waterfront into a modern, vibrant space. This mixed-use development includes a cruise ship terminal, a shopping mall, a museum, and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Read more…
Galataport is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening, especially if you’re interested in modern architecture and design. The development has been carefully designed to blend in with the historic architecture of Istanbul while still providing a modern and functional space for visitors and locals alike.
Don’t Miss The Best Tours and Cruises in Istanbul
Best Hotels in Istanbul with Bosphorus Views: Where to Stay?
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience in Istanbul, there’s no better way to do it than by staying in a hotel with a Bosphorus view. From your room, you’ll be able to take in the stunning views of the strait and watch the ships as they sail by.
Situated in a historical building from the 1930s, Shangri-La Bosphorus offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. Located in the Beşiktaş district, the hotel is just a 15-minute walk from the iconic Dolmabahçe Palace. Its 186 rooms and suites are adorned with chandeliers and inspired by palatial Ottoman glamour and Asian design elements. You can also enjoy exquisite dining at four restaurants and bars, including the renowned Shang Palace.
Nestled on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait, this lovingly restored 19th-century Ottoman palace showcases Istanbul’s ancient architecture and warm Turkish hospitality. Indulge in traditional hammam experiences, lounge by the outdoor pool, and savor Anatolian delicacies while admiring the city’s stunning waterfront skyline. The Four Seasons Hotel offers a unique perspective on Istanbul, revealing a side of the city that’s rarely seen by visitors.
Immerse yourself in the opulence of the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel situated on the Bosphorus. With 310 rooms exuding a resort-like ambiance in the heart of the city, this luxurious property offers an array of event spaces, delectable dining options, and a serene spa. Don’t miss the chance to take a dip in the outdoor infinity pool, overlooking the captivating Bosphorus views.
Best Restaurants in Istanbul with Bosphorus Views
No trip to Istanbul is complete without trying some of the city’s world-renowned cuisine, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than with a view of the Bosphorus. Fortunately, Istanbul is home to a plethora of restaurants that offer both delicious food and stunning vistas.
One of the most popular restaurants with a Bosphorus view is Mikla, which is located on the rooftop of the Marmara Pera Hotel. This award-winning restaurant is known for its contemporary take on Turkish cuisine and its stunning views of the city.
Sunset Grill & Bar
Another popular spot is the Sunset Grill & Bar, which is located on the top floor of a building in the Ulus neighborhood. Here, you can enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and a variety of cocktails while taking in panoramic views of the Bosphorus and the city.
For those looking for a more casual dining experience, the Bebek Balikci restaurant in the Bebek neighborhood is a great option. This seafood restaurant offers delicious fresh fish dishes and a cozy atmosphere with views of the Bosphorus.
Other notable restaurants with Bosphorus views include the Kandilli Suna’nin Yeri, which is located in the Asian side of Istanbul and is famous for its traditional Turkish breakfast, and the 360 Istanbul, which is located in the heart of the city and offers 360-degree views of the Bosphorus and Istanbul’s skyline.
No matter which restaurant you choose, you’re sure to have a memorable dining experience while taking in the beauty of the Bosphorus.
Explore the Best of Bosphorus Istanbul: Top Things to Do and See
Discover the beauty of Istanbul’s Bosphorus with its stunning views, historical sites, and delicious cuisine. Take a boat tour to see the city’s landmarks from a different perspective, cross the iconic Bosphorus Bridge, and indulge in a meal with a view at one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Don’t miss the chance to experience the full Bosphorus cruise or explore the city’s rich history at Rumeli Fortress and Dolmabahce Palace. With so many things to do and see, the Bosphorus is a must-visit destination for any trip to Istanbul!