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Take a Bosphorus Cruise by Zoe Yacht – Tour Istanbul in Comfort Daily

Image of a short Bosphorus cruise tour by boat in Istanbul Turkey

Short Bosphorus Cruise

See the best of Istanbul in our short circle Bosphorus cruise by boat (kısa boğaz turu), a great alternative for people with little time but still wanting to do a short Bosphorus cruise. After breakfast, why not enjoy two hours of bliss – Glide along the shores in comfort aboard a well-maintained motor-yacht to see the top sights each way, including the Bosphorus Bridge, Dolmabahçe Palace & Rumeli Fortress.

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Picture of our full Bosphorus tour to Anadolu Kavağı in Istanbul Turkey

Full Bosphorus Cruise (& Stop at Anadolu Kavağı)

In this full Bosphorus cruise tour (uzun boğaz turu), you’ll do a half-day trip from Istanbul with a stop to visit Anadolu Kavağı, a picturesque village overlooking the mouth of the Black Sea. Hop off on the Asian Side for an hour for a stroll and lunch at one of the little fish restaurants by the shore. Admire views North & South of the full Bosphorus Strait, then get on your boat again to go back to the city.

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Image of a Bosphorus cruise boat at Istanbul sunset time in Turkey

Bosphorus Sunset Cruise

Start a special evening with cocktails during a Bosphorus cruise at sunset time (akşam boğaz turu). After seeing the best of Istanbul’s tourist attractions from the water, we’ll leave you to your favorite Istanbul restaurant to continue. Combining views by day and night, this offers the best Bosphorus tour experience for a romantic proposal, a special occasion or birthday party.

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Photo of our Bosphorus tour boat for a dinner cruise in Istanbul Turkey

Bosphorus Cruise by Night with Dinner

Enjoy fine dining, an evening adventure and panoramic views of Istanbul city in this magical Bosphorus cruise by night (gece boğaz turu yemekli). Feast on mezes and crudites, or specially selected Turkish food and wine. Experience Istanbul illuminated by night while you relax onboard with friends or family in this beautiful Istanbul Bosphorus tour.

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Celebrate a Special Occasion during your Bosphorus tour

 

A boat party is a fun way to celebrate any occasion in Istanbul, so come aboard and enjoy your birthday party, family reunion, marriage proposal, anniversary or wedding on the water.

 

Enhance your private Bosphorus tour on Zoe Yacht with a range of options (costs extra Euro/TL per person) including meals, drinks, snacks, cakes and flowers or a English-language tour guide available during online booking.

Bosphorus Cruise Information

What is a Bosphorus Cruise?

A Bosphorus cruise is a yacht/boat trip along the 32km long Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul which connects the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea between the two continents of Europe and Asia.

Unmissable Sights during a Bosphorus Cruise of Istanbul

bosphorus cruise istanbul

Taking a Bosphorus Cruise through the ages

In any Istanbul tour, it’s essential to include a Bosphorus cruise, as the Bosphorus and its shores are by far the most beautiful part of Istanbul, a “garland of waters” bounding and dividing the city and offering incomparable views and places to see including nature, geography, history and sightseeing.

The Bosphorus has been described in many beautiful ways throughout history by poets, travellers, royals and diplomats. Here’s a few of them:

“A garland of waters” – Byzantine historian Procopius (AD 500-565)

“Istanbul is a magical seal, which unites Europe and Asia since the ancient times. Without a doubt, Istanbul is certainly the most beautiful place of the world”. Gerard De Nerval

“Life can’t be all that bad,’ i’d think from time to time. ‘Whatever happens, i can always take a long walk along the Bosphorus.”― Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City

To understand Istanbul is to understand how its maritime nature and unusual geography has influenced its character and history to shape how it is today. And to cruise Istanbul by boat includes some of the best things to see and do in Istanbul:

Things to See on a Bosphorus Cruise

There are many ways of cruising possible depending on your budget and preferences from the basic Turyol, Dentur and Sehir Hatlari ferries to private yacht tours like Zoe Yacht.

Alighting your boat from any of several docks, a typical Bosphorus cruise will take you on a loop of Istanbul’s most striking monuments through the Bosporus Strait. At over 30 meters long, you can cover almost half of the strait in a short-circle cruise (2 hours), or all of it in a full-circle or long cruise (4-6 hours). Depending on your starting point, you may enter and exit this sightseeing loop at any point and take a cruise past the following touristic places:

In the lower Bosphorus, close to Sultanahmet Old City and the downtown center is Kabataş, a bustling transfer hub for land and sea. Just beyond is the Dolmabahce Mosque and its baroque clocktower, dating from the 1850s and designed by the Balyan Brothers, famous Amenian architects of the period.

This is followed by the Dolmabahce Palace, or “Filled In Garden”, taking its name form its small inlet which was filled in to create this imperial palace and which later replaced Topkapi Palace as the Sultans’ preferred residence. Built in the 19th century it is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world and has a white marble façade of over 280 meters along the seafront.

Further on is Beşiktaş or “Cradle Stone” a busy town bursting with students and ferry landing port, followed by Ciragan Palace. Built for Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1874, he died here soon after being deposed and the palace housed his successors in a virtual prison for the next thirty years. It later served a brief stint as the place of Turkish Parliament in 1908, until it was burnt down in a fire and restored into one of the most luxury Istanbul hotels.

Passing the next village of Ortakoy, or Middle Village, look out for Ortakoy Mosque, a distinctive mosque in a mix of baroque and other styles jutting out on a promontory at the water’s edge, built by the Balyan brothers in 1854. Little cafes and a street market surround it making for a relaxing half day trip another day.

Marvel at the graceful First Bosphorus Bridge, the fourth largest suspension bridge in the world and built in the early seventies. It is 1,074 m (3,524 ft) long and was completed in 1973. This is one of the locals’ hidden places to make a wedding proposal in Istanbul, with a laser able to project personal messages for boat-goers under the bridge for a surprise. By night or under the moonlight, the bridge is lit in a rainbow of colors with beautiful reflections on the water.

Cruising on to Arnavutköy, this is a pretty Albanian village and one of the quaintest quays along the shore. Its seafront is lined with yalıs (wooden mansions from the Ottoman era), moored with fishing boats of every shape and size and numerous restaurants (including several of the best fish restaurants for seafood dining in Istanbul). Off Arnavutköy is the deepest point of the Bosphorus Strait at 100 meters, at the cape called Akıntı Burnu.

Rounding this cape, you’ll enter the calm waters of Bebek Bay, backed by verdant rolling hills, umbrella pines and cypresses, and home to some of Istanbul’s society and celebrities. Here yachts and mega-yachts abound. Gaze at the attractive Egyptian Embassy building with boats bobbing at the landing stage at the entrance of the village park. Up on the Northern ward hills are the Bosphorus University buildings, reputable as one of the finest institutions of higher learning in Turkey.

The cruise sweeps the bay and heads towards Rumeli Hisari Fortress, dominated by turrets and steep walls to keep out invaders. Situated at the narrowest point with 660 meters of the Bosporus strait, just opposite of the Anadolu Hisarı on the Anatolian side, another Ottoman fortress, which was built between 1393 and 1394. Known as “Boğaz-kesen” or cutthroat, it was not only used as a prison but as the perfect location for Sultan Mehmet to launch his conquest of Istanbul, cutting off the city’s communication beyond.

If you’re on a full-day or long Bosphorus Cruise, then you’ll also continue to Sariyer, a fishing village especially for catches from the Black Sea and Buyuk Lıman, a shallow and tranquil bay with a golden sandy beach surrounded by an acacia groved valley. This makes for an ideal stop in the summer for day trips and swimming tours.

Crossing to the Asiatic shore of the Middle Bosphorus at some point in your boat tour, you’ll glide under the the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Bosphorus II) Bridge, ever famous in history as the location where King Darius of Persia constructed a bridge of boats from which to launch an attack in 512 BC and cross to the Asian Side. It is 1,090 m (3,576 ft) long, and was completed in 1988 about 5 km (3 mi) north of the first bridge. It forms part of the Trans-European Motorway.

Near the Northern end of the Bosphorus and entrance to the Black Sea, is Anadolu Kavagi village, a traditional fishing village. Perched on the hilltop above it is Yoros Castle, the Genoese ruins of fortifications from the 1780s, offering a superb viewpoint of almost the entire course of the Bosphorus from end to end, Marmara Sea to Black Sea. At 200 meters, this is the second highest hill on the Bosphorus, known today as “Joshua Hill”, or anciently as “Hercules Hill” or the “Giant’s Grave“, due to a twelve-meter long hollow in the hill, and as in Byron’s poems:

“Tis a grand sight from off the Giant’s Grave
To watch the progress of those rolling seas
Between the Bosphorus…”
(from a poem by G.G.N.Byron)

After a break hop on your Bosphorus boat cruise again and sail by the Bay of Beykoz or “Prince Walnut”, a calm bay and popular for swimming if you’re on a swimming cruise. In the past this was also a favorite location for catching swordfish using a traditional “Dalyan“, a kind of wooden structure on stilts over the water with one man posted above to lookout for and heard any approaching swordfish into set fishing nets.

Cruise on Southwards to Kanlıca, an un-spoilt village with a square of plane trees, a famous stop for travellers throughout the ages for its local yogurt. En route you’ll see another hilltop landmark, a charming Art-Nouveau style palace with huge tower belonging to the Viceroy of Egypt from 1900, now a restored hotel with handsome gardens.

Around here you may notice an usual building on stilts in the water – Currently under restoration, this was once the beautiful front room of an exquisite yalı, dating from 1698, with elaborate design, including spectacular floral and geometric paneling and motifs.

Next up is the Anadolu Hısarı or Anatolian Fortress, right opposite the Rumeli Fortress. Built in 1390 by Beyazit the Thunderbolt it has a keep and three towers and was known locally as “Güzelce”, or “Pretty One.”

Now lookout for the mouth of the “Sweet Waters of Asia“, two little streams called the “Göksu” (Sky Stream) and the Küçüksü (Little Stream) separated by a meadow and the Kucuksu Palace.

The seaside Kucuksu Palace was once an imperial residence for the Sultans dating from the 1850s and used as a base for hunting day trips or visiting signatories. Today it’s a museum.

Next to the palace is one of the largest yalıs of the Bosphorus, the Kıbrıslı Mustafa Emin Paşa Yalısı dating from 1760. With mostly one story and a façade over 60 meters long, it is one of the grandest yalıs with massive ball room, marble pool and fountain and its own harem.

Moving on, you’ll cruise by Kandilli, where the most beautiful series of Yalıs on the Bosphorus can be found, such as the Count Ostorog Yalı of 1790. Watch out for these and the pretty village of Çengelköy, its square surrounded by plane trees with a baroque fountain.

Continuing on our cruise, you’ll approach the 1st Bosphorus Bridge again. Near its base is the village of Beylerbeyi and Beylerbeyi Mosque, a baroque style mosque from the 1770s, followed by Beylerbeyi Palace itself, dating from the later 1800’s and built by the Balyan brothers. This was a sumptuous lodge to house visiting Royals, including the Shah of Persia and Emperors & Empresses from Europe.

Next look out for an attractive yalı that is at the pretty village of Kuzcuncuk, followed by the modern town and bustling ferry port at Uskudar. Just beyond here you’ll see a small man-made island in the sea, known as Maiden’s Tower, Leander’s Tower or Kız Kulesi, a major photo backdrop of the city and one of the best spots to see the sunset over Istanbul by boat.

This completes your sightseeing of the major landmarks and historical monuments during your scenic Bosphorus cruise.

Information, Facts & Figures about the Bosphorus

Some of the Bosphorus Strait facts include:

The world’s narrowest strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which contains the Princes Islands and is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea).

The strait is 31 km (17 nautical miles) long, with a width of 3,329 m (1.798 nautical miles).

Its maximum width is 3,420 m (1.85 nautical miles) between Umuryeri and Büyükdere Limanı.

The depth of the Bosphorus varies from 36 to 124 m (118 to 407 ft). The deepest location is between Kandilli and Bebek with 110 m (360 ft).

It is called the Bosphorus Strait rather than the Bosphorus River, as rivers don’t usually connect two seas or divide two continents.

Have You Seen These Bosphorus Highlights?

The Bosphorus Strait is a 32 km long strait winding between two continents, the European & Asian sides of Istanbul. Due to its unique geopraphy and history it offers unparalleled sightseeing from the water, for example:

  • 4 palaces – Ciragan, Beylerbeyi, Kucuksu Kasri and Dolmabahce Palace
  • 2 bridges – the Fatih Sultan Mehmet & Bosphorus Bridge
  • 2 fortresses – Anadolu & Rumeli Fortress
  • 50+ yalis (elaborate Ottoman mansions and pavilions by the waterside)
  • 1 royal hill – Seraglio Point with Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia & Blue Mosque
  • 2 islands – Maiden’s Tower & Suada Island
  • 2 seas – the Marmara Sea and Black Sea

Information guide to taking a Bosphorus Cruise in Istanbul, including price, boat schedules and tour timetables.


Welcome aboard Zoe Yacht

Enjoy Unique Views, Comfort and a Relaxing Environment on board our boat in Istanbul, Turkey

Welcome to Zoe Yacht Bosphorus Cruises in Istanbul, Turkey. We’re an award-winning locally owned, crewed and managed Turkish flybridge motor-yacht, 17-meters/55-feet long, ready to take you out on a deluxe harbor tour of Istanbul, the Bosphorus Strait, Golden Horn, Princes’ Islands, Marmara or Black Sea.

Our private cruises sail every day and night, at regular departure times in the morning, afternoon and evening, through all seasons be it winter or summer.

Taking up to 12 guests with ease, our spacious tour boat is perfect for couples, families and small groups including tourists, visitors, cruiseship passengers and local residents or companies.

A private boat tour offers you a higher level of privacy, flexibility and luxury as well as the possibility to skip the lines, customize your Bosphorus cruise schedule, explore parts of the Bosphorus Strait not possible by bus or other Istanbul tours, hop on hop off at different stops, have a party with your friends, enjoy a special day out with your family or stop in a romantic spot with your loved one along the way.

What Bosphorus tour to take? We include a choice of short, long, half day or full day private Bosphorus tours and day trips from central Istanbul: Take a sightseeing tour for a two continents tour of Asia and Europe, a moonlight dinner cruise on the Bosphorus, a romantic sunset tour or an airport transfer to meet your flights. You can also rent our boat from a few hours long to the whole day for a custom boat trip to the Princes’ Islands or Black Sea for swimming, fishing and sunbathing.

Food and drink lovers can savor breakfast, lunch or dinner over a skyline of stunning sights such as Rumeli Hısarı, the Blue Mosque, Maiden’s Tower and Ottoman mansions. Our Turkish cuisine and menus are provided by one of Istanbul’s reputable fish restaurants.

We’ll collect you from almost any neighborhood located in central Istanbul’s European-side (when you book direct), including from hotels in Sultanahmet or the Old City, Taksim, Ortaköy, Karaköy, Galata Bridge area and Eminönü, from the docks of Kabataş, Kuruçeşme and most tourist areas along the Bosphorus and Golden Horn. View all available hotel pickup areas and docking points here.

On our website you’ll find unique activities and things to do in Istanbul including our tours and boat rides with itineraries, Bosphorus cruise maps, travel guide, costs and prices. Prices and payments are in Euro/TL and can be booked online now instantly, securely and owner-direct.

Why Book our Bosphorus Tour?

  • Recommended by major travel sites including Travel + Leisure, BBC Travel, Rough Guides and The Guide Istanbul.
  • Five Star Reviews – Winner of TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence yearly
  • Award-Winning Company – Winner at the LUX Global Excellence Awards, LTG Luxury Travel Guide Awards, TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards, Travel and Hospitality Awards
  • For your Safety, in all our cruises you get to have the whole yacht just for you, your own family and friends (plus crew) – nobody else at all!
  • Unique views and Comfort in a Relaxing environment
  • All guests are Fully Insured on our yacht
  • Legally Licensed yacht operator
  • Private tour and Yacht Rental Specialists for Istanbul
  • Get Best Rates Owner-Direct on this website for 2020-2021
  • Get FREE Hotel Pick-up & Drop-off from your European-side city-center hotel or cruise-ship for direct bookings
  • Book Online anytime 24/7 securely and instantly

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Testimonials

  • I would recommend this experience to anyone looking for an exclusive and impressive way to discover the Bosphorus.

    Alain.M., France -

    A truly magical experience… it was certainly the perfect way for friends to celebrate a special occasion. Thank you for all the lovely details, like the flowers and your staff’s helpfulness.

    Katalin.B., USA -