Discover the wealth of impressive sights all along the shores in a Bosphorus boat trip along Istanbul's famous waterway dividing Europe and Asia - take in the colors and aromas of the Spice Market, the tiny Rustem Pasha Mosque, a Bosphorus Cruise Sightseeing Tour , the sumptuously decorated Ottoman Beylerbeyi Palace and the small picturesque fishermen's village of Ortakoy...

Sample Itinerary:
This tour starts after breakfast, when you are picked up from the hotel or port by our private guide. Proceed to the mouth of the Golden Horn, to explore the bustling Egyptian Spice Market of 17th century origin - a colorful bazaar heaped with spices, Turkish sweets, dried foods and much more. Then visit the beautifully tiled tiny Rustem Pasha Mosque hidden among the narrow cobbled market streets nearby. Next we take a Bosphorus Cruise Sightseeing Boat Trip * (2 hr boat ride) up Istanbul's winding straits for a chance to relax and admire the shoreline of beautiful mosques, lavish palaces and decadent villas - you'll see Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, Ottoman summer mansions and Ortakoy mosque, the defensive Rumeli Fortress and Bosphorus Bridge - one of the world's largest suspension bridges, all alongside passing fishing boats, yachts, huge cargo ships and tankers. After a lunch break back on shore, we will visit the interior of the sumptuously decorated Beylerbeyi Palace, a lavish Ottoman residence on the Bosphorus. Finally, the last stop on this Bosphorus river tour will be at the picturesque fishermen's village of Ortakoy, where you can enjoy a coffee and panoramic view of the passing boats on today's tour route from the beautiful cobbled square overlooking the Bosphorus. Drop off to hotel or cruise ship port.

Whether you take a traditional Istanbul ferryboat, or a smaller, faster TurYol or other boat, you're sure to enjoy a tour-cruise up the Bosphorus. You can do it in as little as 1.5 hours.

You set out from the Eminönü ferryboat docks (on the Golden Horn between Galata Bridge and Sirkeci Station) and head north toward the Black Sea. More...

Here are the sights you'll see (including six Ottoman palaces), divided into two parts, the Southern Bosphorus (from the Golden Horn and city center to the Bosphorus Bridge) and the Northern Bosphorus, (from the Bosphorus Bridge to the Black Sea):

Southern Bosphorus
The most impressive sights are along the southern shores of the Bosphorus, nearest to the city: Topkapı Palace, the mid-Bosphorus Maiden's Tower, the Selimiye Barracks (where Florence Nightingale worked), Dolmabahçe Palace, Çirağan Palace, Yıldız Park & Palace, the chic art-boutique-and-cafe scene in the village of Ortaköy, the pretty Ottoman baroque Mecidiye Mosque, and the Bosphorus Bridge. More...

Northern Bosphorus
Beyond the Bosphorus Bridge there's plenty more to see: Beylerbeyi Palace, the village of Çengelköy, Kuleli Naval Academy, Arnavutköy with its photogenic Ottoman yalıs (wooden Bosphorus seaside mansions), Rumeli Hisarı (the mighty Fortress of Europe), the town of Bebek with its pretty bay, and Bosphorus University.

North of the Fatih Bridge, second to be built across the Bosphorus, is Anadolu Hisarı (the Fortress of Anatolia), Küçüksu Kasrı (a fine little rococo palace), the Hidiv Kasrı (fine Art Nouveau villa built in 1900 for the Khedive of Egypt), the pretty restaurant village of Tarabya, the town of Büyükdere (with its excellent Sadberk Hanım Museum), and Sarıyer (with a fish market and several seafood restaurants on the shore).

Rumeli Kavağı (the farthest northern dock on the European shore of the Bosphorus), and Anadolu Kavağı (the final dock on the Bosphorus cruise-tour) are about 10 km (6 miles) south of the Black Sea, but these docks are as far as the Bosphorus cruises go.

If you take the traditional ferry's Bosphorus tour all the way to the end, you will have to wait three hours at the northern terminus of Anadolu Kavağı for the ferry's departure for the return to Istanbul. But you can get off the boat in Sarıyer, have lunch, then ride south along the shore.

If you take the TurYol or other small boat, you'll be back at the Galata Bridge in less than an hour.

You should know that Backpackers Travel operates a great value-for-money half-day tour that takes you on the TurYol Bosphorus cruise and also visits the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar, the Galata Tower, Tünel, Galata Bridge, and Karaköy (Galata) Square all in one afternoon for a very good price. More...

Here's how to tour the European shore of the Bosphorus by road from Sarıyer to Istanbul, and here's an hour-by-hour itinerary to hit the main sights.