Şehir Hatları, Istanbul’s official ferry company, is probably the best (and cheapest) way to cruise the Bosphorus with two available routes: The Full Bosphorus Cruise and the Short Bosphorus Cruise. Before you decide, make sure to see their online timetables since the departure times and their frequency change according to the season. The ferries depart from the Eminönü station and tickets can be bought from their sales offices.
The Short Bosphorus Cruise (Kısa Boğaz Turu) is a great option if you’re short on time but don’t want to miss out on seeing the strait and the city. The short cruise goes from Eminönü to İstinye (and back), passing by Çubuklu and Usküdar on the Asian side as well as gliding underneath both bridges in the meantime. The tour departs daily at 2:30pm and lasts around two hours, making a stop in Ortaköy to pick up more passengers. Tickets cost 12TL and the official timetable is available online.
The Long Bosphorus Tour (Uzun Boğaz Turu) is an all day event, departing at 10:35am from Eminönü and returning at 4:40pm, with many stops in between. The long tour goes from Eminönü all the way to Rumeli and Anadolu Kavağı, the two coastal peaks (Europe and Asia) before the Bosphorus opens up into the Black Sea. The ferry arrives in the lovely fishing village of Anadolu Kavağı at 12:25 and leaves at 3pm, giving you plenty of time to have lunch in one of the many fish restaurants by the sea and visit the Yoros Castle, a Byzantine castle that overlooks the confluence of Bosphorus and Black Sea. Make sure to check the online schedule in case of seasonal changes. Tickets are 25TL and the tour includes an audio guide in ten languages.
Zoe Yacht is one of the most trustworthy options when it comes to a private Bosphorus tour with a more luxurious feel. Daily tours include a two-hour sunset cruise, a cruise to Poyrazköy by the Black Sea, a Princes Islands cruise, a city sightseeing cruise, and a Bosphorus dinner cruise (among many others). Prices run at around 299 to 899 euros, however having a private and spacious 17-meter long Turkish flybridge motor-yacht at your disposal makes it a price worth paying. We especially like the ‘Propose Marriage on a Private Yacht,’ which includes dinner, fresh flowers, and champagne, and of course, a stunning Istanbul view.