In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Bosphorus was alive with caiques (long, thin rowboats), their oars dipping rhythmically into the currents as they carried the sultan from palace to palace, and party-goers between elegant waterside retreats of Ottoman aristocracy and foreign ambassadors.
The Bosphorus is still the lifeblood of the city. Spanned by two mammoth bridges, and with a third on the drawing board, these days small motorboats scoot brave commuters through the heavy early-morning fog and between the rusting hulks of Russian tankers – sobering reminders that this beloved waterway is one of the world’s busiest and most perilous transport thoroughfares. Ferries also ply the dark waters between Asia and Europe, passing thousands of commuters between the two continents daily.
A sunset ferry journey against the silhouette of Old Istanbul is a quintessential Istanbul experience.
Most visitors to Istanbul explore the Bosphorus suburbs by taking the Public Bosphorus Excursion Ferry from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavagi. Both shores have attractions galore for the day visitor.
A return ticket costs around 5 euro. The boat leaves Eminonu at 10.30AM year-round, and at noon and 1.30PM from June to October. The journey takes 90 minutes each way.
» Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)
» Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı)
» Sultanahmet Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii, The Blue Mosque)
» Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)
» Gran Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)
» Egyptian Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı, also known as Spice Bazaar)
» Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii)
» Chora Church (Kariye Müzesi)