Your Guide to Boat Tours and Watersport Activities in Istanbul

1. Information About The Bosphorus

The Bosphorus Strait is where East and West come together. The shores of the Bosphorus are called “Boğaziçi” and it’s a real treat to view the Boğaziçi from the water. If you come to Istanbul, you should take a boat tour on the Bosphorus from where you’ll see the splendour of the mansions standing proud on the shore while your boat glides gracefully through the clear blue water leaving a trail of foam in its wake. Witness the magical beauty of the Maiden’s Tower from up close, and immerse yourself in a fairytale with Bosphorus tours.

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2. Information about Bosphorus tours

Bosphorus tours, popular with tourists and locals, are organised according to various themes. Tours from Eminönü Galata Bridge to Anadolu Kavağı are available through Istanbul City Lines tours or by renting boats privately.

The City Lines Bosphorus tour guides you through the unique history and cultural fabric of the city. Revive your spirit as you gaze at mansions (some of which have stood by the sea for centuries), and the greenery of the wooded groves that lie behind them. Wave at other tourists looking out from the pier, or locals going about their business, while above you seagulls swoop and glide without a care in the world.

Bosphorus tours organised by tour companies are popular with groups. These tours provide information about the history and culture of Istanbul and there’s often entertainment on the boat too. You’ll not only see the historical and cultural richness of Istanbul on these boat trips, but you’ll witness the friendly nature of Istanbulites – it’s been known for locals joining a group tour to offer them a home-cooked meal afterwards! And there’s a good chance that, although you’ll leave with a group of strangers, you’ll return playing “Çiftetelli” (a kind of folk dance) with new friends.

3. Bosphorus Tour Options

Bosphorus tours can be done in two different types; with The City Lines Ferry or with a private company.

City Lines Bosphorus Tour

For a historical and cultural trip, City Line Ferries is your best choice. There are two tours available: Long Bosphorus tour and Short Bosphorus tour.

1. Long Bosphorus Tour

The Long Bosphorus Tour lasts approximately six hours. The ferry departs from Eminönü and stops at Beşiktaş, Üsküdar, Kanlıca, Sarıyer, Rumeli Kavağı, and Anadolu Kavağı respectively. In Anadolu Kavağı there’s a 3-hour break and thee return journey follows the same route. Your journey in the Marmara Sea is completed as you approach the Black Sea coast.

2. Short Bosphorus Tour

The ferry departs from Eminönü and stops at Üsküdar and Ortaköy. The return journey is via Çubuklu coast, passing close to İstinye coast, and the tour ends with stops at Üsküdar and Ortaköy. There is only one tour during the day, lasting 2 and a half hours.

Boat tours are offered as a package programme. You can start the tour by choosing one of the tour boats usually located on Eminönü, Kabataş or Beşiktaş coasts. These tours take about 2 hours. You can also hire these boats for a special tour for events such as a birthday, engagement or for a dinner.

Bosphorus Tours at Night

The beauty of Istanbul never ends and moonlit tours are very popular. You can dine and enjoy the entertainment as part of a group tour or choose to hire the entire boat for a bespoke tour where everything is arranged to your specifications.

Bosphorus Tour with Private Luxury Yachts

There are also companies who can arrange a luxurious tour on board a yacht. These are available night or day and can be tailored to your requirements; you select the number of guests, food and drink, and music of your choice.

National Palaces Hop On Hop Off Tour

Make the tour your own and stop where you want with the hop on hop off tour. Once you’ve spent as long as you like at one palace, jump on the next boat to continue. Boats depart from Kabataş and stop at Besiktas, Emirgan, Küçüksu Pavilion, Beylerbeyi Palace.


4. Water Sports

With its picturesque cliffs, water pouring into the sea and windy beaches the Bosphorous is also a popular location for water sports. If you love the water then it’s definitely got something for you:


A wonderful journey starting in the early morning light. See how fascinating the Bosphorus is as it bonds the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. The sounds of water and seagulls will reinvigorate you and you’ll feel the sweet breeze of the morning air as it drifts silently towards Istanbul, a city full of surprises. Don’t worry if you haven’t got experience in canoeing; just turn up with your swimsuit, t-shirt, and tights or shorts. After a 15-minute brief and 60-minute water training, you can sweep along in the waters of the Bosphorus.

Paddle Boarding

You can rent all paddleboarding equipment from water sports clubs located on the Anatolian side, especially Caddebostan, Şile, Silivri, and surrounding areas. Even if you have no experience don’t worry; you can be paddleboarding after just 5-minutes training. This is a hugely popular activity with the locals so we recommend you try paddleboarding in the Bosphorus for a taste of authentic modern-day Istanbul.


You can windsurf on the waters of the Marmara seven days a week. For windsurfing, which is closed only on the first days of feasts, you can go to clubs in Caddebostan coasts, Silivri, Şile or Kilyos on the Asian side. After a brief training session, you can rent a surf and you’re away!


The underwater world of Istanbul has fantastic flora for divers to explore. With a warm climate, clear water and interesting underwater creatures such as the exotic starfish, anemones, and corals, it’s a divers paradise and you can’t fail to be impressed. You’ll find diving clubs in Pendik, on the mainland, and the islands are also popular, and frequently visited dive sites. Buyukada and Neandros are the most popular islands for diving.


Melen River is one of the closest rafting places to Istanbul. Melen has a difficulty level of 3 + 1, is 200 km from Istanbul, and tours are organised daily. Rafting, which is enjoyed by approximately 20 thousand people from Istanbul every year, has people returning again and again.


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Sevval Akdeniz

I'm newlywed, me and my partner love living in Istanbul. We love to discover new places and share these discoveries with our friends.
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