TurYol Eminönü Ferry Docks
“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. 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).
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.
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.”
The cruise departs from the docks just past the fish boats on the more touristic side of the Galata Bridge. Most of the people on the boat chose to sit on top on the open air (but covered) deck. Rows of wooden benches line the deck facing both sides of the boat. We sat on the right side (left side if you look at it when you board) which was lucky because we were closest to land (and the sites) during the cruise. The boat stayed fairly close to land the entire time so that you could see the sites. At the time, I didn’t know what I was looking at though, as no information is offered (bring a tour book or do your research ahead of time if you are interested). The ride lasted about an hour and a half including a quick stop on the Asian side of Istanbul to board some more passengers. On the ride we saw various Mosques, a castle, tons of mansions and impressive private boats. The ride only set us back 14 lira each (plus 1 lira each for a tea on the boat), which is well worth it.