Monday, 16 July 2012

Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul

A cruise on the Bosphorus comes as one of the most highly recommended things to do while in Istanbul. With our three guidebooks highlighting it so fervently I thought I'd check it out.

All of the books warn that the ferry gets very crowded so you need to arrive forty five minutes before departure to nab a good seat on the boat. Despite being a government ferry there wasn't a single local on board making guide book warnings a self fulfilling prophesy. Could all the books agree to take out the warning so that we can have a lie in?

The ferry takes one and a half hours to travel from the centre of Istanbul along the Bosphorus to the Back Sea. It stops a handful of times on both the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus. Passing palaces, grand hotels, amazing private clubs, smart houses and forts before reaching Anadolu Kavayi. It was very pleasant to sit under some shade on the top deck and watch the world slip by.

After stepping off the ferry I charged straight up the hill to the ruined medieval castle of Anadolu Kavayi Kalesi. The castle has sweeping view up to the Black Sea and across the river. Three quarters of the castle grounds were closed for an archaeological dig which limited my wondering.

Aside from the castle and a few tourist restaurants, the small town of Anadolu Kavayi has little to tempt the visitor.

Rather than getting the ferry back to Istanbul I decided to go on a bus based adventure along the Asian side of the Bosphorus back to Istanbul.

My first stop was the small town of Kanlica. Just outside of the town is Hidiv Kasri, a villa built the former Egyptian Royal family as a summer palace.

I had a quick look round the gardens. Turkey seems to have one designer of public gardens and the flower beds were remarkably similar to those in Yildiz Park. They even had a large concrete squirrel.

I decided to have lunch in Kanlica before continuing on my journey. I bowled into a local restaurant and was immediately floundering with my lack of Turkish. My aimless pointing didn't seem to help, but luckily one of the other customers spoken English and help me order lunch. "That looks good, can you order me the same thing?"

My plan was to visit the Beylerbeyi palace before returning to the city. Checking the opening times as I left the restaurant I discovered it was closed on Mondays. Oh no!

Rather annoyingly as the bus drove past the palace it looked distinctly open. Just after the palace the bus swings into a tunnel and there isn't another stop for ages. There wouldn't have been enough time for me to get a bus back to the palace before the last tour of the day. My chance to visit the Beylerbeyi palace had gone.....

The end of the bus route was in Uskudar. I had a quick look round, but I was hot, tired and annoyed at missing the palace so it wasn't long before I decided to get a ferry back to the city.

After a quick recharge in the hotel it was off to the roof top bar at the Marmara Pera hotel to watch the sunset. The hotel has stunning views from the top. Definitely worth an expensive drink for the view.

View Istanbul July 2012 in a larger map Key: Yellow sights. Green visited on the Istanbul Eats food tour. Red eaten at and reviewed (outside of the food tour). Blue places stayed.


  1. It looks like you really immersed yourself in Istanbul and its sights. Much more than when I was there, which I regret now. I seriously need to go back!

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