High on my list of activities for Istanbul was to take a boat cruise on the Bosporus. I am a sucker for views and boats, so this was a natural must-do. There are a ton of private companies that try and hawk tourists on an expensive tour. A much better, cheaper and easy option is to take the public Bosporus tour.
As recommended by Witt Hotels Magazine, Sam & I took the Şehir Hatları line for the full Bosporus tour. Located right at the Eminou tram stop, this was super convenient and easy. Keep an eye on the official time table for the most current information about departure times. For us, there were 2 departures daily with 2 return options. I would also recommend getting there early, as the window seats fill up quickly.
With the full Bosporus tour, the ferry takes about 2 hours and you ride it all the way to the mouth of the Black Sea. Along the river, there are many things to see including some of the Sultan’s summer palaces, abandoned forts and modern bridges. There is also some lovely and unique architecture to admire along the way. I had my camera in hand the whole time, and it was a great way to beat the heat of the day. The cool breeze off the water was so refreshing!
Sam and I decided to take the ferry to the final stop, A Kavagi since there is a small fort there with great views. Located on the top of a steep hill, the hike was well marked and paved, as long as you can handle the steep grade. We were certainly sweaty by the top! But the view made it well worth it. We got to see the mouth of the black sea as well as the construction of a new bridge. When you turned the other way, you could see a long stretch of the river as well as all the incoming boat traffic.
After the hike, we went back down the mountain to the town. This was a disappointment. The town feels like a tourist trap, with all the same style restaurants and shops. We ordered some fresh fish, and were unfortunately, served the incorrect dishes, but language barriers did not make that clear to the waiter. Also, the ferry does not depart for 2.5 hours, so you are kind of stuck in this small town. Despite the view, I might recommend just doing a short Bosporus tour to future travelers, since you see all the major sites in the first half and get the city views. But overall, it was a relaxing afternoon watching the landscapes and cityscapes float by on the river.