From Europe to Asia and back: Riding the ferries in Istanbul

 We traveled from Europe to Asia and back. In one day. Oh wait, actually it took as short as 20-25 minutes one way. This is Istanbul. The city is smacked right in between Europe and Asia and the Bosphorus River separates both continents. Ferries cruise up and down, right and left, along the Bosphorus River. Istanbullus ride them all the time and very often, everyday. Going from Europe to Asia and vice versa? No big deal. It is part of their local lives of being Istanbullus.

The skyline is amazing from the ferries. The ride is romantic. The sounds of the motor engines and waters add to the backdrop of the view. If you choose to sit outdoors, the wind blows on your face. It is a photography backdrop dream. You see the gorgeous Sultanahmet Mosque and its signature of six towering minarets. The refined Suleymaniye Mosque sits grandly on a hill. The recognizable Rustem Pasha Mosque is right along the waters. The Hagia Sophia stands out with its light pinkish exterior walls. The Topkapi Palace makes you wonder what life was like when the Sultan lived there with his wives once upon a time.

Sultanahmet Mosque

Topkapi Palace

Hagia Sophia

Suleymaniye Mosque
Rustem Pasha Mosque

You look right and left. On one side you see Europe; you see Asia on the other. Buildings and more buildings on the Asian side appear in an expansive view.


After breakfast at the neighborhood of Beşiktaş on the European side, we hop onto the ferry and ride it to the neighborhood of Kadıköy on the Asian side. We arrive Kadıköy in 25 minutes although the estimated ride is supposed to be 40 minutes. From Kadıköy we hop onto the ferry again heading back to the European side and this time docking at Karaköy.


A ferry ride costs 2TL per person one way which is not at all expensive considering what you get from the ride. Ferries accept Istanbulkart- the transit card that is used also for trams and buses in the city. The Sehir Hatlari Traditional Ferries are convenient and cheap-- you don't necessarily need to take the expensive private cruise tours that prey on tourists to take you up and down the Bosphorus Straits. The ferries dock at different ports in the city on both the European and Asian sides. Each port has several ferry terminals. The terminals are located next to each other by the waters and each terminal is named for the destinations. For example, if you are taking the ferry from Beşiktaş to Kadıköy, go to the Kadıköy terminal. When you leave Kadıköy to head to Karaköy, go to the Karaköy terminal (which will be different from the terminal you came in from if you came from Beşiktaş).

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