The legendary city of Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia, washed by the Bosphorus on the Sea of Marmara. Sail past the minarets and domes to dock near the medieval Galata Tower, then make a date to bargain hunt in the markets, soak up Ottoman history in the palaces and mosques, or visit the Turkish islands for the day.
How to Get to Istanbul
Cruise liners dock at the Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal, on the Bosphorus waterfront at Karakoy. Trams run from Karakoy across the Galata Bridge to the Spice Bazaar, Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi. It’s a 10-minute stroll if you’d like to walk to the Galata Bridge. Or you can catch a taxi to Taksim Square and pedestrianized Istiklal Caddesi to stroll past bustling shops and restaurants.
One Day in Istanbul
There’s so much history crammed into Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople. Visit Byzantine churches turned Ottoman mosques, the most famous being Hagia Sophia, and tour the sultans’ exotic Topkapi Palace. Get ready to haggle at the Great Bazaar, or sail off for a car-free day on the idyllic Princes Islands.
For the best overview of this seductive city, an Istanbul in One Day sightseeing tour includes all the highlights, plus a visit to the tiled Blue Mosque. And if your visit extends into evening, dine on Turkish cuisine accompanied by the glitter and glamour of belly dancers with an Istanbul by Night dinner and show.
Istanbul is one of Turkey’s most important cruise ports, visited by liners operated by Princess, Celebrity, Oceania, Costa, Cunard, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC Italian. The currency is Turkish Lira, best sourced from banks and ATMs. Turkish is the official language while Arabic and Kurdish are also spoken. But English is widely understood at the major tourist sites, shops and bazaars so you should not encounter many problems when communicating with the locals.