Istanbul Cruise Port: What to Do, Must-See Attractions, and Beyond!

Istanbul is a city of culture and excitement. It holds many secrets just waiting to be discovered. From Byzantine and Ottoman wonders such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. To bustling bazaars and breathtaking views of the Bosphorus. Istanbul will immerse you in a rich culture. And you won't forget it for long. We invite you to visit it, along with our little introduction.

Istanbul Cruise Port: What to Do, Must-See Attractions, and Beyond!

Introduction to Istanbul - City of two continents

Istanbul port - cruise

Istanbul is a city rich in culture and history. It's located on the border between Europe and Asia. As a result, it combines these very different continents into a unique beauty. From Byzantine and Ottoman wonders such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. To bustling bazaars and breathtaking views of the Bosphorus. Istanbul will immerse you in a rich culture. And you won't forget it for long.

A brief history of Istanbul

A brief history of Istanbul

Alright, so why is this city so special? Its strategic location has made it a key point of trade and culture for centuries. 

  1. The city's history begins in 667 BC, when it was founded as Byzantium by Greek colonists.
  2. In 330, Emperor Constantine the Great made it the capital of the Roman Empire. And renamed it Constantinople. These were the glorious years of the city. It was the heart of the Byzantine Empire, a blend of Greek and Roman culture, a beacon of Christian orthodoxy.
  3. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks took over the city, marking the end of the Byzantine Empire. Renamed Istanbul, it became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish culture and art flourished in the city.
  4. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire collapsed. The Republic of Turkey was established and Ankara became the new capital. But, Istanbul remains the economic, cultural and historical centre of Turkey.

Cruises arriving at the port of Istanbul

Cruises arriving at the port of Istanbul

If you're interested in visiting Istanbul, you're in luck. This iconic city is one of the most popular destinations in the region. As a result, many cruises visit the port of Istanbul. Well-known brands such as RoyalCaribbean, MSC Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. The choice is vast and the port itself is stunning in its beauty. 

Arrival at Istanbul Cruise Port

Welcome to the Gate of Wonders! Istanbul Cruise Port is located in the heart of the city. Even from the deck you can admire the beauty of the place. Such an attractive location allows you to explore the city in comfort. Without the stress of being late. 

Facilities and Connections

Location of the terminal

The Cruise Terminal is conveniently located close to Istanbul's main attractions. This ensures a comfortable tour time and itinerary. In addition, the ship is close by if required.


Istanbul with a wide range of transportation

Istanbul offers a wide range of transportation options. Apart from renting a car or taking a taxi, you can also rely on public transport. Istanbul has well-connected metro lines. If you would like to travel by metro, you can find more information here


In addition to the metro, there are trams. Tourists usually opt for these as they provide easy access to the main attractions. If you are interested in visiting the most interesting attractions, you will use the T1 line. The T1 line passes through the ports, so you can get on directly in the port. 

Istanbul metro map

Istanbul tram line

Istanbul's main attractions are close enough together that some tourists choose to explore on foot. Make sure you have an up-to-date map.

Terminal facilities 

The terminal has all the necessary facilities, just in case. These include an exchange office, tourist information and shops.

Main land tours from Istanbul

Istanbul history

As we said, the city is diverse. Beautiful architecture, rich history, delicious cuisine. Whatever you are curious about, Istanbul has it. If you'd like to take a closer look at the city's attractions, here's a quick overview:

Discover Istanbul's rich history

Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans. A treasure trove for history lovers. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Istanbul. The city hides many monuments, so we will introduce you to 3 of the most interesting:

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish)

Hagia Sophia - Ayasofya

The greatest jewel of Istanbul, if not Turkey. It is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It was originally built as a Christian cathedral in 537 AD. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mehmed II converted Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Hagia Sophia was later turned into a museum, but was later converted back into a mosque. It is now open to visitors of all faiths. The beautiful architecture, combining Christian and Islamic elements, is one of the few of its kind in the world. 

Hagia Sophia transport from the portInside of Hagia Sophia

Transport from the port:

Hagia Sophia is about half an hour's drive from the port. You can also take the T1 tram, which takes about 25 minutes. And for walkers, we recommend a walk :) The walk takes about an hour and follows the coastline. The fresh coastal air is inviting and the views are well worth the effort. 

Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı)

Topkapi Palace - Topkapı Sarayı

Now a museum, it was once the royal residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years. Topkapi Palace combines the politics and cultural heritage of the Ottoman Empire. It was more than a royal residence; it was the seat of the Ottoman government. Many official meetings and ceremonies were held here. It was the heart of the empire. Today it is home to many historical artefacts. These include the cloak and sword of the Prophet Muhammad and the Topkapi dagger. One of the most interesting sights is a private complex within the palace grounds - the harem. The Harem housed the Sultan's family, concubines and eunuchs. It contains more than 400 rooms and provides an insight into the private world of the sultans.

Topkapi Palace Topkapı SarayıTopkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı

Transport from the port:

It takes about half an hour by car or tram (T1) from the port to the palace. Yet, it is worth noting that the Palace is located right next to the Hagia Sophia. They are separated by about a five minute walk. We recommend seeing both, even if only from the outside.

The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

The Blue Mosque - Sultanahmet Camii

A building of great religious and cultural importance. More than 400 years old, the Blue Mosque is a jewel of Islamic architecture.  It owes its nickname to the thousands of blue Iznik tiles that decorate its interior. The tiles, combined with natural light, create an eerie atmosphere. The mosque also has more than 200 stained glass windows. The whole building is an amazing experience. 

It is important to note that the mosque still functions for worshippers. As such, it is closed to the public five times a day. It is worth checking the visiting times. The status of the place also dictates appropriate dress. Modest dress is required, covering the shoulders and knees. Women must cover their hair.

the thousands of blue Iznik tiles that decorate its interiorThe Blue Mosque

Transport from the port:

The Blue Mosque is a five-minute walk from Hagia Sophia. If you want to start your tour at the mosque, take the T1 tram.

Bosphorus Voyage

Cruising the Bosphorus

Cruising the Bosphorus is very popular with tourists. No wonder. You can admire the magnificent architecture and scenic beauty from the water. You avoid the bustle and crowds of the city. What can you see on such a cruise? Some of the main attractions:

  • Several majestic Ottoman palaces - Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace
  • Rumeli Fortress and Anadolu Fortress
  • Istanbul's iconic bridges connecting the two continents, including the Bosphorus Bridge
  • Ortaköy Mosque

Ortaköy MosqueSeveral majestic Ottoman palaces - Dolmabahçe Palace

the Bosphorus Bridge

And if you want to experience something special, there are special cruises:

  • Sunset and Night Cruises - these cruises are very popular. They offer the opportunity to see Istanbul lit up at night, creating a magical atmosphere.
  • Special event cruises - some cruises coincide with special events such as national holidays or festivals.

Culinary delights

Istanbul's cuisine is interesting in that it combines the flavours of Asia and Europe. The result is a wide range of dishes and desserts. There is something for everyone. Here are some of the most popular:Turkey kebab

  • Kebab - the most internationally recognised Turkish dish. The famous İskender kebab, made with lamb, is sure to find many favourites.
  • Meze - these small dishes are served with alcoholic drinks such as raki. Meze can include a variety of dishes such as hummus, muhammara (hot pepper dip) or fried calamari.
  • Baklava - the iconic Turkish sweet known around the world. Baklava is a pastry made from layers of puff pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
  • Turkish coffee - known for its strong brew and thick grounds. Served with sweetener, it is a staple in Istanbul cafes. Perhaps with baklava?

Turkish baklavaTurkish coffee

And much, much more. We encourage you to try these classics. Even if you've tried them outside Istanbul. Nothing tastes as good as the original.

Modernity meets antiquity


Beyoğlu is one of Istanbul's most popular districts. Historic buildings, contemporary art scenes and nightlife. The district stretches from the famous Taksim Square to the Golden Horn. Here are some of the places to visit:


  • İstiklal Avenue - a pedestrian street that runs through the heart of Beyoğlu. Full of boutiques, cafes, bars and bookshops. And along it, full of buildings from the late Ottoman era.

Pera museum

  • Pera Museum - a private museum. It houses a unique collection of art. Including Ottoman-era paintings, Orientalist works and contemporary pieces.
  • Nightlife and Gastronomy - Beyoğlu is the heart of Istanbul's night. From traditional taverns (meyhanes) to rooftop bars overlooking the Bosphorus.



Galata is located on the northern part of the Golden Horn in Beyoğlu. It is best known for its iconic tower and mix of religious and cultural architecture.

Galata tower

  • Galata Tower - This medieval stone tower was built in 1348. Its upper floors house a restaurant and café with 360-degree views of the city. You can take in all of Istanbul while enjoying a delicious Turkish coffee.
  • Art galleries and boutiques - Galata is known for its artistic atmosphere. If you want to admire local handicrafts or stock up on souvenirs, you won't be disappointed.
  • SALT Galata - a cultural institution and library that hosts exhibitions, workshops and lectures.

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, known in Turkish as Kapalıçarşı ('Covered Market'). It is not only one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks, but also one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. It was built more than 500 years ago! It has undergone many changes and expansions over the years. Today it consists of more than 60 streets and over 4,000 shops. The bazaar is not only an opportunity to shop, but also to experience a vibrant culture. 

Spice MarketThe Grand Bazaar - Covered Market

Tips for visiting

  • Timing - it is best to visit the bazaar on a weekday morning when it is less crowded.
  • Navigation - the bazaar is very large, so it is worth keeping an eye on your way to the exit. Maps are available and can be helpful.
  • Shopping - be prepared to haggle. This is expected and part of the fun of shopping in the Grand Bazaar.
  • Exploring - in addition to shopping, the Grand Bazaar is worth exploring for its rich history and vibrant atmosphere. It is also home to several small mosques.

Tips for Your Visit

Tips for your visit

  • Currency - the Turkish Lira (₺) is the local currency, but euros and dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas.
  • Language - Turkish is the official language, but English is commonly spoken in tourist areas.
  • Cultural Etiquette - respect local customs and dress modestly when visiting religious sites.

Istanbul is a city of culture and excitement. It delights with its beauty and diversity. It holds many secrets just waiting to be discovered. We invite you to visit it, along with our little introduction. Enjoy your trip :)