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The Bosphorus is the area of Istanbul along the banks of the channel of the same name that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and separates Europe from Asia.

This article only describes the European bank of the Bosphorus, and nearby sections of its Black Sea coast. For the Asian bank of the Bosphorus (and the more extensive eastern Black Sea coast) see Istanbul/Asian Side.


Ortaköy Mosque—one of the symbols of the city

In Turkish Boğaz means the Bosphorus channel, while Boğaziçi is the word for the neighbourhoods strung along it. These began as separate fishing villages, and even today have not completely grown into each other. So they each have a different character, with late Ottoman palaces, parks, and lush woodlands. This is one of the most scenic districts of Istanbul, especially in May when the Judas trees (Turkish: Erguvan, Latin: Cercis siliquastrum) swathe the shoreline and the hills with their deep-pink flowers.

Get in

Map of Istanbul/Bosphorus

By metro


Both the M2 and M7 metro routes serves the district, with the latter servering mostly the southern part around Beşiktaş. M2 runs in a north-south direction but takes a more inland route, away from most sights.

By bus


Buses depart at the Kabataş tram station, Taksim Square, and Beşiktaş among others. Most buses hug the waterfront, one especially useful being line #25E, from Kabataş to the northern district of Sarıyer—change buses there for villages on the Black Sea coast.

By dolmuş


They run to Beşiktaş from Taksim and Nişantaşı on the European Side, and Kadıköy and Bostancı on the Asian Side.

By boat


Ferries from Üsküdar and Kadıköy on the Asian Side dock at Beşiktaş quay and several others along the coast.

  • 1 Beşiktaş Pier (Beşiktaş İskelesi). Beşiktaş Pier (Q108057220) on Wikidata
  • 2 Ortaköy Pier (Ortaköy İskelesi). Ortaköy Pier (Q113407505) on Wikidata
  • 3 Bebek Pier (Bebek İskelesi). Bebek Pier (Q116303780) on Wikidata


Waterfront of Arnavutköy
Dolmabahçe Palace
The gate of Dolmabahçe Palace grounds
Rumeli Fortress
Atatürk Arboretum
  • 1 Dolmabahce Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı), Dolmabahçe Cd, Beşiktaş ( Kabataş 650 m), +90 212 236 90 00, fax: +90 212 236 35 77, . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. This lavish palace with 285 rooms and 43 halls was the admin centre for the Ottoman Empire in its last 60 years. The palace government block (Selamlık) includes the Imperial Mabeyn (State Apartments) and Muayede Hall (Ceremonial Hall), while the Imperial Harem was the sultan's private quarters. Also here are the Painting Gallery, Music Museum, Clock Museum and Museum of Palace Collections. Free audio guide in several languages available by the ticket office. No photography inside, no backpacks but you can leave them in the cloakroom. Allow 3 hours to see everything. 60 TL for Selamlık, 40 TL for Harem, 90 TL both. Müzeumkart not accepted. Dolmabahçe Palace (Q274141) on Wikidata Dolmabahçe Palace on Wikipedia
  • 2 Akaretler Street (Akaretler Caddesi) ( Akaretler 100 m; south of central Beşiktaş). Akaretler Caddesi, or officially Süleyman Seba Caddesi features upscale garment boutiques, restaurants, and sidewalk cafés housed in renovated late Ottoman-era rowhouses built for the state elite, given their proximity to Dolmabahçe Palace, imperial headquarters then.
  • 3 Linden Palace (Ihlamur Kasrı) ( Osmanbey 1.7 km, Ihlamur 130 m (very limited service), Yıldız Teknik Üniversitesi 950 m; 1 km north of downtown Beşiktaş - walk along Şair Nedim Cd then Nüzhetiye Cd). A 19th century neo-Baroque manor built as an imperial summer retreat in a valley, named after the linden grove in its grounds. Free. Ihlamur Palace (Q2330055) on Wikidata Ihlamur Pavilion on Wikipedia
  • 4 Yıldız Palace (Yıldız Sarayı) ( Yıldız 600 m, Yıldız Teknik Ünv. 300 m), . 08:00–19:00 during summer, and till 17:00 during winter. A vast complex of former imperial Ottoman pavilions and villas in Istanbul, Turkey, built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was used as a residence by the Sultan and his court in the late 19th century. Free. Yıldız Palace (Q911734) on Wikidata Yıldız Palace on Wikipedia
  • 5 Ortaköy ( Ortaköy, Kabataş Lisesi 150 m; north of Beşiktaş). A neighbourhood on the bank of Bosphorus with the Ortaköy Mosque—the baroque mosque under the Bosphorus Bridge, combination of which are one of the most iconic images of Istanbul. This artsy neighbourhood is filled with nice cafes, some of which offer kumpir—a baked potato with various fillings such as mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, sweetcorn, sausage slices, carrots, mushrooms, Russian salad among others—which the neighbourhood is well-known for, and a perfect view crowded and fun. The way from Beşiktaş takes around 25 minutes on foot and is along an avenue shaded by huge plane trees, though the usually-heavy traffic may take some of its peacefulness away. Ortaköy (Q2249546) on Wikidata Ortaköy on Wikipedia
  • 6 Arnavutköy ( Arnavutköy, Arnavutköy; north of Ortaköy, south of Bebek). The neighbourhood of Arnavutköy (literally "Albanian village", paying homage to its founders in the 16th century) features impressive yalıs, multiple-storey wooden mansions lining the waterfront, and all bearing significant artwork on their facades. Beware there are two areas called Arnavutköy - the other is the site of the new airport, away northwest of the city. Arnavutköy (Q1095321) on Wikidata Arnavutköy on Wikipedia
  • 7 Rumeli Fortress Museum (Rumeli Hisarı) ( Bebek 1.7 km, Aşiyan 350 m, Rumeli Hisarı 450 m; on the waterfront avenue). 09:00-17:00 (closed M). Built in first half of the 15th century, this is the large medieval castle under the Second Bosphorus Bridge. Its former name Boğazkesen (Turkish)/Laimokopia (Greek) means both "strait-blocker" and "throat-cutter" in both languages and denotes the reason of its building—to shut the supply routes from the Black Sea in the north into the slowly falling apart Byzantine Empire through the Bosphorus. Rumeli, literally "the Roman land", was the name of the European half of the Ottoman Empire, and as is usual with some other structures and villages along the Bosphorus, used as a prefix to differentiate Rumeli Hisarı from its counterpart in the Asian Side, the much smaller Anadolu Hisarı just across the Bosphorus. 130 TL (about €4.25). Rumelihisarı (Q90801) on Wikidata Rumelihisarı on Wikipedia
  • 8 Baltalimanı Japanese Garden (Baltalimanı Japon Bahçesi) ( Emirgan 750 m, Baltalimanı 100 m). Daily 7:00-19:30 (summer), 7:00-17:00 (winter). Built with support of Shimonoseki, one of Istanbul's sister cities, the garden features a tea room, ponds, waterfalls, as well as a cherry lane. Free.
  • 9 Sakıp Sabancı Museum (Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi), Sakıp Sabancı Cd 42, Emirgan ( Emirgan 290 m, Çınaraltı 15 m - 40, 40T from Taksim, 22, 22RE, 25E from Kabataş), +90 212 277 22 00, fax: +90 212 229 49 14, . Tu Th F Su 10:00-18:00; W Sa 10:00-22:00. Museum with a rich collection of calligraphy and paintings. It also hosts temporary exhibitions of works by some world-class artists such as Pablo Picasso from time to time. 10 TL (3 TL students). Sakıp Sabancı Museum (Q3395851) on Wikidata Sakıp Sabancı Museum on Wikipedia
  • 10 Emirgan Park (Emirgan Korusu) ( Emirgan 500 m, Emirgan 40 m; about 20 min on foot from the waterfront avenue). Situated on the gentle hill overlooking the neighbourhood of Emirgan and the Bosphorus, Emirgan Park was for long the only place in the city where Istanbulites can admire the beauty of tulips. Having lost that distinction since the first decade of the 2000s as tulips are now everywhere, this is still a beautiful park with artificial ponds, small waterfalls, and impressive views of the Bosphorus. There are also cafes with open-air sections housed in pleasant former imperial hunting manors. Squirrels are there, too, in the middle of this metropolis of more than 15 million people, though you may have to look a bit deeper (or a bit upper on the branches!) to spot them. Free. Emirgan Park (Q5185642) on Wikidata Emirgan Park on Wikipedia
  • 11 Sadberk Hanım Museum (Sadberk Hanım Müzesi), Büyükdere Piyasa Cd 27-29, Sarıyer ( Büyükdere 300 m, Büyükdere 70 m; on the waterfront, south of Sarıyer), +90 212 242-38-13, fax: +90 212 242-03-65, . Th-Tu 10:00-17:00. A private museum housed in a yalı, the traditional wooden waterfront mansions that line the banks of the Bosphorus. The exhibition includes a number of archaeological and ethnographical artifacts from the collection of the long-time entrepreneur and industrialist Koç Family, though just seeing the interior of a yalı is worth entering. 10 TL. Sadberk Hanım Museum (Q3300324) on Wikidata Sadberk Hanım Museum on Wikipedia
  • 12 Belgrad Forest (Belgrad Ormanı) ( Bahçeköy 550 m; 15 km north of Istanbul). Named after a 16th century village, founded by Serbs deported from Belgrade when it fell to the Ottomans. The village was popular as a forest resort, but its inhabitants were resettled in the 19th century and it's now a bosky ruin. The forest is mostly primordial and deciduous, predominantly oak. It's dotted with ancient aqueducts and dams as this area was a water catchment for Constantinople / Istanbul, and has lots of walking / jogging / cycling trails and picnic areas. The two main ways in are via Bahçeköy (near the Arboretum entrance) and Kemerburgaz (which has the best aqueducts). There's a small access toll. The forest is supposedly a protected area but is being encroached on by highways and suburbs: this is likely to get worse as the access route to Istanbul's new airport leads right through it. Belgrad Forest (Q2734907) on Wikidata Belgrad Forest on Wikipedia
  • 13 Atatürk Arboretum (Atatürk Arboretumu), Bahçeköy ( Atatürk Ağaç Parkı 50 m (limited service), Kemerburgaz Yolu 550 m - 42T from Taksim & Beşiktaş, 42M from Hacıosman , 153 from Sarıyer), +90 212 226-19-29, . Tu-Su 08:30-17:30. From Bahçeköy village follow the road lined with very old trees, turn opposite the Faculty of Forestry (Orman Fakültesi) and follow signs for "Kemerburgaz" and "Atatürk Arboretumu" for 10 mins. The arboretum, surrounded by a natural oak forest, is planted with many non-native tree species (turning crimson/golden/purple as winter approaches) and has a pond with feisty ducks. It's an almost mystic place during hazy autumn days, but is always very scenic no matter what the season. There's also a wooden observation tower on one of the hilltops, offering a view of the surrounding forests and the distant Bosphorus. Watch for migratory birds in autumn. No eating, no picnicking, no video photography and no smoking. Weekend 20 TL, weekdays 7.50 TL. Atatürk Arboretum (Q24192239) on Wikidata Atatürk Arboretum on Wikipedia
  • Along the European Black Sea coast, 14 Rumelifeneri Rumelifeneri, Istanbul on Wikipedia and 15 Kilyos or Kumköy Kilyos on Wikipedia are two village resorts, close to the city so they're popular for weekend getaways.


Looking south below the FSM Bridge, towards the city centre — Europe is on the right, and Asia on the left (due to the bend of the Bosphorus, more of the Asian landmass can also be seen ahead)
  • Bosphorus Cruise – The best way to see the Bosphorus in all its beauty is to take a boat trip. This is the strategic waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and dividing Istanbul into two continents. As the boat zigzags between Asia and Europe, you can admire the old Ottoman wooden houses, 6 Ottoman palaces, 2 suspended bridges, and 2 medieval castles.
It is somewhat of a tourist trap. One-way is 13 TL, return 26 TL. The standard price for one hop for locals is 1.5 TL. On Sundays there are fewer boats.
If you are not so lucky/fast to get one of the few deckseats it gets very hot inside, even hotter than in the city.
  • There are also daily trips from Eminönü, by 10:30 in the morning and come back by 16:30 in the evening. It costs 20 TL per trip per person. There is an additional boat at 13:30 in summer.
For travellers that don't want to bother with getting off the boat/taking the bus to take a deeper look into some of the Bosphorus neighbourhoods, there are also boats departing from Ortaköy which allow you to see waterfront from a distance up to the Second Bosphorus Bridge in the north, though they don't allow you to get off at any neighbourhood quay you like (in fact they don't stop anywhere until they get back to Ortaköy).


Istinye Park mall
  • 1 Akmerkez. At Etiler. Nearest metro station is Gayrettepe/Zincirlikuyu. The mall is about 25-min walk or 10-min taxi ride away from that station. Akmerkez (Q1972427) on Wikidata Akmerkez on Wikipedia
  • 2 İstinye Park (About 400 m from Ayazağa metro station in Maslak), +90 (212) 345 55 55. Beautiful upscale mall with 300 stores, many good restaurants and cafes. İstinye Park (Q8080241) on Wikidata İstinye Park on Wikipedia
  • Iznik Foundation, 7 Oksuz Cocuk Sokak, Kurucesme, +90 212 2873243. Offers neo-Iznik pottery after recreating original formulas from original Iznik kilns, which functioned between 1450 and 1650.


  • 3 Beşiktaş Market. Saturday. This is where locals go shopping. If you are keen to buy fruits, vegetables, walnuts or olives at local prices, this is where you should head. It is always a good idea to bring rome walnuts (30 TL/kg) or olives (16-40 TL/kg) back home. Otherwise it is just nice to visit and soak in the atmosphere. This is an authentic market not to be missed.


Fishmonger in Sariyer


  • Yeşil Çiftlik Restaurant (Yeşil Çiftlik Restaurant), Kilyos Yolu Uskumruköy Kavsağı No:30 Sariyer/Istanbul, +90 532 602 44 58. 11:00-24:00. Special lamb barbecue, kebabs, country breakfast, beer, rakı and other alcoholic drinks, Nargile (Waterpipe, Sheesha) available.


  • Vagabondo's Ristorante & Pizzeria (Vagabondo's Restaurant & Pizza), Köybaşı Cad. Yalılar Durağı No: 168 Yeniköy / İstanbul, +90 212 299 00 54. 11:00-24:00. Italian cuisine; pizza, steak, pasta, wines and other alcohol available.
  • 1 Güzelyer Yedigün Balık Lokantasi, Rumelikavagi karakutuk cad. No: 96 Tellibaba ustu, 34450 Sarıyer, +90 212 242 22 20. Great seafood restaurant at the cost.
  • 2 Uzunya Beach Restaurant, Demirci, Plaj Yolu Cd., 34450 Sarıyer, +90 212 204 07 33, . Cozy seafood restaurant at the Black Sea. Very popular for weekend breakfasts.
  • 3 Sans, Palmiye Sokak 1. (SE of the 4. Levent metro station.), +90 212 280 38 38. 11:00-24:00; Su off. Nice restaurant in a small garden serving Turkish and Mediterranean food.


  • 4 Park Fora, Muallim Naci Caddesi, Cemil Topuzlu Parkı, +90 2122655063. Great seafood, located in Kuruçeşme park right on the edge of the sea, it has a very nice view of the Bosphorus and Bosphorus Bridge. The waiters know English. Prices range from 50 - 150 YTL per person.
  • 5 Divan Brasserie Bebek, Bebek, Cevdet Paşa Cd. No: 28/A, 34342 Beşiktaş, +90 212 263 29 73. At first sight it may seem like a mere patisserie, but walk downstairs and you will find a lovely restaurant with the waters of the Bosporus right next to you. The food is simply first-class and the service is very good, too.
  • 6 Ulus 29, Ahmet Adnan Saygun Caddesi 71, +90 212 358 29 29, . Dinner 18:30-late; Lunch M-Fr 12:00-15:00. Upscale restaurant with an amazing view over the Bosporus.


  • Kazan, Beşiktaş Caddesi 35, Beşiktaş (in downtown Beşiktaş; on the main avenue parallel to waterfront, just opposite the Naval Museum/square with the sculpture of Barbarossa Haireddin Pasha), +90 212 261-58-45. 11:00-24:00 daily. A quite elegantly decorated local pub in which fans of Beşiktaş FC that could not make it to the stadium, old and young, male and female, like to watch the games on live broadcast. During summer months, they also have an open-air section just next to the sidewalk where smoking is free. Quite good value and is actually cheaper than how it looks in the first glance. 5 TL for a pint (0.5 L) of draft beer, slightly more expensive during the nights when there is a game (about 7 TL for a pint of beer; when they also charge 20 TL pp for entry).



Accommodation close to the Bosphorus is mostly upmarket. There is more mid-range & budget choice a little further south, around Taksim Square—see Galata page.

Çırağan Kempinski interior
  • 1 Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Çırağan Cd 32, Beşiktaş (just south of the main square of Ortaköy), +90 212 326 4646, fax: +90 212 259 6687, . This hotel is in a residence of the last Sultan. Rooms come with air-con, TV, minibar and safety deposit box. Hotel has several restaurants and lounges, pools, jacuzzi, Turkish baths, gym and other amenities. B&B doubles from €250.
  • 2 W Istanbul, Süleyman Seba Cd 2, Akaretler, Beşiktaş, +90 212 381 2121. WiFi, Fitness center and business center onsite as well as a fine dining restaurant. B&B doubles from €140.
  • 3 Swissôtel The Bosphorus, Bayıldım Cd 2, Maçka, +90 212 326 8181, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A 5-star hotel near Taksim Square with four restaurants and two bars. Doubles from €220.
  • 4 Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel, Istanbul, Çırağan Cd 46, Ortaköy (By Ortaköy ferry pier), +90 212 310 1500, fax: +90 212 310 1515, . 120 rooms and 7 meeting rooms with technical equipment, wellness center, and underground parking. The hotel has one all day dining restaurant, one bar and a private venue that highlight the city as Starboard Restaurant offers a spectacular Bosphorus view; "Cruise Lounge & Bar", with its scenery; and "Pupa Terrace", a venue for private events, dinners, or cocktails. B&B doubles from €180.



A number of standard internet cafés (i.e. which offer broadband connection, printer, and CD burner, and most likely a meager selection of canned soft drinks) can be found on the side alleys—especially on those to your left when Beşiktaş is behind you—of Barbaros Bulvarı, the large avenue going uphill from main square of Beşiktaş.

Stay safe


There are not many safety issues in this part of the city really, at least not as much as you'd expect from a city of this size.

There are some issues to keep in mind, though:

  • Some parts of the Bosphorus esplanade in the northern sections of the district, particularly from Yeniköy to Kireçburnu lack waterside guardrails, so watch your steps if you decide to take a stroll around there.
  • While you will see some people swimming in the strait (mostly poor children, who cannot afford to swim in pools), it is discouraged and is dangerous due to strong currents and depth. (There are red colored warning signs in Turkish dotting the shores of the Bosphorus, warning swimmers that swimming is dangerous due to strong currents, even though there is no ban.) Nor are there any real beaches, facilities and designated swimming areas on the Bosphorus for swimmers as a result. There is indeed a cape named Akıntıburnu (literally, "the cape of the current") just east of Arnavutköy, where the current is at its strongest, and is easily visible even from outside, like the strong flow of a river. Besides, the water is not that clean either, however blue it may look. So, if you can't wait for hitting a Mediterranean beach, better head for beaches on the Marmara coast, outside Istanbul instead.
  • You may want to steer clear of the dimly illuminated parks on the northern sections of the Bosphorus, especially around Kireçburnu, late at night to avoid harassment from homeless people likely abusing inhalants — there have been some cases of stabbings for the sake of whatever amount of money, no matter how little. Day hours and evenings are perfectly safe, though.

Go next

  • Frequent buses and minibuses run from Sarıyer into the countryside north of the city.
  • Anadolu Kavağı: take a ferry from Sarıyer to this pleasant village across the strait on the Asian coast, crowned by Yoros Castle on the hilltop, with views north over the Black Sea.

This district travel guide to Bosphorus is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.