Walking through Istanbul I got to experience it in detail but to see the city as a whole I definitely recommend doing the Bosphorus river cruise.
It is true that excursions along the shoreline of this magnificent city best reveal the city’s grandeur and other attractions hidden from street view.
A cruise on the Bosphorus is probably the most overlooked Istanbul tourist attraction. This is quite understandable, with such an abundance of historical sightseeing spots in Istanbul and too little time to squeeze them all into your short holiday. But take my advice and set a few hours aside to take an unforgettable Bosphorus tour. This was one of the highlights of my Turkey adventure.
The Bosphorus is the strait that lies between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, and separating Europe and Asia. It is definitely unique in that while sailing you have Asia on one side and Europe on the other and both is still Istanbul.
Where else can you board a ferryboat in Europe at Eminönü, and within 30minutes be in Asia?
I got to cruise the 32 km long strait from Eminönü all the way to the Black Sea, and back. Each way took about 90 minutes since the ferry made 5 short stops to let people on and off.
Along the riverbanks are a number of neighborhoods, each with a different character (possibly due to the fact that they all started as separate fishing villages) and palaces of the late Ottoman period.
I got to see the domes and minarets of Old Istanbul standing out between all the colourful houses and apartments of Istanbul. We cruised past the magnificent façade of Dolmabahçe Palace, and the sweep of the Bosphorus to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south.
I got some lovely views of the Fatih Bridge about half-way up the Bosphorus and loads of other interesting sights along the way. It was quite interesting to see how the Asia and the Europe side of Istanbul differs from each other. And it was quite exciting to be able to enter Europe without having a schengen visa.