We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

Which Istanbul hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
London, United...
Level Contributor
9 posts
94 reviews
Save Topic
Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

We are going on a cruise around the Greek Islands and Turkey and will have one day in Istanbul on Friday 5th May (10.00 -24.00 hrs).

We would like to know how easy is it to get from the cruise ship terminal to the main sights (Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Basilica Cistern). Do we need to book a tour through the ship, or can we do the sightseeing on our own? We are a married couple in our mid 70's, quite fit and able to get around. Is there anything we should be especially aware of?

Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
7,479 posts
155 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

You can do it on your own, no need to book the tour. You take the tram just outside of the pier so you don't get caught in the traffic, or take a cab (but there will be traffic).

Burak

Chicago
Level Contributor
5,167 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

I agree with Burak - skip the tour. And I would skip the taxi, as well. Instead, take the tram or walk. From the cruise ship terminal, cross the Galata Bridge and follow the tram tracks up the hill. It'll take about 10-15 minutes. When you reach the top of the hill, you'll see Sultanahmet Square (the park) with the Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, Arasta Bazaar, and Basilica Cistern nearby.

One thing to be aware of is that this area is where tourists visit, so you'll find lots (and lots) of vendors selling goods/products, guide books, snack food, and/or inviting you to have a meal in their restaurant. Be ready to say: "No, thank you." Vendors are used to it, so don't worry if they're persistent. Keep walking to a sight and they'll find someone else.

Edited: 2:12 pm, April 19, 2013
London, United...
Level Contributor
9 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

Thank you for your help

London, United...
Level Contributor
9 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

Thank you for your help

London, United...
Level Contributor
9 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

Thank you for your helpful information. This is exactly what we needed to know.

Mansfield, United...
Level Contributor
625 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

The tram will cost you 2 lira each and drops you off in the middle of all the tourist area You might have to wait a long time to get in the aya sophia as the queues have always been massive when we,ve been there Take time to have tea at topkapi palace some great views over the Bospheros and your cruise ship also try the fish sandwich from the boats at the side of galata bridge .Istanbul is one of our favourite cities ; steve / caz

Istanbul
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
35,981 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

sunnypeas, welcome to Istanbul. There will be lines for ticketing at Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. To avoid those lines, get your tickets online from the following official website. "https://www.muze.gov.tr/buy_e_ticket". Your printout will be your ticket. I would also take the tram from the Tophane stop near the docks to Sultanahmet stop where the historic attractions are.

enigma...

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
1,066 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

Just an FYI on the tram fares. It now costs 3TL for a token one way.

London, United...
Level Contributor
9 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

Thank you everybody. With your help, we feel quite confident about our visit to Istanbul. We'll let you know how we get on.

Selcuk, Turkey
Level Contributor
2,662 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Arriving in Istanbul on a cruise ship

If you only have the one day, I would try to avoid standing in line to visit some of the main sights, such as Aghia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. (Blue Mosque is OK but I'd suggest the newly restored Suleymaniye Mosque is nicer to visit.)

Imagine you had one day in London - would you spend your time queuing at Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London?

As advised above, start walking: your ship will arrive very close to the Galata Bridge (have a tea/beer/coffee in a café there) - then use the tram and go 5 stops up the hill to Beyazit / Kapali Carsi, and walk back from there.

Try to get a good map of the city in advance - at least the old part.