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Bosphorus Istanbul
Facts & things to do. List of hotels & restaurants.

Bosphorus in Istanbul is a name of a natural waterway - the Bosphorus Strait.  The waterway connects the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea and has a main inlet Golden Horn.

Bosphorus is a popular name used in Turkey for many things - hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.  "Bogaz" from Turkish means Bosphorus or throat.  Bosphorus Strait is Istanbul's and Turkey's beloved location for business and leisure.

View from Istanbul Bosphorus cruiseView from Bosphorus Strait. Photo by daniyal62

Bosphorus Strait on the map

Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul is the world’s narrowest strait used as an international waterway.  It is 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and 700 meters (2,300 ft) wide.  Hundreds of commercial ships, oil tankers, cruise ships, passenger and fishing boats go through the Strait every year.

The Bosphorus Strait separates Asian and European continents, making Istanbul the city of two parts.  This is only a geographical division and does not describe the quality of life or population on either sides of the city.

Both waterfronts of the Bosphorus in Istanbul are well populated and offer a great scenery with palaces, hotels, restaurants, Ottoman houses, gardens and fortresses.

Third bridge over Bosphorus IstanbulYavuz Sultan Selim Bridge in Istanbul
© Amanda Lewis | Dreamstime.com

Three suspension bridges and one rail tunnel connect the Asian side of Istanbul with the European.

  • Bosphorus Bridge was built in 1973 to connect East and West over the Bosphorus in Istanbul for the first time.  It was the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world at that time.  Today it is the 22nd longest.  The bridge stretches between Ortakoy (European side) and Beylerbeyi (Asian side) neighborhoods.  The Bosphorus Bridge is also known as the First Brigde (Birinci Kopru in Turkish). In 2016 the bridge was renamed to 15 July Martyrs Bridge after unsuccessful military coup on 15 July 2016. 

  • Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge carries the name of the Ottoman Sultan who conquered Istanbul in 1453. The bridge was built in 1988 and was 5th longest in the world. Today it is 19th longest highway bridge.   The bridge stretches between Hisarustu (European side) and Kavacik (Asian side) neighborhoods.  The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is known as the Second Bridge among locals (Ikinci Kopru in Turkish).

  • Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is the youngest of all bridges opened in August 2016 for rail and motor vehicles.  The bridge connects Sariyer district on the European side with Beykoz district on the Asian side of Istanbul.  This bridge crosses Bosphorus where the Strait and the waters of the Black Sea meet. You can see an amazing view of the Bosphorus Istanbul going in one direction, and endless coastline of the Black Sea when you come back.  

    The bridge is named after Yavus Sultan Selim, an Ottoman Sultan (1470-1520), who was famous for extending dramatically Empire's territory during his rule.  The new bridge is the tallest and widest suspension bridge in the world today.  It is said, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge resembles the Manhattan Bridge in New York.  Locals refer to this new bridge as the Third Bridge (Ucuncu Kopru in Turkish). 

    Turkey's first and only ecological bridge was built on the highway bringing to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge.  The purpose of the ecological bridge is to ensure animals freely change sides of the road.  

Things to do

Fisher at Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, TurkeyCathing fish in Bosphorus Istanbul
© Aivita Arika | Dreamstime.com

  • Catch fish with local fishermen or just watch mesmerizing process at benches along the Bosphorus Istanbul.
  • Take part in Bosphorus cross-continental swim where athletes and amateurs in various categories compete to be the fastest to cross the strait from Europe to Asia.  This is a unique race between the continents held every year in Istanbul. 
  • Enjoy the evening lights of the Bosphorus Bridge from a cafe in Dolmabahce Palace.  This is the most convenient spot for observing the different lighting colors of the bridge.  Sit down for a cup of Turkish tea or order a snack and enjoy your Bosphorus evening in Istanbul. 
  • Take a Bosphorus cruise (long or short, day or night).  To enjoy the Bosphorus Strait to its fullest, take a tour.  Bring an extra scarf to rap up in case of a breeze.  You'll be on the water after all!
  • Take a short passanger ferry ride across the strait if you don’t have time for the full Bosphorus cruise.  Pay around 2 Turksih Liras and enjoy your 10 minutes of the very Bosphorus in Istanbul.
  • Go in the Rumeli fortress.  Explore the Ottoman walls which once helped conquer the city.  Fortresses main towers have a great view of the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Restaurant options along the Bosphorus

Eateries along the Bosphorus Strait are very popular among locals and tourists.  As breakfast in Turkey is a very important meal of the day, many restaurants specialize on Turkish breakfasts.  They do serve meals throughout the day as well.  Reservation is not needed but you may win some precious time by calling upfront to reserve a table.  Most staff speaks enough English to make a reservation.  Here are some of the highest rated restaurants along the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul.

Lokma Cafe.  Yahya Kemal Avenue No: 12, Rumelihisari.  Istanbul. +90 212 265 7171 info@lokma.com.tr

Emirgan-Sutis.  Sakip Sabanci Avenu. 1/3, Emirgan/Sariyer. Istanbul.  +90 212 323 50 30

Kasibeyaz Bosphorus. Koybasi Avenu No. 10, Sariyer. Istanbul. +90 212 299 5000

Cafe Nar.  Yahya Kemal Avenue No. 16B, Rumelihisari. Istanbul.  +90 212 263 2446

Tas Kahve. Sakip Sabanci Avenu No. 60, Emirgan/Sariyer. Istanbul. +90 212 277 6430

Fincan Kahve. (1) Sakip Sabanci Avenue No. 44/1, Sariyer. Istanbul. +90 212 323 3276. (2) Rumeli Hisari Avenue No. 1, Sariyer. Istanbul. +90 212 263 6010

Bosphorus istanbul facts

  • Bosphorus is referred to as Bosphorus river.  That is a mistake. Bosphorus is not a river.
  • Bosphorus Bridge is referred to as the First Bridge by locals.
  • Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is referred to as the Second Bridge by locals.
  • Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is referred to as the Third Bridge by locals.
  • No pedestrian walk is available on either of the bridges.
  • Asian or European side is always “the other” side in Turkish ("karshi tarafi").  Sides are rarely called by their geographical names.

Hotels along the Bosphorus

View from a hotel by Bosphorus Istanbul
© Emel MurtezaoÄŸlu | Dreamstime.com

Stay in luxurious hotels with excellent facilities and services overlooking Bosphorus Strait.  All hotels below are on the European side and have easy access to major tourist attractions in Istanbul as well as authentic neighborhoods (Ortakoy, Bebek, Arnavutkoy, etc.).

Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus                    

Anjer Hotel Bosphorus                                 

Swissotel the Bosphorus Istanbul                

Deris Bosphorus Lodge Apartments               

Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul                 

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

Raddisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel              

Ciragan Palace Kempinski                       

From 220 USD

From 170 USD

From 320 USD

From 370 USD

From 440 USD

From 700 USD

From 300 USD

From 700 USD