Public Ferries of Istanbul: How to Use, Best Routes, Docks

Istanbul offers a unique way to experience its stunning waterfront and iconic landmarks through its public ferry system. Navigating the city’s waterways not only provides a scenic and relaxing journey but also offers an opportunity to explore Istanbul from a different perspective. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of Istanbul’s public ferries, including timetables, prices, the best ferry rides, and valuable advice to make the most of your experience.

Why Choose Istanbul Public Ferries?

The Charm of the Waterways

  • Istanbul is surrounded by water, with the Bosphorus Strait and the Golden Horn winding through the city, creating breathtaking vistas at every turn.
  • Public ferries allow you to admire the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the historic Maiden’s Tower, the majestic Topkapi Palace, and the stunning Ortakoy Mosque, from a unique vantage point.
  • Enjoy the gentle breeze and panoramic views as you sail past the grandeur of Istanbul’s architecture, including the iconic Bosphorus Bridge and the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace.

Convenient and Reliable Transportation

  • Istanbul’s public ferry system is an integral part of the city’s transportation network, offering an efficient and reliable means of getting around.
  • Ferries connect various neighborhoods and districts, allowing you to explore both the European and Asian sides of the city with ease.
  • Avoid traffic congestion and enjoy a hassle-free journey by hopping on a ferry to reach popular destinations, such as Kadikoy, Uskudar, Besiktas, and Eminonu.

Scenic and Relaxing Experience

  • Public ferries provide a serene and tranquil setting, allowing you to unwind and soak in the beauty of Istanbul’s waterways.
  • Sit back, relax, and enjoy the rhythm of the waves as you cruise along the Bosphorus or traverse the calm waters of the Golden Horn.
  • Take in the stunning sunsets, especially during the golden hour, when the city’s skyline is bathed in a warm and enchanting glow.

Istanbul Public Ferry Routes and Timetables

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Inner Istanbul Ferry Lines: Kadikoy – Eminonu ; Karakoy – Kadikoy ; Uskudar – Eminonu; Kadikoy – Besiktas ; Golden Horn Line ; Bostanci – Karakoy – Kabatas

Bosphorus Ferry Lines: Sariyer – Anadolu Kavagi – Rumeli Kavagi ; Kucuksu – Besıktas – Kabatas ; Cengelkoy – Istınye ; Kadikoy – Sariyer ; Anadolu Kavağı – Uskudar ; Uskudar – Ortakoy ; Rumeli Kavagi – Eminonu ; Istinye – Cubuklu ; Kucuksu – Istinye

Bosphorus Ferries

  • Bosphorus ferries operate between several key points, including Eminonu, Besiktas, Uskudar, Kadikoy, and several Bosphorus neighborhoods.
  • The timetable is typically divided into weekday, weekend, and holiday schedules, so make sure to check the official website or the ferry terminals for the most up-to-date information.

Golden Horn Ferries

  • Golden Horn ferries connect Eminonu with various stops along the Golden Horn, including Fener, Balat, Eyup, and Pierre Loti.
  • Timetables may vary depending on the day of the week, so it’s advisable to check the schedules in advance.

Princes’ Islands Ferries

  • Princes’ Islands, a group of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, are a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
  • Ferries to the Princes’ Islands depart from various locations, including Kadikoy, Eminonu, and Bostanci.
  • Each island has its own unique charm, so plan your visit accordingly and check the ferry schedules for each destination.

please check all timetables, routes from official

Istanbul Public Ferry Tickets and Prices


  • Istanbulkart is a rechargeable contactless card that allows you to conveniently pay for public transportation, including ferries.
  • Purchase an Istanbulkart at major ferry terminals, metro stations, or kiosks, and load it with credit to pay for your ferry rides.
  • Istanbulkart offers discounted fares compared to single-use tickets and is a cost-effective option for frequent travelers.

Single-Use Tokens

  • If you prefer not to get an Istanbulkart, you can purchase single-use tokens for your ferry rides.
  • Tokens can be bought at ferry terminals or designated ticket booths before boarding.
  • Keep in mind that single-use tokens are slightly more expensive than using an Istanbulkart.

Fare Zones

  • Istanbul’s ferry system operates on a zone-based fare system.
  • The fare depends on the distance traveled, so the cost may vary depending on your destination.
  • The fare for a short trip within the same zone is generally lower than a longer trip that crosses multiple zones.

Children and Discounts

  • Children under a certain age, usually 6 years old, can travel for free on Istanbul’s public ferries.
  • Students and senior citizens may be eligible for discounted fares, so it’s advisable to carry relevant identification cards to avail these benefits.

Best Ferry Rides in Istanbul

Bosphorus Cruise

  • Embark on a Bosphorus Cruise and witness the captivating beauty of Istanbul’s skyline, palaces, and waterfront mansions.
  • Opt for a full Bosphorus tour that takes you from Eminonu to the upper regions of the Bosphorus and back, allowing you to soak in the city’s charm.
  • Alternatively, take a shorter cruise from Eminonu to Uskudar or Kadikoy, which still offers stunning views and a taste of Istanbul’s maritime heritage.

Kadikoy to Eminonu

  • Journey across the Bosphorus from the Asian side to the European side by hopping on a ferry from Kadikoy to Eminonu.
  • Experience the bustling atmosphere of Kadikoy’s vibrant markets and cafes before crossing the water to reach Eminonu, the heart of historic Istanbul.

Golden Horn Tour

  • Explore the picturesque Golden Horn by taking a ferry from Eminonu to Fener or Balat.
  • Discover the colorful streets and traditional Ottoman houses in Fener and Balat neighborhoods, rich in history and local culture.

Princes’ Islands

  • Escape the city’s hustle and bustle by taking a ferry to the Princes’ Islands.
  • Each island has its own distinct character, offering a peaceful retreat with charming streets, horse-drawn carriages, and stunning views of the sea.
  • Explore Büyükada, Heybeliada, or Kınalıada for a day of relaxation and exploration.

Insider Advice for Istanbul Public Ferries

Check Timetables and Routes

  • Before planning your ferry trip, check the official websites (, ferry terminals, or mobile applications for the most up-to-date timetables and routes.
  • Some ferries may have limited schedules during certain times of the day or year, so it’s essential to plan accordingly.

Be Mindful of Crowded Times

  • Istanbul’s public ferries can get crowded during peak hours, especially during morning and evening rush hours.
  • If possible, plan your ferry rides outside these busy times to have a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Embrace the Experience

  • Relax and immerse yourself in the beauty of Istanbul’s waterways.
  • Take the time to enjoy the breathtaking views, capture memorable photos, and engage with fellow travelers.
  • Embrace the rhythm of the city as you sail along the Bosphorus or the Golden Horn, creating unforgettable moments.

Explore Istanbul by Ferry

Istanbul’s public ferries offer a unique way to explore the city’s rich heritage, magnificent architecture, and stunning natural beauty. Whether you choose to cruise along the Bosphorus, navigate the Golden Horn, or venture to the Princes’ Islands, these ferry journeys provide an unforgettable experience. With convenient timetables, affordable fares, and breathtaking views, Istanbul by ferry is an adventure you don’t want to miss. So hop on board, relax, and let Istanbul’s waterways carry you to new discoveries.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a different perspective of the city, Istanbul’s public ferries have something for everyone. From the grandeur of the Bosphorus to the tranquility of the Princes’ Islands, each ferry ride unveils a unique aspect of Istanbul’s charm.

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