The Ultimate Guide to Istanbul Ferry System: Tickets, Routes, and More

Istanbul includes the continents of Europe and Asia, and the Bosphorus is located in the middle. Two bridges were built between these two continents. Cars and metrobuses use these bridges to travel between the two continents. But there is another option: Ferry.

Ferry on the Bosphorus with the Topkapi Palace in the background.

In this article, we will write all kinds of information (routes, fees, best photo spots, insider advice) about ferries in Istanbul. Happy reading.

Types of Ferries in Istanbul

Ferry and Istanbul silhouette in the background.

Main Lines

Travel back and forth between 2 piers.

Such as Karaköy-Bostancı, Karaköy-Kadıköy, Eminönü-Kadıköy, Beşiktaş-Kadıköy, Kadıköy-Kabataş, Üsküdar-Eminönü, Golden Horn Line, and Bosphorus Line.

A classic designed Istanbul ferry with red lifebuoys,

Side Lines

Stop at more than 3 piers.

For example: Ortaköy-Üsküdar, Ortaköy-Kadıköy, Üsküdar-Kadıköy, Beykoz-Sarıyer, Çengelköy-Kabataş, Beşiktaş-Golden Horn, and Kadıköy-Golden Horn lines.

A ferry traveling with seagulls.

Princes Islands Line

Bostancı – Princes Islands, Kabataş – Princes Islands, Beşiktaş – Princes Islands, and Maltepe – Princes Islands lines.

Ferryboat for Bosphorus tour.

Bosphorus Tours

There are two options: the Full Bosphorus Tour, which goes to Anadolu Kavağı, and the Short Bosphorus Tour, which goes to Ortaköy.

How to Purchase Ferry Tickets in Istanbul

Using Istanbulkart for Seamless Travel

It is difficult to buy tickets with a credit card or cash. Instead, it is easier and more affordable to use Istanbulkart.

You can obtain Istanbulkart from Istanbulkart sales points. Then, you can add the desired balance in Turkish Lira to your card using Istanbulkart loading machines found throughout the city.

You can use your Istanbulkart for any mode of transportation, whether it’s a ferry, bus, or metro.

Istanbul’s Ferry Routes and Schedules

Illustrator drawing of Istanbul ferry map

Popular Ferry Routes for Tourists

Tourists generally prefer ferries for Bosphorus tours and transportation to Princes Islands, rather than for regular transportation.

Bosphorus Cruise

There are Bosphorus tours organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, as well as private companies. There are many different options, such as with or without meals, long or short, with or without stops, and guided or unguided. You can choose a suitable option and join Bosphorus tours.

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Bosphorus Tours (Full and short):

Full Bosphorus Tour
A tour ferry with Dolmabahce Palace in the background

Takes place every day and starts at 10:35 AM from Eminonu pier. It goes to Besiktas, Uskudar, Kanlica, Sariyer, Rumeli Kavagi, Anadolu Kavagi, and returns to Eminonu in the same order.

You board the ferry at 10:35 AM from Eminonu and arrive at Anadolu Kavagi at 12:25 PM. A 2.5-hour break is given here. You board the ferry again at 3:00 PM and return to Eminonu at 4:40 PM. The total journey takes 6 hours. The fee is 30 TL.

Short Bosphorus Tour

Takes place every day and starts at 2:40 PM from Eminonu pier. It goes to Uskudar and Ortakoy piers in order and returns in the same order. There is no break at the Ortakoy pier and the tour takes approximately 2 hours. The fee is 15 TL.

Princes Islands Ferry Tours

An Istanbul ferry with the silhouette of Camlica Hill and Camlica Mosque in the background.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Princes Islands ferry service takes you from the center of Istanbul to the Princes Islands. It is used for transportation to the Princes Islands, not as a tour. So, there are only short stops for boarding and disembarking at each island.

There are 4 types of lines, but here we will talk about the lines closest to the center of Istanbul. For other lines, you can get information from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality website about ferries.

Beşiktaş-Princes Islands

This route (About link: You can change the departure location from the top right for website) starts from Beşiktaş, stops at Kınalıada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Büyükada, and returns to Beşiktaş. This route takes approximately 1 hours and 30 minutes.

Kadıköy-Princes Islands

This route (About link: Do not be confused by the writing of Kabataş for the starting stop. You will get from Kadıköy) starts from Kabataş, and goes to, Kadıköy, Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada. Then it stops by Eminönü. This route takes about 2 hours.


The schedules vary depending on the time of day and whether it’s a weekend or weekday. For the current times of the Beşiktaş-Princes Islands and Kadıköy-Princes Islands Islands services, you can access the links provided.

Ferry Schedules and Frequency

RoutePrice (TL)Frequency (Minute)
Karaköy – Bostancı14,5030
Karaköy – Kadıköy12,2515
Eminönü – Kadıköy12,2515
Beşiktaş – Kadıköy12,2515
Kadıköy – Kabataş14,5020
Üsküdar – Eminönü11,2510
Golden Horn Route14,5030
Bosphorus Route14,5030
Main Lines
RoutePrice (TL)Frequency (Minute)
Ortaköy – Üsküdar14,50Variable
Ortaköy – Kadıköy14,50Variable
Üsküdar – Kadıköy14,50Variable
Beykoz – Sarıyer14,50Variable
Çengelköy – Kabataş14,50Variable
Beşiktaş – Golden Horn14,50Variable
Kadıköy – Golden Horn14,50Variable
Bostancı – Moda – Kadıköy – Kabataş14,50Variable
Avcılar – Bakırköy – Yenikapı – Kadıköy36,25Variable
Avcılar – Bostancı36,25Variable
Side Lines


You can check the variable times.

Tips for Navigating the Route Map

An Istanbul ferry with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
  • Some lines have different pricing due to the long routes. These types of fees are calculated based on the first and last piers. If you board a ferry line that goes to piers A-B-C-D and disembark at pier C, the full fee is charged. However, you can get back part of the fee by scanning your Istanbulkart at the refund machines at pier C.
  • Additionally, the fees for some lines have been reduced to 0.05 Turkish Lira to encourage sea transportation. These are:
    • Uskudar-Kadikoy
    • Ortakoy-Uskudar
    • Ortakoy-Kadikoy
    • Beykoz-Sariyer
    • Cengelkoy-Kabatas
    • Besiktas-Halic
    • Kadikoy-Halic
    • Bostanci-Moda-Kadikoy-Kabatas
  • For night schedules (00:30-05:30 AM), double the indicated fees are charged. Ferry lines may be canceled in adverse weather conditions.

Insider Tips for an Enjoyable Ferry Ride

A ferry sailing towards sunset

Best Time to Ride Istanbul’s Ferries

The Istanbul Strait is more prone to wind compared to other areas. Therefore, we do not recommend taking a ferry ride on windy days. Additionally, wind can cause the ferry to sway more than usual, which may make you uncomfortable.

Sunset and sunrise are perfect times to capture the most beautiful views, making the ferry ride extra enjoyable during these moments.

We also advise against using ferries during rush hours (08:00 AM and 5:00 PM), as they can be overcrowded and negatively affect your experience.

Scenic Spots to Capture Stunning Photographs

  • Eminönü: From this location, you can take beautiful photos of Galata Tower and the New Mosque.
  • Beşiktaş: From here, you can photograph both Dolmabahçe Palace and the Bosphorus Bridge.
  • Üsküdar: In this area, you can capture the Maiden’s Tower and Topkapı Palace.
  • Sarıyer: From here, you can photograph both Rumeli Fortress and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

Frequently Asked Questions About Istanbul’s Ferry System

A ferry docked at the pier. People are waiting for the crew to open the passage to disembark.

Is the Ferry System Suitable for Tourists?

Yes. Ferries are a great option for tourists, as they provide transportation and offer the opportunity to see the city’s attractions from the Istanbul Strait. However, you can only travel on ferries using an Istanbulkart, which is valid for all ferries. Additionally, you can enjoy “Turkish tea” and “simit” sold on board to enhance your journey.

Are There Guided Tours on the Ferries?

Yes. Both the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and private companies organize guided Bosphorus tours. You can access the schedules of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality from the links mentioned in the text. For private companies, you can do a quick search on Google and choose a suitable one.

With this general information about Istanbul ferry services, you can use them for transportation or sightseeing and plan your schedule. For more information about Istanbul, don’t miss the chance to subscribe to “Istanbul Pulse” and receive the best and most up-to-date news immediately.


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