Istanbul is a major port city in Turkey, as well as the country's most populous and its historic, cultural and economic center. The city covers a total area of approx 1539 km2 (594 ml2) and has population around 14,1 million (metro around 14,8 million).
- The city was historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, Istanbul is a transcontinental city (located on both Europe and Asia) and straddling the Bosphorus Strait between Black Sea and Sea of Marmara (Eastern Mediterranean). The city's historical and commercial center is on the European side and around 1/3 of its population is on the Asian side.
- The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul metro area. It is also one of the world's most populous cities - ranked as the world's 7th-largest (city proper) and Europe's largest - followed by Moscow (Russia) and London (UK).
- Established under the name of Byzantion (around 660 BC), the city developed to become one of the most prominent in the European history. After the re-establishment as Constantinople (330 CE), the city served as imperial capital for nearly 16 centuries. The period included the Roman (330-1204), Byzantine (1261–1453), Latin (1204–1261) and Ottoman (1453–1922) empires. During Roman and Byzantine times, it was Christianity's second most important city (after Rome), before in 1453 the Ottomans conquered and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the Ottoman Caliphate's capital.
- Istanbul has a most strategic position on the Silk Road (rail networks from China to Middle East and Europe) and is also on the only sea route between Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Its population has increased tenfold since the 1950s. Music, film, cultural and arts festivals were established at the end of 20th century and continue to be hosted today. Infrastructure improvements and redevelopments have produced a complex transportation network.
- Istanbul is the world's 5th most popular tourist travel destination. Its biggest attraction is the historic center, partially listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its entertainment and cultural hub is across the city's natural harbor - Golden Horn, in Beyoglu district.
- Considered a global city, Istanbul boasts one of the world's fastest-growing metropolitan economies.
- Most tourists enter the city by air, but around 0,5 million foreigners enter the city by sea each year. Istanbul cruise port is both departure (turnaround) and port of call on many Eastern Mediterranean cruises. Most itineraries start from Italy (Venice) or Greece (Piraeus-Athens).
- Some of the world's largest cruise lines with European itinerary programs - Uniworld (river cruise tours with flights to and from Istanbul), Royal Caribbean and Princess - were the first to drop Turkish ports (including Istanbul) from their 2016-2017-2018 pre-scheduled itineraries. These companies were soon followed by Celebrity, Azamara, Cunard, Holland America, P&O UK. All ports of call in Turkey were replaced by Greek Islands port destinations.
- In 2015, the cruise port in Karakoy was closed down due to construction works of the new Galataport cruise facilities. The cruise tourists decline resulted in many street businesses closing down as tradesmen lost nearly 90% of their businesses in comparison to 2015.. In 2016, the number of foreign tourists to Turkey decreased by 32% (down to 17,4 million) over 2015. There was a significant decrease in arrivals from Western- and Asian countries and from Russia.
- Turkey (previously a hugely popular tourist travel and leisure / resort destination) was subject to a number of deadly terrorist attacks in 2016 and 2017. In June 2016, an Istanbul airport attack (shootings and suicide bombings) resulted in 42 deaths. In December 2016, a twin bomb attack outside a football stadium killed 38. There was also a shooting in the Reina nightclub (Ortakoy district of Istanbul) in January 2017 resulting in 39 dead and 69 injured.
Istanbul cruise terminal
Istanbul cruise port terminals are located near Galata Tower. Cruise ships dock at Karaköy Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal (at Beyoglu's southern tip). The terminal is located in Karakoy (Galata), on the waterfront of Bosphorus Strait. This whole area was redeveloped into the new Galataport cruise ship terminal complex.
Istanbul cruise port terminal is right in the city's heart, in close proximity to major tourist attractions.
- Cruise ships generally arrive in Istanbul and dock at the Salı Pazarı terminal between 8:30 - 9 am. After disembarkation, passengers arrive to the shoreline Meclis-i Mebusan boulevard.
- Near the cruise port is a tram station (Fındıklı) from where you can cross Galata Bridge and go to some of the city's most popular tourist destinations - Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque), Topkapi, Eminonu (Spice Bazaar), Beyazit (Grand Bazaar), Karakoy (Galata Tower), Dolmabahce Palace (5-min walk from the tram's last stop), Taksim Square. Istiklal Avenue (city's most popular street).
- From the cruise terminal, Galata Bridge is at 10-min walking distance. At Galata Bridge's northern end (across Golden Horn) is Karakoy - city’s oldest district. Via an underground cable-car you can go from Karaköy to Tunnel Square, from where an easy walk leads to Istiklal Avenue.
- The cruise port is approx 20 km (12 ml, or 25-min) away from Ataturk International Airport.
- All the port's ship docking quays are along the shore - starting from Golden Horn's mouth and going northeastward to the districts Findikli and Tophane.
- Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal is capable to accommodate 4 cruise ships at a time. If there are more vessels, the dock at Salipazari Pier. The cruise terminal building has 3 halls with combined capacity 10,000 passengers.
İstanbul's new cruise port "Galata Port" project originated in 2001 as a port redevelopment project that combines functions complementing Turkey's capital city as cultural, tourism and commerce centre. The Galaport project covers a land area of 0,1 km2 (0,04 ml2), where the existing buildings (at Karaköy Yolcu Salonu) were renovated - keeping their authentic forms but acquiring new functions.
By this project, the city's customs zone was transformed into a modern toursm complex consisting of an art museum, hotels, restaurants and bars, fast food venues, shopping centers, numerous souvenir shops, , office buildings, exhibition areas, car parkings.
The following Galataport map shows the Atakoy–Bakırkoy district development project. This district is the city's most populated. The development (started in 2013) planned to provide high-end residential properties, including boat and yacht marinas. The total land area is approx 0,5 km2 (0,19 ml2). It features a well-developed city transportation network - highways, railways, the Atatürk Airport (at just 8 km / 5 ml).
Salı Pazarı cruise port terminal is currently closed for restoration (since 2015). The new Galataport cruise terminal is currently under construction, with scheduled opening in 2018.
In May 2017, to the Galataport masterplan was proposed a new concept combining a movable gangway with underground cruise passenger operations. The idea includes a hydraulic boardwalk deploying a gangway during ship calls only (when a vessel is docked). As space, the hydraulic system takes only 3,5 m of the boardwalk.
Istanbul tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Galata Tower: half a kilometer away from Istanbul Cruise Port. Take a bird-eye view from the Galata Tower top. You will see the amazing modern part of the old Istanbul.
- Basilica Cistern: dates from the 6th century, one of the most romantic attraction.
- Aya Sofya: 4 km away from Istanbul Cruise Port. The extraordinary church dates from 6th century.
- Topkapi Palace: 3 km away from Istanbul Cruise Port. It is a must-see attraction. Topkapi used to be the home of many sultans generations. Discover the delicate kiosks, the lush green courtyards and the secretive harem.
- Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam: located in the Sultanahmet Square . It was built in the 16th century for Roxelana, the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. You can also visit more steamy bathhouses like Ca?alo?lu, Çemberlita?,Sülemaniye and Galatasaray baths.
- Blue Mosque: 4 km away from Istanbul Cruise Port, just across Aya Sofya. The Blue Mosque was designed by Sedefkar Mehmed Aga and dates from the early years of the 17th century. It is surrounded by small lively park.
- Istanbul Archaeology Museums: great place with section for all the family.
- Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum: housed in the former Ibrahim Pasha Palace.
- Süleymaniye Mosque: designed for Suleiman the Magnificent by Sinan, famous Ottoman architect.
- Taksim Square: two and a half kilometers away from Istanbul Cruise Port.
- Grand Bazar: take a 20 minutes walk from Istanbul Cruise Port to find almost everything at this marketplace.
- Dolmabahce Palace: 3 km away from Istanbul Cruise port. The stunning palace was constructed in the period 1843-1856 by the architect of Sultan Abdulmecid, Karabet Balyan.
Hotels near Istanbul cruise port terminal
- Titanic City Taksim
- Gezi Hotel Bosphorus Istanbul
- Ottoman Palace Taksim Square Hotel
- Divan Istanbul
- The House Hotel Nisantasi
- Innpera Hotel
- Elite World Istanbul Hotel
- Rixos Taksim Istanbul
- Radisson Blu Hotel Istanbul Pera
- The Marmara Taksim
- Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul
- Martı Istanbul Hotel
- Nixon Bosphorus Hotel
- CVK Hotels & Resorts Park Bosphorus Istanbul
- Dosso Dossi Hotels Old City
- Grand Hyatt Istanbul
- InterContinental Istanbul
- Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
- Rixos Pera Istanbul
- The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul
- 10 Karakoy - A Morgans Original
The Istanbul cruise port map is interactive. It shows the port's exact location, along with the real-time cruise ship traffic (if any) in its vicinity - today, and right now. By zooming-out you can see other cruise ship ports located near Istanbul, Turkey.
If you lose the Istanbul location on the map, simply reload the page (also with F5 button). This feature is integrated with the CruiseMapper's cruise ship tracker tracking the vessels' current positions at sea and in ports.