Walking the Bosphorus Coast, Istanbul (Self Guided)

What Istanbul is today and what it was in medieval times is due to the geographical location of the city and the fact that it lies on the Bosphorus shore. This tour will take you along the coast so that you can enjoy the beautiful view and admire the city's architecture.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walking the Bosphorus Coast Map

Guide Name: Walking the Bosphorus Coast
Guide Location: Turkey » Istanbul (See other walking tours in Istanbul)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 km
Author: kane
Bosphorus Bridge (European Side)

1) Bosphorus Bridge (European Side) (must see)

The Bosphorus Bridge is the famous bridge in Istanbul that connects the Asian and European banks of the Bosphorus Strait. This is the second of the two bridges that connect the banks and is also known as the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

The Bosphorus Bridge links the chic Istanbul destination Ortakoy on the European side with the Beylerbeyi on the Asian side. Currently, it has the 25th-longest suspension bridge span in the world at over one thousand meters. The bridge was completed in 1973, constructed of inclined hangers and steel pylons, and cost more than 200 million US dollars to build.

The bridge offers a spectacular view of the Bosphorus Strait, both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul, which can be seen when you are crossing it. Centuries old architecture line the banks of the strait on either side and churches and mosques dot the landscape. When it was first built, a sidewalk was there for pedestrians, but now it has long been closed. The bridge can be best viewed from the Bosphorus cruise or tours that allow ample opportunities to view and photograph this spectacular architectural masterpiece.

Why You Should Visit:
The views from the bridge are actually nicer than the sighting of the bridge itself.
Besides, what can be more amazing than having one foot in Asia and another in Europe!

Note that the traffic of cars over the bridge is horrible during rush hours, so whether you cross it or get a view from afar, try doing so after dusk!
Hatice Sultan Palace

2) Hatice Sultan Palace

The Hatice Sultan Palace is one of the many palaces and residences situated alongside the Bosphorus. During medieval times it was used by Hatice Sultan as a summer palace. Nowadays, it is used as a water sports club. The Hatice Sultan Palace hugs the coastline and has always been a traditional element of a walk along the Bosphorus.
Esma Sultana Mansion

3) Esma Sultana Mansion

The Esma Sultana Mansion was built for Esma Sultan the daughter of Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz. The mansion is located in the Ortaköy district of Istanbul, and it was built by the Imperial Architect Sarkis Balyan. Today the traditional yali (water side mansion) has been reinforced with steel and glass and is used as a cultural center and an event space. The building includes a restaurant, a bar and a large event hall and is built on several levels.

Originally the mansion was built as a three storey brick structure, and presented to Esma Sultana as a wedding gift by her father Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz. Until the year 1915, the mansion was in possession by the Ottomans, and used for many purposes including being used as tobacco warehouse and a coal depot until 1975 when it was completely destroyed by a fire.

During the early 1990’s the Marmara hotel chain purchased the ruined structure and renovated it with additional designs and additions done by the celebrated architect Gökhan Avcıoğlu. Today a modern steel and glass structure incorporating the original brick exterior serves as an event hall for cultural events and concerts and houses a restaurant and a bar.
Ortaköy Mosque

4) Ortaköy Mosque

The Ortaköy Mosque, also called the Buyuk Mecidiye Camii (Grand Imperial Mosque) in Turkish, is located in the bustling district of Ortaköy in Istanbul. Ortaköy is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city of Istanbul, and the mosque can also be viewed from the Bosphorus Cruise.

The Ortaköy Mosque has been built in Baroque style, and lies on a pier at the edge of the Bosphorus Strait. Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid ordered the construction of the mosque in 1854. For this purpose he hired the accomplished team of architects who had designed the Dolmabahce Palace and many other buildings in and around Istanbul.

The Ortaköy Mosque was built by the celebrated designer of the Dolmabahce Palace, Nigoğayos Balyan. The Armenian architect, along with his father Garabet Amira Balyan designed the mosque in a neo-Baroque style. It is a single domed mosque and consists of two minarets. The dome is decorated with exquisitely painted pink mosaics, and mosaics also decorate the Mirhab (Niche present in the mosque that depicts the direction of prayer) along with white marble. Sultan Abdülmecid executed the Islamic calligraphy present in the mosque himself, as he was an accomplished hattat (master calligrapher).
Çırağan Palace

5) Çırağan Palace

The Çırağan Palace called the Çırağan Sarayı in Turkish was an Ottoman imperial palace located between Ortaköy and Beşiktaş, on the European shore of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. The palace is now a five star hotel owned by the Kempinski Hotels chain.

The palace was built for the Ottoman Sultan Abdülâziz, designed by the celebrated Imperial Architect Nigoğayos Balyan, and completed in 1867. The Çırağan Palace is the last architectural example of the period when Ottoman Sultans used to construct their own palaces instead of using pre existing ones. The outer walls are made of colorful marble and the inner walls are constructed from wood. A beautiful bridge also connects the Çırağan Palace to the Yıldız Palace, and a very high garden wall surrounds the structure.

Sultan Abdülâziz, for whom the palace was built, was not able to enjoy it for very long, as he died shortly after moving into the place. After the Sultan’s death the palace was occupied by three more sultans and, until it was destroyed by a fire in 1910, was used for many businesses of the state. It was restored in 2007 in the soft colors of the baroque style by the Kempinski Hotels chain, and today, it is enjoyed by guests visiting Istanbul.
Yildiz Palace (Star Palace)

6) Yildiz Palace (Star Palace)

The Yildiz palace also called the “Star Palace” is the second largest palace in Istanbul. It represents the vast complex of pavilions and villas and was built in 1880. It was also used as a residence by Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II.

Overlooking the Bosphorus and surrounded by high hills, the palace was built in an area that consisted of natural woodlands. Many Sultans including Sultan Ahmet, Sultan Abdulmecid and Sultan Abdulaziz built mansions here and enjoyed vacationing in the vast estate.

After the demise of the Ottoman Empire, the palace was used as a casino and eventually converted into a guest house for visiting royalty and heads of state.

Today, many parts of the palace including the old pavilions, porcelain workshops and the largest parts of the palace gardens are open to the public. The Sale Pavilion is the best known complex in the palace; it can be reached through the Yildiz Park (the palace gardens). The pavilion has been converted into a museum and has spectacular architecture, luxurious decorations and furnishings. The Yildic Palace Museum and famous Municipal Museum of Istanbul are both present in the vast estate. The palace is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:00 or 5:00 pm depending upon particular months of the year.
Dolmabahce Palace

7) Dolmabahce Palace (must see)

The Dolmabahce Palace was built during the 19 century and is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. It boasts stunning architecture and is located on the European side of the Bosphorus. It was used as the main administrative building of the Ottoman Empire from 1956 to 1922. The last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire also resided in the Dolmabahce Palace.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk repeatedly stayed in the palace on his visits to Istanbul until he passed away on the 10th of November 1938. Thus, the Dolmabahce is also famed for being the great leader's last resting place.

The palace consists of three parts: the Muayede Salonu (Ceremonial Hall), the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (or Selamlık, the men's quarters), and the Harem-i Hümâyûn (the Sultan family's residential apartments). One of the most famous monuments to be found here is the Crystal Staircase built of brass, mahogany and Baccarat crystal, and with the shape of a double horseshoe. The palace also boasts a large number of Hereke Carpets. Today it has been converted into a museum containing 46 halls, 6 baths, 68 toilets, and 285 rooms.

Why You Should Visit:
To immerse yourself in a fairytale and understand how Sultans lived centuries ago.

Going early is highly encouraged – you'll have entire rooms all to yourself!
The audio guide is a must if you want to get into the cultural benefit of the visit.
Consider taking a rest at the outdoor cafe in-between visiting the Palace and the Harem.
Several good restaurants are nearby on a popular street nearby (Şair Nedim Cd.) that you can walk to in five minutes.

Operation hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 9am-5pm
Molla Çelebi Mosque

8) Molla Çelebi Mosque

The Molla Çelebi Mosque is also known as the Fındıklı Mosque. It is an Ottoman Imperial Mosque located in the district of Beyoğlu in the Fındıklı neighborhood. It was constructed by the famous Imperial Ottoman Architect Mimar Sinan in 1561 for the Chief Judge of Istanbul Kazasker Mehmet Vusuli Efendi. It is located close to the Dolmabahçe Mosque, near the Kabataş ferry port, on the Bosphorus waterfront.

The building is hexagonal in shape, and consists of four small semi domes in the north and the south ends of the mosque. The pillars of the mosque are actually engaged within the walls. The mosque also consisted of a hammam (Turkish bath) but this was demolished when the streets were widened. The Chief Justice Mehmet Efendi was a poet and a savant, and he had picked the picturesque location of the mosque because of its beauty. Located near the mosque are three fountains and the marble çeşme of Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa.

The Molla Çelebi Mosque has remained intact with little modifications done to it ever since it was built. The mosque is open for visitors 24 hours a day, except during the five designated prayer times, when it is closed for tourists unless they are there to pray.
Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex

9) Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex

The Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex is a group of buildings designed and built by the Ottoman Imperial Architect Mimar Sinan between 1580 and 1587. The celebrated architect was in his nineties when he built the complex. Located in the Beyoğlu district in the Tophane neighborhood in Istanbul, the vast complex is named after Kapudan-i Derya (Grand Admiral) Kılıç Ali Pasha.

The complex consists of a mosque, a madrassah (Islamic school), a hammam (Turkish bath) a türbe (tomb) and a fountain. During the time it was built, the complex was actually near the coastline, but today the seafront area is largely developed, and thus the complex finds itself surrounded by other buildings.

The mosque present on the complex is fashioned after the Hagia Sophia, with a central large dome and two half domes. The central position of the dome resembles that of a Byzantine Basilica. The courtyard consists of heavily ornamented doors and a marble ablution fountain that consists of eight pillars and a dome. The tomb of Kılıç Ali Pasha is octagonal in shape and is present in the outer courtyard, in a graveyard. The tomb is inlaid with mother of pearl.
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

10) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (must see)

Istanbul has always been a rich centre of culture and history, and the Museum of Modern Art gives visitors a taste of the “new city”.

This museum features the contemporary works of Turkish and also international artists. It was once a warehouse in the Tophane neighborhood on the Bosphorus and it is unique throughout Turkey, being the first of its kind found in the country. The museum is also a break from the centuries-old mosques, churches and architecture found throughout Istanbul. The building was inaugurated on December 11, 2004.

The Istanbul modern museum exhibits art collections on 2 floors. It has a permanent collection on the top floor, with works by Orhan Peker, Ismet Dogan, Seker Ahmet Ali Pasa, Omer Kalesi, Cihat Burak, Avni Arbas, Ihsan Cemal Karaburçak and Sema Gürbüz amongst others. A shop and a restaurant are also present on the top floor while temporary exhibits are held on the ground floor. This floor also consists of a library and a cinema hall along with a new media art area and a video art area.

Why You Should Visit:
To get a new perspective on Turkish culture; a must for anyone interested in art and the question of identity & expression.

Reasonable admission fees but FREE to visit on Thursdays!

Opening Hours:
Tue, Wed, Fri-Sat: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm; Sun: 11am-6pm

Walking Tours in Istanbul, Turkey

Create Your Own Walk in Istanbul

Create Your Own Walk in Istanbul

Creating your own self-guided walk in Istanbul is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Roman Heritage Walking Tour II

Roman Heritage Walking Tour II

Constantinople was an imperial capital for over a millennium and still contains many sites that demonstrate the importance and greatness of the Eastern Roman Empire. This tour will take you trough the most famous of them, located in the inner city of Constantinople.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km
Asian Part Walking Tour

Asian Part Walking Tour

Istanbul, Turkey's wealthiest and biggest city is split by the Bosphorus in two parts - European and Asian. In this tour you can experience the eastern side and feel the true spirit of the Orient with small, crowded streets and countless mosques.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 km
Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople

Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople

Istanbul, known as Constantinople in the Middle Ages, was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over a millennium. Although conquered by the Ottomans in 15th century, the city still preserves many signs of its imperial Roman past that reflect the might and splendor of this long vanished empire.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Theodosian Wall of Constantinople

Theodosian Wall of Constantinople

Constantinople was so named after the Roman emperor Constantine the Great who made the city the capital of the eastern empire. This walking tour will take you along the great wall that saved the city many a time during its wars against the Avars, the Tartars, the Russians, and the Bulgarians.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
Architectural Walking Tour

Architectural Walking Tour

Istanbul can offer its visitors quite an unforgettable experience when it comes to architecture. Here you can admire both the architectural achievements of the long vanished Eastern Roman Empire and its influence and the traditional Ottoman-Arabic style. Take this tour to see some of the best examples these architectural styles.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
Roman Heritage Walking Tour I

Roman Heritage Walking Tour I

Constantinople, being an imperial capital for over a millennium, still contains many important buildings and sites that show the greatness of the Eastern Roman Empire. This tour will take you through the most famous of them, giving you a glimpse of the most developed and flourishing city of the middle ages in Europe - Constantinople (Present day Istanbul).

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Istanbul Shopping Guide: 16 Turkish Items To Bring Home

Istanbul Shopping Guide: 16 Turkish Items To Bring Home

Istanbul, known throughout history as Byzantium and Constantinople, has been a major center of commerce and trade, a place where merchants and general folk would rush to regularly in search of exotic things. In our days, modern travelers to Istanbul are also bound to enjoy a truly magnificent...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Istanbul for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Istanbul has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Istanbul's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Istanbul Tourist Pass or Istanbul Welcome Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Istanbul's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows user to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Istanbul hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel, Deluxe Golden Horn Sultanahmet Hotel, Great Fortune Hotel & Spa.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Istanbul, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Istanbul typically costs somewhere between US$20 and US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Istanbul from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (the ticket is valid for both). The ticket provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour access, plus a free ride on Bosphorus sightseeing boat, and more.

- No visit to Istanbul is complete without savoring authentic Turkish cuisine. Embark on a 5-hour night food tour of Istanbul for a generous dollop of delectable Turkish culinary delights at the food hotspots many tourists don’t even know about.

- Get yourself lost for a while in the aromatic maze of stalls at Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar in the company of a knowledgeable guide, followed by a jaunt aboard a sightseeing boat along the Bosphorus Strait!

- Prepare for an action-packed day of sightseeing visiting Istanbul's top attractions in a single go including historic district Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the dazzling Grand Bazaar and more.

- Follow an expert guide on a 3.5-hour walk around Istanbul’s must-see attractions to familiarize yourself with the city's contrasting cultures and history.

- Take an opportunity to witness centuries-old Istanbul culture in the form of whirling dervishes performing their dance-like spiritual ceremony accompanied by Persian chanting and traditional Turkish music played by live orchestra.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Istanbul, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Gallipoli, Ephesus, or Cappadocia. For as little as circa US$100 up to US$300+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites (rock pillars, cave villages and subterranean cities), explore World War I battlefields, see the finely-preserved ancient eastern Mediterranean city and walk the pavements once strutted by toga-clad Romans, visit what is believed to be St. Mary’s last place of dwelling, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Istanbul, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, private vehicle or a plane (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.