Sea of Marmara

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Sea of Marmara: Our most recommended tours and activities

Istanbul: Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Luxurious Yacht

1. Istanbul: Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Luxurious Yacht

A sunset on the water is an amazing way to end your cruise experience and an equally amazing way to start your evening. Whether it is to impress that special someone with a picture-perfect moment or just to appreciate a great time with great friends, a sunset cruise is something everyone will remember.  Few places in the world are as mesmerizing as Istanbul in the setting sun. Aboard an elegant yacht, drinking traditional Turkish drinks, and nibbling on canapés and fruit from tastefully arranged platters, glide by palaces and minarets as you sail along the Bosphorus. When dusk sets in, a soothing breeze arrives from the Sea of Marmara and the sky over the city puts on a colorful show, tinted with shades of orange and rose. The muezzin calls from a towering minaret. Majestic palaces and villas standstill along the strait’s banks, as if nothing has changed over a millennium. Breathe in the legacy of ancient Byzantium, Constantinople, and mighty Ottoman Empire with each breath of fresh salty air. Kick back and ride gentle waves on the comfort of a yacht. Watch the city and its iconic landmarks pass by, which is the perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. The tour starts at Kabatas Pier and ends at Karakoy Pier.

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From Istanbul: Full-Day Princes Island Tour with Lunch

2. From Istanbul: Full-Day Princes Island Tour with Lunch

Explore Büyükada, the largest of Turkey’s Princes islands, on this 9-hour excursion from Istanbul. Cruise across the Sea of Marmara, watching the sights of Istanbul slip from view. You can explore the pedestrianized island in the best possible way – by bike (not included) or spend time at leisure, perhaps relaxing on one of its beaches, before returning to Istanbul. Travel from your hotel by air-conditioned coach to the port with your guide, and board the boat that will take you to the Princes islands. The largest and most interesting of the islands is Büyükada, which is your destination for the day. From the boat you can look back on the sights of Istanbul, seeing iconic landmarks such as Topkapi Palace and the pretty Kiz Kulesi (also known as the Maiden’s Tower), which was featured in the James Bond film, The World is Not Enough. Dock in Büyükada and then take a stroll through the streets with your guide, soaking up the laid-back atmosphere of island life. Your guide will tell you about the island’s history during the ride, and about its time as a place of exile for banished statesmen and royalty, and of its life as a monastic settlement during Turkey’s Byzantine-Christian period. Pass lovely wooden mansions that are stunning examples of the island’s late Ottoman-era architecture, and look out over the sparkling sea. Seagulls are everywhere in Büyükada, and if you’d like to feed them your guide will give you simits (bread with sesame seeds) so you can toss them a treat. Stop for lunch at a seafood restaurant, or have lunch on the boat, and then spend the rest of your day at leisure on the island.  Meet your guide at a pre-arranged time for your boat ride back to Istanbul. The last leg of your journey will be by coach, and you’ll be dropped off at your Istanbul hotel.

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Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

3. Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hipporome, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar Explore the highlights of Istanbul on this private full-day walking tour that covers the major attractions, from the Hagia Sophia Museum, to the iconic Blue Mosque, to the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, to the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The 8-hour excursion starts with a pick-up from your Istanbul hotel and a walk through the lively streets of Turkey’s largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of the Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia  or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Move on to the Blue Mosque, more officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque’s striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You will also pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Your day won’t be complete, however, without a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. Day 2 – Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, Taksim The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because, during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them! Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name, in Turkish, Dolma means 'filled' or 'stuffed,' and bahce means 'garden'. Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

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Istanbul: Round-Trip Ferry Tickets to Princes Islands

4. Istanbul: Round-Trip Ferry Tickets to Princes Islands

Exchange your voucher at the ticket office in Kabatas and get access to the boat. The boat departs from Kabatas ferry station in the morning and returns in the evening. A Marine Officer will welcome you at the departure pier, help you onto the boat, hand you a Bosphorus cruise plan, and explain to you what you will see during the crossing. Set off for the Princes' Islands, which in Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times were used as exile sites and as a monastery region. Today only 4 of the total 9 Princes’ Islands are open to public settlement. Arrive at the most famous and beautiful of these islands called Büyükada, or 'Big Island'. The size of the island is 5.4 km2 and there are 7,300 inhabitants. No traffic except emergency services, carriages and bicycles are allowed there. Spend the day exploring the island at your own pace. Take a walk through the center and get used to the silence that reigns on the island. See the Merkez Eczanesi, a pharmacy from 1870, and feel you have stepped into a time tunnel. Go to Hamlaci Street 4 and see the ruins of the villa which Trotsky lived in exile between 1929 and 1933, writing his autobiography and 3 volumes on the "History of the Russian Revolution". Alternatively, rent a bike and cycle around the island admiring the magnificent old villas lining the streets. Explore the Greek Orthodox St. George Church on top of the island's tallest hill where you can also admire fantastic views of Istanbul, the Marmara Sea, and the neighboring islands. Stop over and visit the former Greek Orphanage, Europe’s largest and the worlds 2nd largest wooden house. Enjoy a delicious lunch in one of the many restaurants around the harbor. Go to one of the public beaches (Halk Plaji) or beach clubs for swimming and sunbathing. If you like hiking, you can also walk around the island on foot. When you have finished exploring, take the return ferry to Istanbul at your leisure. The boat returns from Büyukada (Big Island) to Kabatas ferry station at 7 PM.

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Istanbul: Bosphorus Boat Tour with Local Guide

5. Istanbul: Bosphorus Boat Tour with Local Guide

From the central meeting point in Sultanahmet, you will be transferred to the boat dock to embark on a cruise along the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus Strait connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and separates Europe and Asia, making Istanbul one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the only one built astride two continents. The cruise will afford you the unique opportunity to view both sides of the city. During this cruise, your guide will provide commentary and answer questions as you admire sights like Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Ciragan Palace and Rumeli Fortress as well as the ancient wooden villas, bridges and maritime landscapes. After the Bosphorus cruise, transfer to the original meeting point.

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From Istanbul: Full-Day Tour to Bursa

6. From Istanbul: Full-Day Tour to Bursa

Explore the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Enjoy a full-day trip from Istanbul to see Bursa situated on the slopes of Mount Uludag. Start your journey with a pickup from your hotel on Istanbul’s European side. Next, you will transfer to the port to catch a ferry and cross the Sea of Marmara. Relax and enjoy the ride to Bursa, the former Ottoman capital. Upon arrival, visit the Green Mausoleum and Grand Mosque, Ulu Cami.  See historic bazaars, sample some of the local produce of the region, such as chestnuts, honey, olives, and Turkish Delight.  Next, climb a mountain and tuck into a delicious barbecue lunch. Enjoy some free time to take an ATV safari, or a minibus to the ski slopes for a spot of skiing, if you like. Finally, you will see the gorgeous old three which is more than 600 years old. Once the tour ends you will be dropped off at your hotel in Istanbul.

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Istanbul: Day Trip to the Princes' Islands

7. Istanbul: Day Trip to the Princes' Islands

Only an hour’s ferry ride from the city center, the Princes’ Islands consist of 9 small islands that will transport you back in time and away from hectic city life. Spend a day exploring 2 of these islands, Heybeliada and Buyuk Ada, to gain insight into a multicultural society in modern Turkey, akin to the multicultural society that existed here during the Ottoman Empire. Start with a cruise over the Marmara Sea to Heybeliada for a charming tour by horse-drawn carriage. Ride through the pine forests next to picturesque bays and past old villas.   Then, take a ferry over to the largest island, Buyuk Ada, and have lunch in a seaside restaurant. Spend the afternoon enjoying the cheerful local life near the village square. Admire the well preserved Victorian-era cottages that are covered in colorful flowers all summer.

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Istanbul Food on Foot Tour

8. Istanbul Food on Foot Tour

On this guided walking food tour you will travel around Eminonu, its intricate alleyways and hidden corners and go off the beaten paths while eating and enjoying most of delicious food tastings. With this culinary walk, you will visit bakeries, pastry shops and Turkish pizza restaurants as well as eating a bowl of traditional soup; sharing Turkish-style breakfast with a black tea; tasting a freshly baked bagel; stopping by a local restaurant for sampling an authentic Turkish pizza; or finding some artisan’s shops to visit and mingle with locals picking up their daily products from the markets in a labyrinth of streets. It will be all about real people, real food, and real places. A visit to the Spice Market followed by Asian part of Istanbul. This indoor market features shops offering a variety of spices, flavored teas, Turkish delight, and nuts, as well as ceramics, household goods, small souvenirs, and more. As soon as you enter, you’ll marvel at the colors and aromas of Turkish food offerings.

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Istanbul: Full-Day Golden Horn & Bosphorus Tour

9. Istanbul: Full-Day Golden Horn & Bosphorus Tour

Begin this full-day excursion with a stroll around Pierre Loti Hill. Hop-on a cable car and let it take you to another world where the ancient Byzantine walls of Constantinople, the Chora Church and the Castle of Seven Towers await. Learn about the history of this centuries-old metropolis and how it functioned as both the capital of the eastern Roman Empire and as the head of the Ottoman Empire.  Then, board the boat and cruise around the Bosphorus Strait which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and separates Europe and Asia, making Istanbul one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the only one built astride two continents. This romantic cruise along the Bosphorus will allow you to admire the Dolmabahce Plalace, the Beylerbeyi Palace, the Ciragan Palace and the Rumeli Fortress, ancient wooden villas, bridges and all the wonderful and unique maritime landscapes.

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Bosphorus Cruise and Two Continents Tour with Local Guide

10. Bosphorus Cruise and Two Continents Tour with Local Guide

Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) was built between 1597 and 1664, also it is the second oldest covered bazaar in the city. You can find exotic aromas and various spices. It contains fruit vegetable, flower and fish shops inside. Rustem Pasha Mosque, for a tour. It was built by a famous Bosnian, Rüstem Pasha and designed by -one the most famous architect in history- Mimar Sinan. One of the most famous mosque in Istanbul for her interior design. Dolmabahce Palace, was the first European style palace. It was built by Ottoman Sultans between 1843 and 1846.This is the last residence for Ottoman Sultans with 365 rooms and 22 saloons. Also famous with the great collection of European antiquity. Ataturk lived the final part of his life in the palace and died there. Bosphorus Strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and splits the European and Asian sides of Turkey. Bosphorus Bridge, pass through the bridge and watch the beautiful view. It is 1704m long and was the 4th longest bridge around the world. Don’t miss this unique chance to pass from one continent (Europe) to another (Asia) in 2 minutes. Camlica Hill, the highest point in Istanbul, exposing a panoramic view of Istanbul city and Bosphorus. Take a little break for lunch here and enjoy the view while you are eating your tasty meal. Ortakoy, is a cosmopolitan area, bordering waters of the Bosphorus. Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews are leaving here. The neighbourhood hosts many different religious. It is also a popular spot for locals with art galleries, night clubs, and restaurants.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Sea of Marmara

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What people are saying about Sea of Marmara

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 727 reviews

My guide Borek was excellent! Since I was the only one taking the tour that day he was able to show me so much of the food culture in Istanbul while walking! We had a great tour, through Taksim, the Spice Bazaar in the Old City and also crossed to the Asian side of Istanbul via ferry for lunch! We tried so many foods, and he is very knowledgeable and patient and made sure I got back to my hotel safely! I would recommend this tour to anyone coming to Istanbul! 5 stars! Keep it up!

We really enjoyed our trip together with Ahmet, our tour guide. He is very knowledgeable of the sites and the history behind these sites. I personally became really interested about the Ottoman empire because of his stories. He also recommended a nice place to eat - the food is very delicious. This activity is highly recommended :).

Hotel pick was great. Boat cruise was good with over view of Istanbul on left side. Princess island was nice and quiet with interesting shops. Drive through around the island was a breath of fresh air. People were nice and eager to talk to me

Volkan was a fantastic guide! Day 10 in Turkey, been to Capaddocia, Bursa and Uludag as well but he was the best. Experienced, knowledgeable and thoughtful, will highly recommend any trip with him!

loved it, everything was perfect except the leather shop tour in the end, they force you to buy products from them.