Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Name:  Yolcu Salonu Passenger Terminal
Address:  Rihtim Cd 2 Kemankes Karamustafa Pasa Mh., Istanbul
Phone: +9 (0) 212 573 4136(Turkish Tourist Office)          

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Many cruise ships use Istanbul as an embarkation or disembarkation point for cruises of the Greek Isles and Turkey.

Ataturk International Airport (TAV) is located in Yesilkoy, 15 miles (25kms) from the downtown core and the terminal. The new International Terminal is one of the busiest hubs in the region as a major transit point from East to West. A taxi between the airport and the cruise pier will cost about 30 Turkish lira ($17 US) during the daytime.


Cruise ships dock at the Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal in Karaköy. And as a passenger, you couldn’t have dreamt of a more central location explore Istanbul. Karaköy is located exactly where the Golden Horn flows into the Bosphorus. It is centrally located because it takes about as much time to travel over the Galata Bridge to Eminönü and Sultanahmet (the historical parts of Istanbul) as it would take you to reach Taksim (the modern part of Istanbul).


Istanbul has many high end hotels of international standard including the Hyatt Regency Istanbul, Four Seasons on the Bosphorus, and the Hilton Istanbul.  Near the terminal is the Ciragan Palace Hotel that is located in a former Sultan palace and on the Bosphorous. Many of Istanbul’s deluxe hotels have swimming pools, as well as rooms with views of the Bosphorus.

But there are many hotels that may not have name recognition, but offer luxurious accommodation such as the Marmara Istanbul that offers stunning views of old and new Istanbul.  The Best Western Istanbul Savoy Hotel is a moderate-priced choice that is within minutes walking distance from the Old  City, Grand Bazaar, St. Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.

Getting around:

Trams run from Karakoy across the Galata Bridge to the Spice Bazaar, Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi. It’s a 10-minute stroll if you’d like to walk to the Galata Bridge. Or you can catch a taxi to Taksim Square and pedestrianized Istiklal Caddesi to stroll past bustling shops and restaurants.


Being in Turkey is a constant surprise. The country, after all, doesn’t have the best of public relations images.  Thanks to movies and politics, Turkey is one of those places defined in our minds as a place where you keep your daughters locked in the hotel room.

But the Hollywood image is incorrect for Turkey is a traveler’s delight with surprises coming from unsuspected places.  The Turkish Aegean is painfully gorgeous with gilt-edged resorts along the coastline at Cement along the Gulf of Edremit.  It’s on the Turkish coast that you find Troy and some of the finest ancient ruins in the Aegean.

Still, it’s Istanbul – the only city in the world that straddles two continents – that has the edge of mystery, intrigue, and glamor that left most other cities a long time ago.  Shopping here is still one of the least expensive in all of Europe, food is varied and exquisite, and the five million who live here mingle with a wide variety of humanity walking its streets.

Istanbul embraces two continents, one arm reaching out to Asia, the other to Europe. In the city’s heart, the Bosphorus strait, course the waters of the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. The former capital of three successive empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman – today Istanbul honors and preserves the legacy of its past.

And while the museums, palaces, great mosques, and bazaars seem inexhaustible, there’s also an unexpected natural beauty. From the shores of the Bosphorus at sunset, the red evening light reflects in the windows on the opposite shore and you understand better what attracts people to this glorious city.

Stretching from the Black Sea, straddling across the Bosphorus, touching the Sea of Marmara, Istanbul, has become a city of unlimited scope. It is where you can see the remains of many ancient civilizations and their culture in harmony with Turkish culture. The old versus the new, the traditional versus the modern creates an atmosphere of colorful contrasts.

It’s a place where the obvious sights are staggering. The Topkapi Palace with its jewels; the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet (The Blue Mosque), one of the most revered masterpieces in the Islam world; the incredible wealth contained in the 14 tons of gold that adorn the ceiling of the Dolmabahce Palace.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar dates back to the 15th century and going there is an overwhelming experience with more than 4,000 stores sprawling across 60 streets, selling a breathtaking array of wares, from spices to furs, and from leather to rugs. The covered Bazaar fulfills a viable commercial function to this day. The Bazaar’s fine shops and exotic atmosphere make it an exceptional attraction.

The fascination of Istanbul is in its distinct quarters. The Bohemian Quarter, just a few years ago, was perceived as a bad part of town, with its dark deserted streets and creepy abandoned buildings. However, the area has undergone tremendous development in recent years. Tiny cafes, live music venues, and open-air restaurants and bars now quietly coexist with art galleries, antique bookshops and music store.

Galata is another area worth exploring with the Galata Tower as the most central point. The main street, Galip Dede Caddesi, is one of the city’s busiest with shops and a good dose of tiny local restaurants. The Whirling Dervishes have a home at the Galata Mevlevihanesi (Dervish Lodge); the Goethe Institute provides locals with a good dose of culture and art; and there are countless mosques, churches and synagogues hidden away on side streets.

But, chances are that your first impression of the city will be in Sultanahmet, a peninsula that juts out into the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. It’s the home of the Topkap? Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Yerebatan Basilica Cistern and the Hippodrome.

Here’s where you’ll find hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, rug stores and cheesy souvenir shops, as well as a fascinating museums, mosques, markets and historical sites. The main street, Divan Yolu, is the region’s core, where hundreds of tiny back streets and alleyways invite you to explore the old city’s history. The Grand Bazaar near Beyaz?t University is also on this street. If your Turkish isn’t up to par, don’t worry about it because every business person speaks every European language including English.

 Things to do:

Spend whatever extra time you have exploring the city’s great cultural icons because you won’t see anything like them anywhere else in the world. Hughie Sophia, for example, is one of the world’s finest examples of Byzantine architecture. And the Topkapi Palace,   originally a summer residence in the pre-Christian Byzantium era, has magnificent jewels, religious artifacts, silk ceremonial robes and a manuscript collection.

The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum is housed in a 16th century palace and has exhibits from the Islamic period of the seventh century to the 1800s. And the Basilica Cistern was at one time a reservoir for the Byzantine Great Palace and dates back to about 500 AD. It was also used as a major location for the James Bond film, From Russia With Love. Take a look at the columns that support the cathedral-style ceiling. Many were taken from pre-Christian temples.

And take a trip across the bridge to Asia. You’ll never have an easier time getting to another continent. On the eastern of the bridge are scores of shops whose owners love haggling over prices.

A Special Place:

Built in the 17th century The Blue Mosque is an icon with no equal anywhere in the world. The vast vaulted dome is an incredible spectacle. The dome rises to about 140 high and is 77 feet in diameter. Four pillars hold up the roof; they measure about 16 feet in diameter. There are some 260 windows. The 20,000 blue ceramic tiles covering much of the interior of the Blue Mosque are what have given the mosque its nickname.

The Blue Mosque was completed in 1616 and is located opposite the splendid Church of Hagia Sophia and has a capacity of about 10,000 people. As you enter the grounds you’ll walk through the courtyard where ablution fountains around the courtyard allow Muslims to prepare to enter the mosque by washing their face, arms, neck and feet as well as mouth and nose. Be certain that you’re dressed correctly. Women must wear head covers and long pants are required for men.

– Ray Chatelin

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