Almost on a daily basis I get emails from people about to take a cruise liner to Istanbul. Trying to plan their trip, they have questions like “Where is the cruise port in Istanbul?”, “How far is it from the cruise ship pier in Istanbul to Sultanahmet?” or “What are the transportation options from the cruise ship dock to the main sightseeing spots?” In this post I’ll try to answer these very common questions, and much more.
Where Is the Istanbul Cruise Ship Dock Located?
Cruise ships dock at the passenger terminal (Yolcu Salonu) in Karaköy. And as a passenger, you couldn’t have dreamt of a more central location to set foot on Istanbul soil. Karaköy is loacted 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 part of Istanbul) as it would take you to reach Taksim (the modern part of Istanbul).
In case Istanbul is the end or start of your international cruise, a taxi between Karaköy and the Atatürk International Airport would set you back for about TL 30 during the daytime.
Do I Need a Visa to Leave the Ship?
Foreigners who arrive in Turkey by cruise liner and sleep on the ship are allowed to enter Turkey without a visa for a maximum period of 72 hours, with the permission given by the local security authorities as soon as you set foot ashore. If you stay longer or stay in Istanbul (or Turkey for that matter) before or after your cruise, you are obliged to obtain a visa.