The Topkapı Palace
The massive Blue Mosque
The largest covered bazaar in the world

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The happy meeting point between East and West

A shore excursion on your MSC Mediterranean cruise can be the opportunity to discover İstanbul which stands astride two continents, Europe and Asia.

As if its spectacular geographical location were not enough, it can also boast of being the only city to have played capital to consecutive Christian and Islamic empires, a role that has shaped the region’s history for more than 2500 years and bequeathed to İstanbul a staggering wealth of attractions.

Most cruise visitors spend all their holiday time in Sultanahmet, home to İstanbul’s main sightseeing attractions: the church of Aya Sofya, the greatest legacy of the Byzantine Empire; the Topkapı Palace, heart of the Ottoman Empire; and the massive Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque). Here also are the ancient Hippodrome, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art (housed in the former Palace of İbrahim Paşa), the eerily lit Yerebatan Sarnıcı, a fascinating Byzantine underground cistern, and the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı), the largest covered bazaar in the world.

The monumental architecture, attractive parks and gardens, street-side cafés, and the benefits of a relatively traffic-free main road combine to make this area pleasant for both sightseeing and staying on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion. İstanbul’s Ottoman-era Grand Bazaar gets more than its fair share of souvenir-hungry visitors.

The area around it, however, is relatively little explored, which is a shame as it holds some very worthwhile attractions, from the historic Cembirlitaş Hamamı, one of the best Turkish baths in the country, to the city’s very best mosque, the hilltop Süleymaniye Camii. The best single reason to head across to the Asian shore of the city is to experience a Bosphorus cruise. The views from the Bosphorus are superb, with domes and minarets dominating the skyline of the Old City, and skyscrapers the business districts beyond Beyoğlu.

Must see places in Istanbul

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    Reach the port

    Port of Istanbul

    This section contains information on how to reach the port.

    Cruise Terminal:

    Istanbul / Salipazari / Karaköy
    Ömer Avni Mh., Meclis-İ Mebusan Caddesi, No:52

    Reach the port by

    • Car

      From the European side:
      Exit the O-3/E-80 at the junction for the E-5, then turn off at the junction for Besiktas, which leads to Barbaros Boulevard. Keeping to the right at the end of the Boulevard, drive straight on for approximately 10 minutes. When you reach Meclis-i Mebusan Street you will see the port on your left.

      From the Asian side: Take the E-5 across the bridge and take the first exit after the bridge, signposted Besiktas, which leads to Barbaros Boulevard. Keeping to the right at the end of the Boulevard, drive straight on for approximately 10 minutes. When you reach Meclis-i Mebusan Street you will see the port on your left.
    • Plane

      Atatürk Airport is approximately 24 km (15 miles) from Salıpazarı Port.  There is a 24-hour tram / underground service linking Atatürk Airport and Salıpazarı Port.
      Findikli station is the closest to the port, being just a 3-minute walk away.  
      There is also a taxi rank immediately outside the airport building.

      Sabiha Gökçen Airport is approximately 45 km (28 miles) from Salıpazarı Port. 
      You can take a taxi from outside the airport building.


    Greek ruins and Ottoman mosques
    Greek ruins and Ottoman mosques

    A cruise to western Turkey will show you the most economically developed, and most visited, part of the country.

    It would take weeks even to scratch the surface of the old imperial capital, İstanbul, straddling the straits linking the Black and Marmara seas, and still Turkey’s cultural and commercial hub. 

    Flanking it on opposite sides of the Sea of Marmara, the two prior seats of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa and Edirne, abound in monumental attractions and regal atmosphere. 

    Beyond the Dardanelles and its World War I battlefields lie Turkey’s two Mediterranean islands, Gökçeada and Bozcaada, popular for their excellent beaches, lingering Greek-ethnic identity and tranquillity. 

    Further south, the olive-swathed landscapes around Bergama and Ayvalık epitomize the classical character of the North Aegean. Ancient Sardis, and the old Ottoman princely training ground of Manisa, also make a fine pair, although İzmir serves merely as a functional introduction to the central and southern Aegean. 

    A holiday to Turkey will show you amazing ancient cities too. Celebrated Ephesus tends to overshadow the equally deserving Ionian sites of Priene and Didyma, or the intriguing ruins of Aphrodisias and Labranda – and don’t overlook evocative hill towns like Şirince or Birgi.