Sea of Marmara

Sea of Marmara: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Istanbul: Full-Day Princes Island Tour with Lunch

1. 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. See 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, 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 on your own, soaking up the laid-back atmosphere of island life.  Return to the boat and listen as your guide talks about the island’s history during the ride. Learn 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. Have lunch on the boat, then spend the rest of your day at leisure on the island. Later, 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.  

Istanbul: Round-Trip Ferry Tickets to Princes Islands

2. 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'. 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 back in time. Go to Hamlaci Street 4 and see the ruins of the villa where 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 world's 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 departs Büyukada (Big Island) to return to Kabatas ferry station at 3:30 PM.

Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

3. Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore Istanbul on a guided tour. Choose from a 1-day tour to top attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, or a 2-day tour with a cruise on the Bosphorus straight and a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Street. Pick from a walking tour or a driving tour.  Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, 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 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 holds the position for the 4th largest dome. 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, 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 into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column, the 3 remaining monuments from the original building. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Complete your day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft 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 the Bosphorus and there are 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.

Istanbul: Day Trip to the Princes' Islands

4. 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 Buyukada, 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 walking tour. Ride through the pine forests next to picturesque bays and past old villas. Then, take a ferry over to the largest island, Buyukada, and have lunch at a nice 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.

From Istanbul: Full-Day Tour to Bursa

5. 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, and 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. You will have the opportunity of shopping from one of the most famous manufacturing places in Turkey. 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.

Istanbul: Bosphorus Boat Tour with Local Guide

6. 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.

Istanbul Food on Foot Tour

7. 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.

Princes' Islands Full Day Tour

8. Princes' Islands Full Day Tour

Let the various aromas and colorful sights overwhelm you on this full day tour of the Princes' Islands. And cruise along the Marmara Sea to the beautiful Princes' Islands by Maritime lines boat. The tour will take you to the isles via the popular summer resort Büyükada. This summer resort was once the pleasure island of Byzantine Princes, and it boasts stunning pinewood scenery. From here you will experience a tour of the island, as well as lunch at a local fish restaurant. In the afternoon you will be treated to the breathtaking scenery of Topkapi Palace and Leander's Tower, topped off by the unique sights of the Uskudar. See all this and beautiful sea views from the convenience of a luxury ship. Finally we will arrive back in the evening to Istanbul where you will be transferred to your hotel.

Bosphorus Cruise and Two Continents Tour with Local Guide

9. 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.

Bursa Full Day Sightseeing Tour from Istanbul

10. Bursa Full Day Sightseeing Tour from Istanbul

Your 12-hour tour to the 1st capital of the Ottoman Empire starts with a hotel pick-up in central Istanbul before crossing the Sea of Marmara by ferryboat to Yalova. You will then drive across country for approximately 1-hour, arriving at Bursa to climb its most famous site, Mount Uludağ. The ascent of the legendary mountain, also referred to as Mount Olympos, is by Teleferik. On the rare occasions when the cable car isn’t working due to the weather, or if there are long queues, we will drive to a 600 year old Inkaya Plane Tree and stop for a coffee break on the way to Uludağ. Touring the city of Bursa, you will visit the Great Mosque of Ulu Camii, a landmark of early Ottoman architecture, with monumental Islamic calligraphy. Move on to the decorative Green Mosque, officially known as Yeşil Mosque, and the Green Mausoleum, which can be viewed from the outside only. You will pause during the day to try an "Alexander the Great" kebab, and to wonder through the old Silk Market of the Covered Bazaar. Bursa was the largest center for the silk trade during the Byzantine Empire and a major point along the legendary Silk Road trade route. Still boasting a large textile industry, you can try out your bargaining skills, before boarding the bus back to Istanbul. You will travel through a lovely landscape of lush forests, which help give Bursa its nickname of “Green Bursa”

Other Sightseeing Options in Sea of Marmara

Want to discover all there is to do in Sea of Marmara? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Sea of Marmara

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 886 reviews

Kemal exceeded our expectations and deserves special thanks. He immediately put us at ease with his friendly, welcoming personality. Kemal provided a wealth of information on local customs and traditions associated with the food we enjoyed from why Turkish tea is served in a tulip-shaped glass to the history behind a famous baklava bakery. We enjoyed soup, excellent bread & kebabs, Turkish pizza and more, served in small cafes and shops frequented by locals. A great storyteller, Kemal never hesitated to patiently answer our questions with a smile and an occasional brief history lesson. And we were particularly impressed with his genuine pride in his country. Bottom line, Kemal's knowledge of the history of Turkish food and related historical events made this a tour to remember.

This is an amazing day tour. Nice to visit this Island. Well entertained on the boat. Food was enough and delicious. Pick up and drop off from the hotel it was well organised. Tour guide was very friendly and helpful, she explained well about the tour and the Island. I enjoyed this trip!

We had a wonderful time, only complaint would be that at lunch we were given one drumstick of chicken with our rice & salad. My husband didn’t like the rice which was seasoned & asked for another drumstick & was told no. One small drumstick is not enough to eat even for lunch.

Great trip, the islands are nice with small stores and restaurants which make a very enjoyable tour. Very good coordination from the pick up to the drop off at the hotel, verify nice staff. Good lunch . I really recommend this trip.

We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the Island was fantastic!