If you are going to travel to Turkey and spend some nights in its impressive capital city, it is advisable to know well its different neighborhoods to choose the most suitable place for your accommodation. In general, the best areas where to stay in Istanbul are in the European part. Places like Sultanahmet, Eminönü, Karakoy/Galata, and the neighborhoods near Taksim Square are the favorites among tourists.
Istanbul, the ancient Constantinople, capital of three empires as different as the Roman, the Byzantine or the Ottoman, is today the biggest city in Turkey and one of the biggest in Europe, with almost 15 million inhabitants.It is also one of the most visited places in the world, in its peculiar location between the European and Asian continents , on the shores of the Black Sea and Marmara.
Istanbul mixes like few other the traditional and modern .Declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, the long history of Istanbul has accumulated in its territory an immense cultural treasure, monumental , as well as landscapes as special as the Bosphorus Strait that justify the interest of the millions of travelers who walk every year its ancient streets.
Istanbul is a city so big and visited during any time of the year that it has great amount of lodgings of all the characteristics , for all type of travellers.Although the prices have been increasing in the last years, they have ended up adapting to an average European quite affordable for most of the tourists.
As it is usual in the big European cities, the historical center , which accumulates most of the most important monuments, like Hagia Sophia, the Great Bazaar or the Blue Mosque, is the most chosen by the tourists.There, the accommodation offer meets these expectations, with more traditional and smaller establishments .
However, there are other areas further away from the centre where you can sleep in Istanbul that can also be interesting. This greater distance compensates those who prefer to stay in more modern establishments, some belonging to the main hotel chains, or enjoy more animation.
Actually, the distances between the main monuments are not too big and the city is safe enough to walk around at different times of the day.
Furthermore, Istanbul’s transport is modern and works quite well From buses of various types to taxis and trams, through funiculars and boats that continuously cross the Bosphorus, Istanbul is always in continuous movement.
However, when deciding on a accommodation further from the centre, it is advisable to take into account the reduction or closure of some services at night, such as ferries, or the huge and legendary traffic jams in this very populated city.
The best areas to stay in Istanbul
To discover Istanbul it is convenient to know its peculiar geographical distribution: the city is part of Europe and Asia, with the border of the Bosphorus Strait, crossed by ferries with intense frequency.This already generates two large areas of Istanbul, the European West and the Asian East.
In general terms, the Asian part is less touristy and is less cared for in that aspect, although districts like Kadıköy are a good option for accommodation, regardless of the distance from the centre and other circumstances.
Both Byzantium and Constantinople were founded in the current European part- That is why they have the main monuments and places of tourist interest . But, in addition, this same European part has another division of its own, marked by a historic estuary, a kind of spectacular natural harbour that goes inland from very close to the beginning of the Bosphorus Strait.This is the legendary Golden Horn (Haliç).
The Golden Horn divides this western area into two halves considered as the «modern Istanbul» to the north and the «ancient Istanbul» to the south.
The best and most recommended areas for to stay in Istanbul are in the European part The most popular districts are Sultanahmet and Eminönü, for those who prefer sightseeing, and Karakoy/Galata, and the districts near Taksim Square for those who are looking for lively, commercial places with good restaurants and nightlife.
Without a doubt, is the tourist district par excellence , in the district of Fatih, heart of the «old Istanbul».If you are short of time, an accommodation in the area can be the most advisable, or if you travel with children or in a quiet plan, far from other night amusements.
The hotel offer is very wide , with many options concentrated in the area.
However, Sultanahmet has a much less lively face at nightfall Those who are expecting a lively night time will have to choose another area.Similarly, its predominantly tourist character does not fully satisfy those seeking to experience the authentic daily life of the inhabitants of this great city.
– Hotels in Sultanahmet
Adjacent to the previous, Eminönü, or Sirkeci, is another of the historic districts .Formerly a district of Fatih, it is now part of the «Old Istanbul» tourist area, very close to the above mentioned monuments and marked by the presence of the Grand Bazaar and the Species Bazaar.
Furthermore, Eminönü is situated on the very coast of the Golden Horn, next to the mythical Galata Bridge, which saves the distance to the «modern Istanbul» on the other side, making the neighborhood an outstanding communication point .
It has the most important ferry station of the whole Bosphorus and it also hosts the main train and bus stations, being essential not only for tourists, but also for the daily journeys of millions of Istanbul citizens that cross the Bosphorus or the Sea of Marmara.
As a result, its daytime life is very lively , hosting floods of vendors, buyers and tourists. In addition, several government buildings and the main campus of Istanbul University are located here.
Even though there are residential houses, the truth is that most of the buildings in Eminönü are shops and offices, so a neighborhood where about two million people move daily, only has a census of about 30,000 inhabitants.
In conclusion, is ideal for sightseeing but at nightfall Eminönü becomes a very quiet neighborhood.Staying in Istanbul in this neighborhood is very similar to staying in the neighboring Sultanahmet.
– Hotels in Sirkeci/Eminönü
Within the same district of Fatih there are other interesting accommodation alternatives , such as the neighbourhoods of Beyazit and Laleli , close to the monumental centre, but with enough distance to perceive peculiarities.Among its advantages, they maintain a good offer of hotels and are very well served by the means of transport.
Beyazit is a very popular neighborhood located between the Grand Bazaar and the University of Istanbul.
In addition, as we approach the Bosphorus, the offer of restaurants with authentic Turkish cuisine increases and its typical fish The key point of the neighborhood is the charming Beyazit Square, with the Süleymaniye Mosque, a masterpiece of the sixteenth century surrounded by numerous cafes and terraces with reasonable prices.
The Laleli district is also located less than 10 minutes walk from the historic centre of «Old Istanbul» A short distance, but enough to give you the attraction of not suffering the excessive tourist accumulations of the same centre and have good hotel offer , most of three or four stars .Once again, something common in this area, the night in Laleli presents very few opportunities for recreation.
– Hotels in Beyazit/Laleli
Separated from the old town by the waters of the Golden Horn is the «modern Istanbul», formerly known as Pera («the other side»), the now called district of Beyoğlu is one of the most significant in the European area.\n\nIt was always especially cosmopolitan , hosting most of the foreign consulates.
It is an area with much atmosphere, that accumulates most of the art galleries of all Istanbul.Without a doubt, it is the epicenter of the Turkish contemporary art and the bohemian world , with its live music in the middle of the street.
Its progressive transformation in the last years can be seen in the proliferation of bars, art shops, hotels, restaurants or bars that give it special life. By day is the territory of galleries and fashion shops , but the animation never ends and at night does not sleep If this animation is general, it is even more concentrated in places like the famous Tünel, great center of nightlife.
To enjoy this way of life, it is a good choice for to sleep in Istanbul In addition, access to the main monuments is not complicated, even walking, crossing the Golden Horn by Galata or Ataturk bridges or crossing it with a ferry.
The accommodation offer is very varied , more than in the historical centre and has very outstanding establishments, especially in its backbone, the İstiklâl Caddesi, pedestrian avenue of almost three kilometres full of establishments of all kinds, although all the adjacent streets offer a multitude of entertainment and shopping options, for all pockets.
– Pera (Beyoğlu)
Karaköy, or Gálata, as it is also known, is one of the neighbourhoods in the district of Beyoğlu, north of the Golden Horn.Marked by the imposing presence of the Galata Tower and at the foot of the Galata Bridge, with its 490 meters in length and two levels, upper for road and pedestrian traffic and lower to accommodate numerous shops and restaurants, is a popular neighborhood, with charm, characterized by its narrow and steep streets.
In this neighbourhood, an example of multiculturalism, commerce is the main activity during the day and at night it is frequented by young people to enjoy bars and terraces .Following the trail of the district to which it belongs, this seaside neighbourhood, between historic buildings and a historic port where high quality fish restaurants abound, has become a very active neighbourhood, with trendy hotels and various restaurants.
Its varied offer of accommodation is in itself a good reason to choose this area for to stay in Istanbul .But, it is also interesting to mention its peculiarities with respect to Beyoğlu, as a typical neighborhood mainly commercial and working, where you can eat at a good price in a tavern by the sea and be at the same time, very close to some of the richest and liveliest areas of the city, with far fewer tourists.
– Hotels in Karakoy/Galata
Considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Istanbul , Cihangir is in the heart of Beyoğlu.Its main reference is Cihangir Mosque, from whose hill you can see impressive views of the Bosphorus.For lovers of special shopping, its innumerable antique shops stand out, especially on streets such as Turnacıbaşı or Çukurcuma.
embodies the image of the neighbourhood that is the protagonist of the cultural and artistic life that is attributed to Beyoğlu. It is a very lively place, with street musicians and colourful urban architecture, in which tradition and modernity coexist, with the ever-present western influence.In fact, Cihangir is the old French quarter and it still has a certain Parisian air to it, with painters, writers, actors and other intellectuals and professionals who have made the quarter their favourite place to work and debate.
Although the streets of Cihangir are always very lively and full of life , the feeling is quieter than in neighboring areas of the district, without the presence of people who walk quickly, showing a peculiar rural atmosphere, quiet and comfortable.
– Hotels in Cihangir
7.Taksim Square and surroundings
From the district of Beyoğlu, going through the emblematic İstiklâl, you reach the Taksim Square .A favourite place for public events and social celebrations, it is an important commercial, tourist and leisure area. , known for its immense number of restaurants, shops and hotels.
There are all kinds of restaurants, of all categories and for all tastes, as well as leisure establishments, open practically all day.
In and around Taksim, in neighbourhoods such as Levent and Ortakoy, there are many hotels of all characteristics, with a more western style . We also find some of the most luxurious establishments in Istanbul and the big hotels of the main chains, which makes it a very attractive area to stay in Istanbul .
The main disadvantage is the remoteness of the most emblematic monuments, something that can replace the availability of public transport, as it is z ona central and very well communicated .however, nothing suitable for those fleeing the noise and continuous movement.
– Hotels in the Taksim Square and surroundings
The district of Şişli is located in the west of the «New Istanbul», it is known for its luxury hotels, restaurants and exclusive shops , essentially residential area, it is the most modern and cosmopolitan district , fashionable and flourishing business area.Packed with offices, banks and shops housed in large buildings, it has one of the largest shopping centres in Europe, the Cavahir Istanbul
As a choice of accommodation in Istanbul is a good option, although it is a bit far from the historical centre it is well connected and the luxury of the area can make up for that in travellers who can afford it.
Within the district, the neighborhood of Nişantaşı stands out for its exclusivity and presence of branded fashion stores and luxury shops.its Adbi Ipekci Street has the highest rental prices of local in Turkey.
It is a area undoubtedly wealthy and stately , where foreign professionals and wealthy families proliferate.Here tradition has almost succumbed and traditional veils are scarce, while high-end cars and high-end restaurants and hotels abound.
– Hotels at Şişli/Nişantaşı
Beşiktaş is another of Istanbul\’s districts with some of the most distinguished neighborhoods. In general, it is a wealthy area , dominated by the presence of the grandiose Dolmabahçe Palace.Its main street is Avenida Barbaros Bulvari , through which you can access the ports of the Bosphorus, the main departure points of the cruise ships that travel through it and of the ships that go to Asia.
It is a very interesting neighborhood for to go shopping , and it is not at all as touristy as the old center, something ideal to know more about the local life and to discover aspects like the real typical food.Its streets are very lively and full of bars, restaurants and cafes Despite being a more expensive area, it is possible to find more affordable hotels than in the center.
Ortakoy is one of its neighborhoods, former fishing village on the banks of the Bosphorus, absorbed by the expansion of the capital.The Ortakoy mosque is an important part of its landscape, where strollers mingle with street artists, offering a less touristy image.
Although it is an expensive neighborhood, around its central square, the Iskele Meydani, there are numerous restaurants specializing in fish, quite affordable.At night, the nightlife of Ortakoy has an excellent offer and numerous clubs famous for their elegance and gather the so-called «beautiful people» , among a good number of Turkish millionaires.
– Hotels in Beşiktaş/Ortakoy
10.Kadikoy (on the Asian side)
For those who want to stay in Istanbul on the Asian side, the best option is offered by the district of Kadiköy, the most populated district of the Turkish capital.Nowadays, it is a commercial and communication nerve centre, mainly inhabited by the working class and students.
Without a doubt, accommodation is cheaper and the knowledge of true traditional Turkish life more complete.The area is more residential and less touristy and we find a more traditional society, not as westernised and not as tourist-centred as on the European side.
There are also plenty of restaurants, bars and terraces, day and night.But the night atmosphere is more relaxed and quiet and much less crowded than in areas like Taksim.as a disadvantage, the ferry closes at night, complicating the passage to the European area, as you would have to resort to night buses that make a great detour to cross the bridges over the Bosphorus.
– Hotels in Kadikoy (on the Asian side)
What is the best area to stay in Istanbul?
Walking through the streets of Istanbul we find two different faces in the same city: East and West divided by the Bosphorus Strait.
Half European, half Asian, because of its geographical location Istanbul is a city of contrasts, while its newer area is westernised at times, the older quarters remain true to the call from the mosques.The city is divided in different districts and specifically we recommend to stay in the districts of Sultanahmet and Eminönu , where besides finding a very good atmosphere will be in the heart of Istanbul.
In these adjacent districts are the main mosques, many options of bars and restaurants, so do not hesitate and look for where to stay in this area of the city.
If you want to stay in a Spanish hotel visit our page on Spanish hotels in Istanbul.
If you are interested in knowing where to stay in Istanbul you may also be interested in knowing where to stay in Athens, where to stay in Venice, where to stay in Dubai and where to stay in Tel Aviv.
The Old Town, the best area to stay
It was the ancient Byzantium, Roman Constantinople and the powerful capital of the Ottoman Empire, but Istanbul does not have the capital of the country today, but it still represents the best reflection of the splendour of Turkey’s history and the challenges of a changing society.The Bosphorus Strait runs through the city in the form of a natural channel and divides it between Europe and Asia, and is the famous site of the Golden Horn, where the magnificent world of the sultans continues to live.
In Sultanahmet you will find the main tourist monuments, such as the Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, covered by the beautiful ceramic pieces that give it its name, and a short distance from the university is the Suleiman the Magnificent Mosque, the Ottoman symbol par excellence.The Blue Mosque is one of the two mosques in Turkey that have six minarets, along with Adana.
In this district we also find the Topkapi Palace, which was the official residence of the Ottoman dynasty for over four centuries.In this area is also located the Dolombahce Palace, with its more than 45 thousand kilometers on the European side of the Bosphorus, which continues to remind us of times of harems and concubines, is divided into three parts, one side has the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn, an area reserved for men, also has the Muayede Salonu for ceremonies and the Harem where the Sultan lived.
In the adjacent district of Eminönu, situated next to the Topkapi Palace, is located one of the oldest and largest public parks, the Gülhan Park and the Galata Bridge, which must be crossed to admire the other side of the city.A few minutes away is the Church of San Salvador de Chora, located in the Edirnekapi district, which is considered one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches.
In Eminönu there are many options for shopping, for example there is the Grand Bazaar.It is located in the center, in the European part of Istanbul, between Nuruosmaniye, Mercan and Beyazit. 58 streets and 4 thousand shops make it the largest bazaar in the city and one of the largest in the world.In this same area you can also find the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Istanbul University.
Other areas where to sleep in Istanbul
Beyoglü is a district of Istanbul located in the European part of the city and separated from the old town by the Golden Horn.Most of the consulates – formerly embassies – are located in the area, including those of the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The Taksim Square is born in this area, the most modern area of the city and the favorite place for public events and social celebrations.
In this district is the Galata Tower, also called Christea Turris or Christ Tower, from where you have the best views of the city.You have to climb 140 steps to reach the viewpoint and have Istanbul at your feet, and thus experience the new times, with a modern shopping center, to the detriment of the vibrant Grand Bazaar.
Another district of Istanbul, on the European side, which has some of the best known neighborhoods or towns of the city: Arnavutköy, Balmumcu, Bebek, Etiler.It is a fascinating district that allows you to get to know the life of the locals a little better, as it is not as touristy as the old centre. The main attraction of the area is the Turkish Naval Museum with its splendid collection of boats that were used by the Sultan.Nearby is also the Palace Collections Museum which is an interesting shopping district with many restaurants to discover the real local food and where you can find hotels at more affordable prices than in the centre.