You may be confused when you check the map to find the best area to stay in Istanbul. Because there are various accommodation options all over Istanbul. While luxury hotels and convention centers attract attention in some parts of Istanbul, there are budget-friendly boutique hotels in other places.
When considering where to stay in Istanbul, the first places that come to mind are; Beyoglu, Besiktas, Sultanahmet and Kadikoy. In this article, we will cover these districts that host Istanbul’s tourist attractions.
Apart from these districts, there are many hotels in Bakirkoy, Atakoy, which are close to the old airport, or Sisli, Levent and Maslak, where the business centers are located. However, we leave these districts for another article so that this article does not become too long to read.
Best Area to Stay in Istanbul 2021
Our article about best area to stay in Istanbul consists of 12 titles. As a matter of fact, the main places that make up the article are Beyoglu, Old City, Besiktas and Kadikoy. The reason why there are 12 titles to promote 4 districts in the article is that a separate title should be reserved for some specific neighborhoods.
For example, Karakoy, Galata, Cihangir and Taksim Square are the districts of Beyoglu and each of them should be focused on. Likewise, we will go into details for the districts of Istanbul Old City such as Beyazit, Sultanahmet and Sirkeci (Eminonu).
Hotels to stay in Istanbul are divided into several categories. We will be listing the luxury hotels with Bosphorus view under the title of Besiktas. For boutique hotels close to historical monuments, you can look under the title of Sultanahmet. We will list 4 and 5 star centrally located hotels under the title of Beyoglu.
Most of the hotels to stay in Istanbul are located on the European Side. However, there are too many hotels on the Asian Side of Istanbul. Especially with the increase in the volume of Sabiha Gokcen Airport in recent years, we see that the places to stay on the Asian Side have also diversified.
As a professional guide in Istanbul for 15 years, I received clients from most hotels I listed. In this way, I had the chance to get to know the hotels. I tried to use this experience while choosing the places and hotels I recommended in the list of places to stay in Istanbul. Let’s start with the hope that the article will be useful for those looking for an answer to the question of where to stay in Istanbul.
Beyoglu is a district located at the crossroads of the city. It is possible to reach business and shopping areas such as Sisli, Mecidiyekoy and Levent from Taksim Square, the heart of Beyoglu. On the other hand, the most popular walking street of the city, like İstiklal Street, is also located in Beyoglu.
There are historical artifacts in Beyoglu, such as the Galata Tower, dating back to the Byzantine period. Beyoglu district extends to the seaside through Karakoy district and connects to the Historical Peninsula via Galata Bridge.
Located in the middle of the city’s most important touristic centers, Beyoglu is a place preferred by local and foreign tourists for accommodation. There are many 4 and 5 star hotels in and around Taksim Square.
The Marmara Hotel located in Taksim Square is among the places to stay in Beyoglu. The Marmara, one of the most popular 5-star hotels in the city, has become the symbol of Taksim. However, this is not the only hotel belonging to The Marmara Group in Beyoglu. There is also “The Marmara Pera” on Mesrutiyet Street.
Speaking of The Marmara Pera Hotel, we should not miss Mikla, one of the best restaurants in Istanbul. Because Mikla, together with 360 Istanbul and Leb-i Derya, is one of the popular restaurants of Beyoglu. In this sense, we can say that Beyoglu district appeals to those who are fond of their taste buds.
We will continue to introduce Beyoglu, one of the 4 main headings of our article, in the following few titles. The titles of Taksim Square, Cihangir, Pera, Galata and Karakoy actually cover the neighborhoods of Beyoglu district. However, since each has its own atmosphere and accommodation style, it would be appropriate to examine these districts under separate headings.
2. Taksim Square
Taksim Square is one of the most central places to stay in Istanbul. The priority of the tourists visiting Istanbul is to easily reach the shopping areas and historical monuments. In this sense, we can say that the hotels around Taksim Square are perfect.
There are dozens of 4 and 5 star hotels in places such as Lamartin Street, Siraselviler Street and Istiklal Street surrounding Taksim Square. The ones that stand out among the best places to stay in Taksim are The Marmara, Divan Istanbul and Point Hotel.
If you like high, scenic and luxurious hotels; Taksim Square is the best neighborhood to stay in Istanbul. However, if you prefer small boutique hotels, we will talk about them in Cihangir title now.
Taksim Square is the best area to stay in Istanbul for shopping. From Taksim, it is very easy to reach Cevahir, the best shopping mall in Istanbul, or Istiklal Avenue, the most popular shopping street in the city.
Cihangir became famous as a district where writers, directors and musicians lived for many years. Although the Moda neighborhood of Kadikoy has recently come to the fore in this regard, Cihangir is still popular.
There are many boutique hotels that emerged from the restoration of old apartment buildings in Cihangir. Each of these hotels, adorned with a very stylish concept, has its own unique atmosphere. If you are someone who does not like 5-star hotels and is looking for a friendly atmosphere, you can take a look at the hotels of this district.
One of the places I can recommend for those who want to stay in Cihangir is Witt Hotel. This hotel, which has a very original decoration, is within walking distance of both Taksim Square and Tophane. In this way, you can go to Istiklal Street with a short walk or reach Karakoy, which is in the opposite direction.
The street next to Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque in Tophane is home to Karakoy’s most famous cafes, bars and restaurants in recent years. Thus, by staying in Cihangir, you are close to all the options for a nice dinner or nightlife. With these features, Cihangir is the best place to stay in Istanbul for couples.
Pera was Istanbul’s fastest growing district in the last century of the Ottoman Empire. Today, the buildings on Mesrutiyet Street still carry the name “Pera”.
When you research the history of Beyoglu district, you will see that it was also called “Pera” in the Ottoman period. The consulate buildings and hotels such as Pera Palace, which were opened here in the 1800s, changed the face of the district.
Passengers of the Orient Express departing from Paris and arriving at Sirkeci Train Station in Istanbul would also stay in Pera. At that time, Beyoglu’s heart was beating not in Taksim Square, but in Mesrutiyet Street and its surrounding.
If you start walking on Mesrutiyet Street from the British Consulate, you can still trace that nostalgic period. On the way, you will see luxury hotels such as Rixos Pera, Pera Palas and Soho House. In addition, Pera Museum, one of the best museums in Istanbul, is also located on this street.
Bearing the traces of the past, Pera stands out among the best places to stay in Istanbul. Because it is very easy to reach Istiklal Street, which is parallel to Mesrutiyet Street. In addition, Asmali Mescit Alley, which connects the two streets, has great eating and drinking options and local taverns.
Galata is one of Beyoglu’s coolest neighborhoods. It is possible to rent beautiful flats with AirBNB in Galata, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Galata district, which consists of streets surrounding the Galata Tower, offers good opportunities to tourists. For example, Nardis Jazz Club, one of the best nightclubs in Istanbul, is located here. In addition, Sensus Wine Boutique, one of the best wine houses in the city, also serves here.
Serdar-i Ekrem Street and Galip Dede Street around Galata Tower stand out among the best places to shop. Because in these streets, various gift shops, art galleries and boutique hotels have opened in recent years.
Best places to stay in Galata include exquisite boutique hotels such as Galata Anemon, Bankerhan Hotel and Manesol Galata. If you stay in one of these hotels, you will be staying just walking distance to Galata Tower.
Karakoy has become the fastest growing district in Istanbul in recent years. Because Karakoy serves as a bridge between the Historical Peninsula and Beyoglu. Karakoy also hosts Galataport, where cruise ships dock.
It is possible to reach many touristic spots of Istanbul from Karakoy in a very short time. For example, you can walk to the Istanbul Modern Art Museum. In addition, Dolmabahce Palace, one of the most important museums of Istanbul, is also very close.
From Karakoy, you can go to Galata Tower and Istiklal Street, or to the Historical Peninsula in the opposite direction. As you cross the Galata Bridge, you find yourself in Eminonu and right next to the Spice Bazaar. Of course, from this point on, it is very easy to go to the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet.
It is also possible to have fun and shop without leaving Karakoy. You can shop for clothing at the outlet stores in Karakoy. It is possible to find brands such as North Face, Columbia and Jack Wolfskin at discounted prices.
It is also possible to have a dinner overlooking the Golden Horn and Bosphorus in Karakoy. Because great restaurants such as Murver Restaurant and Mukellef are located here. In addition, the café inside the Istanbul Modern Art Museum also offers delicious food.
The ones that stand out among the best places to stay in Karakoy are 10 Karakoy Istanbul, The House Hotel Karakoy and Novotel. All three of these hotels are very close to the historical monuments, restaurants and shopping areas I mentioned.
With all these features, Karakoy stands out as one of the best places to stay in Istanbul for tourists. With Galataport coming into service at full capacity, it seems that the food & beverage and accommodation options in the district will increase.
7. Istanbul Old City (Fatih)
Istanbul Old City (aka Historical Peninsula) carries traces of Istanbul’s Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. For this reason, the most visited historical artifacts and museums of Istanbul are located here. Best places to stay in Istanbul Old City include Sirkeci, Sultanahmet, Beyazıt and Laleli.
The Historical Peninsula, known as Fatih district in the local language, offers rich options for local food and cheap shopping. Because there are traditional shopping places such as the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, as well as shopping malls such as Historia and Olivium.
The Historical Peninsula stands out especially as it represents the street food in Istanbul. Istanbul street food tours, which are very popular with foreign tourists, include local food stops in Sirkeci and Eminonu.
We will continue to talk about accommodation options in Istanbul Old City, also known as Historical Peninsula or Fatih, in the following three titles: Sirkeci, Sultanahmet and Beyazit-Laleli.
Sirkeci has a very special place in Istanbul’s history. In the 19th century, Orient Express, which traveled between Paris and Istanbul, used to come to Sirkeci Train Station. Wealthy tourists from Europe contributed to the development of the neighborhood.
Sirkeci, a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists, has Istanbul’s best dessert shops and centuries-old local restaurants. You can also find the best kokorec and doner shops in Istanbul in the back streets of Sirkeci.
Sirkeci is in a position that connects the seaside of the Historic Peninsula and the Sultanahmet districts. Therefore, it is crowded during the day. In addition, most of the people coming from the Asian Side with Marmaray get off in Sirkeci.
With all these features, Sirkeci is the crossroads of the Historical Peninsula. For this reason, it stands out as the best area to stay in Istanbul Old City. Among the most popular hotels in Sirkeci are boutique hotels such as Sirkeci Konak, Neorion and Yasmak Sultan.
Sultanahmet, along with Taksim Square, is the most preferred place to stay in Istanbul. Of course, the biggest reason for this is that Istanbul’s most important historical artifacts are located here.
In the Sultanahmet district, it is possible to see the legacy of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires that ruled in Istanbul. Istanbul’s most important tourist attractions such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are located here. It is also possible to see places such as the Hippodrome and Forum Constantine from the Roman period.
There are also restaurants in Sultanahmet that represent traditional Turkish cuisine very well. Of course, the most famous of these for locals is Sultanahmet Koftecisi. However, in addition to this, there are two famous places such as Deraliye Restaurant and Matbah Restaurant. In these two restaurants, you can experience the flavors of the Ottoman palace cuisine.
Small and stylish boutique hotels are among the best places to stay in Sultanahmet. Amira Hotel, Sura Hotel, Empress Zoe Hotel and Levni Hotel stand out among the most popular hotels of recent years. Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet, one of the best 5-star hotels in Istanbul, is also located in the district.
Sultanahmet is the best area to stay in Istanbul for sightseeing. In addition, its being closed to traffic and being a safe neighborhood makes it the most suitable place for first time visitors.
10. Beyazit and Laleli
Beyazit and Laleli attract attention with their hotels with large family suites in recent years. There are generally small boutique hotels in districts of the Historic Peninsula such as Sirkeci and Sultanahmet. However, if you want to stay close to Sultanahmet and still have large rooms like in Beyoglu and Besiktas, you can choose hotels in Beyazit and Laleli neighborhoods.
Located in Beyazit, the Grand Bazaar is the district’s most important tourist attraction. Covering 67 streets and more than 3000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is a paradise for those who love shopping. However, there are many other shopping places in the district. There are markets where you can find everything very cheaply in the streets surrounding the Grand Bazaar.
The Sahaflar Bazaar, which is the most nostalgic place for book shopping in Istanbul, is also located in Beyazıt. There are also small surprises for those who are fond of their taste buds in the district. As an example, we can count Donerci Sahin Usta, one of the best doner kebab restaurants in Istanbul.
Best places to stay in Beyazit and Laleli include hotels such as DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Old Town, Crowne Plaza Istanbul Old City and Holiday Inn Istanbul Old City. These hotels have large rooms and are the best places to stay in Istanbul with family.
Besiktas is the place where the most beautiful hotels on the Bosphorus are located. If you want to watch the unique view of the Bosphorus from your room, you can choose the hotels in Besiktas and Ortakoy.
The beauty of Besiktas did not go unnoticed by the Ottoman sultans. As a result, they built magnificent buildings such as Dolmabahce Palace, Yildiz Palace and Ciragan Palace in this district. Ciragan Palace serves today as a hotel under the Kempinski group.
Besiktas district has everything a tourist visiting Istanbul could look for. Because the city’s best nightclubs are located in Kurucesme. Besiktas is also a place that offers very rich options for eating and drinking. Because Vogue, Nusr-et and Sunset Grill & Bar, which are among the most luxurious restaurants in Istanbul, are located within the borders of this district.
Of course, you don’t have to go to these luxurious restaurants to have a meal in Besiktas. Because there is also a famous doner kebab restaurant like Karadeniz Doner (Asim Usta) in the center of Besiktas. In addition, there are many fish restaurants and taverns.
The hotels that stand out among the best places to stay in Besiktas are Shangri-la Bosphorus Istanbul, Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus, Four Seasons Hotel Bosphorus and Ciragan Palace Kempinski, respectively. These hotels I mentioned are also among the most luxurious hotels in Istanbul.
Besiktas is the best area to stay in Istanbul for nightlife. Because the areas with the best nightclubs in Istanbul such as Sisli, Taksim and Ortakoy are within a few minutes of taxi drive to Besiktas.
Kadikoy stands out as the best area to stay on the Asian Side of Istanbul. Kadikoy, which is spread over a very wide area, is the kind of place that can meet every need of tourists like the previous Besiktas.
For example, Kadikoy’s famous Fish Market is one of the important destinations for food tours in Istanbul. Because Ciya Restaurant, one of the best Turkish restaurants in Istanbul, is located here. In addition, there are also wonderful places where you can taste traditional delicacies such as kokorec, doner and lahmacun.
Kadikoy also has Istanbul’s best 3rd wave coffee shops and boutique cafes. Many of these beautiful cafes are scattered around Kadikoy’s Moda district. There is also Asuman, one of the most popular patisseries of recent years. Also, if you want to have a great Turkish breakfast in Istanbul, you can choose Moda Teras in this neighborhood.
Kadikoy has also become the center of nightlife in Istanbul in recent years. Especially around Kadife Sokak, there are bars that represent a wide variety of music genres. There are many options for those who like Rock, Jazz, Blues and House music.
The best places to stay in Kadikoy include luxury hotels such as DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul Moda and Wyndham Grand Istanbul Kalamis. If you want to have cheap accommodation, you can choose Khalkedon Hotel right next to fish market area.
Kadikoy is one of the most convenient and peaceful districts to live in Istanbul. It is quite safe compared to other places, but despite this, it is a place with a lively nightlife. For this reason, Kadikoy is the best place to stay in Istanbul for solo travelers.
Where to Stay in Istanbul 2020-2021 by Serhat Engul