Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels

Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, located in the Bosphorus Strait, between Europe and Asia, is the cultural, economic and financial center of the country. With over 15 million inhabitants, it is one of the largest megacities in the world. Finding a good, inexpensive place to stay is easy enough, but you need to know which are the best areas to sleep in Istanbul.

The city attracts more than 9,5 million visitors a year thanks to its unique location, rich history and colossal cultural heritage.

Istanbul has several UNESCO World Heritage listed neighborhoods and a multitude of historical monuments. Be it historical, bourgeois, popular or commercial districts, the city can offer you a variety of different atmospheres from one district to another and a varied offer of accommodation.

Where to sleep in Istanbul the best areas

Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels
Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey - Photo from Istock

To discover Istanbul it is useful to know its geography. The city is divided into two parts, the western European and the eastern Asian and the Bosphorus Strait marks the border between these two areas.

In general terms, the Asian side it is less touristy, although neighborhoods like Kadıköy are a good option to stay, regardless of distance from the center and other circumstances.

La european part instead it is the one most visited by tourists because it houses the main monuments and places of tourist interest. But, in addition, this same part of Europe has another division of its own, marked by a historic estuary, a kind of spectacular natural harbor that extends into the ground. It is the legendary Golden Horn (Estuary).

The Golden Horn divides the European area into two halves considered "modern Istanbul" to the north and "old Istanbul" to the south. Both areas have their own peculiarities, and are equally interesting for the tourist when he chooses between the various districts.

The best areas to sleep in Istanbul are on the European side. The most popular neighborhoods are:

♦ Sultanahmet and Eminönü, for those who want to stay close to tourist attractions

Karakoy / Galata and near Taksim Square for those looking for lively, shopping areas with good restaurants and nightlife.

However, there are other areas further away from the center where you can sleep in Istanbul, which can be very interesting. The distances among the main monuments they are not overly large and the city is safe enough to walk leisurely at different times of the day.

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Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels
Hagia Sophia - Image from Pixabay

Without a doubt, Sultanahmet is the tourist district par excellence, in the Fatih district, the heart of “old Istanbul”.

The main factor that leads you to stay in this neighborhood is its location. The traveler is within walking distance of major monumental tourist attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar Basilica Cistern or Topkapi Palace.

Furthermore theoffer of accommodation is very diverse and you can find cheap hotels, boutique hotels and even luxury hotels. Many of them have beautiful terraces from which to enjoy the views of the Bosphorus, the mosques and the sunset of the city.

Sleeping in Sultanahmet means being able to visit the heritage of Istanbul on foot, but you need to work your way through the hordes of visitors that flock to the area every day.

However, Sultanahmet has a great face less animated at nightfall. Those expecting evening entertainment should choose another area. Likewise, his predominantly tourist character it does not help fully satisfy those who seek to experience the authentic daily life of the inhabitants of this great city.

But if you are traveling with children or have little time to visit the city, this is one of the best areas to sleep in Istanbul.

Why choose it: it is the historic center, so you are just a few minutes walk from the main attractions.

Weakness: it is extremely touristy and very busy. Also, it's not a very lively area at night. Another fact, no less important, is that it is usually the most expensive area in Istanbul.

  • Find a hotel in Sultanahmet

Sirkeci / Eminonu

Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels
Spice sales in Istanbul - Image from Pixabay

Adjacent to Sultanahmet, Eminönü is another of the historic districts that is part of the Fatih district. It is another tourist area of ​​ancient Istanbul, very close to the main monuments, and marked by the presence of the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.

Furthermore, Eminönü is located on the coast of the Golden Horn, alongside the legendary Galata Bridge, a very short distance from “modern Istanbul” on the other side. This location makes the neighborhood a communication highlight.

Here it is the most important ferry station around the Bosphorus and also important metro and bus stations, essential not only for tourists but also for the daily use of millions of Istanbul citizens.

Eminönü also houses several government buildings and the main campus of Istanbul University. Consequently, the visit of the area during the day is very lively.

In conclusion, it is ideal for sightseeing, but at sunset Eminönü becomes a very quiet neighborhood. Sleeping in Istanbul in this neighborhood is very similar to sleeping in nearby Sultanahmet.

  • Find a hotel in Eminönü

Beyoğlu (also known as Pear)

Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels
Galata Tower in Istanbul - Image from Pixabay

This area is also located on the European side of Istanbul, but on the other side of the Golden Horn if we come from Sultanahmet. It is our favorite neighborhood because combines everything a traveler needs: location, price, dining options, entertainment and local life.

The location is strategic: with the pedestrian street Istiklal and Galata Tower as a main attraction. You will not be far from the ferry terminal to go to the Asian side, and you can also walk to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are a little further away, so it's best to take a bus to get there.

Why choose it: is the bohemian area, where you can meet street performers on Istiklal Cadesi at all times, and there is a good atmosphere both day and night. It is also a 'great area to buy local products at a great price, or to find much cheaper designer clothes, shoes and accessories.

In addition, there are many coffee shops or tea houses for all tastes. Just look for one with a terrace and enjoy the beautiful sunsets of the city.

The weak point: it is a bit far from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.

Recommendations on where to stay: when looking for accommodation in this area it is best to see if it is close to the Galata Tower so as not to be too far from the main attractions.

  • Trova un hotel a Beyoğlu

Karakoy / Galata

Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels

Karaköy, or Galata, as it is also known, is one of the districts of the Beyoğlu district, north of the Golden Horn. Marked by the imposing presence of the Galata Tower and at the foot of the Galata Bridge, it is a popular neighborhood with charm, characterized by narrow and steep streets.

In this district, commerce is the main daytime activity and at night it is frequented by the youngest who flock to its bars and terraces. Following in the footsteps of the district to which it belongs, this waterfront neighborhood has become a neighborhood very active, with several trendy hotels and restaurants.

Its varied offer of accommodation is already a good reason to choose this area to sleep in Istanbul.

  • Find a hotel in Karakoy

Piazza Taksim

From the Beyoğlu district, crossing the emblematic Istiklâl street, you reach Taksim Square. Favorite place for public events and social celebrations is a 'important commercial and tourist area and suitable for leisure time, recognized for the large number of restaurants, shops and hotels.

There are restaurants of all categories and for all tastes, as well as entertainment venues, which are open practically all day. There are always a lot of people, with a grande mix multiculturale.

In and around Taksim there are hotels of all kinds, with a more Western style. Here you will find some of the most luxurious establishments in Istanbul and the large hotels of the major chains, making it a very attractive area to sleep in Istanbul.

The main disadvantage is the remoteness of the most emblematic monuments but it is a lot well connected to the rest of the city. There are all kinds of public transport, so getting to the historic center won't be a problem.

Its weak point: we move away from the main tourist attractions of the historic center. It can be very noisy at night.

  • Find a hotel near Taksim Square


Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels
Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul - Turkey - Photo from Istock

Beşiktaş is another of the districts of Istanbul. In general, it is a rich area, dominated by the presence of the great Dolmabahçe Palace. Its main street is the Barbaros Bulvari avenue, through which you enter the ports of the Bosphorus, the main departure points for the ferries that cross it.

It's a neighborhood very interesting for shopping, and it is by no means as touristy as the old town, something ideal for learn about local life more closely and discover aspects such as real typical food.

Its streets are very lively and full of bars, restaurants and cafes. Although it is an expensive area, it is possible to find more affordable hotels than in the center.

Its strong point: you will know a different aspect from the classic “ancient Istanbul” and you will see very few tourists.

The weak point: it is quite far from Pera and Sultanahmet so you will probably have to take bus or taxi more times than you want.


Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels

Kadıköy is one of the most underrated neighborhoods in Istanbul. It must be said that its decentralized position to the east, on the Asian side of the city, and the small number of historic buildings in the area, do not play in its favor. Yet it is one of the most pleasant neighborhoods to visit.

It is full of small cafes where the youth of Istanbul come to have tea in the evening. It has a simple and authentic side.

It is a young neighborhood and there are not many tourists, therefore the prices are not high. On the other hand, it is not the best area to sleep in Istanbul if you are staying in the city for a few days, it is out of the way and you may waste too much time in transport.

Its strong point: you will see a much more traditional version of Istanbul, accommodation is usually cheaper, and the ferry ride that takes you from the European area is an attraction in itself. Although the atmosphere is very lively, it is much quieter than in the Taksim area.

The weak point: The ferry stops running around midnight, so the only means of transport you have after that time is by taxi or Dolmus (shared van).

Beyazit / Laleli

Within the same district of Fatih there are other interesting accommodation alternatives, such as the Beyazit and Laleli districts, close to the tourist area of ​​Istanbul, but with a local character. These areas have a good supply of hotels and are very well served by means of transport.

Beyazit it's a very popular neighborhood located between the Grand Bazaar and the University of Istanbul. Featuring typical streets, traditional shops, tea shops and cafes, it offers a broader view of city life, behind the scenes of the tourist windows.

In addition, as you get closer to the Bosphorus, the offer of restaurants with authentic Turkish cuisine increases. The key point of the neighborhood is the charming Beyazit Square, with the Moschea Sulaymaniyah, a XNUMXth century masterpiece surrounded by numerous cafes and terraces with reasonable prices.

The district of Laleli it is less than 10 minutes walk from the historical center of “old Istanbul”. Here you will find a good hotel offer but you will not find hordes of tourists crowding its streets.

Again, a common feature in this area, Laleli's night presents very few opportunities for recreation.

  • Find a hotel in Beyazit
  • Find a hotel in Laleli
Where to sleep in Istanbul: the best neighborhoods and hotels
Hagia Sophia Basilica in Istanbul, Turkey - Photo from Istock
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