No matter where you stay in Istanbul, you’re going to have a great time. This immortal city on the threshold between Europe and Asia has been attracting visitors from all parts of the world for around 2,000 years.
You just have to have a plan and decide what you want to do the most: learn about history, do some shopping, or just enjoy the innumerable streets of this endless city.
Why You Should Visit Istanbul
If the buildings and streets of Istanbul could talk, few cities in the world would have a more interesting story to tell.
With a history that stretches for more than 2,000 years, intersecting the ancient Greeks and Persians, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottomans, and changing a few names through time, Istanbul has seen it all.
Riches and splendor, misery and wars, civilization and barbarism, this great city on the isthmus of Europe and Asia speaks the universal history of humankind, with all its complexities and contradictions.
Formerly the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul is both the most populous city in Turkey and in Europe today, with more than 15 million people walking through its streets.
Speaking of numbers, it’s the 15th most populous city in the world. The crowds and the rustle and bustle of Istanbul are something you’ll never forget.
We recommend that you don’t use a car — stick either to public transport or to the strength of your feet. But Istanbul is not a historical being devoid of present interest. All of its areas are full of life, with numerous coffee shops, restaurants, shops, boutiques, and cultural institutions.
Istanbul is a living city, vibrant with energy and elan, always on the move, dynamic and loud. Its energy is addictive, as you’ll surely experience it on your skin in no time.
The 5 Best Parts of Istanbul
Istanbul is huge, stretching over two continents. It has no less than 39 districts, most of them on the European side. All of them are quite distinct yet similar to each other, united on the background of authentic Turkish culture.
However, some of them are more expensive, others cheaper; some are more traditional, and others more modern. We suggest that you make your choice based on your preferences, because Istanbul is huge, and you can’t see it all.
- Sultanahmet: The utmost center of the city, the place where you’ll see Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque and the best choice for first-time visitors.
- Eminonu: Located right next to Sultanahmet, here you’ll find the Grand Bazar, the Beyazıt Mosque, and a lot of family-friendly accommodations and atmosphere.
- Karakoy and Galata: North from the center of the city is the place where you go if you are searching for vibrant nightlife and a more modern and hipster lifestyle.
- Beyoglu: An authentic Istanbul area, famous for its red trams, pedestrian streets, and the famous Taxim square.
- Sisli: Located further up north, Sisli and its sub-district Nissantisi are the elite parts of the city, great for shopping and enjoying a more relaxed atmosphere.
The Best Areas & Hotels in Istanbul
Istanbul is full of hotels of all types and sizes, and it offers a lot of choices, no matter your preferences: budget, family-friendly, couples, or elite and expensive. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it no matter the district.
That being said, there are some differences worth noting between the districts. Sultanahmet is usually chosen for its proximity to the famous monuments, and it offers accommodations of all types, regardless of the quality and type.
The same holds for Beyogly, which is also quite versatile. Eminonu, on the other hand, doesn’t offer a lot of luxury options, but it’s full of cheap, family-friendly accommodations.
Finally, Karakoy, Galata, and Sisli are the most expensive areas on our list, with almost no one or two-star hotels but with plenty of mid-range or extremely expensive and luxurious options.
Sultanahmet, or Istanbul’s old town, is the most popular destination for tourists around the world for a reason. Here you’ll find the central — but not all — most famous and iconic monuments in the city.
It’s great for strolling and walking around since everything is within walking distance. That means that this part of Istanbul is the best choice for travelers visiting the city for the first time. Basically, just follow the attractions, and you won’t get lost.
First, you have to visit the two towering religious buildings of Istanbul: the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The “Holy Wisdom” is more than 1500 years old and one of the most beautiful places of worship in human history.
We don’t refer to it as a church or as a mosque because it’s been both for ages: first a Greek orthodox church, then a mosque, then a museum, and since 2022, a mosque again.
The Blue Mosque, on the other hand, is closely related to the Ottoman Empire. It was constructed in the early 16th century. It’s located next to the Hagia Sophia, and you can’t visit one without the other.
The next building in line is of a worldly character, namely the Topkapı Palace. It was the administrative and ruling center of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to the 19th century.
Today, it’s an important museum with a lot to offer: you can see the Harem, the treasure, a lot of clothes, jewelry, illustrated manuscripts, weapons, and armor — all of them telling the story of the Ottoman Empire.
There are a lot of other places to visit, but the ones we’d lastly single out are the Hipodrom, the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, the Basilica Cistern, and The Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
In terms of accommodation options in Sultanahmet, there’s a lot, ranging from budget to luxury. Everything in this area is about proximity to important things or buildings, so choose wisely and cheaply — most of the time, you’ll be outside anyway.
Things to Do
- Go to probably the most famous pair of religious buildings in the world. The again proclaimed mosque, Hagia Sophia, with its mosaics, marble doors and columns, and other important artifacts from the Byzantine era of Istanbul (then Constantinople). Then, go to The Blue Mosque.
- You’ll need a whole day to perceive the magnificent beauty of the Topkapı Palace, the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for around five centuries. Built by Mehmed the Conqueror a few years after taking the city, it’s an everlasting monument to the Empire, which ruled over a large portion of the world’s map.
- If you’re a museum type of person, Sultanahmet is the perfect place for you. We recommend the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, where you can learn a lot about the non-representative Muslim art of painting and decoration. If you’re more into ancient history, take a look at The Istanbul Archaeological Museums, with more than a million artifacts.
- Just take a relaxed and very slow walk along the Old City. It’s crowded, alive, and vibrating, surrounded by beautiful buildings and the sea. Wherever you are, you’ll surely be able to take a glimpse at the blue house of the Marmara Sea and the hot weather that usually accompanies Istanbul.
Where to Eat
- Las Tapas Restaurant is a 2022 Travelers’ Choice international and Turkish restaurant, suitable for every meal of the day. You can eat kebab, venison, different salads, and finish your meal with a tasty traditional dessert and a sweet Turkish coffee.
- Resto Ethnica is a restaurant proud of two things: its location, being in close proximity to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, and its food, an interesting mix of traditional Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. But the best thing you can eat here is definitely seafood.
- Gulhane Sark Sofrası is another 2022 Travelers’ Choice, mainly serving seafood prepared in Turkish and Mediterranean ways (which means a lot of interesting spices). They are also very proud that their food is healthy, and their menu boasts a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. Whatever you eat, you’ll get a complimentary tea and dessert.
Sultanahmet Budget Hotels
- Basileus Hotel is a very cheap hotel, located just 300 meters from the shores of Marmara Sea. The rooms are furnished in wood and are quite cozy and comfortable, equipped with private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and TVs. The hotel also has a laundry and ironing service.
- Otantik Guest House Hotel is a relatively cheap three-star hotel, located just one and a half kilometers from the Blue Mosque. Especially suitable for couples, this bed and breakfast accommodation offers rooms with private bathrooms and TVs, and, obviously, a complimentary breakfast every morning.
Sultanahmet Mid-Range Hotels
- Golden Royal Hotel is a great mid-range hotel, located just one kilometer from the Blue Mosque. The other attractions like the Topkapi Palace, the Suleymaniye Mosque, and the Old Bazar are at close proximity as well. The hotel offers room service and a tasty breakfast every morning.
- Kalyon Hotel Istanbul is a beautiful four-star hotel on Istanbul’s seafront within walking distance to the city’s great monuments. Each room has satellite TV, a desk, minibar, and a music set. There’s also a bar and a restaurant on the premises, with breakfast available every morning.
Sultanahmet Luxury Hotels
- White House Hotel Istanbul is a very luxurious five-star hotel with one of the best locations in the whole of Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, for example, are within walking distance. The hotel also has a bar and a restaurant on the premises, and the rooms have large flat-screen TVs.
- Hotel Amira Istanbul is another luxurious hotel located at the heart of Istanbul’s historical center. It offers one of the most beautiful lounge terraces in the city, overlooking the Marmara Sea. There’s a restaurant serving traditional Turkish food too on the premises, but also a bar, a spa, and a fitness center.
Right next to the Sultanahmet area lies Eminonu. It’s still in the utmost central area, but it offers something completely different.
If Sultanahmet offered the most important Istanbul monuments from the past, Eminonu gives you the living history and the lively culture of the everyday people.
Also, the area is quite cheap and affordable, making it a popular choice for budget travelers and families. You can’t say that you’ve visited a Muslim country unless you’ve taken a long stroll through its bazaar.
The aptly named Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) is one of the oldest and the biggest of its kind in the world. Its construction started in the middle of the 15th century, and it’s considered one of the first proto-modern shopping malls in history.
Unbelievably big, it covers an area of around 30,700 m2 and hosts more than 4,000 shops of different kinds and sizes. There’s no need to say that it’s the best place for shopping in Istanbul.
Eminonu is full of religious buildings of different religions and denominations — expressing the historical plurality of the city. The Beyazit Mosque is a 16th-century building located on Beyazit square.
There are two other mosques that are worth your time, namely the Rüstem Pasha Mosque from the 16th century and the New Mosque from the 17th century.
Then, there’s St. George’s Cathedral, a very old and beautiful building, which is famous for doing something completely different.
It was the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople — the leading institution for the Orthodox Christians (something like the Catholic St. Peter’s in Rome). Eminonu is a great place for tourists, mainly because of the shopping options and the accommodation.
You won’t find a lot of luxury options, but there’s a myriad of cheap three-star hotels and many budget options. That’s why the area is a usual choice for those visitors who want to stick to the center but don’t plan on spending a lot of money.
Things to Do
- In 2014 the Grand Bazaar was selected as the most visited tourist attraction in the world, with more than 90,000,000 people coming there every year. It’s unbelievably big and supplied to the point of exploding. Basically, there’s no better place to go shopping, since it has more than 4,000 shops that offer everything.
- If you’re a fan of Muslim art and architecture, Eminonu offers some of the most interesting mosques in Istanbul. Go to the 16th-century Beyazit Mosque in the nearby Fatih neighborhood, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, and then the New Mosque. We guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.
- For boat lovers, we recommend visiting the Eminonu Pier and hopping on a cruise through the magnificent Bosphorus. From the boat, you can experience the city in its true size and magnificence.
- Sultanahmet is probably best known as the historic district, but Eminonu also has its fair share of historical monuments. First, you’ll find the Tomb of Hatice Turhan Sultan, a famous mausoleum and the resting place of the queen-consort; then the tomb Tomb of Abdul Hamid I; the rich armenian and jewish districts; and the İşbank Museum, which is a famous museum of banking.
Where to Eat
- Coffeetopia Eminönü is a 2022 Travelers’ Choice classical European coffee place. It offers some of the best coffee in Istanbul — perfect to push you through a hard day of walking — and a lot of sweets; we particularly recommend the cheesecake.
- Hafiz Mustafa 1864 is an authentic and traditional coffee and tea place. You can have a small cup of sweet Turkish coffee or an even smaller cup of strong, red local tea. If you are in for something more, order the baklava, the kunefe, or some other traditional dessert.
- Yaka Balik Fish House is another 2022 Travelers’ Choice, offering a variety of types of seafood prepared in Mediterranean and Turkish styles. The fish is always fresh and displayed in a trolley. We recommend the sea bream and the shrimp. The wine, on the other hand, can be overpriced.
Eminonu Budget Hotels
- Primero Hotel is a cheap, budget hotel within a walking distance of every important central monument in Istanbul. The rooms have free Wi-Fi and free air conditioning, a wardrobe, flat-screen TVs, a coffee machine, and a minibar. There’s also a warm, tasty breakfast in the morning.
- Mansion Gorki is another very cheap accommodation option, located just half a kilometer from the famous Grand Bazar. All of the rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning, have private bathrooms with showers, and also have a small kitchenette. There’s a small restaurant on the premises too.
Eminonu Mid-Range Hotels
- Euro Design Hotel is a decent and not very expensive four-star hotel located in the heart of historical Istanbul. It offers a 24-hour front desk, free Wi-Fi in every nook of the hotel, airport shuttles, and room service. It also has a buffet that serves halal breakfast every morning.
- City Hall Hotel is a three-star hotel that offers non-smoking, nicely furnished rooms in the central area of Istanbul. For an extra charge, you can get a private parking spot, but the Wi-Fi and the air conditioning are completely free. There’s a terrace in the hotel, a bar, and a very nice breakfast.
Eminonu Luxury Hotels
- Meserret Palace Hotel is a gorgeous and very elegant four-star hotel. Just half a kilometer from the Spice Bazaar, it offers a restaurant and a bar on the premises and rooms designed in the Ottoman style with all the amenities, like free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and TVs.
- Peyk Hotel is another luxurious hotel located within walking distance of the major monuments of Istanbul’s historic center. It offers an airport shuttle that’ll take you directly from your plane, rooms furnished with all the regular amenities, and a great breakfast every morning.
3. Karakoy and Galata
We probably talked too much about history, culture, and beautiful architecture while we were presenting the previous two areas, and because of that, you may have gotten a distorted picture of Istanbul.
Istanbul is not only about history and museums — it’s a fun and vibrant city full of bars, coffee places, and clubs where you can have the time of your life.
The neighboring Karakoy and Galata are the places where you should go if you’re looking for a fun night out. In recent years — somewhere since 2010 —- Karakoy became the “hipster” part of Istanbul.
If you start digging, you’ll surely find it near the top of the list of the coolest parts in Istanbul. Almost every day, there’s a new club or a coffee place opening. The places usually serve interesting food till 22:00 PM, and after that, they transform into vibrant dance clubs.
Usually, the fun spills out on the street because the building can’t hold the ecstatic dancers and their huge numbers. We can recommend the most popular clubs in the two neighborhoods.
Here’s a list of clubs, in no particular order in relation to the quality:
- Galata Meyhanesi: a mixture of a restaurant and a pub.
- Maxigala: a great place for a couple of beers.
- Nardia Jazz Club: jazz music with a great selection of wines.
- Sensus: for tasty wine and quick bites.
- Atolye Kuledibi: pleasant bar with friendly service.
- U2 Istanbul Irish Pub: for a pint of Guinness.
- Kat Restaurant & Bar: a rooftop bar with a one-of-a-kind view.
- Indigo: a nightclub for some serious clubbing and shots.
Both Karakoy and Galata offer many accommodation options, mainly ranging from mid-range to luxurious.
There’s a wide variety of three-star hotels, for example. However, keep in mind that it’s not the cheapest area in Istanbul, and if you’re trying to stay on a budget, you should look for a more suitable place.
Things to Do
- People mostly come to Galata or Karakoy for the vibrant nightlife of this neighborhood, and the best thing you can do is to go out to a club, a coffee place, or a pub. There are quite a lot of them in these two “hip” neighborhoods.
- Go to the most important building in this area of Istanbul, the Galata Tower. Its origins date back to 800 years in the past when Istanbul was called Constantinople. Then, it was built by a Genoese colony. After the Ottomans conquered the city, it became a prison, and today, it is an interesting museum for Istanbul and the people who live (or have lived) in the city.
- Both Karakoy and Galata are hipster neighborhoods, and there’s nothing more in that spirit than Salt Galata. Formerly a bank, today it is converted into an interesting hybrid consisting of a library, a cafe, a shop, and an art museum. It’s very modern (or more precisely, postmodern) with a distinctive look.
- There’s one more out-of-the-ordinary thing to do in Karakoy, and that’s visiting and using a Turkish hamam. A continuation of the traditions of the Roman thermae, hamams are public steam baths where you can both clean and relax. The Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam is around half a millennium old, with a great historical interior and a nice decoration — a perfect place to have your first hammam experience.
Where to Eat
- Octo is a 2022 Travelers’ Choice, which offers seafood prepared in a traditional Mediterranean and Turkish way. They’re mostly proud of — aside from the food — their service and their beautiful view, and the reviews can’t stop talking about both of them. The restaurant is suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Vezenan is a versatile restaurant branding itself as a bar, a seafood restaurant, and a barbecue. A 2022 Travelers’ Choice, it’s a great place if you can’t really choose what you want to eat at the moment. We recommend you try the seabass and order a nice bottle of wine.
- Rakofoli is a traditional and modern Turkish barbecue and grill. Another Traveler’s Choice for 2022, the reviews won’t stop talking about two things: the perfect view of the sea and the tasty fresh food. We recommend that you try the tenderloin and chicken skewers.
Karakoy and Galata Budget Hotels
- The Wolf Hotel is a relatively cheap three-star hotel that has a lot to offer. There’s a 24-hour room service, concierge service, rooms furnished with flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. There’s also a halal breakfast every morning, a bar, a restaurant on the premises, and an airport shuttle available for your arrival.
- The Galataport Hotel is another relatively cheap but very decent hotel, this time located in the heart of the Galata area. Decorated in classical Ottoman style, it’s located just 200 meters from the famous Galata tower. It has a fabulous terrace with a city view and a nice restaurant on the premises.
Karakoy and Galata Mid-Range Hotels
- Weingart Istanbul is a beautiful four-star hotel that’s reasonably priced. All of the rooms have free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and a minibar. The hotel also provides ironing services for their guests, and there’s a tasty breakfast available at the buffet every morning.
- The Halich Hotel Istanbul Karakoy is another great four-star hotel, located just half a kilometer from the Galata Tower. All the rooms have free Wi-Fi and air conditioning, provide a comfortable seating area, and are equipped with flat-screen TVs. There’s also a restaurant, a bar, and a terrace on the premises of the hotel.
Karakoy and Galata Luxury Hotels
- JW Marriott Istanbul Bosphorus is a very luxurious five-star hotel with a perfect view of the sea. It offers a lot of amenities and facilities, such as a restaurant, a bar, a gym, a spa and wellness center, and a great continental breakfast every morning. There’s also a 24-hour room service.
- The Bank Hotel Istanbul, a Member of Design Hotels is a five-star hotel located in Karakay. The rooms are furnished with free Wi-Fi and minibars, and the hotel offers a restaurant, bar, fitness center, and a spa and wellness center. There’s a fabulous breakfast every morning, and the restaurant serves traditional Turkish dishes.
Beyoglu is a quintessential Istanbul neighborhood. We say that because it basically has it all: many tourist attractions, a lot of museums, a large number of clubs and bars, shops and shopping centers, squares, and a lot of different kinds of accommodation options.
It also has something every tourist looks for in a new city: a distinctive, unique look and atmosphere, serving as one of the main inspirations for Orhan Pamuk and his books.
The first thing that Beyoglu is known for are the historical red trams that go all around the district and near the water. You can find them on any older or newer postcard from Istanbul.
The second thing is probably the most important pedestrian street in the city, Independence Avenue (Istiklal Caddesi). Full of shops, restaurants, cafes, and antique shops, it brings both locals and tourists together at all times of the day.
The Taxim Square, located inside the Beyoglu neighborhood, is a major thing to visit too. Here you’ll find the Republic Monument, built in 1928 to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Independence of the then-new Turkish Republic.
Istanbul’s central Metro Station is also here, a major transportation hub from where you can go anywhere in Istanbul in no time. Beyoglu has its fair share of museums, but they’re completely different from those in Eminonu or Sultanahmet.
You can go to the Museum of Modern Art, which is not about Ottoman History or the great deeds of the sultans but about modern Turkish painting.
Then, there’s the truly distinctive and one-of-a-kind museum, called the Museum of Innocence. Working in pair with his famous, eponymous novel, it’s all about individual destinies and special memories. By the way, it won the 2014 European Museum of the Year Award.
Things to Do
- Beyoglu is probably the best neighborhood in Istanbul for simple strolling. Obviously, you have to do that on Independence Avenue, where you can browse the innumerable shops, check the restaurants, and peruse the antique shops, like a real native of Istanbul.
- If you consider yourself an antique hunter, and you can’t think of a better way of spending your time and money than searching endlessly through old books, pictures, and statues, go to the Beyoglu’s sub-district called Çukurcuma. This area has probably one of the highest concentrations of antique shops in the world.
- If you’re a museum lover, Beyoglu offers quite a lot of jewels for you to collect. Go to the Museum of Modern Art and find out that Turkish art history is more than beautiful old mosques and ornamental decoration.
- Spend a day at Taxim Square. It’s one of the most popular destinations in Istanbul, both for tourists and locals, for a reason. The square itself is quite nice and big and always crowded with people. The Metro Station is also here, a quite convenient starting point if you want to explore the further parts of Istanbul. Finally, some of the best shops, boutiques, and restaurants are found at Taxim.
Where to Eat
- Simit Sarayi is one of the most interesting bakeries in Istanbul, located in the heart of Beyoglu, right on Taxim Square. The simit, obviously, is great, but there are a lot of different pastries with cheese, meat, and sprinkled with different spices. It’s also a great place to have a cup of coffee or tea.
- Hafiz Mustafa 1864 is a 2022 Travelers’ Choice located on Taxim Square. It’s a classical Turkish coffee shop, which offers sweet and aromatic Turkish coffee, strong red tea that will heighten your senses, and many traditional and modern sweets and desserts. Obviously, you have to try the baklava and something else with pistachios.
- Cajun Cafe Brasserie is a great place if you want to take a small break from Turkish cuisine and especially Turkish spices. It’s an international restaurant where you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while looking at the crowds strolling up and down along Taxim Square. The staff is also friendly and very professional.
Beyoglu Budget Hotels
- Almadina Hotel Istanbul is a very cheap three-star hotel that offers quite a decent package at a very low price. Located just 400 meters from Taxim Square, it’s close to all the best shopping places in Istanbul, its rooms are furnished with free Wi-Fi and satellite TVs, and there’s also a restaurant on the premises of the hotel.
- Hotel Gritti Pera & Spa is a great three-star hotel that can be considered a budget option, only in a relative way. The price is not so high, but the place has the services and the amenities of a much more expensive place, like both a restaurant and a bar, and a spa and wellness center.
Beyoglu Mid-Range Hotels
- GalataCo Hotel is a more than great four-star hotel that comes at a price of a much cheaper hotel. The rooms have free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, and some of the rooms even have balconies with nice views. There’s also free parking near the hotel and a nice bar on the premises of the building.
- Midtown Hotel is another not-so-expensive four-star hotel, located just 100 meters from the famous Taxim Square. The place is also very close to numerous restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. The rooms are tastefully decorated and equipped with all the amenities, and the restaurant on the premises of the hotel boasts an award-winning chef specialized in Turkish cuisine.
Beyoglu Luxury Hotels
- Rixos Pera Istanbul is a very luxurious and beautiful five-star hotel, located among all the best shopping options in the Taxim area. Its rooms are elegantly furnished with all the amenities. There are three restaurants, a bar, a spa and wellness center, and a fitness center on the premises.
- Sofitel Istanbul Taksim is another very luxurious five-star hotel located in the Taxim area — just 200 meters from the Taxim Square. The hotel has both an indoor pool and a sauna, a bar and a restaurant on the premises, but also a fitness and a spa and wellness center. There’s also a halal breakfast every morning.
Just to the north of Beyogly and Taxim Square lies the huge area of Sisli. Covering around 30 square kilometers, it’s considerably newer in comparison to the other areas on our list.
Namely, it came into existence in the middle of the 19th century and quickly became one of the top locations for rich Istanbulites.
There’s another interesting fact about this area, especially its sub-district called Nissantisi: the neighborhood is quite secular, and you won’t find many religious buildings, but the place is crowded with shops, boutiques, and coffee places.
Sisli is great for shopping in quite a different way than the bazaars in the center of the city. You’ll find a lot of high-end shops and boutiques on both Nisantasi and Rumeli streets.
Don’t try to bargain here because the commercial culture in these areas is not traditional and bazaar-like.
If, on the other hand, you want something more systematic and concentrated, visit the Cevahir Mall, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Lovers of culture, especially of theater and music, have a lot to choose from in Sisli.
There are two concert halls — the Cemal Resit Rey concert hall and Lutfi Kirdar concert hall — and both of them are quite great.
There are also a lot of cinemas if you fancy seeing a movie. We didn’t talk much about parks in the previous segments, but Sisli, Nisantasi, and the surrounding areas have something to offer in that regard.
The Maçka Demokrasi Parkı in Nisantasi is a nice place for recreation and walking; the Yıldız Park in nearby Besiktas offers lush nature and an Ottoman palace; and there’s also the Taksim Gezi Park located to the south of Sisli.
Sisli is not a cheap neighborhood. It’s better to put it plainly and say that it’s probably the most expensive area in our guide.
You’ll find a lot of luxurious and high end hotels in Sisli and many elite and fancy restaurants. It’s quieter and calmer in relation to the other parts of Istanbul, and if you don’t mind paying more, we recommend this neighborhood.
Things to Do
- If you want to experience a different type of shopping, we recommend that you stroll along Nisantasi and Rumeli streets. If you want an even more modern option, go to the Cevahir Mall.
- Istanbul is not famous for its parks but for its mosques, castles, and bazaars. Sisli is an interesting exception to this rule. Have a relaxing walk or a picnic in The Maçka Demokrasi Parkı in Nisantasi. Or, if you don’t mind walking an extra mile, go to the Taksim Gezi Park to the south or to Yıldız Park in the east in nearby Besiktas.
- Istanbul has become a giant in every sense of the term. That always reflects in terms of sports, especially football. Sisli houses the Nef Stadium, which is the home stadium of the Turkish football giant Galatasaray. A fun fact: it was the first stadium in Turkey that met the requirements for the 2016 European Cup.
- If you want to listen to some live music, watch a play, or watch a movie, Sisli is the right choice for you. A very cultured and emancipated neighborhood, it has two great and large concert halls: the Cemal Resit Rey concert hall and Lutfi Kirdar concert hall.
Where to Eat
- Avokado Bar is a 2022 Travelers’ Choice, which is, obviously, all about avocado in every shape and size. Every dish is made from non-processed, high-quality, local ingredients, with a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. The coffee beans are also curated, and the coffee itself is both strong and aromatic.
- Meat & Meet is another 2022 Travelers’ Choice. A perfect choice for every meat lover, this steakhouse serves different kinds of steaks, koftes, and chicken prepared in a traditional Turkish way. The salads and the soups are great too.
- Nisantasi Baskose is the third 2022 Travelers’ Choice on our list, and this time we are talking about a bar that also serves authentic and traditional Turkish food. The kebab is obviously great, but if you’re having second thoughts about the order, don’t be shy and ask the waiter — the staff is really friendly.
Sisli Budget Hotels
- Istanroom by Keo is a nice, not very expensive three-star hotel in an elite neighborhood. Every room has free Wi-Fi, free air conditioning, private bathrooms, and flat-screen TVs with satellite channels. There’s also a lift in the hotel and room service.
- Sisli MLS Hotel is a decent and very cheap two-star hotel, located just 500 meters from Cevahir Shopping Centre. Every room has a private bathroom and a TV, and there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the premises of the hotel. The bar serves both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, and there’s a terrace where you can enjoy them after a hard day of walking.
Sisli Mid-Range Hotels
- La Palace Exclusive Design is a very nice three-star hotel that offers free Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, air conditioning, a shared lounge, and a beautiful garden. The rooms have a view of the city, a sitting area, and TVs with satellite channels. The hotel is especially suitable for couples or families.
- Montagna Hera Hotel Taksim is another three-star hotel with a great location, being close to shopping centers and venues. All of the rooms in the hotel offer views of the city and have TVs with cable channels, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. There’s also a bar on the premises, and a nice breakfast is served every morning to start the day.
Sisli Luxury Hotels
- Wyndham Grand Istanbul Levent is a very expensive and very luxurious five-star hotel, built in such a way as to give direct underground access to many shopping places and areas in Sisli. It has two swimming pools — one indoor and one outdoor — a fitness center, and a spa and wellness center on the premises. There are no less than seven dining places in the hotel.
- The St. Regis Istanbul is probably the most expensive and most luxurious five-star hotel in the wider area. Located in the center of the Nisantasi area — a very luxurious district — it’s full of sculptures and paintings by famous Turkish artists. The restaurant on the top floor of the hotel, Spago, is very exclusive, with the famous chef Wolfgang Puck at its helm.
So, Where Should You Stay in Istanbul?
Putting a dot on a guide about an infinite and immortal city is not easy, but we have to stop somewhere. Now that we’ve reached the end, let’s do a quick recap.
Sultanahmet is the most central area of the city, the place where you’ll see the most important historical attractions of the city — like the mosques, palaces, and museums — and that’s why it’s the perfect choice for people who come to Istanbul for the first time.
Eminonu expresses the rustle and the bustle of Istanbul since it’s the location of the famous Grand Bazaar. It’s great for shopping and bargaining if you don’t mind the crowds, and it’s definitely the cheapest and most family-friendly area in our guide.
Karakoy and Galata are the hipster parts of Istanbul. Located to the north of the center of the city, they offer cool coffees and restaurants, modern and even postmodern culture, and the best and most vibrant nightlife in Istanbul.
Beyoglu is the perfect Istanbul district. Versatile, modern and traditional, new and old, here you’ll find the iconic red trams, the perfectly walkable pedestrian streets, a lot of antique shops, and the unforgettable Taxim square.
Sisli is the elite and up-and-coming part of Istanbul. Together with its sub-district Nissantisi, they represent the mostly secular parts of the city, with a lot of high end restaurants and shops and a wide range of available parks for relaxation and recreation.
So, with so much to see and do, and no bad places to stay, what are you waiting for — book your trip to the gorgeous city of Istanbul today!