Istanbul is a very admirable and highly interesting place to visit and there’s lots of great Istanbul neighborhoods to stay in. It is home to more than 13 million people who are all diverse when it comes to their personalities and characteristics. Istanbul is around 2,000 sq. miles in area and is also considered to be among the biggest Mediterranean cities. The city has experienced exponential growth since the half of 20th Century particularly because of the migration of people from Anatolia.
When you have decided to visit Istanbul, we recommend that you don’t just stay in one place. You need to try some of the best neighborhoods in Istanbul to get a deeper understanding of the Istanbul way of life. You also have to try going on great walking tours so as to discover the wealth and majesty of the land. Below we have our list of the best Istanbul neighborhoods to stay in during your time in Turkey.
Sultanahmet And Eminönü
The Sultanahmet and Eminönü are both considered to be the center or tourist activities in the entire Istanbul. It is always first in the itinerary of visitors because most of the main attractions are found in these places. Apart from the historical wonders and artistic creations that can be found here, you will also love the place because of the variety of modern establishments for recreation and leisure. Hotels actually abound in the area and is some of the best places to stay in Istanbul. Among the choices for accommodations are the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Basilica Cistern, and the Topaki Palace. Apart from the hotels, you may also engage in the gastronomic adventure by visiting the many restaurants that are located in the area.
Karakoy Or Galata
Galata or more popularly called now as Karakoy is located within the district of Beyoglu. The place is the best Istanbul neighborhood for those who are looking for an experience of the local culture. What you will surely love with Karakoy are its busy streets that are filled with souvenir shops and walking tourists. I also felt truly welcome in the neighborhood since everyone was so kind and no one treated me differently. I had the chance to visit the Istanbul Modern Museum which provides an exhibit to some of the most significant development in Istanbul.
If you want to know how the locals live their everyday lives, you must not miss including Sisli in your itinerary. Sisli is a very busy place because it is where most of the commercial activities happen. It looks like other modern streets that are filled with establishments such as financial banks, shopping malls, buildings, and more. If you are a shopping enthusiast, it is worth knowing that the second largest shopping mall in the entire world, Cevahir Istanbul, is actually located in Sisli. The economic development and infrastructure modernization of the place is very evident most especially when compared with other parts of Istanbul. This is one of the best neighborhoods in Istanbul for those that love the local mode of transportation because the subway is definitely operating well.
Unlike the other parts of Beyoglu that feature local traditions, Tarlabasi is a bit different and unique. You can find this place in the bigger district of Beyoglu. It has a very distinct vibe culturally because of the Greek influences and the Armenian traditions that are very notable. If you get excited about diversity, then Tarlabasi will surely satisfy you. It is the melting pot for various ethnic groups that compose Istanbul. You will find people whose roots are traced to the Kurds, the Romans, and even the Turks. You will also be amazed how evident the demarcation lines of the different sectors of the society in this particular place. You may be disheartened to see how transsexuals and sex workers can be so marginalized in Tarlabasi.
Fener, Balat, and Eyüpf
If you have enough time, I suggest that you also go on a walking tour through these lesser visited neighborhoods of Fener, Balat, and Eyup. The places are highly interesting because they will open you to a lot of adorable facts about the locals of Istanbul. These places are not the usually visited destinations of tourists. You will hardly see any foreigner in the location because it is mostly populated by the locals. This makes it more interesting to visit because you will get to personally experience an authentic way of life for the locals. You have to check out the Jewish Quarters and the Greek Quarters that are characterized by winding streets that are made of cobblestones. This is one of the best Istanbul neighborhoods to stay.
There are different mosques and synagogues to visit. Be sure to be considerate of and sensitive to the different religious practices of the local population when you decide to visit their holy places of worship. You must never miss going to the Church of St. George which you can find in the Sadrazam Ali Pasa Avenue. This establishment is more than an architectural feat that features precious gold materials and sculptures. It is also considered as one of the holiest places for those who are in the Greek Orthodox Religion. It is even considered as the Vatican of some locals. What makes this church more captivating is the belief that the original cross of Jesus is actually placed inside the establishment.
Kadikoy Or Asian Side
After some local culture exploration, it is time to have fun. You must include the Kadikoy to your itinerary because it is the perfect place for those who would like to experience the luxurious life in Istanbul. This place has seen significant growth in terms of the increase in business establishments. You will surely have fun as you go on a shopping spree to its boutiques. The restaurants in the place also abound with delicious selections from local to international dishes.
It is also in Kadikoy where you will be able to witness some of the most glamorous entertainment productions. If you will go on observing the area, you will notice that wealthy people flock Kadikoy. It is a haven for the rich citizens of Istanbul because of the variety of commercial establishments present and also the luxurious vibe that the entire place offers. Despite its popularity among the rich locals, you will discover that there are still good deals in the place. Because it is on the Asian side, you will be surprised that some products come at a lot cheaper rate. Even the modes of transportation also come at cheap prices.
You surely have heard about the Ottoman Empire, right? When you go to Istanbul, you must make sure that you get a glimpse of the past. The perfect place for discovering more about the Ottoman Empire is Princes’ Island. It is located in the Sea of Marmara which can be accessed from either the European side or the Asian side of Istanbul. It is believed to have served as a place for the exiles of the Ottoman Empire. Apart from some historical adventure, you could also visit the islands for some peace and quiet time. You could get to the islands by riding a ferry and you will surely not regret it when you set your foot on the sand. The environment is very close to nature since no automatic vehicles are allowed to enter the islands.
You can either just ride a buggy or get on a horse if you want to explore the place further. The islands can become very busy during the days of summer because the locals come here for some relaxation. But during non-peak hours on weekdays, you will be very fortunate to enjoy a peaceful opportunity for basking under the sun. The serenity and beauty of the islands simply allow the visitors to relax, meditate, and think about different matters in their lives.