Welcome to my Frequently Asked Questions about the best places to stay in Istanbul, you can see more about where to stay in Istanbul in this guide Best Areas to Stay in Istanbul.
- Where to Stay in Istanbul with the Family
- Where to Stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet
- Where to Stay in Istanbul on a Budget
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for Couples
- Where to Stay in Istanbul the First Time
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for Nightlife
- Where to Stay in Istanbul on the Asian Side
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for 3 Days
- Where to Stay in Istanbul Sultanahmet
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for Shopping
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for Tourists
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for your Honeymoon
- Where to Stay in Istanbul for One Night
- Where to Stay in Istanbul near an Airport
- How to Get around Istanbul
- Best Things to Do and See in Istanbul
- Best Time to Visit Istanbul?
Where to Stay in Istanbul with the Family
The main landmarks that most travelers put at the top of their list when visiting Istanbul are in Sultanahmet. If you are traveling as a family, the less you walk the better, especially if your children are young. It makes sense to stay in Sultanahmet if your aim is to see these highlights like Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.
After that, it is likely that you will enjoy Besiktas with its many nice cafes and restaurants. Dolmabahce is in Besiktas on the Bosphorus and over the road from the Vodafone Stadium, home of one of Istanbul’s soccer giants, Besiktas.
You will find good value hotels suitable for families in both these areas and across the European side in general:
Where to Stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet
Taksim Square is the acknowledged center of Istanbul with plenty of activity, day and night. The advantage it holds over all other parts on the European side is that there are regular buses taking passengers out to the two airports serving Istanbul.
Sultanahmet is the heart of what was the Ottoman city. The main landmarks in the whole of Istanbul are in Sultanahmet and all within walking distance. If you have Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Justinian Cistern on your list of things to see, you can walk between them all. With a Sultanahmet hotel, you are literally on their doorstep.
Where to Stay in Istanbul on a Budget
It is very much the same when it comes to finding budget accommodation in Istanbul. Sultanahmet and Besiktas provide plenty of choice. There are two other districts worth mentioning as well. Taksim is a convenient location for getting to either airport and has plenty of cheap accommodation as well.
An up and coming district across the Bosphorus, but just a ferry ride away from most of Istanbul’s highlights is Kadikoy. Certainly worth a look!
- Hanedan Hotel, Sultanahmet
- Great Fortune Hotel, Sultanahmet
- Hotel SultanHill, Sultanahmet
- Hotel Bosfora, Besiktas
Where to Stay in Istanbul for Couples
It is as much the things that couples should do in Istanbul as where they should stay. The famous landmarks are on the European sides and the areas mentioned above all have accommodation to suit a couple wanting a memorable holiday.
What they should investigate is dinner on a nighttime cruise on the Bosphorus. When the City is lit up at night, it is spectacular. Another great idea is dining in a rooftop restaurant with views on high. There are many quality hotels that can offer that.
16Roof Swissotel Restaurant & Bar in Besiktas is worth looking at closely.
Where to Stay in Istanbul the First Time
Few people become familiar with Istanbul until they have visited a few times. Unless there is a specific reason to visit and a particular location that you have to find, you should stay on the European side, and specifically in Sultanahmet, Besiktas or Taksim.
It means you will be close to the main attractions of the city. You will have plenty of accommodation and restaurant choices in these three areas and good transport links to get elsewhere.
Where to Stay in Istanbul for Nightlife
Taksim is recognized as the most vibrant area in the City. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs in this district. To be fair, there is activity aplenty in all the areas that welcome visitors to the City. Beyoglu is known far and wide for the quality of its nightlife.
You will not be disappointed if you are in Besiktas or over the Bosphorus in Kadikoy either.
Where to Stay in Istanbul on the Asian Side
Istanbul’s expansion from its early days has been on the Asian side. It is commercial and residential with limited attractions for tourists. One area that is becoming increasingly popular on the Asian side is Kadikoy.
It is located on the Bosphorus with regular ferries back and forth to the European side. It is a lively area with plenty of bars and restaurants as well as trendy boutiques and good shopping in general. It is important to remember that you will find that along other sections on the Bosphorus on the Asian side, you may not find alcohol being served.
In Kadikoy are DoubleTree by Hilton or the Holiday Inn are quality options while for budget accommodation, try Moda Hostel.
Where to Stay in Istanbul for 3 Days
While there is time to travel around Istanbul in 3 days, you will not be able to travel very quickly. You can see the highlights of Sultanahmet in a single day, walking around. It means that you do not necessarily need to stay there.
It is a good base however, as is Besiktas and Taksim. Taksim is particularly good for transfer connections and has its own metro station. In all three of these districts, you will find plenty of choice of accommodation, be close to the Bosphorus with lots of good eating places, casual or more formal.
Where to Stay in Istanbul Sultanahmet
You will walk less than a mile to get from the Topkapi Palace via Hagia Sophia and the Justinian Cistern to the Blue Mosque. In Sultanahmet, you are in the heart of Istanbul’s main highlights and the Grand Bazaar is less than a 15 minute walk away as well.
If you are looking for ideas of where to stay in Sultanahmet, here are some suggestions to start your search
Where to Stay in Istanbul for Shopping
In common with most of the world’s great cities, Istanbul is a shoppers’ paradise. You will find all the major fashion brands represented here, almost exclusively on the European side. There are many modern shopping malls as well throughout the City.
In addition, there are the atmospheric Bazaars, the Grand and the Spice. In a day, you will have no chance to cover more than a fraction of the Grand Bazaar’s shops.
It makes sense if you are in Istanbul and want to shop you should stay in areas such as Taksim, Beyoglu, Sultanahmet, Besiktas or Sisli.
Where to Stay in Istanbul for Tourists
The main reason that tourists visit Istanbul is to see the iconic landmarks from Byzantium times through to the Ottomans. They are largely in Sultanahmet and districts close by. It certainly makes sense to stay in districts like Sultanahmet, Besiktas, Beyoglu and Taksim to have easy access to Istanbul’s highlights.
Where to Stay in Istanbul for your Honeymoon
Istanbul may not seem like an obvious honeymoon destination but think on. You can enjoy some of the most iconic landmarks found anywhere. You can find hotels to suit your budget and romantic settings in the midst of a huge, frantic city.
You should stay on the European side. Best of all would be a room in a large hotel with views across the Bosphorus to Asia. If there is a rooftop restaurant with similar views, all the better.
Where to Stay in Istanbul for One Night
No time and so much to see! If you are just passing through Istanbul with an early flight to catch, you may have a dilemma. You will see nothing really by staying at either airport. Buses from Taksim run throughout the day and night out to both airports so if you put your alarm on, you should not miss your flight. Sultanahmet is the highlight of Istanbul so an early morning taxi to Taksim then the bus should get you to the airport on time. If you decide to stay in Taksim, get a taxi to Sultanahmet giving you a few hours to see the treasures of the area that the Ottomans made their home.
Where to Stay in Istanbul near an Airport
A new airport on the European side opened in April 2019. It is on the shores of the Black Sea, somewhat distant from the heart of the City. It is the headquarters of Turkish Airlines and has the majority of passenger traffic to and from Istanbul. It makes sense to stay closeby, especially to catch an early flight.
Sabiha Gokcen on the Asian side is the base for Pegasus, Turkey’s ever growing second airline. Many other international airlines like Qatar and Emirates use it. If you have an early flight, perhaps you should stay closeby?
- Istanbul Airport – YOTEL is very close but expensive. The best value may be Nidiya Hotel balancing price with proximity.
- Sabiha Gokcen Airport – ISG Airport Hotel or Hampton by Hilton
How to Get around Istanbul
There is a metro system in Istanbul but the vast majority of the routes are on the European side. The other options for getting around this busy city and the trams and buses, taxis, or in some cases the ferries on the Bosphorus depending on your journey.
Remember that traffic often moves very slowly in Istanbul, especially during the morning and evening rush hours. Consequently, leave plenty of time for your intended trip in order to arrive on time.
Even if you are a confident driver and regularly hire a car in foreign places, think twice before doing that in Istanbul. If you need a car for onward travel, it makes sense to get it as you leave the City, not to help you explore.
Best Things to Do and See in Istanbul
Istanbul has one of the most recognizable skylines in the world. One of the best ways to see it is on a ferry on the Bosphorus. One of the things you should do while in Istanbul is to sail and the Bosphorus and some of its most famous landmarks are part of the skyline you will see.
The European side is the place to head and how much you will see depends on the time you have available:
Topkapi Palace housed the Ottoman Sultans, their officials and administration as well as their harems. Tourists can enjoy the lovely gardens, set foot in the harem and see a range of wonderful exhibition rooms.
Justinian Cistern was built in the 6th Century by the Emperor Justinian to provide Constantinople with its water. It has been used several times in major films including ‘’From Russia with Love’’, and more recently ‘’Inferno.’’
Hagia Sophia began as a church and became a mosque when the Ottomans took Constantinople. Ataturk made it a museum but recently the Turkish Government has reverted it to a mosque. A wonderful building.
The Blue Mosque faces Hagia Sophia. It is a two minute walk and tourists are welcome other than at prayer times.
Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus became the home of the Ottoman Sultans in the 19th Century. It was furnished in the best that Europe had to offer including a huge 8 ton chandelier. It was also the place where the father of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk died in 1938.
The Grand Bazaar has 61 covered streets and 4,000 shops. Anything up to 400,000 visitors walk through its doors on a daily basis. It first opened in the 15th Century and was completed in 1730.
The Spice Bazaar has been open for business since the mid-17th Century. It has 85 shops, many concentrating on spices, Turkish Delight, other sweets, fruit and nuts.
Galata Tower is over 200 feet high and was finished in 1348. This medieval stone tower offers panoramic views of Istanbul and there are 2 elevators to get visitors to the viewing area.
There are street side cafes and restaurants throughout the City but you should head to Taksim for at least one evening. There are also many restaurants that look out onto the Bosphorus and selecting one of them for dinner is a great experience.
With limited time, your only visit across onto the Asian side may be to Kadikoy which has become increasingly popular in recent years. It has plenty of cafes and bars, and boutique shopping is good.
Best Time to Visit Istanbul?
Istanbul may have a southerly latitude relative to much of Europe but it does have poor winter weather. Rain and cold winds are regular, and snow does fall often. However, Istanbul is a city that is prepared for poor winters. It is also a city with major attractions and good shopping all twelve months of the year.
Spring and autumn are nice times to visit because temperatures will be comfortable and that is important if you intend to do much walking. Most tourists have that in mind, especially around Sultanahmet then perhaps to the Grand Bazaar that is 15 minutes away on foot.
Istanbul does have plenty of hot and sunny days in the summer and that is probably the season when most tourists visit. That means longer queues at the major landmarks. It is also a dettent to doing too much walking.
If you are traveling as a family, the summer may be your only choice but otherwise look to May and June or September and October. There will not be a huge difference between costs of accommodation, unless you are looking at mid-winter.
That’s my Frequently Asked Questions about the best places to stay in Istanbul. See more about Europe travel here: