Where to Stay in Istanbul First Time 2023 – Best Areas & Neighborhoods

Where to stay in Istanbul for first-timers? for families, couples. In this guide, I will help to find the best areas to stay in Istanbul (include video and map), the advantages and disadvantages of each area, best hotels in Istanbul for all budgets, and safest places to stay in Istanbul.

Istanbul is a sprawling city where the east meets the west, it is definitely well worth a visit. It is not Turkey’s capital but it is comfortably the Turkey’s largest and most important city. While it has grown enormously from its early history many centuries ago, it is still the smaller European side that is the major attraction.

Istanbul is divided by the Bosphorus straits into European side and Asian side. European side is where most of the more famous tourist attractions are, especially around Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.

Sultanahmet, Taksim, Eminonu, Fatih, and Ataturk International Airport are in European side. Asian side is much less touristy, quieter, more residential, lot greener, more scenic than in European side. Kadikoy, Moda, and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport are in Asian side.

Where to stay in Istanbul for first-time visitors?

The best areas to stay in Istanbul for first-timers and tourists are Sultanahmet, Taksim, Bazaar District, Galata, Karakoy, Besiktas, and Sisli. These are popular and safe neighborhoods, offering a wide range of attractions and amenities.

Sultanahmet is the heart of Istanbul’s historic district and home to many of the city’s most famous attractions like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern.

Sultanahmet and Taksim are the two most popular areas to stay in Istanbul. Sultanahmet (Old Town) is the best overall area for first-timers and those interested in historical sites and relaxed vibe. Taksim (New Town) is the best base for travelers seeking a modern area with vibrant nightlife and shopping.

To book hotels, I recommend spend at least three to five days in the city, which is enough to see the most famous tourist attractions, enjoy kebab, Turkish coffee, and get the sense of local culture and history. If you have more time, you will see the city in a slower pace and more relaxing!

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Sultanahmet
💎 Best luxury hotel:Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Radisson President Beyazit Istanbul
💰 Best budget hotel:Peyk Hotel

Map of areas and neighborhoods in Istanbul:

Where to Stay in Istanbul Map of Best Areas & Neighborhoods
Where to Stay in Istanbul Map of Best Areas & Neighborhoods
Where to Stay in Istanbul First Time
Where to Stay in Istanbul First Time
Where to Stay in Istanbul First Time
Where to Stay in Istanbul First Time

Overviews of best areas to stay in Istanbul for first-time tourists

Here is an overview of recommended areas in Istanbul for first-time visitors:

Best areas in Istanbul for first-time tourists Why should you stay in this area?
Sultanahmetis the historic heart of Istanbul and is home to iconic landmarks like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. It offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and local charm.
TaksimLocated in the modern part of the city, Taksim Square is a bustling hub with numerous hotels, restaurants, and shopping options. It’s a vibrant area known for its nightlife, cultural events, and proximity to Istiklal Avenue.
Bazaar DistrictNestled between Sultanahmet and Taksim, the Bazaar District is famous for the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Staying here gives you easy access to traditional shopping experiences and cultural attractions.
GalataSituated on the European side of Istanbul, Galata is a trendy neighborhood known for its bohemian atmosphere. It offers a mix of historic sites, hip cafes, art galleries, and boutique shops. The Galata Tower provides panoramic views of the city.
KarakoyAdjacent to Galata, Karakoy is a vibrant waterfront district with a lively food scene, trendy bars, and cafes. It’s a great area to explore Istanbul’s contemporary art scene and enjoy panoramic views of the Bosphorus.
BesiktasLocated on the European side, Besiktas is a lively area with a rich history. It’s known for its bustling fish market, lively streets, and vibrant nightlife. From Besiktas, you can easily reach popular attractions like Dolmabahce Palace and Ortakoy.
SisliSituated on the European side, Sisli is a modern and upscale area with numerous shopping malls, luxury hotels, and business centers. It’s a great choice for those seeking a more cosmopolitan and upscale experience.

Best areas to stay in Istanbul for first-time tourists are:

1. Sultanahmet

Where to Stay in Istanbul: Sultanahmet
Sultanahmet

Sultanahmet, also known as Istanbul Old Town, is the best overall area to stay in Istanbul for first-time travelers due to its central location and proximity to Istanbul’s top tourist attractions such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, and Spice Bazaar.

Staying here allows you to be located the middle of everything, within walking distance to the most famous sights, as well as some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and shops.

Located in the region of Fatih on the south side of the Golden Horn, Sultanahmet is the historical and cultural heart of Istanbul. There are many tourist attractions here that you can easily explore on foot or on public transport.

Sultanahmet has a distinct old-world charm with its cobblestone streets, traditional architecture, and narrow alleys. It offers a unique ambiance that’s different from the more modern parts of the city.

Istanbul Old Town was the heart of the Ottoman Empire once Sultan Mehmet II took Constantinople in 1453. Some of the landmarks you must see had already been there for around eight centuries before Mehmet’s arrival. They include:

  • The Basilica Cistern was constructed in the time of Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian in the 6th Century to supply water for Constantinople.
  • Hagia Sophia was built at a similar time with the Ottomans changing it to a mosque.
  • The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) just yards away is formally known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque and was not built until the early 17th Century.
  • The Imperial Ottoman Topaki Palace was begun by Mehmet II six years after he took Constantinople and was added to over the years. Despite the Sultans moving to Dolmabahce Palace in the mid-19th Century, it is Topkapi that is recognized as the heart of the Ottoman Empire at its height.

These four attractions appear on every good Istanbul itinerary. The fact that they are located so close together makes it easy to enjoy Sultanahmet without having to worry about the busy traffic in Istanbul. The abundance of sights, places to eat, shop, well-connected metro make it an ideal place for first-time visitors.

There’re several museums in Istanbul Old Town to learn more about the history of Istanbul including the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Carpet Museum, Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, and Hagia Sophie Church and Museum.

The Old Town is also home to the Gulhane Park, House of Roses Park in Turkish, which is the oldest urban park in Istanbul. In the Tulip Festival, the park is packed with colorful tulips and roses.

The hammam (Turkish bath) played a vital role in the life of Istanbul before each home had its own water. You can get the hammam experience at Hürrem Sultan, Cağaloğlu and Çemberlitaş in Sultanahmet.

One restaurant to go to is close to the Cistern and sells kofte(meatballs) with salad and bread, but no alcohol. Sultanahmet Koftecisi has been doing that since before the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Pandeli and Balikci Sabahattin are also famous restaurants and taverns to try some authentic Turkish and Greek cuisine.

While Sultanahmet offers plenty to do during the day, its nightlife options are relatively limited compared to other parts of Istanbul. If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, you might need to venture to other areas like Taksim.

Sultanahmet has a high concentration of hotels with plenty of budget-priced and mid-range hotels, a few luxury options, and boutique-style guesthouses. Due to its popularity, hotels and restaurants in Sultanahmet can be more expensive compared to other areas in Istanbul.

Overall, Sultanahmet is an excellent area to stay in Istanbul for first-timers, travelers visiting Istanbul for a short time (1-2 days) and visitors seeking easy access to major landmarks.

Stay in Sultanahmet if you are first-timers; you want to stay within walking distance to prime attractions; you want to stay in a hotel with the best views of the mosques; you want the laidback vibe and not worry about the nightlife.

Best places to Stay in Istanbul Sultanahmet for first-timers:

luxury ($$$): Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton, 5-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in the heart of Istanbul for first-time visitors, families, and couples. It is located between Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace, only a 10-minute walk from the traditional shopping district of Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.

mid-range ($$): Radisson President Beyazit Istanbul, 4-star family-friendly and eco-friendly hotel, centrally located in Sultanahmet, within easy walk from major sights such as the Cemberlitas Hammam, Grand Bazaar, and Beyazit Tram Station, making it an ideal location for first-timers to explore the city.

budget ($): Peyk Hotel, 3-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in Istanbul on a budget. Located in the heart of Historic Peninsula, a short walk from historic sites such as Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, as well as the tram station, offering links to central sites of the city.

2. Taksim

best area to Stay in Istanbul: Taksim
Taksim

While Sultanahmet is the historical center of old Istanbul, Taksim is the heart of modern Istanbul. Both are located on the European side of Istanbul, but separated by the Golden Horn and linked to each other by the Galata Bridge.

Taksim is the best place to stay in Istanbul if you are after a great shopping and vibrant nightlife. Sultanahmet is the best choice if you want to do lots of sightseeing and learn about the country’s history.

Despite being part of the larger area of Beyoglu, Taksim deserves a separate mention because it is regarded as the hub of the European side of Istanbul. It is located above the Bosphorus, directly up the steep hill from the Dolmabahce Palace and the Vodafone Stadium. 

It is home to plenty of budgets and mid-range accommodation as well as top-quality hotels such as Hyatt, Sofitel, or Hilton, many can offer stunning views over the Bosphorus. 

Taksim Square is is a meeting point into which coaches travel from both Istanbul airports. It was constructed in the 19th Century before the formation of the Turkish Republic. The Taksim Republic Monument was built in 1928, by Pietro Canonica, in honor of the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

The Independence Monument in a circle at the south end was erected in 1928, honoring Kemal Ataturk. Gezi Park to the north was built on the site of former barracks and is a popular meeting place for locals, as well as the starting point or destination of demonstrations and political protests.

There are many restaurants, bars, clubs, pubs, shops hotels around the square and the nearby Istiklal Street. The Taksim Square also hosts popular events such as New Year’s Eve, parades or concerts.

You can explore the area by taking a ride on the red nostalgic tram, which was first installed in the 19th century. Taksim Square is well-connected to public transportation, including metro M2 line, funicular, and tram.

Other places of interest are Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, St. Anthony of Padua Church, and Pera Museum.

Anyone who is unfamiliar with Istanbul and wants the comfort of knowing they can easily get on a bus direct to the airport, day and night, should think seriously about Taksim. It’s well-connected with the airport.

Stay in Taksim if you want convenient connections to either airport; you enjoy the nightlife and shopping; you are looking for budget accommodation; you are first-time travelers;

Best Places to stay in Istanbul in Taksim for first-time visitors:

luxury ($$$): Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus, 5-star family-friendly hotel, centrally located, within walking distance from major attractions such as Taksim Square, Taksim and Osmanbey Metro Stations. It is one of the best locations in Istanbul for stunning views over Bosphorus Strait.

mid-range ($$): Nevi Hotel & Suites Istanbul Taksim, 4-star hotel, conveniently located in Istanbul, offering easy access to Istiklal Street, Taksim Square and Taksim Metro Station. It features family rooms, airport shuttle, and 24-hour front desk.

budget ($): Almadina Hotel Istanbul, 3-star hotel, great budget-friendly accommodation located within walking distance from Taksim Square and Istiklal Street. Featuring family rooms, a bar and private parking.

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS TAKSIM

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3. Eminonu / Sirkeci

Eminonu Istanbul
Eminonu

Eminonu was once an important administrative district within Istanbul. It covered what was once the city of Byzantium and therefore included Sultanahmet. While its administrative function has gone, it is still a very recognizable name to locals.

Within Eminonu are the Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, and the waterfront district of Sirkeci which is the ferry terminal for boats crossing the Bosphorus. Sirkeci is within walking distance to the Sultanahmet, a short boat ride to Taksim, and also near Kabataş with its famous Bosphorus Strait. It’s a great area for families.

The Galata Bridge links the Golden Horn and Eminonu with Karikoy on the Asian side. The port in Eminonu was the place where goods arrived during the Ottoman days and the industrial revolution and steam ships brought even more. The Orient Express ended here at Sirkeci Station.

Eminonu Square is the main attraction in the Eminonu neighborhood, full of tourists and locals all day long. One of the best things to do around Eminonu Square is to stroll around the market area and enjoy the lively city atmosphere with its historic buildings, and have a rest at some of the restaurants and cafes around.

While it lost its administrative status, Eminonu with its two bazaars, the square around New Mosque (Yeni Camii), and the renovation of grand architecture lost nothing from a tourism point of view. It may be quiet at night and its population is small.

However, by day the harbor activity, the shoppers, and major commercial presence has meant that it is a well-recognized district despite now being just a small part of the large Balat (Fatih) District.

While the Blue Mosque and Haya Sophia get the most attention, the wonderful mosque down close to the Bosphorus, Suleymaniye named after Suleyman the Magnificent appears in many photographs of Istanbul.

Stay in Eminonu if you love shopping; you want a central location close to the Bosphorus with affordable price; you are not too concerned about nightlife and are happy to travel to find it if you want a late night; you are traveling with family; this is your first visit;

Best Places to Stay in Eminonu/Grand Bazaar for first-timers:

luxury ($$$): Cronton Design Hotel, 5-star hotel, centrally located in the heart of Istanbul, ideal base for first-time visitors, both families and couples. It is only a short distance from attractions such as Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, and Hagia Sophia.

mid-range ($$): Mest Hotel Istanbul Sirkeci, 4-star family-friendly hotel, well located in Istanbul, close to Basilica Cistern, Column of Constantine and Topkapi Palace. It has family rooms, a terrace, free WiFi, a restaurant, room service and a 24-hour front desk.

budget ($): City Hall Hotel, great 3-star budget-friendly hotel located in a the best rated area in Istanbul, features a bar, private parking, a shared lounge, and currency exchange for guests.

4. Beyazit / Laleli

This small district within Fatih is on the European side of Istanbul, centered around Beyazit Square, officially Freedom Square. The Beyazid II Mosque is one side of the Square, hence the usage of the name rather than its official title. Another side of the Square is the entrance to Istanbul University in which you will find the Beyazit Tower.

Beyazid II was the eldest son of Mehmet II and was Sultan between 1481 and 1512 as the Ottoman Empire grew in strength. The mosque bearing his name was built early in the 16th Century close to the old ruins of the Forum of Theodosius

The advantage of staying here is that you will have a base close to Istanbul’s major attractions with prices often lower than more famous neighborhoods. You can get nice views of the Bosphorus from here and there are shops and restaurants to satisfy your needs.

Best places to stay in Beyazit for the first time:

Luxury ($$$)DoubleTree By Hilton Istanbul – Old Town, 5-star hotel, ideal base for first-timers, in the heart of old town on the Golden Horn, within walking distance away to all the most popular touristic attractions, Vezneciler metro station, Laleli Tram Station, and Yenikapı-Bursa ferry line.

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Venera, 4-star hotel, great base for couples and singles, located close to metres from Grand Bazaar, Laleli Tram Station, and Vezneciler Metro Station, providing easy access to other sites Istanbul.

Budget ($): Hotel Miro Mansion Istanbul, 3-star accommodation, offering rooms with a wardrobe, private bathroom, kettle, flat-screen TV and free toiletries.

🔍MORE HOTELS IN BEYAZID

5. Karakoy

If nightlife is your priority during your time in Istanbul, the neighborhood of Karakoy on the European side is the first place you should consider. One of its boundaries is the Bosphorus and some of its hotels have panoramic views across the Bosphorus to Asia. 

It is a district on the Golden Horn that has revived in the last decade with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques springing up to add to its attraction. There is some lovely accommodation in Karakoy, and shoppers will not be disappointed by the quality of goods on sale. If you are on a tight budget, you should look elsewhere.

You can visit Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam, try Viennese coffee at Karabatak, visit the underground mosque Yeralti Camiim, explore Nusretiye Mosque, and try classic Turkish tavern at Ma’Na.

Within Karakoy itself, you will find SALT, the marble Ottoman Bank with a glass ceiling. Today it is a complex with an art gallery, museum, cafe, and shops. There are two impressive mosques in Karakoy and a hammam, dating back to the 16th Century. Relax with a Turkish bath before enjoying the fine dining available in Karakoy.

Best places to stay in Istanbul in Karakoy for first-time travelers:

luxury ($$$): 10 Karakoy Istanbul, 5-star hotel, one of the best hotels in the heart of Istanbul’s up-and-coming trendy area Karakoy, easy walk from the popular Istiklal Street and Galata Tower, a short metro ride from Cevahir and Zorlu shopping Center.

mid-range ($$): Galata’s Hotel, great 4-star hotel, featuring rooms for singles, couples, and families with children of all ages. Conveniently situated in Istanbul, close to major attractions such as Spice Bazaar, Galata Tower and Suleymaniye Mosque.

budget ($): Karaköy VAV Suites, 3-star hotel, located within walking distance from Karakoy Tram Stop, Istiklal Street, Galata Tower in Istanbul, offering a paid airport shuttle service and family rooms.

🔍MORE HOTELS KARAKOY

6. Beyoglu

best areas to Stay in Istanbul: Beyoglu
Beyoglu

The lively district of Beyoglu is on the European side across the Golden Horn from the Old City. It existed in Byzantine times and its rich history included periods when European merchants traded here. Both the Genoese and the Venetians made a contribution to what tourists can still see today.

Beyoglu is famous for its Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue (Avenue of Independence) pedestrian streets. It’s the center of Istanbul which attracts both tourists and locals to stroll around to dine, shop, and socialize. Beyoglu consists of smaller neighborhoods such as Galata, Cihangir, and Karaköy.

At one time, the district was known as Galata and it was the Genoese who built the famous Galata Tower in the 14th Century. The Ottoman conquest ended their period of rule over the district although the Sultan allowed them to stay.

Beyoglu remained an important trading area for European merchants until the establishment of the Turkish Republic when contacts with Italy and Greece changed dramatically. Much of its grand architecture went into decline but things are much better now that Beyoglu revived.

It is known for its nightlife with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars. It is also regarded as an important art district.  Among the highlights in Beyoglu is the Hotel Pera Palace which was the final eastern destination for Orient Express passengers in the late 19th Century. Agatha Christie’s room in the hotel is preserved. 

Beyoglu has a number of interesting museums as well including Dogancay and Pera. The largest synagogue and catholic churches in Turkey are found in Beyoglu. There are also:

  • The Museum of Painting and Sculpture displays more than 2000 paintings and about 400 sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art is the first private museum of Turkey that hosts modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
  • The Museum of Innocence was created by Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish author, and Nobel Price winner. It is located in the Çukurcuma neighborhood.

The lively and authentic, Çukurcuma neighborhood is home to many antique shops, art galleries, and street cats, ideal for antique lovers.

Beyoglu’s central location makes it a great base to explore the European side of Istanbul.  Within this area, the smaller district of Karakoy is well worth exploring. Beyoglu offers a wide range of accommodations from backpacker hostels to boutique hotels, which suit all budgets.

Stay in Beyoglu if you’re budget travelers, enjoy the vibrant nightlife with good restaurants and well-connected transport, have a keen interest in art, your interest in Istanbul goes beyond the Ottomans.

Best places to stay in Istanbul in Beyoglu:

Luxury ($$$): Clarion Hotel Golden Horn, 5-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in Istanbul located by the Golden Horn, offering spectacular view of Golden Horn and the sea. It has family rooms, as well as rooms for couples, group of friends, and singles.

Mid-range ($$): O’Pera Okanlı Suites, great accommodation offering units come with parquet floors and feature a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, a dining area.

Budget ($): Hotel Gritti Pera & Spa, 3-star family-friendly hotel, featuring massage treatments, pad Dry cleaning and ironing services, and car rentals.

🔍MORE HOTELS BEYOGLU

7. Galata

A part of the Beyoglu district, the historic Galata Tower is regularly used to promote the many attractions of Istanbul. With so many of them, it is a tribute to its importance that it is used in this way. The tower looks down on cobbled streets and neo-classical architecture. The tower dates back to the 14th Century and was built by the Genoese before the Ottomans took Constantinople.

Galata is north of the Golden Horn and is among the oldest neighborhoods in Istanbul. It is a busy area both day and night. Its bars can be quiet or trendy, its cafes are unique and late-night action continues into the early hours. Rooftop bars offer great panoramic views and if you take the elevators to the top of Galata Tower, there are more.

You can also explore Nardis, Leb-I Derya, visit underground wine bar Sensus, visit Galata Meyhanesi, and 360 Istanbul.

Galata is a good base for a visit to Istanbul, a vibrant district within a vibrant city. Perhaps you should look at the apartments for rent?

Best Places to Stay in Istanbul in Galata for first-timers:

luxury ($$$): The Galata Istanbul Hotel MGallery, 5-star hotel, located 5 minutes away walk from Galata Tower, Galataport, Package Post Office, as well as a short drive by car from Cevahir Shopping Mall and Istanbul Modern.

mid-range ($$): GalataCo Hotel, great 4-star hotel, close to important attractions such as the Galata Tower, Spice Bazaar and Taksim Square.

budget ($): The Galataport Hotel, 3-star budget-friendly hotel, located within walking distance from the iconic Galata Tower, Up-and-coming Karakoy area, Sishane Metro Station, Karakoy Tunel and tram Stations. It has a terrace offering views of Marmara Sea, Golden Horn and the Old City.

🔍MORE HOTELS GALATA

8. Cihangir

Also a part of the Beyoglu district, Cihangir is a small neighborhood on the European side bordered by Kabatas, Karakoy, and Taksim Square. It has narrow streets, many originals, as well as a park. A green area in such a busy city is sometimes a relief. In early Ottoman tines, this was forest, hunting land.

The name comes from the wooden mosque built by Mimar Sinan, commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th Century to remember his youngest son Cihangir whose death in Aleppo, modern-day Syria was a shock to everyone. The neighborhood has a bohemian reputation, has attracted artists, writers, actors, and even an ex-pat. population. 

Less than 4,000 people live in Cihangir. The Guardian newspaper from the UK even went so far as to say that Cihangir was in the top 5 places in the world to live. Quite a tribute! It certainly suggests you should consider it as a place to stay in Istanbul.

Best places to stay in Istanbul in Cihangir:

🔍MORE HOTELS CIHANGIR

9. Sişli / Nisantasi

upscale area to Stay in Istanbul: Sişli
Sişli

East of Besiktas, Sisli is just two miles away from Taksim Square. It has no frontage onto the Bosphorus but the water is not far away. Sariyer on the Black Sea is just to the north. Sisli is an exclusive and luxurious area of Istanbul, home to high-end shopping, and expensive restaurants.

Years ago, this district was countryside used for hunting and agriculture but in the later years of the Ottoman Empire, it became a middle-class residential district. Its wide avenues are evidence of the impact that French culture made during its development.

It was an area that was important for traders and home to many foreign peoples including Greeks, Armenians, and those from the Balkans. The Hilton set the trend by building its hotel in 1950 and other quality hotels have followed its lead.

Many of the splendid large buildings that were formerly home to the wealthy are now used for offices, banks, and cheaper accommodation after the wealthy moved further out from the City Center. There are plenty of high-end shops, bars, and expensive restaurants, many in the narrow streets off the wide avenues. 

Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre is one of the largest modern shopping center, ideal for shopping lovers.

One of the things that is missed on just a short break in Istanbul is the Military Museum, many centuries of history. There is a regular performance by the Ottoman Band within the museum.

Sisli also has mosques, theaters and cinemas, good shopping malls on the Nisantasi and Rumeli streets, and other sights like the Lutfi Kirdar concert hall and the Cemal Resit Rey concert hall. If your base is Sisli, you may decide that a day of your holiday should be spent in your immediate vicinity.

Macka and Nisantasi are two of four neighborhoods within Sisli where you will find good accommodation.

Stay in Sişli if you are interested in military history, you enjoy browsing shopping malls, you want a balance between the main city tourist attractions and the outer parts of Istanbul out towards the Black Sea.

Best places to stay in Istanbul in Sişli:

luxury ($$$): Ramada Plaza By Wyndham Istanbul City Center, 5-star elegant hotel, within walking distance to Istanbul Military Museum and Istanbul Convention&Exhibition Center, Osmanbey Metro Station. It has a rooftop swimming pool and a spa.

luxury ($$$): Hilton Istanbul Bomonti, 5-star hotel, in the heart of Bomonti, short walk from historical Bomonti Beer Factory, the shopping district Nisantasi and City’s Mall, Osmanbey Station. Offering spacious rooms with stunning views across the European side to Asian side.

luxury ($$$): Divan Istanbul, 5-star hotel, Centrally located in the heart of Istanbul, few steps from The lively Istiklal Street and Taksim Square with many shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes.

🔍MORE HOTELS SIŞLI

10. Beşiktaş

good area to Stay in Istanbul for couple : Beşiktaş
Beşiktaş

One of the oldest districts in Istanbul, Besiktas is a very popular district on the European side of the City. It has a frontage on the Bosphorus and its major landmark in the ostentatious Dolmabahce Palace, home to the Ottoman Sultans from the midpoint in the 19th Century. It is furnished with the best that Europe had to offer at that time.

It is not a large neighborhood but it’s one of the residential and commercial areas in the city center. There are numerous small cafes, bars, and shops. It has a great atmosphere and it is fun just to sit with a cay (tea) or coffee (Turkish is good and different) to watch the world go by. 

The atmosphere from early morning in Besiktas when its team, nicknamed the ‘’Black Eagles’’ is playing at home is electric. Everyone attending a soccer game needs an ID including a passport photograph but it is possible to get through the process and see a game if you are around for a few days.

The Naval Museum close to Dolmabahce is just one of a number of museums and galleries in Besiktas. It is regarded as the center of Istanbul education with several university campuses located there. 

Besiktas’ fish market is a popular place and visitors can expect to see an impressive range of fish on sale. All in all, it is recognized that the quality of life in Besiktas is a match for most areas of Istanbul.

Many 5-star hotels in Besiktas offer splendid waterfront and the Bosphorus Strait views with gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, on-site restaurants, and bars close to the water.

Stay in Beşiktaş if you enjoy pedestrian areas and plenty of small cafes and bars, you want a central district on the European side, one of your priorities is to see Dolmabahce Palace.

Best Places to Stay in Istanbul in Beşiktaş for first-timers:

  • luxury ($$$): Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul, 5-star luxury hotel , within walking distance to Nisantasi where the main luxury shopping area is. It has an exclusive rooftop pool and award-winning spa, offering outstanding Bosphorus view.
  • luxury ($$$): Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus, 5-star hotel, offerin panoramic views of the Bosphorus, within walking distance from the Bosphorus and Dolmabahce Palace, and Ferry port for boat to the Asian side of the city.
  • luxury ($$$): Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, 5-star hotel in a 19th-century Ottoman palace, offering an infinity pool with views of Bosphorus Bridge and Maiden’s Tower.
🔍MORE HOTELS BESIKTAS

11. Kadikoy

best place to Stay in Istanbul: Kadikoy
Kadikoy

Kadikoy is the neighborhood in the Beyoglu district. Visitors to the Asian side of Istanbul come either for business or for a sporting event at Fenerbahce, soccer but also basketball. ‘’Fener’’ is one of Istanbul’s iconic sports clubs and regular champions in both sports. The exception on the Asian side is Kadikoy whose popularity with tourists is distinctly on an upward curve.

It’s not popular for tourists to stay on the Asian side as not many attractions except the Çamlıca Mosque, the largest mosque in Turkey. But if you want a local feel, Kadikoy is a good choice.

The neighborhood of Moda within Kadikoy has been identified as one of the coolest neighborhoods anywhere. That is because of the increasing number of bars, cafes, and Turkish and international restaurants that have opened in recent years. Fashion shopping is excellent and there is plenty of hotels, hostels and B&Bs.

Kadikoy is a ferry ride across to the European side and the views across from waterfront cafes and restaurants to that famous Istanbul skyline are fabulous. 

Stay in Kadikoy if you want to try a newly emerging area of Istanbul, you are happy crossing the Bosphorus to see the major landmarks, you enjoy wandering around an area with high-end shops, fine dining, and entertainment.

Best Places to Stay in Istanbul in Kadikoy for first-time visitors:

🔍MORE HOTELS KADIKOY

12. Moda

Moda is a neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul at the southern end of the Bosphorus. Most of the major tourist attractions are across the water in Europe but this district deserves more attention. Regular ferries cross the Bosphorus, and you should take a ferry or two wherever your Istanbul base. 

You can explore Baghdad Avenue, Moda Beach, and Kadife Street. There are some lovely dining spots in Moda, as well as excellent shopping. It is a district attracting the younger generation. You will get more of a feel for Turkish life in Moda than in some of the more touristy neighborhoods on the European side. 

Moda has a coastline and beach, as well as a marina and yacht club. If you like soccer, one of Istanbul’s giants, Fenerbahce plays close by. You will need an authorized ID if you want to attend. The nightlife is good while you can find good value in its accommodation. If you are happy to travel to see Istanbul’s highlights, you should consider Moda.

🔍MORE HOTELS MODA

13. Eyup

best location to Stay in Istanbul: Eyup
Eyup

If you come from Yorkshire in England, ‘’eyup’’ means ‘’how are you?’’, it’s a common greeting. In Istanbul, it is a prominent district on the European side. It stretches north from close to the Bosphorus to meet the Black Sea Coast northwest of Sariyer. The new airport in Istanbul is in an area of Istanbul yet to develop but Eyup Sultan, its official name, is close.

It is an important area for Muslims, historically and still today. It gets its name from the Ottoman, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. Its 15th Century mosque attracts many pilgrims, both Turkish and from overseas. That has changed the atmosphere of a former industrial area to a thriving trading district. 

There is gondola transport between the Golden Horn and the Black Sea coastline and it is well patronized. There is plenty of accommodation available in Eyup, mostly in the south of the area rather than on the Black Sea Coast. 

Eyup does not receive as much attention as most other parts of Istanbul’s European side but it may see the next neighborhood to grow quickly, albeit it is more conservative than today’s popular tourist bases.

Stay in Eyup if you are interested in Islam and its history, your preference is to be away from the bustle of Istanbul, you want an authentic Turkish neighborhood close to the new airport.

🔍MORE HOTELS EYUP

14. Sariyer

Sariyer is the northernmost part of Istanbul’s European side. It fronts onto the Black Sea and in years gone by, it was a forested area with small fishing villages. The wealthy of Istanbul lived here in the 19th Century or had a weekend retreat; that included the Ottoman Sultans and their entourage. 

It is still an upmarket residential area with fine villas on the forested hillsides. The construction of a modern coastal road ensured that the heart of the City became very accessible. Remember though that even here the traffic is likely to be heavy. There is a high speed ferry boat service into the middle of Istanbul so staying out in a relatively quieter area is worth considering.

With a history of fishing, it is not surprising that there are a number of fine fish restaurants on the shores. Formerly, many of these restaurants were actually houseboats. Sariyer is a popular place for locals not only because of these restaurants but because of a number of lovely picnic areas and some beaches.

There are plenty of museums in Sariyer while the fortress built in the 15th Century, Rumelihisari, is now a popular concert venue.

Stay in Sariyer if you prefer a base out of the City Center., you enjoy a location close to the sea, you love fresh fish and eating it looking across the waters where it was caught.

Best Places to Stay in Istanbul in Sariyer:

luxury ($$$): Hilton Istanbul Maslak, 5-star hotel located at the centre of Maslak, Istanbul’s commercial district with many business centres and entertainment options. Easy distance from ITU-Ayazaga Metro Station, offering access to Kanyon Shopping Mall, Zorlu Center.

luxury ($$$): Six Senses Kocatas Mansions, 5-star hotel, situated in Istanbul, 9 km from Istinye Park, offering spacious restored Ottoman-era mansions with remarkable views.

mid-range ($$): MFB My Finest Bosphorus Hotel Tarabya, located in on the seafront of Tarabya district, featuring luxurious rooms with a unique décor, modern amenities and free WiFi.

🔍MORE HOTELS SARIYER

Where should I stay in Istanbul for the first time?

Sultanahmet is the best overall area to stay in Istanbul for first-time travelers due to its proximity to top attractions such as Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar. You’ll be located within easy walk to many major sights, restaurants, bars, and shops.

What are the best areas to stay in Istanbul for tourists?

Sultanahmet, Taksim, Bazaar District, Galata, Karakoy, Besiktas, and Sisli are the best areas to stay in Istanbul for tourists because they are the most popular and safe neighborhoods that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.

Where to Stay in Istanbul with the Family?

The best areas to stay in Istanbul with kids are Sultanahmet, Taksim, Kadikoy, Besiktas, Nisantasi. These are safe and central neighborhoods, offering a wide range of family-friendly accommodations and attractions for children of all ages.

Where to Stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet?

Both areas are ideal locations for first-time visitors. Sultanahmet is the best area for travelers seeking a stay to experience historical sites and a relaxed atmosphere. Taksim is the best location for visitors seeking for a modern neighborhood with lively nightlife and shopping.

Where to Stay in Istanbul on a Budget?

Beyoglu, Sultanahmet, Kadikoy, Besiktas, and Fatih are some of the best areas to stay in Istanbul on a budget. They offer plenty of affordable accommodations, restaurants, and shops for all budget travelers.

Where to Stay in Istanbul for Couples?

Sultanahmet, Beyoglu, Kadikoy, Ortakoy, Besiktas, and Cihangir are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in Istanbul for couples.  Whether you choose a luxury hotel, a boutique guesthouse, or a vacation rental, each area has its own unique charm to offer.

Where to Stay in Istanbul for Nightlife?

If you’re looking for the best areas to stay in for nightlife, look into the areas of Taksim Square, Beyoglu, Karakoy, Kadikoy, Besiktas, Sultanahmet. Taksim is one of the most popular nightlife districts in Istanbul, packed with bars, clubs, live music venues, and restaurants. 

Where to Stay in Istanbul on the Asian Side?

Some of the best neighborhoods to stay in Istanbul on the Asian Side are Kadıköy and Moda. They are two popular districts on the Asian side that are known for their lively street scenes, great food options, and scenic waterfront views.

Where to stay on the Istanbul European side?

Some of the best neighborhoods in the Istanbul European side for tourists are Sultanahmet, Taksim, Eminonu, and Fatih. This side of the city is characterized by its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant bazaars.

Where to Stay in Istanbul for Shopping?

Taksim, Beyoglu, Sultanahmet, Besiktas or Sisli are some of the best locations in Istanbul for shopping.  Keep in mind that Istanbul has a great public transportation system, so even if you’re not right in the heart of a shopping district, you can easily reach your desired destinations.

Where to Stay in Istanbul for your Honeymoon?

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?

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 is the safest place for tourists in Istanbul?

Maçka and Nişantaşi, Sultanahmet, Taksim are some of the safest places to stay in Istanbul for visitors. However, like any major city, it’s important to remain vigilant and follow common-sense safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

See more: Frequently Asked Questions Best Places to Stay in Istanbul

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Summary – Where to stay in Istanbul for tourists?

In conclusion, Sultanahmet, Taksim, Bazaar District, Galata, Karakoy, Besiktas, and Sisli are the best places to stay in Istanbul for tourists and first-time travelers. They offers central and safe locations with a wide range of hotels for all budgets and easy access to attractions and amenities.

Overall, Sultanahmet is the best place in Istanbul for first-time visitors due to its close proximity to top attractions. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of action, within walking distance to the most famous sights, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

Hopefuly, after reading this post, you will know where to stay in Istanbul for the first time, all you need to do is book your accommodation and ready to go!

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