Best Areas to Stay in Istanbul 🇹🇷 in 2024 + Hotels

Updated on April 15, 2024
by Alex Miller

I’ve written a complete guide on where to stay in Istanbul to help you choose the perfect place for you.

My Favorite Istanbul Hotels

When it comes to choosing where to stay in Istanbul, there are several fantastic areas that offer a range of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences. Let’s explore some of the best areas and the hotels available in each.

No matter which area you choose to stay in Istanbul, you’ll be treated to incredible views, delicious Turkish food, and a wide range of attractions to explore.

Remember: Istanbul is a very touristy city and accommodation prices can be high, especially in season. My advice is to always book accommodation in advance to have more choices and, most importantly, to find the best deals.

5 Best Areas to Stay in Istanbul: Quick Overview

👀 Best for first-time visitors Sultanahmet
💸 Where to stay on a budget Beyoglu
🔮 Best for a local experience Kadikoy
👨‍👨‍👦 Best for families Grand Bazaar
🍸 Best for nightlife Galata

5 Best Places to Visit in Istanbul

  • Hagia Sophia – The stunning Byzantine architecture with massive domes and mosaics
  • Topkapi Palace – Wander through the opulent courts and pavilions of the sultans
  • Blue Mosque – Admire the hand-painted blue tiles
  • Basilica Cistern – Go through this bustling marketplace overflowing with colorful spices, dried fruits, nuts, and Turkish delights.
  • Grand Bazaar – Take in the panoramic views of Istanbul’s skyline, citadels, and bridges

Best Places to Stay in Istanbul on a Map

1. Sultanahmet – Where to Stay in Istanbul for First-time Visitors

💖 Historic heart: Nestled along the southern shore of the Golden Horn inlet, the Sultanahmet neighborhood is truly the historic heart of Istanbul. This lively district is home to many of the city’s most famous landmarks, making it an ideal home base for first-time visitors eager to take in the top sights.

🕌 Main attractions: Sultanahmet radiates out from the Blue Mosque, a 17th century marvel known for its cascading domes and vibrant blue tilework. Mere steps away is the stunning Hagia Sophia, which first served as an iconic church before becoming a magnificent mosque. Today it operates as a museum, dazzling guests with its Byzantine architecture.

🌳 Add greens: For a little greenery, head over to Gülhane Park right next door. Its rose gardens, peaceful walking paths and outdoor cafes provide a nice contrast from the bustling city streets.

🚶🏻‍♂️ Very walkable: While some neighborhoods require expert navigation, Sultanahmet’s compact size makes it pleasingly walkable. Nearly all the major sights sit within close proximity, making it easy for visitors to tick off their bucket lists by foot. Between museums and mosques, hip cafes and kitschy souvenir shops abound. Grab a Turkish coffee or kebab to fuel your explorations.

Gülhane Park
Gülhane Park
Gülhane Park
Gülhane Park
Gülhane Park
Gülhane Park
Column of the Goths
Column of the Goths

🍷 Evening activities: As night falls, make your way to an open-air restaurant along the Sea of Marmara for fresh fish and phenomenal sunset views. Then cap it all off with a leisurely stroll through Gulhane Park’s rose gardens.

For an immersion into Istanbul’s rich history and lively spirit, there’s simply no better home base than the charming Sultanahmet neighborhood.

All hotels in Sultanahmet →

Where to Stay in Sultanahmet?

Expensive hotels:

  • Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul – a luxury hotel with panoramic views of the Old City, exquisite décor and high-end service.
  • AJWA Sultanahmet – an elegant boutique hotel in a 19th century mansion, offering stylish rooms with a mix of modern design and oriental motifs.
  • Vogue Hotel Supreme Istanbul – a chic hotel with exquisite interiors, panoramic sea views and an excellent location near attractions.

Medium price range:

  • H&L Suites – comfortable apartments with fully equipped kitchens, ideal for families and longer stays.
  • SEVEN ROSES APART HOTEL – spacious studios and apartments with kitchens, friendly staff and good location.
  • Atam Suites – apartment hotel with cosy rooms equipped with kitchens and living areas, good value for money.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Han Suite Hotel – a small cosy hotel with a homely atmosphere and friendly staff, an excellent choice for reasonable money.
  • Good Night Hotel Istanbul – simple but comfortable rooms, friendly service, good location in the heart of the Old Town.
  • Vizyon Hotel – an economical hotel with basic amenities and clean rooms.

2. Beyoglu – Where to Stay in Istanbul on a Budget

🔮 One of the most vibrant: Located on the European side of Istanbul, Beyoglu is one of the most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods in the city. As a visitor, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time here exploring the area’s bustling streets, unique boutiques and historic landmarks.

🚋 Well-connected: It encompasses the districts of Galata, Tünel, and Pera which all blend together seamlessly. The convenient Tünel funicular connects Beyoglu to the shores below, or you can take the historic tram that runs through its streets. Most of Istanbul’s metro and bus lines also have stops scattered around Beyoglu, making it easy to access.

👀 There’s a lot to see: Don’t miss Galata Tower, a 14th century stone tower providing panoramic views over Istanbul. Nearby is the lively Istiklal Street, a buzzing 1.4 kilometer pedestrianized street full of shops, restaurants, historic buildings, and grand consulates from Istanbul’s past. Duck into the side alleys to find buzzing nightlife venues, quirky boutiques, patisseries, and coffee houses.

👨🏻‍🎨 For art lovers: Make sure to explore the Istanbul Modern art museum housed in a slick contemporary building on the Bosphorus. Check out the Pera Museum’s exhibits of Ottoman-era art and artifacts. Or catch a show at the ornate 19th century Pera Palas Opera House.

Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Istanbul Modern art museum
Pera Museum
Pera Museum
Pera Museum
Pera Museum
Pera Museum

🍷 Evening activities: In the evening, you can join the crowds at lounges and rooftop bars while admiring the sparkling lights of the city. And you can savor Istanbul’s exciting cuisine in restaurants serving first-class Turkish specialties and fusion cuisine.

Beyoğlu district with its artistic atmosphere and historical landmarks is one of those neighborhoods that should not be missed to understand the rich history of this city.

All hotels in Beyoğlu →

Where to Stay in Beyoglu?

Expensive hotels:

  • CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel – a fashionable luxury hotel with panoramic views of the Bosphorus Strait and excellent service.
  • Pera Palace Hotel – a legendary historic premium hotel located in the heart of the Beyoğlu district.

Medium price range:

  • Cihangir Residences – a stylish boutique hotel with spacious apartments and a homely atmosphere.
  • Ada Home Istanbul – cosy apartments in a picturesque area overlooking the Sea of Marmara.

Inexpensive hotels:

3. Karakoy – Istanbul Neighborhood with the Best Restaurants & Cafes

🔥 Must see: Tucked along the northern shore of the Golden Horn inlet, Karaköy is one of Istanbul’s most centrally located and historic neighborhoods. Despite its prime waterfront location, it has only recently emerged as a trendy hub for locals and travelers alike.

🕍 Access to major attractions: Karaköy sits just across the Galata Bridge from Sultanahmet, home to top attractions like the stunning Hagia Sophia, the remarkable Blue Mosque, and the fascinating Topkapı Palace. This makes it super convenient to access all the key sights.

🍸 Contemporary vibe: Yet at the same time, Karaköy has an artsy, contemporary vibe. Old warehouses and factories have been transformed into hip coffee shops, bars, boutique hotels, and art galleries. Don’t miss Istanbul’s leading photography museum, the Istanbul Modern, located right on the shoreline.

🚢 Well-connected: The Karaköy ferry docks along the waterfront also provide easy connections by boat to the Asian side of Istanbul as well as up the Bosphorus Strait towards areas like Ortaköy and Beşiktaş.

🍞 Suit every taste: Beyond sightseeing, Karaköy is an amazing neighborhood for eating and drinking your way through Turkey’s incredible culinary scene. For the ultimate Turkish breakfast spread of cheeses, olives, eggs, and freshly baked breads, head to Karaköy Güllüoğlu. This historic bakery dating back to 1949 is a local legend, with a cozy cafe upstairs.

With its location, historic streets, and creative energy, Karaköy is one of city’s best neighborhoods to explore.

All hotels in Karaköy →

Where to Stay in Karakoy?

Expensive hotels:

  • JW Marriott Istanbul Bosphorus – a luxury hotel with panoramic views of the Bosphorus Strait, offers spacious rooms and upscale service.
  • 10 Karakoy Istanbul – a boutique hotel with modern designer interiors, located in a historic building on the waterfront.
  • Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel – a modern hotel with great views of the Bosphorus, offers comfortable rooms, a swimming pool and a fitness centre.

Medium price range:

  • Weingart Istanbul – a small, cosy retro-style hotel with vintage furniture.
  • Hotel Morione & Spa Centre – a comfortable modern-style hotel with a wellness centre, offering rooms overlooking the Marmara Sea.
  • Nabu Hotel Karaköy – a stylish designer hotel with a convenient location in the historic centre of Karaköy.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Nomad Hostel Karaköy – a popular hostel with a friendly atmosphere, offers shared rooms and an active programme for guests.
  • Casa Rosa Suites – cosy apartments in a historic building with old architecture and authentic atmosphere.
  • Mates Historical Suites – a small hotel with authentic interiors, ideal for immersing yourself in Istanbul’s history.

4. Kadikoy – Best Area in Istanbul for a Local Experience

Nestled along the Asian side of the city, the lively district of Kadikoy makes for an inviting destination to explore beyond Istanbul’s famous historic peninsula.

🚤 Very convenient: Getting to Kadikoy from the European side of Istanbul is a breeze thanks to frequent ferry services that shuttle across the Bosphorus in just 20 minutes. Upon arriving at the busy Kadikoy ferry terminal, you will immediately notice the neighborhood’s cosmopolitan flair blending old and new.

🛒 Go shopping: Kadikoy’s market streets brim with fresh produce stands, aromatic spice stalls, and colorful textile shops, restaurants and bars. The pedestrian-friendly main thoroughfares Bahariye Caddesi and Sogutlucesme Caddesi are great starting points to meander through the district’s maze of atmospheric back alleys.

🧐 Savor the history: In addition to taking in the vibrant street life, don’t miss Kadikoy’s top cultural attractions. The Istanbul Toy Museum displays antique toys and curiosities from the Ottoman era to the early 20th century. For stunning Bosphorus views, head up to historic Kiz Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower) perched offshore on a small islet. The nearby Haydarpasa Train Station, built in 1909, exemplifies Ottoman and German architecture.

🎣 Sea ​​wealth: When hunger strikes, seafood lovers will feel right at home in Kadikoy. The fish market provides a dizzying array of the day’s catch that local restaurants subsequently transform into delicious meze and grilled dishes. For inexpensive bites, check out the street food carts dishing out mussels stuffed with rice, grilled mackerel sandwiches, and other local fast-food favorites.

Thanks to its pedestrian-friendly streets, shopping galore, and laidback seaside vibe, Kadikoy offers the perfect counterbalance to the bustle of Istanbul’s historic core across the water.

All hotels in Kadıköy →

Where to Stay in Kadikoy?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • MyKent Hotel – a cosy, modern-style hotel with comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.
  • Sarnıç Butik Otel – a charming boutique hotel in a historic building with authentic design.
  • Panorama Suite – a hotel with spacious apartments, panoramic views and good value for money.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Moda Drei – a simple and inexpensive hotel with basic facilities, suitable for budget travellers.
  • Akin Suites – a reasonably priced apartment with small but cosy rooms.
  • Kuzen Otel – a modest economy hotel with friendly staff and clean rooms.

5. Grand Bazaar – Where to Stay in Istanbul for Families

🔥 Must see: The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, attracting between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors daily. Located in the historic Fatih district of Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar is a must-see for any first-time visitor to the city.

Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar

🕍 Access to major attractions: Situated right in the heart of Istanbul’s Old City, the Grand Bazaar is just a short walk from top attractions like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. Its proximity to these iconic sites makes it easy to explore the Bazaar in-between visiting other landmarks.

🛍 Сounter maze: With over 60 covered streets and alleys extending across a whopping 61 acres, the interior of the Grand Bazaar is like a maze. Inside this covered market, over 3,000 shops sell everything from handmade carpets, leather goods, spices and antiques to hand-painted ceramics and traditional Turkish delights. Haggle for the best deals as you browse through stall after stall of treasures.

☕ Great atmosphere: The atmosphere is just as much of an attraction as the shopping. The Bazaar is always bustling with locals and tourists alike. Stop at one of the tea shops or cafes tucked along the lanes to take a break. Breathing in the aromas of apple tea, roasted nuts and kebabs grilling as you people-watch is an experience in itself.

The Grand Bazaar is open 8am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, giving you plenty of time to immerse yourself in this magical Istanbul landmark.

All hotels near Grand Bazaar →

6. Besiktas – Where to Stay in Istanbul for Couples

🎆 Lively & Bustling: Besiktas is located on the European side of Istanbul, situated right along the scenic Bosphorus Strait. Nestled between the energetic Taksim Square and Bebek areas, Besiktas offers visitors a convenient home base with easy access to many of Istanbul’s top attractions.

🚇 Well-connected: Besiktas has excellent public transportation options, making it easy for tourists to get around. The Besiktas ferry port provides sea transportation to Asia and other stops along the Bosphorus. The neighborhood is also serviced by bus, metro, and tram lines that can whisk you to historic Sultanahmet and beyond. Dolmubahçe Palace, Istanbul Modern Art Museum, and Ortakoy district are just a quick jaunt away.

💃🏻 Modern atmosphere:Wandering the streets of Besiktas feels like embracing the pulse of modern Istanbul. Hip cafes and restaurants buzz with young locals sipping Turkish coffee or munching on gozleme flatbread. The nightlife scene is lively as well, with bars hosting live music and crowded pubs cheering for Besiktas’s wildly popular football club.

👀 There’s a lot to see: Yet the neighborhood still retains its local character. Stroll past Ottoman-era mosques and fish markets displaying the morning’s catch from the Bosphorus fishermen. Make sure to weave your way up to the top of Besiktas Market to get a stunning panoramic view of the strait separating Europe and Asia.

👛 Shopping time: The shopping opportunities here are wonderful too. Nearby Istinye Park Mall houses top international brands, while the cobblestoned backstreets are full of local artisan boutiques and markets brimming with handmade crafts, antiques, and fresh produce.

In this vibrant part of town, you’ll feel the welcoming spirit and youthful energy that makes Istanbul so enchanting.

All hotels in Beşiktaş →

Where to Stay in Besiktas?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • W Istanbul – modern designer hotel with stylish rooms and good service.
  • Puffin Boutique – a cosy neoclassical style boutique hotel with a homely atmosphere, close to the seafront.
  • The Pearl Suites – elegant apartments in southern Istanbul with sea views and personalised service.

7. Galata – Where to Stay in Istanbul for Nightlife

Located just north of the Golden Horn inlet in the European section of Istanbul, Galata is one of the oldest and most fascinating neighborhoods in the city.

🏰 Famous tower: The defining landmark of Galata is the Galata Tower, a 67 meter medieval stone tower providing 360 degree views of Istanbul. Built by the Genoese in 1348, the tower has seen stints as a prison and fire lookout, but now welcomes tourists eager to gaze at the sprawling city and glimmering Bosporus Strait from its balcony. Visitors can climb steep stairs or take an elevator to the top.

🚶🏻‍♀️ Very walkable: Wandering the narrow lanes of Galata is a joy, with quaint cafes, bustling restaurants and bars, antique shops, and boutiques selling handmade crafts and chic fashion items. Don’t miss Galata’s side streets lined with art galleries and music venues housed in historic buildings. Stop for a break at one of the many cafes on the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Galip Dede Street, to do some people watching.

🥐 Suit every taste:  When you work up an appetite, Galata offers plenty of dining options from fresh seafood restaurants to street food like kebabs and stuffed buns. For stunning views paired with Turkish cuisine, dine at one of the rooftop restaurants that overlook the city.

🍸 Nightlife: Galata is also known for its lively nightlife scene. Music venues like Nardis Jazz Club host concerts while trendy rooftop bars like Leb-i Derya offer drinks with panoramic views.

With so much to see, do, eat, and explore, Galata provides visitors with an authentic taste of life in historic Istanbul while being conveniently situated near the must-see sights.

All hotels in Galata →

Where to Stay in Galata?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

Inexpensive hotels:

8. Taksim – Best Neighborhood in Istanbul for Shopping

🔅 One of the most vibrant: Located in the heart of modern Istanbul, Taksim is one of the city’s most vibrant and iconic neighborhoods. Situated on the European side, Taksim is a major transportation hub and cultural center known for its restaurants, hotels, shops and nightlife.

💖 Heart of the area: The focal point of Taksim is the expansive Taksim Square, considered the Times Square of Istanbul. The square is constantly abuzz with activity day and night. People gather to shop along Istiklal Street, a pedestrianized thoroughfare lined with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and historic buildings. Street musicians and performers entertain the crowds.

🏯 There’s a lot to see:  Surrounding Taksim Square are many of Istanbul’s major landmarks. The iconic Republic Monument dominates the square, while the imposing Ataturk Cultural Center regularly hosts concerts and exhibitions.

🚶🏻‍♂️ Very convenient: Just a short walk from Taksim Square is İstiklal Avenue, a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, cafés, and historic buildings. Wander down this atmospheric street to do some shopping, sample delicious Turkish street food like simit (sesame rings) and kebabs, or stop into one of the many cozy cafés to relax with a Turkish coffee or tea.

Gezi Park
Gezi Park
Gezi Park
Gezi Park
Gezi Park
Gezi Park
Gezi Park
Gezi Park

🌳 Break from the city: When you’re ready for a break from the city, head to the lush Gezi Park right off Taksim Square to relax under the trees. You can pack a picnic or grab a snack from a street vendor here. Wander through the side streets to find cool boutiques and cafés frequented by locals.

Spend a few days here to immerse yourself in the energy of this dynamic district.

All hotels in Taksim →

Where to Stay in Taksim?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • Elite World Istanbul Taksim – a comfortable hotel in the heart of Taksim, offering spacious rooms and good service.
  • Rooms Inn Taxim – a cosy boutique hotel with friendly staff and stylish interior design at a reasonable price.
  • The Row Taksim Hotel – a modern hotel with southern charm and an atmospheric courtyard.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Borancik Suites – an aparthotel with spacious studios, equipped kitchens and living areas at an affordable price.
  • Olympos Garden Hotel – a small cosy hotel in a quiet area with warm hospitality.
  • Taksim City Suites – apartments with all amenities and excellent value for money.

Istanbul for Tourists: European Side or Asian Side

Deciding between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul depends on what you want to experience as a tourist. Both offer fascinating sights, but they have different vibes.

The European side contains most of the famous historical attractions, like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. This is the bustling heart of the city. Strolling the old cobblestone streets, you feel immersed in centuries of history. For first-time visitors who want to see the iconic landmarks, the European side is a must.

However, the Asian side has its own charms. Its neighborhoods feel more laid-back and residential. Along the shores of the Bosphorus, you’ll find pleasant cafes, parks, and promenades. Seeing the Istanbul skyline from across the water gives you a new perspective. The Asian side also has cool neighborhoods to explore like Kadikoy, known for its food scene.

So for sightseeing, stick to the European side this trip. But visit the Asian side if you want a more relaxed local vibe.

FAQs about Istanbul

How many days do I need in Istanbul?

I’d recommend spending at least 3-4 days in Istanbul to make the most of your visit. With less time, you’d end up rushed and miss out on experiences. Istanbul is a huge, fascinating city that deserves several days to explore properly.

Which side of Istanbul is cheaper?

The Asian side of Istanbul generally has cheaper accommodation and food than the more touristy European side. But the European side is home to most of the major historical sights. So I’d suggest staying on the Asian side to save money, then ferrying over to the European side during the day.

Which side of Istanbul is richer?

Conversely, the European side is richer and more expensive overall. Neighborhoods like Taksim and Galata cater more to tourists and have fancier restaurants and hotels. The Asian side is comparatively working class but also more authentic for an immersive cultural experience.

Is there a vibrant nightlife scene in Istanbul?

Yes, Istanbul has a vibrant nightlife scene, especially in neighborhoods like Galata on the European side. There are tons of lively bars, pubs, dance clubs, live music venues, and rooftop lounges across the city. Taksim Square is a major nightlife hotspot. And many restaurants and cafes in areas like Kadıköy stay open late.

What are the must-do things to do in Istanbul?

Istanbul is a city full of wonders just waiting to be explored. Wander through the bustling Grand Bazaar and try your hand at haggling for authentic Turkish souvenirs. Cruise along the Bosphorus Strait to take in breathtaking views of the city skyline. Relax your body at an authentic Turkish bath and your mind at a mesmerizing Whirling Dervish ceremony. Shop for spices and teas at the Spice Bazaar, savor fresh seafood by the water, and grab a simits bread ring from a street cart.