Istanbul is a big city however the main tourist areas are pretty close together. You’ve probably heard of Taksim and Sultanahmet which are 2 of the main areas in Istanbul when looking into where to stay in Instanbul, so in this post let me help you decide where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet?
I’ll give you positives and negatives of staying in both Taksim and Sultanahmet so you can decide what is the best area to stay in Istanbul for you along with the best Taksim Hotels & best Sultanahmet Hotels!
Where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet
Sultanahmet is the historical part of Istanbul with the top Istanbul tourist attractions within in.
For example, if you are stay in Sultanahmet you will be walking distance to the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern along with many many cafes, restaurants and tourist shops.
If you are in Istanbul for 2-3 days, it’s your first time in Istanbul and you really want to see the top tourist attractions in Istanbul then staying in Sultanahmet is a good idea because of it’s great proximity to tourist attractions.
Another positive to staying in Sultanahmet when working out where to stay in Istanbul is that it is fairly flat. Istanbul is known for it’s hills and many of them are very steep hills, if you have difficulties walking, Sultanahmet is a good area to stay in Istanbul due to it’s fewer hills.
There are many bus stops and a tram line running through Sultanahmet to make it easy to see other areas of the city from, and you can catch a boat from various nearby harbours.
However, because Sultanahmet is the most touristy part of the city, it’s not the most pleasant part. It’s not where the locals generally live, it is a tourist hub.
There are men outside of restaurants trying to get you in constantly, men trying to sell you things in the street and prices are higher for food, drink and items.
Personally, I find Sultanahmet extremely frustrating. When I first visited Istanbul a few years ago I stayed in Sultanahmet and had a really bad impression of people from Istanbul and although I liked the city I left not really loving it. Recently I lived in Istanbul for a few months, and stayed away from Sultanahmet and outside of Sultanahmet and in this time I never had any issues with the locals, which proves to me it was Sultahamet that gave me that bad impression.
In terms of safety, Istanbul is a safe city and a safe city for solo female travellers in my experience however pickpocketing is common and because there are so many tourists in Sultanahmet you have to be aware of this. I also find the men very annoying in Sultanahmet as a solo female.
As a family or a group of friends coming to Istanbul, if you are happy to deal with restaurants calling you in and slightly higher prices to be in the middle of the tourist centre of the city Sultanahmet is a good option for you!
Or, as I said, if this is your first time in Istanbul and you only want to see the top tourist sights, Sultanahmet is the best area to stay in Istanbul when deciding where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet.
Best Hotels in Sultanahmet Istanbul
Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa
All of these best hotels in Sultanahmet Istanbul and best hotels near Sultanahmet Istanbul hotels have 9+ ratings on Booking.com and are in a great location in Sultanahmet.
If you’re looking for an apartment with a small kitchen and living area, Airbnb is a good place to look and here are high rated Airbnb’s in Sultanahmet to look at:
In comparison to Sultanahmet, Taksim is the more modern and commercial side of Istanbul.
There are not any major tourist attractions in Taksim. Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Street) is a long pedestrianised street full of high street & local shops which connects Taksim to Galata. Galata is home to the tourist attraction Galata Tower and is an older neighbourhood.
Taksim is known for it’s shopping and nightlife. It’s often referred to the area of Istanbul that never sleeps because of this nightlife and party vibe.
Taksim is more local though and although around Taksim Square you will have men selling you things and asking you to come into their restaurant, a few streets away from this you stop getting this.
When working out where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet, Taksim is further out of the tourist centre however it is incredibly well connected by public transport with buses, metro and tram so it is easy to cross the city from Taksim.
If you are a family visiting Taksim with no interest in shopping and don’t want your children around nightlife, or if you are a person who does not want to be around nightlife and alcohol, Taksim is not the best area to stay in Istanbul for you, or at least not close to Taksim Square. I recommend staying closer to Galata or if you want the Taksim stay a few streets away from Taksim Square which is the centre.
If you are young and visiting with a group of friends and want nightlife, Taksim is a good place for you!
You also have to be careful of pickpocketers around Taksim and more so late at night, however apart from this and in the day time especially, it feels like a safe area to stay in.
Best Hotels in Taksim Istanbul
All of these best hotels in Taksim Istanbul and best hotels near Taksim Istanbul hotels have 9+ ratings on Booking.com and are in a great location in Taksim.
If you’re looking for an apartment with a small kitchen and living area, Airbnb is a good place to look and here are high rated Airbnb’s in Taksim to look at:
Where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet
First time in Istanbul = Sultanahmet or Taksim
Second time in Istanbul = Taksim
Family visiting Istanbul = Sultanahmet
Young group of friends visiting Istanbul = Taksim
Couple visiting Istanbul interested in History = Sultanahmet
Couple visiting Istanbul interested in Shopping = Taksim
Solo Traveller = Neither! See Below
Personally, after living in Istanbul and visiting a few times, I don’t like Taksim or Sultanahmet to stay in and if you are a group of women or a solo female coming to Istanbul, I also recommend you don’t stay in one of these areas.
Galata is a good area for you, and for more details on Galata and other areas to stay in Istanbul, read my full guide on Where to Stay in Istanbul. An Istanbul Neighbourhood Guide.
I hope this has helped you work out where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet!
- More of my Istanbul posts to help you plan your stay:
- How to Visit Camlica Mosque in Istanbul. Turkey’s Biggest Mosque!
- How to Visit Balat Istanbul. The Colourful Houses in Balat & More!