Trying to work out where to stay in Istanbul and the best place to stay in Istanbul is a bit of a minefield, and I should know, on my first 2 visits to Istanbul I stayed in the wrong places and only mildly enjoyed the city.
On my third visit, I moved to Istanbul to live in the city for a few months. I now love Istanbul and I got to know the Istanbul neighbourhoods really well. I found out the best areas to stay in Istanbul which I wish I had known for my first 2 visits!
So, here is my guide to the best neighbourhoods in Istanbul to help you work out where to stay in Istanbul!
I’ve detailed 10 neighbourhoods in Istanbul so you can make sure you get the very best area for you!
The best place to stay in Istanbul is often thought to be where the top Istanbul tourist attractions are, however, as you will read below, for some people, I suggest staying away from these areas!
For each neighbourhood, I have given you the best hotel to stay in Istanbul so whether you’re wondering where should I stay in Istanbul and where to stay in Istanbul with family, I’m here to help you!
Where To Stay in Istanbul
More of my Istanbul posts to help you plan your trip:
Find What You're Looking For Easily Here!
Landing in Istanbul
You’ll want to be connected in Istanbul and luckily, it’s really easy to get a sim card at both Istanbul Airports! Here is help for buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport and buying a sim card at Istanbul SAW Airport and then you’ll have data for the rest of your trip!
To help with getting from the Airport to the City read – Sabiha Airport to Taksim! 3 Ways To Do The Journey Easily!
Map of Areas in Istanbul to Stay
Here is a map of the 10 areas to stay in Istanbul I recommend:
Where To Stay in Istanbul Area Guide?
Let’s get into where to stay in Istanbul, and you’ll see I’ve noted which areas are best for families in Istanbul, solo travellers and those visiting for the first time!
1. Sultanahmet – best for families, a short stay & first stay
Sultanahmet is the historical part of Istanbul with the top Istanbul tourist attractions within it. When looking into Istanbul where to stay, this might seem like the most obvious place to stay in Istanbul.
Hotels in Sultanahmet are within 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.
Below are the positives and negatives to staying in Sultanahmet, overall I think Sultanahmet is good for people who only have 2 days in Istanbul and want to see all the top tourist attractions and for where to stay in Istanbul with family.
This is because I think Sultanahmet is good so you are not dragging your kids around the city getting to the big tourist attractions if that’s what you want to see.
For a solo female traveller like myself who likes to see a local side of a city, Sultanahmet is not a good idea!
If you choose to stay in Sultanahmet, don’t forget to visit these places:
- Walking distance to the top attractions with lots of restaurants around catered for tourists.
- Istanbul is very hilly and this area of Istanbul is much flatter than others.
- Well connected to other parts of the city.
- Men in restaurants and shops will be calling you in and can be annoying.
- Higher prices because it’s a tourist area.
- Quite commercial and very touristy, it’s not an authentic local neighbourhood anymore.
Best Hotels in Sultanahmet:
- Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
- GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa
- Sultanahmet Palace Hotel
- Tan Hotel
- Obelisk Hotel & Suites
For the best hotel to stay in Istanbul with an incredible and iconic view of the mosques, hotels in Sultanahmet are going to offer you this over any other neighbourhoods in Istanbul.
Related Post: Where To Stay in Istanbul Taksim Or Sultanahmet? A More Detailed Post on where to stay in Istanbul Taksim or Sultanahmet?
2. Taksim – best for shopping & nightlife
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 connect Taksim to Galata.
Galata is home to the tourist attraction Galata Tower and is an older neighbourhood.
Because of this when it comes to where to stay in Istanbul for tourists, Taksim is a popular choice. I think it’s a good choice for groups of friends who want nightlife and shopping but not for families or for solo travellers and people who want culture.
- Slightly less hassle from restaurants and shops than in Sultanahmet.
- Good for shopping and nightlife if that’s what you want.
- Well connected to other areas of the city.
- A commercial area and not a pretty area of the city.
- Not good if you don’t want nightlife and bars around where you stay.
- Not close to major tourist attractions in Istanbul.
- It’s pretty ‘seedy’ in areas.
Best Hotels in Taksim:
Look for the best flights to Istanbul??
I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price!
Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.
3. Galata – best for cool cafes & cool vibe
Galata is a historical neighbourhood in Istanbul fully of windy and hilly streets and pretty buildings. It has the Galata Tower which is a top Istanbul tourist attraction however apart from this it doesn’t have any other attractions.
It is a charming neighbourhood with cool cafes and plenty of independent shops.
When it comes to the best place to stay in Istanbul, Galata is a neighbourhood I highly recommend for solo travellers, for people who like history and culture.
To the question ‘where is the best place to stay in Istanbul?’ Galata is one of the top places I recommend staying in Istanbul.
- Historical area of the city with nice buildings.
- Touristy but not with pushy restaurants and shops, it’s touristy in a nice way.
- Good location and closer to tourist attractions than Taksim.
- Very hilly. If you have difficulties walking it may be tough.
- Most tourist attractions are not really close.
- Prices may be higher as it’s a popular and nice area.
Best Hotels in Galata:
4. Karakoy – best for no hill walking & public transport
Karakoy is at the bottom of the hill under Galata, by the water and across the water from Sultanahmet. Karakoy as a neighbourhood does not have too much to it in my opinion.
It has a lot of restaurants and a few shops and bars at night but it doesn’t have history and charm.
When looking at hotels in Istanbul for where to stay in Istanbul, often Karakoy hotels appear in the Galata location, which is incorrect and you could end up not staying in Istanbul where you want, so be careful of this!
- It’s flat so if you have walking difficulties it’s a good place to stay.
- Close to Galata Bridge and therefore well connected to Sultanahmet.
- Good public transport connections to elsewhere in the city.
- Lots of restaurants and bars on the doorstep.
- It is quite touristy.
- It attracts a nighttime crowd which solo travellers may not like.
- No history or culture compared to other areas.
Best Hotels in Karakoy:
5. Cihangir – best for digital nomads & long stays
Cihangir is a neighbourhood across from Galata and it is close to Taksim but it is worlds away from Taksim in style.
I lived in Cihangir for 3 months and I LOVED IT, and therefore I highly recommend it as the best place to stay in Istanbul.
Cihangir Istanbul is a local neighbourhood but its young and hip too and a lot of foreigners tend to live there so there are lots of cool cafes and restaurants.
It’s also most known for its antique shops, here you will see so many cool shops with incredible things in, be able to get an amazing Turkish Breakfast, a good coffee and feel like you’re living Istanbul life, all around seeing the tourist attractions in the city too.
- A very local and authentic neighbourhood in Istanbul.
- Many cafes and restaurants suitable for tourists but that locals go to.
- Well connected by public transport to other areas of the city.
- Very hilly. If you have difficulties walking it may be tough.
- No tourist attractions within walking distance.
- Not as many high-quality hotels available because it’s not a really tourist area, so book quickly!
Best Hotels in Cihangir:
- Hammamhane (I love this Istanbul hotel!)
- Witt Istanbul Suites
- Faik Pasha Suites Special Category
- Casa Di Bava Istanbul
6. Besiktas – best for exploring the Bosporus & not first time visit
Besiktas is a neighbourhood right on the Bosporus. It is a much more local neighbourhood with windy streets and small bakeries but it also has high rise buildings and fancy restaurants in places.
If you are staying in Istanbul for business purposes this is a good area thanks to these nice restaurants, shops and there are lots of luxury hotels in Besiktas for your needs!
Best of all, 5 star hotels in Istanbul are much cheaper than other cities and countries!
- Well connected as there is a pier in Besiktas on the Bosporus.
- A local feel rather than a tourist feel.
- Good for Business in Istanbul.
- Plenty of luxury hotels.
- Good value 5* Hotels.
- Safe for solo female travellers.
- Quite far from major tourist attractions.
- Need to get public transport to get everywhere.
Best Hotels in Besiktas:
- Shangri-La Bosphorus
- Raffles Istanbul
- Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus
- Hyatt Centric Levent Istanbul
- Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
7. Kadikoy – best for exploring the Asian side
Kadikoy is on the Asian side of Istanbul. (If you didn’t know, the city of Istanbul is split between Europe and Asia by the Bosporus).
(Also, don’t get Kadikoy and Karakoy confused, they sound similar but are different areas of the city)
It is not as common for tourists to stay on the Asian side of Istanbul because none of the tourist attractions are that way (except for Turkey’s biggest mosque Camlica Mosque), however, if you want to experience a really local side to the city then this is a good option,
It’s also good if you have been to Istanbul 1 or 2 times before and want to experience a new side of Istanbul.
Kadikoy is still full of restaurants, cafes and bars, like the European side but it does have a different and more relaxed feel to it.
Uskudar is another popular place to stay on the Asian side of Istanbul however there are not many good hotels in Uskudar, you could look on Airbnb instead though, so for now, I’ll focus on staying in Kadikoy so you get the best hotels in Istanbul on the Asian side.
- A very local area but still easy for tourists to get around and to Europe by boat and metro.
- Easy to see tourist sights on the Asian side of Istanbul from.
- Much cheaper for accommodation and food because it’s not very touristy.
- Need to get a boat or metro to get over to Europe to all the main tourist attractions.
- It may not be the Istanbul you have in mind when you think of Istanbul because it’s the Asian side.
- Kadikoy has quite a few bars and nightlife so if you don’t want this, you may want to stay further away.
Best Hotels in Kadikoy:
Related Post: 10 Things To Do On The Asian Side of Istanbul !
8. Uskudar – best for Asian side & mosques
Along with Kadikoy, Uskudar is another one of the places to stay on the Asian side of Istanbul and one of the main places to visit on the Asian side too.
Whilst Uskudar is not full-on religious, going here definitely feels a bit more religious and conservative as many Muslims live here and have shops here and they are many beautiful mosques in a small area.
Visiting the biggest mosque in Istanbul should be on your list of things to do in Istanbul and Uskudar is where you can leave from.
To help with why Uskudar is one of the best places to stay in Istanbul, read this post: 10 Things To Do in Uskudar & Uskudar Guide for Tourists!
- Unique area to stay as it’s on Asian side
- Close to Mosques if you are Muslim
- Cheaper area to stay in and eat in
- Good ferry transport to rest of the city
- Need to get a boat or metro to get over to Europe to all the main tourist attractions
- It may not be the Istanbul you have in mind when you think of Istanbul because it’s the Asian side
- Less accommodation options
Best hotels in Uskudar:
How to get the best flights??
I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different destinations and different dates for the best price and route!
For example, I type in ‘everywhere’ in the destination if I have fixed dates and want to find the best flights on those dates on Skyscanner.
And if I have a set destination I’ll look at the ‘month view’ to check the cheapest days to fly in that month!
9. Balat – best for longer stays & seeing alternative area
Balat is an old historical neighbourhood of Istanbul, it’s popular as one of the top areas to visit in Istanbul because of the Balat Colourful Houses.
At first, it didn’t strike me as a good location to stay in Istanbul, however I met some friends who stayed here for 1 month and they loved it.
Balat is a unique area to stay in Istanbul but actually it’s perfect! It has a local neighbourhood feel but because it is a tourist attraction it has plenty of cool cafes, shops and restaurants.
If you’re thinking where should I stay in Istanbul if you have been here once or twice before, this is a good place!
- Popular area for tourists to visit during the day but not stay in so it still feels local.
- Very unique area of Istanbul to stay in.
- Well connected by public transport to other areas of the city.
- Not really close to the major tourist attractions in Istanbul.
- Very busy with tourists coming during the day.
- Not as much accommodation because it’s not as popular to stay in, more popular on Airbnb.
Best Hotels in Balat:
10. Sisli – best for work trips
Istanbul is not a high-rise, glass building city, but it does have financial areas and modern areas to the city and Sisli is one of these.
Sisli is also often regarded as one of the upscale districts in Istanbul with many upscale hotels, fashion boutiques, and shopping centers and cocktails bars.
- More upscale than other areas of the city.
- Good for a second or third trip to Istanbul.
- Well located with good public transport links.
- Mixture of well priced hotel and luxury hotels.
- Not close to any Istanbul tourist attractions.
- Not what most people think of when they think of Istanbul.
Best Hotels in Sisli:
I hope this has helped you work out where to stay in Istanbul!
For more of my Istanbul posts to help you see the best of the city see: