Many tourists who visit Istanbul wonder about the most beautiful places to see in the city. Located on two continents, Istanbul has many beautiful districts to visit both on the European and Asian sides. Each of these districts stands out with their different features. In this article you can find the best neighborhoods to visit in Istanbul.
The best neighborhoods in Istanbul are also the best places to live in this city. In the article, there are many insider tips for people who come to Istanbul for education or work and for tourists who come to see historical artifacts. After all, Istanbul has something to offer for everyone.
Best Neighborhoods in Istanbul 2021
The Best Neighborhoods in Istanbul in 2021 article consists of 20 titles. In the article, there are the coolest neighborhoods like Galata as well as traditional places like Sultanahmet. As a bridge between Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a place where many different cultures and lifestyles are blended.
In the first half of the article, you can find the best neighborhoods on the European Side of Istanbul (between 1 and 12). On the other hand, in the second half of the article (between 13 and 20), there are the top neighborhoods on the Asian side of Istanbul.
In Sultanahmet, you can visit historical monuments, taste great street food and shop at centuries-old market places such as the Grand Bazaar. This neighborhood, which is a paradise for history buffs, bears the traces of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
2. Eminonu and Sirkeci
Eminonu is the liveliest district of the Historical Peninsula which was known as Constantinople in the past. Eminonu, the most iconic district in the Old Town, has the city’s most delicious local restaurants and shopping spots such as the Spice Bazaar.
Sirkeci is the name of a square in Eminonu. The most important feature of Sirkeci was that it was the last stop of Orient Express, which came to Istanbul from Paris in the 19th century. You can find the oldest Turkish delight and baklava shops in this historical neighborhood.
3. Fener and Balat
Fener and Balat are two neighboring historical districts. Fener has the honorary patriarchate of Orthodox Christians and attracts visitors from all over the world. Balat was the Jewish quarter of the city in Ottoman Istanbul.
Fener and Balat are the popular districts of Istanbul in recent years, with their 3rd wave coffee shops, restaurants serving local flavors and colorful houses. Photography enthusiasts can be sure that they will take great shots in these districts.
Beyoglu is a great place to experience the energetic life of Istanbul. Beyoglu, which is a very large district, hosts many touristic neighborhoods. In the following few lines, we will be talking about places such as Karakoy, Istiklal Street and Taksim Square in Beyoglu.
Karakoy is a commercial quarter and is one of the oldest and most iconic neighborhoods in Istanbul. It serves as an economic centre with transport, retail stores and many office buildings.
You may also find nice local boutique cafés, restaurants and bars in the area. Karakoy has become one of the best neighborhoods for nightlife in Istanbul for the recent years.
Karakoy also hosts Galataport, which is Istanbul’s Cruise Port. In Karakoy, you can try the fish restaurants by the sea or go to Karakoy Lokantasi, a famous local restaurant named after the district.
6. Istiklal Street
Istiklal Street is one of the most famous areas of Istanbul. It’s visited by around 3 million people on a busy weekend and is a long vehicle-free street which contains many stores, clubs, restaurants and galleries.
You can go to local taverns and bars on side streets such as Asmalimescit and Nevizade and have a good time. In addition, two important museums such as Madam Tussauds Istanbul and Pera Museum are located on Istiklal Street.
7. Taksim Square
Taksim Square is another major tourist destination that is well-known for its culinary background. There are countless restaurants and cafes which are accompanied by luxurious hotels.
Taksim Square is considered the heart of modern Istanbul thanks to all of the local amenities, and it’s also the central station in the Istanbul Metro network, making it a very accessible location.
Taksim Square stands out as the best neighborhood to shop in Istanbul, with its proximity to the city’s largest shopping malls and shopping streets.
Besiktas offers foreign visitors the opportunity to experience the beauties of local life. You can eat and drink like Istanbulites at the cheap but delicious restaurants in Besiktas Fish Market and join the vibrant nightlife of the district.
There are also high-end neighborhoods such as Etiler and Levent in the district. Here you can find top class restaurants such as Nusr-et and Ulus 29. Also, some of the city’s most luxurious shopping centers and hotels are in Besiktas.
Besiktas is also hometown of Besiktas JK football club. The Vodafone Arena Stadium is also located in the district. In short, Besiktas is the best neighborhood in Istanbul where you can experience living like locals.
Ortakoy means village in the middle in Turkish. True to its name, this cozy neighborhood located in the middle of the Bosphorus has a magnificent sea view. When you look at the photos of Ortakoy on Instagram, you can see hundreds of photos of the Bosphorus Bridge and the iconic Ortakoy Mosque.
As you can see in the image above, Ortakoy’s view is magnificent. For this reason, locals go to Ortakoy on the weekend and eat the famous street food (kumpir) of the district.
Among the best things to do in Istanbul is to take a walk to Bebek after having a meal in Ortakoy. The walking route between Ortakoy and Bebek allows you to see the most beautiful views of the Bosphorus.
Bebek is known as a neighborhood where celebrities live in Istanbul. This district, which has quite expensive houses, is famous for its luxury restaurants and nightclubs.
However, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to have a good time at Bebek. Like many Istanbulites, you can take a walk from Ortakoy to Bebek and drink Turkish coffee and eat dessert in Baylan, the most famous patisserie of the district.
11. Rumeli Hisari
Rumeli Hisari (aka Rumeli Fortress) is actually the name of a castle built by the Ottomans in the 15th century. However, over time, the neighborhood around it became known by this name. Rumeli Hisari is a place where Istanbulites go to have breakfast on the weekend.
There are some of Istanbul’s most established breakfast restaurants around Rumeli Fortress. Among them, Lokma, Sade Kahve and Kale Cay Bahcesi are the most famous ones. If you take a walk in Ortakoy direction after having breakfast here, you will see the most beautiful walking route of the Bosphorus.
Sisli is one of Istanbul’s most popular living and shopping spots. Some of Istanbul’s largest shopping malls and most luxurious hotels are located in this district. In addition, the head offices of many large companies are here.
Many people from the upper middle class of Istanbul live in this district. It is very easy to go from Sisli to Ortakoy and Bebek, the most beautiful districts of the Bosphorus. On the other hand, Taksim Square, the heart of the city, can be reached in just minutes.
With all these features, Sisli stands out among the best neighborhoods to live in in Istanbul. Sisli is also just walking distance from Nisantasi, the center of clothing fashion in Istanbul.
Kadikoy is a peaceful and laid-back residential area in Istanbul. Although not the most popular location for tourism, it’s undoubtedly one of the more popular areas to live in thanks to all of the local markets and eateries around.
Thanks to its close proximity to the Sea of Marmara, you’ll find many fish and produce markets which provide the local restaurants and street food vendors with their ingredients, making it a fantastic place for foodies to visit and live in.
Kadikoy Fish Market has been one of the most popular destination of Istanbul Food Tours for the recent years. Comprehensive food walks such as “taste of two continents” focuses on both Old City and Kadikoy.
Moda is a modern neighborhood with a surprising mix of culture hotspots and night clubs, making it great for people that love to get involved with traditional and cultural experiences, but also want to party when the sun goes down.
Moda is a district where artists and writers have settled in recent years. It is home to many new cafes and restaurants as it is becoming popular day by day. Moda is among the best neighborhoods to live in the Asian side of Istanbul.
Fenerbahce is an elegant neighborhood of Istanbul that is home to many wonderful restaurants and boutique stores. It’s a relaxing destination for tourists but also makes for a wonderful home.
As a person living on the Asian side of Istanbul, some of my favorite breakfast places are in this district. After breakfast in Midpoint by the sea, walking in Fenerbahce Park is a pleasant activity.
16. Bagdat Avenue
Bagdat Avenue is an upper-class residential area that is filled with shopping malls, department stores, high-end fashion stores, restaurants and famous brands. This makes it one of the best shopping places in Istanbul but is also home to many affluent families.
Bagdat Avenue, which starts from Kadikoy and extends to Bostanci on the Asian side, is a 15-kilometer-long shopping area. With all these features, it is a paradise for those who want to shop for clothes in Istanbul.
Uskudar is a dense district in Istanbul that is home to around half a million people. It’s one of the oldest residential areas in Istanbul with busy shopping areas and restaurants that serve very traditional dishes that are unique to the area.
Uskudar is a district that spreads over a large area just like Beyoglu and Kadikoy. In the following three titles, we will be talking about the neighborhoods of Uskudar, Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi and Cengelkoy.
Kuzguncuk is one of the most cosmopolitan neighborhoods on the Asian side of Istanbul. The district where non-Muslims lived during the Ottoman period still carries the traces of those days.
You can see churches, synagogues and mosques on the same street in Kuzguncuk. Reflecting the rich culture of the city, the neighborhood also preserves its local characteristics.
Cengelkoy is well-known for its world-famous small cucumbers that used to only grow in this area of Istanbul. Now, it’s mainly a residential district that has many surviving Ottoman mansions that are still in use today. It’s also a nice breakfast place in Istanbul.
Beylerbeyi is home to some of the wealthiest families in the country. It contains many of Istanbul’s most prestigious educational institutes and is well-known for its cultural background with many unique galleries and mosques around the neighborhood.
The most striking place of the Beylerbeyi district is Beylerbeyi Palace, an Ottoman structure dating back to the 19th century. Beylerbeyi, which is the most important palace to visit after Topkapi and Dolmabahce, has remarkable baroque features.
In this article, we introduced you to the best neighborhoods to visit and live in Istanbul. There are many articles on this site that give insider tips for those who visit Istanbul. For example, articles such as the best walking routes in Istanbul and the best places to visit in Istanbul may also interest you.
Best Neighborhoods in Istanbul by Serhat Engul