Where To Stay In Istanbul? Taksim, Sultanahmet or Bosphorus?

Four Seasons Sultanahmet

Where To Stay In Istanbul? Taksim or Sultanahmet? 2017

Both places are nice to stay. Taksim is more closer to action. Sultanahmet is so near to main tourist attractions. Two areas are separated by the famous harbour Golden Horn.

There is also a third choice: Staying in Bosphorus Hotels. Bosphorus amazes the city folk with its beauty but more expensive option. So let’s have a look at the issue from the eyes of an insider.

Where To Stay In Istanbul? Best Area 2017

Where To Stay In Istanbul? Best Area 2017

Golden Horn Area

Sultanahmet and Taksim are almost neighbors, if there was not any Golden Horn to separate them. The Golden Horn is the most important inlet that connects to Bosphorus. It had once been a natural dock for Byzantine and Ottoman naval ships.

This famous historical harbour is where the passenger boats depart for Bosphorus Tours or Asian side districts such as Üsküdar and Kadıköy.

The Golden Horn is known to divide modern Istanbul (Taksim, Galata and Karaköy) and historical Istanbul (Eminönü, Sirkeci and Sultanahmet).

There are two major bridges crossing over the Golden Horn: The modern Atatürk Bridge, and historical Galata Bridge. Especially the Galata Bridge is popular attraction for tourists because it’s the shortest way between Sultanahmet Old City and Beyoğlu New Town. Besides there are many fish restaurants under the Galata Bridge.

There are lots of hotels located nearby the Golden Horn. Either on the Northern side or on the Southern side. So let’s have a look at their pros and cons.

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Where To Stay In Istanbul Map


A busy map of Golden Horn & Bosphorus districts. Helps you choose where to stay in Istanbul. Please left click for higher resolution.

Staying In Sultanahmet Old City Hotels 2018

Obviously the best reason to book your hotel in Sultanahmet stems from the fact that it is close to major sights such as Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and Grand Bazaar. All of these sights are only a walking distance from the hotels situated in Sultanahmet.

The downside of booking the hotel in Sultanahmet is that the area is not lively when it is dark. Streets get empty and there is almost no nightlife in the area. This place is to find the peace and stroll around to take photos. A good sleep is guaranteed at night.

Major Districts Of Istanbul Old City:

Eminönü > Sirkeci > Gülhane > Sultanahmet > Çemberlitaş > Beyazıt > Laleli

+ Pros: It is an area closed to traffic, silent and safe neighborhood. It is close by the most well-known historical monuments. The New City can easily be accessed through tram.

– Cons: The only disadvantage of this area of the city is that there is almost no nightlife here. After 23:00 in the evening, almost everywhere becomes silent and empty.

View Of Hagia Sophia Church Sultanahmet

Sultanahmet is such a nice area nearby all the famous landmarks of Istanbul.

Staying In Taksim (Beyoglu) New City Hotels 2018

Should I stay in Sultanahmet or Taksim? That is very common question while planning a trip to Istanbul. The problem is that there’s no straightforward answer to it. It is simply a matter of choice.

Beyoğlu boasts important sights including but not limited to Istiklal Avenue, Galata Tower, Taksim Square and Dolmabahçe Palace. There are also trendy neighborhoods in Beyoglu such as Cihangir, Galata and Çukurcuma with their cozy cafes and bustling nightlife.

Istiklal Avenue is a lively area bustling with people 24 hours a day all year. It should be noted that some hotels can be in noisy locations but still there are some hotels that are in quieter locations yet still only a walking distance from all the nightlife action.

Nişantaşı is a neighborhood famous for its trendy fashion boutiques and huge shopping centers of Beşiktaş and Şişli can be reached through a short metro ride.

Major Districts Of Istanbul Beyoğlu:

Karaköy > Galata > Pera > İstiklal Caddesi > Taksim Square >Tarlabaşı > Cihangir > Tophane

+ Pros: It is a very dynamic area. It is closeby both Historical Istanbul where there are famous monuments and districts on Bosphorus.

– Cons: Taksim Square and surrounding areas are very crowded during the weekend. The noise of people and cars may disturb you. Security is not as high as Historical Istanbul.

Istiklal Avenue Istanbul

Bustling Istiklal Avenue of Istanbul. This street where the heart of the city beats.

Map Of Major Districts In Istanbul Beyoğlu


Map Of Major Districts Of The Istanbul Beyoğlu

My Advice On The Issue

You will spend time in both areas for sure. You can easily use the tram, funicular and taxi to commute between Sultanahmet and Taksim.

My personal experience tells me that the best place to stay is the old town since that is where history is. Almost everything related to history exists in the Sultanahmet, you can just walk back to your hotel after your daily sightseeing tour and have a good rest. Then get yourself ready for a delicious dinner around the hotel.

You can visit the town with a brief taxi ride and take great delight in famous Taksim nightlife. You can walk around Istiklal Avenue and you might visit one of the cozy local bars. Many of them located in Tunnel Area and Galata. Jazz bars are strongly recommended. For instance Nardis Jazz Club or Babylon.

When it gets to late and you get exhausted by the charm of Istanbul night, it’s very easy to get back to your hotel in the old city. Being away from the daytime Istanbul traffic, a smooth taxi ride will take you back to your hotel.


Breath-taking beauty of the Bosphorus. Çırağan Palace Kempinski is definitely the best hotel in the city.

A 3rd Choice: Staying At Bosphorus Hotels 2018

If you want to be close to the unique beauty of Bosphorus, you can choose hotels located in this area. Generally these hotels are in the expensive category.

Major Districts Of Istanbul Bosphorus:

European side: Beşiktaş > Ortaköy > Bebek  / Asian Side: Beylerbeyi > Çengelköy

+ Pros: Districts alongside Bosphorus provide a wonderful scenery and life quality is considerably high. Best restaurants and nightclubs are nearby. For instance Reina and Sortie. Celebrities also live around the cozy Bebek district. Accommodation is therefore expensive.

– Cons: They are a bit far from the historical sightseeing places. You may need to use land transport as transportation through use is limited. This issue may lead you to have problems due to traffic.

Map Of Major Districts In Istanbul Bosphorus


Map Of Major Districts In Bosphorus. Both Asian And European Sides.

This is a matter of preference after all. All areas are nice some lively, some beautiful, some quiet.

I hope you have the best time in Istanbul.

Latest Update: 16.09.2017

Further Recommended Reading:

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© Best Area To Stay In Istanbul For Tourists 2017 & 2018

Where To Stay In Istanbul? Taksim, Sultanahmet or Bosphorus? was last modified: September 16th, 2017 by Serhat Engül

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