Where to stay in Istanbul: the best areas and hotel recommendations

Where to stay in Istanbul

My opinion on where to stay in Istanbul: based on my personal experience.

I went to Istanbul more times that I can remember, but the majority of those trips were business ones. But because of this specific fact I didn’t have to stay exactly in the historical center of the city: instead we booked apartments around Istanbul. So here I am going to share my opinion on the best areas to stay in Istanbul and some hotel recommendations (based on booking.com reviews as I stayed in Airbnbs mostly).

The areas I stayed in

The first time I went to Istanbul was in December 2010: the company I worked for organised a corporate trip for us. We stayed in a 3 star hotel in Sultanahmet not far from the Grand Bazaar. Later I stayed a couple of times in Sultanahmet: once close to the Blue Mosque in a not-very-good hotel and once in Palace Point Hotel (a better one 🙂 ) behind Gulhane.

Çapa is a neighborhood relatively not far from Sultanahmet: here I stayed in a small Airbnb and I absolutely loved the place and the area!

In Beyoglu I stayed in a splendid Airbnb right at the entrance to Galata Tower, then in another, but not less splendid, apartment a bit far from Taksim Square.

When it comes to the Asian part, I stayed there as well, in Uskudar, but it is fair to say that our Airbnb was far from Haydarpasa.

Why am I saying all of these? It is mostly for you to understand that the opinions I share on the best areas to stay in Istanbul are based on my personal experience.

Where to stay in Istanbul

So, what is the best area to stay in Istanbul in my opinion? I will list them below – with some hotel recommendations (they have excellent reviews on booking.com) – in the order of the areas I consider the best.

Çapa and hotel recommendations

You may wonder why I mention this area first: after all, almost nobody has ever heard about it. It is true, tourists rarely stay here, but this neighbourhood has many advantages.

First of all, there are no crowds of tourists around. Despite the fact that it takes about 10-15 minutes to get to Sultanahmet by tram from here, not many travellers choose it for accommodation.

Secondly, you can see the authentic life here, though don’t expect many people to speak English. Restaurants and cafes around cater mostly to the locals, and people are very nice, at least, I met nice people 🙂

Thirdly, it is easy to get to Sultanahmet from here: just take tram T1, and it will take you right to the Blue Mosque. If you ride it further, you will cross Galata Bridge and end up at Kabatas Pier from where you can take the ferry to the Prince Islands or go to Dolmabahce.

NB: when looking for hotels or Airbnb, make sure they are not far from Turgut Özal Millet Caddesi. Why? Because the tram T1 runs along this street.

Below are some hotels to consider in the area (as always, read the reviews first):

Kunlun Hotel
Hanna Hotel
The Green Hotel
Hotel 1453

Sultanahmet and hotel recommendations

Many travellers prefer Sultanahmet and it is quite understandable: all the main sights are here. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi, Gulhane, Suleymaniye, Grand and Egyptian Bazaars, ancient walls, Yerebatan Cistern, everything is either in the neighbourhood itself or really close, within walking distance. And the tram T1 runs here as well, so it will take you to Kabatas as well. Eminonu pier is at Galata Bridge, if Kabatas is too far for you.

Personally, I like the area. It is lively both day and night and feels safer. Everything is close and many people speak English.

What to consider when looking for a hotel in Sultanahmet:

– Make sure the hotel doesn’t face Divan Yolu Caddesi. It is the main street in the area, the tram runs along it, it is always crowded and noisy.
– Istanbul is a hilly city, so if you don’t want to climb up and down on your way to/from the hotel, be careful with the location. For example, the area behind the Blue Mosque (around Küçük Ayasofya Caddesi) is quite hilly. I am not saying you shouldn’t consider it, as there are some nice hotels there, this is just a warning.

Below are some hotels to consider in the area (as always, read the reviews first):

Sultanahmet Palace Hotel
Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
World Heritage Hotel Istanbul
GLK Premier Acropol
Agora Guesthouse Hostel
– Or just check all hotels in the Sultanahmet area.

Beyoglu/Taksim and hotel recommendations

Now, while I truly love the area, I wouldn’t willingly stay here. The reason is simple: it will take some time to get to Sultanahmet, which can be tiresome to do every day. If you stay closer to Galata Bridge, you can just take the tram T1 to Sultanahmet, as it is really close. But if you stay somewhere around Istiklal and Taksim, the story is different.

The best area to stay in Istanbul

If you stay close to Taksim Square, you will have to take the funicular first down the hill, then take the tram to get to Sultanahmet.

If you stay somewhere in the area of Galata Tower, you will have to take it on foot to get to the tram (the area is hilly as well) or take the train at Sishane subway (though the subway will take you to Laleli, and from there you can either go on foot or take the tram). For me, this is too much, and despite it being a nice area, I wouldn’t opt for it.

Still, if you want to stay in the area, below are some hotel recommendations: all of them are close to Taksim Square, as it is easier to get to Sultanahmet from there.

Taximist Hotel
The Independent Hotel Taksim
Opera House Hotel
Amofta Hotel Taksim
Sunshine Taksim Suite: rooms with kitchen
– Or just check all hotels in the Taksim area.

The Asian part

Now, when it comes to the Asian part, it is a big no from me. Staying there means you will have to take the ferry everyday to get to the European part where the main sights are. Of course, there are some interesting places to see there, like Kadikoy area (famous for its shopping and the bull), Beylerbeyi Palace and the Anatolian Fortress (though, in my opinion, it is easier to visit them during a Bosphorus tour), but they are not worth of staying in the area.

The bull in Kadikoy, Istanbul
The bull in Kadikoy, Istanbul

If you want to share your experience or opinions on the best areas to stay in Istanbul, you are more than welcome to do it in the comments. But please be respectful, and don’t start with ‘you know nothing, you are talking gibberish, etc’.

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Where to stay in Istanbul, Turkey | The best areas to stay in Istanbul, Turkey

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