You’re wondering where to book your lodgings in Istanbul? Read this mini-guide and find out about some of the best places to stay in Istanbul!
Cut in half by the Bosporus Strait connecting the black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, the sprawling capital of Turkey straddles both Asia and Europe. Istanbul – formerly Byzantium, and Constantinople – is the cultural, economic, and financial centre of the country. With over 15 million inhabitants, it is one of the largest megacities in the world. Accommodation to stay in the city can be relatively cheap, but you have to know where to stay in Istanbul. Blessed with an infinitely rich historical and cultural heritage, the “other Rome” attracts more than 9.5 million visitors per year and boasts numerous historical landmarks (Basilica of Saint Sophia, Blue Mosque, Süleymanye Mosque, etc.). To top it all, some of the city’s neighbourhoods are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Whether you’re looking to stay in a historic, bourgeois, authentic, or picturesque neighbourhood, or if you prefer to stay in a more festive, student-frequented and shopping-friendly area, Istanbul offers a myriad of different atmospheres from one neighbourhood to another. And as everywhere else, this gem of the Bosporus features an array of accommodation options: hotels, youth hostels, bed and breakfasts, apartments… Find out below about where to stay in Istanbul.
Sultanahmet, the historic city
Photo credit: Flickr – LASZLO ILYES
Situated on a small peninsula in the heart of the city, Sultanahmet, the historic part of Istanbul, adjoins the “Golden Horn”, one of the primary inlets of the Bosphorus. Here, you’ll find most of the renowned historic landmarks, such as the famous Basilica of Saint Sophia – which was once a Christian basilica, later a mosque, before becoming the highly-frequented museum it is today -, the Blue Mosque – or Sultanahmet Mosque -, the Grand Bazaar and the imposing Topkapı Palace. Stay in Sultanahmet and you’ll be able to explore Istanbul’s rich architectural heritage on foot. That’s if you don’t mind walking alongside hordes of visitors who flock every day in the area, which tends to lose its istanbulite identity due to mass tourism. Accommodation in Sultanahmet ranges from cheap youth hostels to five-star hotels.
Taksim and Beyoğlu
Photo credit: Flickr – Tony Mendez
Just opposite, on the other side of the Golden Horn, discover the “Mecca” of nightlife and shopping. If you want to indulge in neverending shopping sprees, this is the neighbourhood where you should stay in Istanbul. The neighbourhoods of Taksim and Beyoğlu are frequented by locals day and night. Filled with shops of all kinds, this area is the perfect place to stroll, and hunt for the item(s) you’re looking for, be it clothing, food, decorative products, etc. Have a cup of good coffee or tea on a terrace, and party in the evening. Taksim is a central shopping area while Beyoğlu is famous for its nightclubs and numerous bars. Accommodation rates can be high – whether hotels or apartments – and both neighbourhoods are, as you may have guessed, a little noisy. Stay in this area to discover the modern side of Istanbul, home to ancient quarters like Taksim and Beyoğlu, which have become the city’s trendiest areas.
Galata, a city in the city
Photo credit: Flickr – Cycling Man
Located between the bustling Taksim and the banks of the Bosphorus, the neighbourhood of Galata is a place where one spends a lot of time walking, climbing, and descending: visitors love to wander up and down the maze of steep winding alleys that give the area its wonderful, authentic feel. The area offers a wealth of accommodation options and you will certainly find the lodgings you’re looking for to stay in Istanbul while remaining close to the city centre (the Sultanahmet district is not far). One of the most charming areas of the city, at very affordable rates.
Main photo credit : Flickr – BüniD