On the coast of the Bosphorus – the strait that marks the divide between Europe and Asia – Besiktas is one of the most dynamic parts of Istanbul. Cosmopolitan cafes and fashion boutiques make it a great place to wander all day, while a major landmark is Dolmabahce Palace, a formidable fortress of Baroque and Rococo grandeur, with opulent sights such like the Crystal Staircase, fashioned from Baccarat crystal and mahogany.
Separated from the Old City by the shimmering stretch of the Golden Horn, Beyoglu is a cosmopolitan quarter crammed with tempting cafes, bars, and restaurants – especially along the famed Istiklal Avenue, one of Istanbul's busiest streets. Look out for the ornate Art Deco and Neo-Gothic buildings all around as you head down to Taksim Square, the hub of modern Istanbul, which is home to the Republic Monument.
Get a taste of Ancient Rome in Turkey by visiting Beyazit. The ruins of the columns of the Forum of Theodosius still stand, while next to Beyazit Square is one of Istanbul's great attractions: the Grand Bazaar. Dating back to the 15th Century, its ancient warren of shops sell everything from glowing lanterns to ornate rugs, while the vintage fountains and tiled, arched ceiling make the market itself a must-see.
Sirkeci's train station is famous, and with good reason. It was the last stop of the Orient Express, and with its stained-glass decor and Ottoman architecture, it still exudes the glamor of a lost age. Sirkeci has plenty of hotels to choose from, and it's only a short walk to the Spice Bazaar, with its striking vaulted walkways lined with shops selling colorful heaps of sumac, paprika, and red peppercorns.
All the splendor of old Istanbul can be found in Sultanahmet. A stunning fusion of Islamic and Ottoman architecture, the Blue Mosque is a stand-out sight. Then there's Topkapi Palace, which with its stone towers, sprawling courtyards, and inner buildings is a city in itself – it houses some of Islam's holiest relics. For a classic Turkish experience, bask in the heat of one of the area's traditional baths, or hamams.
"Good airport transit"
Reviewed by a Hotels.com guest on Feb 11, 2013
I was looking for a good rest for an 18 hour layover between flights. The Han Hostel was ideal & inexpensive. Only a 10 minute taxi ride from airport. Small but comfortable room. Breakfast & a good exercise room for jetlag. There's an outlet mall nearby for good coffee & meals. I will use this hostel often.
Reviewed by a Hotels.com guest on Nov 21, 2012
I highly recommend Tulip Guesthouse. The location was close to all the major sites, public transportation and restaurants, with great views of the city. The neighborhood is extremely quiet and I felt safe walking by myself at any hour. The staff could not have made me feel more welcome - I feel like I have a family in Turkey to visit. The rooms are very clean and comfortable. Rates include a generous Turkish breakfast buffet. The staff arranged a fabulous visit to a traditional haman (Turkish bath) that was one of the highlights of my stay.
"This was close to important sights to see."
Reviewed by a Hotels.com guest on Jul 28, 2012
Hotel was in a neigh hood setting and after 4 days we knew grocery and wine and fruit places. The staff was very helpful although not strong in English. The stairs would be difficult for any one with handicap but small children with us did not have a problem. Location is dense with people and traffic, but that added to local color. This is a place for those who are willing to make a little effort. Showers were hot, breakfasts sufficient and beds were comfortable. A short walk to the waterfront.
"Hotel Ararat Rocks!"
Reviewed by Toddzy of "San Francisco, CA" on
Nov 10, 2011
Perfect location, a few minutes to walk to all the cool sights and food. View of Blue Mosque right out my window. Rooftop Terrace is awesome. Great friendly and helpful staff. Rooms small but cozy. Free internet!
"Sunlight Istanbul -- Steep hill, not steep prices"
Reviewed by Robert M of "Milwaukee, WI" on
Oct 15, 2010
Located a couple of blocks from the Çemberlitaş tram stop in Istanbul's touristy Sultanahmet district, the Sunlight is convenient except for a rather steep hill which is more an annoyance than an impediment if you're hauling heavy luggage. Rooms are clean but basic. Friendly staff, a/c. Make sure you have a map, as the street names are rarely posted. The hotel seems to be located right next to a mosque, so prepare to hear the call to prayer at sunrise! Overall, decent value for price.