Where to stay in Istanbul – a neighborhood guide
The main areas to stay in Istanbul are undoubtedly the Taksim area in New City and Sultanahmet on the western side of the city. Sultanahmet is better for sightseeing but New City has the best of Istanbul’s nightlife; if you’re looking for a bit of both then the Golden Horn district might be the best area for you as it is between the two. As a general rule, the closer you are to the districts by the coast, the better.
This is where you’ll find expensive hotels, but they are worth the price. The location is great for those looking to make the most out of Istanbul’s nightlife as there are bars and clubs in the area, just walking distance away. Taksim Square is the modern center of the city, full of galleries, restaurants, shops; it is the most popular area for locals.
These are a group of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul’s Asian side. A stay here guarantees a relaxing time; enjoy the green and quiet surroundings in this idyllic part of the city. No motor traffic is allowed on the islands, so the best way to get around is by hailing a fayton, which is a horse-drawn carriage. The quiet and sun-soaked greenery offers the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of mainland Istanbul.
Sultanahmet is a particularly good place to stay for first time visitors. The major sightseeing attractions are on Sultanahmet Square, where you’ll find the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia; two of the most recognisable landmarks in the Mediterranean. Sultanahmet is a popular area for tourists and there are many hotels to stay at here, even within walking distance to the square.
The Golden Horn district is popular for its estuary. This is called the Golden Horn estuary and is famous for its scenery. A favorite pastime here is to sit in one of its parks and watch the sun setting into the sea in the distance. The Golden Horn district still shows remnants of its Ottoman past, but does not have the popularity of its more illustrious neighbour, New City, which means that there are fewer tourists and more opportunity to discover an authentically Turkish part of Istanbul.
The Asian side of Istanbul is predominantly a hub for business, and tends to be more attractive to workers than tourists. Nonetheless, Çamlıca Hill is one of the highest hills in the city and is popular among locals and tourists. Its far-reaching views of Istanbul make for a pleasant setting for the café at the summit. There is also a park, which is a perfect way to unwind from the energy of the city below. Kadıköy and Üsküdar are the most popular areas here, but be sure to check out the neighborhoods by the Mamara coast to see the typically Mediterranean and colorful streets.
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