Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, has a liveliness that stems from a combination of historic traditions with lively modern culture. Old Istanbul neighborhoods like Galata and Balat, which are home to historic churches and synagogues, are sprouting cool new places to visit, while younger hotspots like Karaköy make Istanbul’s different districts a treasure map for the urban adventurer. Check out our guideline on the best neighborhoods in Istanbul to live before deciding where you want to reside.
Istiklal Street and Taksim Square
Starting at the Republic Monument (erected to mark the Republic’s founding in 1923) and ending at cobblestoned Galip Dede Street, you can walk down commercial Istiklal Street and observe the innovative Taksim Tram traversing its length. The modern art museum SALT Beyolu is a terrific spot to get away from the bustle and immerse yourself in an exhibition.
Every Wednesday, free film screenings are held on the ground floor, while the top floor holds the lovely winter garden, an oasis of peace in the centre of the city. Taksim Square and Istiklal Street, the best neighborhoods in Istanbul to stay, are bustling all year, with high-end shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and nightclubs.
Besiktas, one of historic Istanbul neighborhoods neighborhoods, is home to three leading universities, and the students who visit the area give it a relaxed feel. It’s the perfect area to meet up with friends, with coffee shops playing carefully selected music, hundreds of pubs serving inexpensive beer on tap, and a wide variety of food alternatives.
This region is also the home of the Besiktas Football Club, and it is a popular gathering spot on match days, when marching bands and fans waving flags and singing fill the streets. Try a fish sandwich from the local market or a plate of chicken and rice from one of the pilavci (rice vendors) scattered across the square.
Galata, which is part of the greater Beyolu district, is best known for its tower, which overlooks the neighborhood’s cobblestoned streets and neoclassical structures. The streets surrounding Galata Tower are lined with small, intriguing stores and cafes, making for excellent browsing. Visit the Mevlevi Museum – the Whirling Dervish Hall – and the Museum of Turkish Jews after savouring the city views. Stop by the Home Spa shop on Galip Dede Street for bath and body goods, including locally sourced soaps and oils, to take home. Boutiques, galleries, and gift shops along Serdar-i Ekrem Street. For the tourists, Galata is one of the best neighborhoods in Istanbul to stay.
Sultanahmet Old City, formerly the social and political heart of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, is one of the best neighborhoods in Istanbul to live. This area takes you through Istanbul’s rich history, and some of the city’s most beautiful architecture is within walking distance of the main square. With its towering dome, colourful marble columns, Islamic art, and gleaming Christian mosaics, the 6th-century Hagia Sophia dominates the skyline. The Ottoman-era Topkapi Palace, the 15th-century Sultans’ home turned into a museum in 1924; The Blue Mosque, known for its tiles and minarets, and the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul’s largest remaining Byzantine cistern.
Karaköy, once a vital city harbor and one of the best neighborhoods in Istanbul to live, was allowed to decline until it became a hotspot about 2012. Churches and synagogues integrate perfectly into the newer areas of the city, creating a maze-like street system that offers a glimpse of the city’s heritage. The SALT Galata building, which was once the Ottoman Bank headquarters and is now a well-established art venue, was once home to the financial area in the 19th century. Take a stroll down Mumhane Street to see Pi and the Mixer Art Gallery.