If you are not sure where to stay in Istanbul, worry not! Though there are plenty of neighborhoods to stay in Istanbul, generally the two best areas are Sultanahmet and Taksim Square.
Sultanahmet and Taksim are located in the old city center and the new city center, respectively. They offer you the ease of access to some of the best attractions in Istanbul, Turkey.
But depending on your needs, those two might not be the perfect place to stay in Istanbul for you. After having the pleasure to visit Istanbul many times, I can assure you that there is a neighborhood out that will be perfect for you.
We have written this guide to help you decide where to stay in Istanbul, and what are some of the best hotels, vacation rentals, and hostels in this incredible city!
Looking For a Quick Tip on Where to Stay in Istanbul?
As we have mentioned, the two best areas in Istanbul are Sultanahmet and Taksim Square. But of the two areas, we would recommend Sultanahmet over the Taksim.
Sultanahmet is the historic district of Istanbul, so many of the accommodations are built inside historical buildings. It is not uncommon for rooms to have balconies that overlook some of the beautiful mosques and Turkey’s most famous buildings.
Plus, you are within walking distance of the city’s most incredible historical attractions, a luxury that cannot be taken for granted. Without a doubt, Sultanahmet is the best place to stay in Istanbul for tourists.
Best Overall Hotel in Istanbul – The Magnaura Palace Hotel
– In the heart of Sultanahmet, minutes away from Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia
– Beautiful traditional Turkish decor throughout the hotel
– Unparallel views of the mosques in Istanbul
– Accommodating staff ready to answer any questions
Best Overall Vacation Rental in Istanbul – Raven Suites Old City Istanbul
– Spacious apartment located in heart of Sultanahmet
– Fully-equipped kitchen and washing machine
– Simple and modern decor for comfort
– Can accommodate up to 6 guests
Best Overall Hostel in Istanbul – Hostel Le Banc
– Situated in the heart of Taksim
– Super clean, especially for a hostel
– Great social atmosphere and a terrace with views
– Fully-equipped kitchen to cook your favorite dishes
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Istanbul
In this part of our guide, we will highlight all the popular areas to stay in Istanbul and what they are known for. Depending on what your needs are, some of these might be a better fit than others.
We will discuss the following neighborhoods in Istanbul:
Sultanahmet: Where to Stay in Istanbul for First-Time Visitors
As the historic district of Istanbul, it shouldn’t surprise you that Sultanahmet is the best area to stay for first-time visitors.
Located on the European side of Istanbul, Sultanahmet is home to some of the best things to do in Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. It is also within walking distance to other city’s main attractions such the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, and the Galata Bridge.
Because it is the historic district of Istanbul, Sultanahmet is very touristy. You’ll generally find higher prices and restaurants that target tourists. Though the quality of food here is not too bad, you do pay a premium for it.
It is worth noting that Sultanahmet is dead at night. Located in the conservative district of Fatih, there are no bars or clubs (probably due to the historic value of the area) in Sultanahmet. But still, the value of being in the heart of the city outweighs all the other cons.
Pros of Staying in Sultanahmet:
- Within walking distance to the best attractions in Istanbul
- Tourist-friendly and almost everyone will speak English
- Plenty of accommodations to choose from
- Well-connected to other parts of the city
Cons of Staying in Sultanahmet:
- More expensive than other areas
- Vendors can be aggressive
- Lack of nightlife
- Could be too busy for some
Things to Do in Sultanahmet:
- Explore the area’s historical points of interest such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul Archaeological Museums and Basilica Cistern
- Try some of the best Turkish dishes such as kebabs and cay (Turkish tea)
- Go to a hammam (Turkish bath)
- Go shopping for souvenirs such as Turkish towels and Turkish rugs
Best Hotel in Sultanahmet – The Magnaura Palace Hotel
The Magnaura Palace Hotel is arguably the best hotel in Sultanahmet, if not, the entire Istanbul. Situated minutes away from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, guests can easily walk to two of the most iconic attractions of Istanbul.
When it comes to the rooms, this Istanbul hotel offers luxurious air-conditioned rooms with a terrace that offers unparalleled views of Istanbul’s stunning mosques, perfect for taking the perfect Instagram photos. Its interior decor uses plenty of traditional Turkish textiles, making your stay feel like an immersive experience.
Start every morning swiftly with the hotel’s pre-prepared buffet breakfast, designed to offer you a full day of energy for exploring Istanbul. The restaurant is situated near the top of the building, so guests can enjoy a nice breakfast with sweeping views of the sea. Is there a better way to start your day?
But that’s not it, the attentive staff makes sure your stay feels like home, answering any questions you might have about the city, organizing tours and excursions, as well as informing you how to get from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet and vice versa!
Best Airbnb / Vacation Rental in Sultanahmet – Raven Suites Old City Istanbul
Located in the heart of Sultanahmet is Raven Suites Old City Istanbul, one of the best apartment rentals in Istanbul. Ranging from one-bedroom apartments to 2-bedroom apartments, this accommodation can fit a maximum of 6 guests, perfect for anyone traveling in Istanbul with family.
If you’re fond of minimalistic decor with warm colors, you’ll surely be at peace staying in this gorgeous vacation rental. It is fully furnished with essential appliances such as a fully-equipped kitchen, microwave, fridge, and more.
Its most useful feature, especially for long-term travelers, is the washing machine that guests are free to use. No more running around the city with your dirty clothes or paying an exorbitant amount of money to get them clean!
Each apartment comes with a private bathroom, complete with a shower, toiletries, hairdryers, and slippers. Along with the comfy sofa and cozy living areas, the Raven Suites will unquestionably become your home away from home!
Best Hostel in Sultanahmet – Cheers Lighthouse
As the historic district of Istanbul, staying in Sultanahmet can be expensive, but not at Cheers Lighthouse. Centrally located a few minutes away from Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, Cheers Hostel is the perfect budget hostel in Istanbul for people that like to stay near history and culture.
When it comes to cheap accommodations, you often have to make sacrifices in terms of quality and comfort. But at Cheers Lighthouse, you can have both. Wake up early morning with a free complimentary breakfast on their terrace, sipping on freshly brewed coffee as you admire the panoramic sea views.
If you are traveling solo in Istanbul, Cheers Lighthouse will change that. Featuring frequent events such as shisha nights, BBQ nights, and more, it is very easy to meet other travelers here. Combined with the friendly staff, it is always a good cheerful time at Cheers Lighthouse!
Eminonu: Where to Stay in Istanbul For Food
For foodie, the best area in Istanbul to stay in is Eminonu. This neighborhood is inside the Fatih District on the European side and directly adjacent to the historic Sultanahmet area.
It is cheaper to stay in Eminonu than Sultanahmet, but what makes Eminonu stand out is the number of local eateries serving excellent Turkish food, and usually without the heavy price tag.
This area is bustling, and you will find most of the restaurants filled with locals. That is how you know the food must be good and cheap!
Besides being an area surrounded by good food, Eminonu is within walking distance to some of the best tourist attractions in Istanbul. As we have mentioned, Sultanahmet is next to Eminonu, so you can walk to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Basilica Cistern.
Inside the neighborhood of Eminonu, you will find its own stunning attractions, such as the Suleymaniye Mosque, Spice Bazaar, and Grand Bazaar (one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world). You can also check out the Galata Bridge, where you can have stunning views of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus Strait.
Situated next to the ferry port, Eminonu is even more well-connected than Sultanahmet.
Pros of Staying in Eminonu:
- Excellent and affordable local eateries
- One of the most well-connected areas in Istanbul
- Near plenty of the best things to do in Istanbul
- More local atmosphere
Cons of Staying in Eminonu:
- Could be too hectic and busy for some
- Not a lot of accommodations to pick from
- The area is not very pretty and lacks charming historic buildings
Things to Do in Eminonu:
- Explore Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar
- Try all of Turkey’s unique dishes
- Relax at a hammam (Turkish bath)
- Walk across the Galata Bridge
Best Hotel In Eminonu: Orientbank Hotel Istanbul
If you want to experience life as kings and queens (for the duration of your stay), then the Orientbank Hotel in Eminonu is ideal for you. As a part of the Autograph Collection, the Orientbank Hotel boasts immaculate interior decor that can only be imagined in your wildest dreams.
At this 5-star hotel in Istanbul, the interior decor isn’t the only thing that will entice you. Their allergy-free rooms feature the same timeless decor, a premium mattress and beddings, and a coffee machine. Not that you will be using the coffee machine much, as the hotel offers an incredible continental breakfast daily.
As a five-star hotel, the Orientbank Hotel also features an onsite restaurant. But if their food isn’t to your liking, you are in Eminonu, one of the best places to try some Turkish food in Istanbul!
The Spice Bazaar, one of the largest bazaars in the city, is within walking distance away. Better yet, walk a few more minutes from the Spice Bazaar and you’ll arrive at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.
Combined with the hospitality of the staff, Orientbank Hotel will turn your vacation up a notch! The ambiance makes it one of the best places to stay in Istanbul for couples!
Best Airbnb/Vacation Rental in Eminonu – Şar Apartment Suites
With its two-bedroom apartment and 6-person maximum capacity, Şar Apartment Suites is undeniably the best place to stay in Istanbul for families.
Like most vacation rentals, this one is equipped with a kitchen, microwave, and a fridge for those travelers that prefer to cook. It also has a designated dining area that can seat 6 guests, and a flat-screen TV for entertainment when you dine.
However, guests no need to worry about making breakfast as that is included in their stay. The apartment resides above a restaurant that provides free breakfast to all guests.
One of the best amenities of this Eminonu accommodation is the washing machine. They are perfect for families that are traveling Turkey (or Istanbul) for a long time!
Private parking is also included for guests, as well as room cleaning services.
Best Hostel in Eminonu – Cheers Hostel
Located on the border of Sultanahmet and Eminonu, Cheers Hostel has the best of both worlds: easy access to the historic district and plenty of food options.
For budget backpackers, their air-conditioned dormitory rooms with comfortable beds are perfect. For anyone seeking a little bit more privacy, they have private rooms as well.
What makes Cheers Hostels such a special place to stay is its social atmosphere and gorgeous rooftop bar, where you can have your complimentary breakfast with views of Hagia Sophia.
When you’re staying in a hostel, you might be worried about not having enough space. Worry not, There are plenty of common areas where you could make some new friends or just chill out.
Social events occur regularly at Cheers Hostel. Combined with its outgoing and friendly staff, you’re surely going to leave with some great memories!
Galata: Where to Stay in Istanbul For Nightlife
Across the Golden Horn from Eminonu marks the modern center of Istanbul, and this is where you will find the Galata neighborhood, one of the best areas to stay in Istanbul for nightlife.
This trendy neighborhood in the Beyoğlu district earns its name from the neighborhood’s most historic attraction – the Galata Tower, a Turkish landmark that played a significant role in the fall of Constantinople (name of Istanbul under Byzantine rule).
Nowadays, the neighborhood has transformed into a hotspot for chic bars, trendy cafes, and cool restaurants. Boutique shops dot the narrow streets, and visitors cannot help but be enchanted by this area’s charm.
While it isn’t as historical as Sultanahmet or Eminonu, visitors might enjoy its modern amenities more. Istiklal street, arguably Istanbul’s most busy street, runs from Taksim to Galata and is concentrated with the city’s fiercest energy. Visitors will find modern shops, plenty of eateries, and a thriving nightlife.
Istanbul has the nickname “City on Seven Hills”, and the area of Galata is one of them. Make sure you bring some good walking shoes!
Pros of Staying in Galata:
- Vibrant zone with plenty of charming cafes, restaurants and rooftop bars
- Generally cheaper than Sultanahmet
- Good variety of accommodations to choose from
Cons of Staying in Galata:
- A little far from the historic center of Istanbul
- Safe but not as safe as Sultanahmet
- Might be a bit too busy for some travelers
Things to Do in Galata:
- Check out Galata Tower and the panoramic views of the city, Golden Horn, and Bosphorus Strait
- Go explore the different shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants
- Go party like a rockstar at night
Best Hotel in Galata: Pera Palace Hotel
The Pera Palace Hotel in Galata is one of the best luxury hotels in Istanbul. Established over 130 years ago, the Pera Palace Hotel is a special-category museum hotel. This 5-star hotel is as much of a cultural experience as it is luxurious and comfortable. Staying in Pera Palace is almost like stepping inside a time machine!
Designed by the famous French-Ottoman architect Alexander Vallaury, The Pera Palace Hotel is an absolute architectural masterpiece. He combined neoclassical, art nouveau and oriental styles into the masterpiece that is Pera Palace today.
Visitors can really feel the luxury in their private air-conditioned rooms. Each room offers a hardwood floor and floor-to-ceiling windows, perfect for admiring the city views and the famous Golden Horn. The bathrooms are decked in quality marble that makes you feel like kings and queens.
There are a total of 3 beautiful restaurants on-site serving anywhere from contemporary Turkish cuisine to international fare. No traveler will ever go hungry at Pera Palace Hotel.
The hotel has its own Turkish bath called Pera SPA. Along with its indoor pools with powerful jets, pure relaxation is at your fingertips.
Best Vacation Rental in Galata: Dauria Galata Flats
Looking for a no-frills apartment that can accommodate up to 6 people? Then look no further than Dauria Galata Flats. Situated in the heart of Galata neighborhood, this vacation rental in Istanbul combines affordability, simplicity, and convenience all into a beautiful and clean unit.
No matter if you are choosing the studio apartment or the 2-bedroom apartment, you will find each unit equipped with huge comfortable beds, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, and excellent WiFi. Visitors to Istanbul for a long time will appreciate the kitchen and washing machine where they can cook their own food and wash their own clothes.
To top it off, the apartment units feature views of the famous Galata Tower so you can go to sleep and wake up to this beautiful Turkish landmark!
Best Hostel in Galata – Hostel Le Banc
If you are traveling Istanbul on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice comfort, then you’ve to consider staying in Hostel Le Banc.
Hostel Le Banc is situated in the heart of the Beyoglu District, just minutes away from Istiklal Street, Taksim Square, and the metro.
Besides its excellent location, Hostel Le Banc is known for its super friendly staff that makes you feel at home. Complemented with one of the cleanest and most modern hostels I’ve ever seen, you have the perfect home away from home.
When you are not relaxing in your comfortable dormitory-style bed, go out to the roof terrace and enjoy the beautiful views of the city. It is also a popular spot for other guests to hang out, and you might even meet a friend or two if you are traveling alone.
All-in-all, the cleanliness, location, comfort, and friendly atmosphere of Hostel Le Banc make it one of the best hostels in Istanbul.
Taksim: Where to Stay in Istanbul For Budget Travelers
Taksim is the center of the modern center of Istanbul. Similar to the historic center (Sultanahmet), Taksim is located on the European side of Istanbul. The most iconic feature of Taksim is the Taksim Square. It is where you’ll find the Taksim Mosque and a monument the celebrating Turkish Republic.
Taksim Square is also the beginning of the famed Istiklal Street, the busy pedestrian street in Istanbul. The vintage Istiklal Street tram runs along the boulevard and adds an atmospheric vibe.
Along the side streets, visitors will find bars, antique shops, and restaurants, many of which have a view of the Bosphorus Strait and Golden Gorn. These side streets are also home to a wide variety of accommodation, many Taksim one of the cheapest places to stay in Istanbul.
Pros of Staying in Taksim:
- Plenty of cafes, eateries, and bars
- Affordable places to eat and stay
- Metro stations nearby
- Lots of accommodations to choose from
Cons of Staying in Taksim:
- One of the sketchier neighborhoods in Istanbul at night
- Situated on a big hill
- Far (but scenic) walk to the historic center
Things to Do in Taksim:
- Explore Istiklal Street
- Check out the Taksim Square and its mosque
- Explore some of the shops and eateries in the area
- Visit the Museum of Modern Art
Best Hotel in Taksim – Mr Cas Hotels – Special Category
If you are looking to experience the cultural beauty of Istanbul, check out Mr. Cas Hotels. Bathed in beautiful interiors and a breathtaking vintage atmosphere, staying in this boutique hotel in Istanbul is a unique experience on its own.
Situated on the famed Istiklal street, all of the action in Istanbul is at your door step. Whether you are looking for enjoy the culinary scene of Istanbul, go shopping, or go party at night, Mr Cas Hotel is the perfect base for you.
This boutique hotel offers its own restaurant known as the Pop Up restaurant. Located on the terrace guests will find beautiful views of the city only to be matched with exceptional food and drinks.
At Mr Cas Hotels, the staff is always ready to provide you with the most heartwarming welcome and any information you might need in regards to Istanbul. Along with the spacious and elegant rooms, it is no surprise that this is one of the best-rated hotels in Istanbul, Turkey.
Best Airbnb / Vacation Rental in Taksim – MySuite Istanbul Cihangir
Looking to stay somewhere comfortable, modern, and close to the center of Taksim? Then, MySuite Istanbul Cihangir is the perfect choice for you! MySuite Istanbul Cihangir features a wide variety of accommodations – from studio apartments to 2-bedrooms apartments.
Each of the apartments in MySuite Istanbul features a private kitchen, a fully-stocked bathroom, and a private balcony. All of them feature either a sea view or a garden view, perfect for relaxing when you are not exploring the city.
The decor of MySuite Istanbul Cihangir is modern with touches of traditional Turkish patterns. Turkish rugs and traditional Turkish tiles in the apartment all add to the overall ambiance. But what is the most impressive is the personal touches added by the host.
When you check in, you will find a complimentary fruit plate, milk, Turkish delight, Turkish tea and coffee setup. The host also provides you with an Istanbulkart, which is used for all public transportation in Istanbul, and a mobile phone with a local number. There is no need to get a Turkish sim card anymore!
Best Hostel in Taksim – Stay Inn Taksim Hostel
Minimalist and elegant, the Stay Inn Taksim Hostel is a dream come true for budget travelers who would like to spend a night in the lively parts of Taksim. This budget hostel in Istanbul features dormitory-style rooms with air-conditioning, many of which have a balcony for great views and fresh air.
Each room is designed with all-white walls and white furniture. The ceilings of the rooms are designed to mimic the mosques of Istanbul, quite the unique feature.
Your day at Stay Inn Taksim Hostel starts with a breakfast buffet in their chic dining area. This is the perfect place to meet other travelers while fueling for a day of exploration. The hostel is clean with multiple common areas where travelers can socialize, perfect for solo travelers.
Its central location in Taksim makes exploring Taksim Square, Istiklal street, and other nearby attractions easy.
Kadikoy: Where To Stay in Istanbul for Families
Unlike the other areas mentioned previously that are situated on the European side of the city, Kadikoy is situated on the Asian side. This side of the city is known to be a lot more family-friendly and a lot less hectic than the European side.
Also known as the Anatolian side, the Asian side of Istanbul was once a different city than Istanbul. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that it was incorporated. In the neighborhood of Kadikoy, travelers will find plenty of parks and a wide-stretching promenade with views of the Bosphorus Strait.
The area is more residential, and you will find plenty of small shops like ice cream shops, cafes, and boutiques. Everything seems relaxing and chill out in Kadikoy.
Perhaps the most iconic feature of the Kadikoy area in Istanbul is the food. Kadikoy has plenty of amazing restaurants, especially seafood. Plus, since you are out of the tourist areas of Istanbul, the prices are much more affordable.
If it all sounds so good, why isn’t it a more popular area to stay in Istanbul? That is because of how far it is from the historic center. It takes around an hour to reach both Taksim and Sultanahmet, and that is not something someone with a short Istanbul itinerary can afford.
Though if you have more time, it is certainly one of the best places to stay in Istanbul for families.
Pros of Staying in Kadikoy:
- Neighborhood with some of the best restaurants (especially seafood) in Istanbul
- Quiet and relaxing residential neighborhood
- Plenty of green spaces to explore
Cons of Staying in Kadikoy:
- Far from the major tourist attractions
- Not a lot of accommodations to choose from
- Even farther from the Istanbul Airport
- Not a lot of budget options
Things to Do in Kadikoy:
- Enjoy an ice cream in Moda
- Walk down the promenade
- Eat until you can’t move
Best Hotel in Kadikoy – DoubleTree By Hilton Istanbul – Moda
The DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul in Moda is a 5-star luxury hotel in Istanbul with top-tier facilities including the prestigious Elemental Spa a sauna, Far Eastern massage therapies and a Turkish Bath.
Guests can enjoy a wide array of dishes in the Doubles Restaurant and La Gazetta Cafe & Bar. Directly facing the Bosphorus Strait, you can admire the stellar views as you sip traditional Turkish tea. If you want a little bit more sun, why not head up to the rooftop infinity pool. Adjacent to the bar, you can get your tan on while you try some traditional Turkish Raki.
Its common amenities are phenomenal, but its in-room amenities are far from lackluster. With floor-to-ceiling windows, ample light warms up the room and offers more of Istanbul’s famous views. I don’t think we have to mention how comfortable and spacious the rooms at a DoubleTree By Hilton hotel are!
The hotel is situated near a few public transport facilities – the Kadikoy Metro Station is just a few hundred meters away from the hotel, and the ferry service to the European side is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel.
Best Airbnb / Vacation Rental in Kadikoy – Kadıköy Studio Flat
If you are looking for privacy on your trip to Istanbul, then the Kadiköy Studio Flat in Istanbul is perfect for you. This small but resourceful studio in Kadikoy features everything you might need such as a fully-equipped kitchen, a dedicated working space, air-conditioning, and WiFi.
The minimalist and warm decor of the Kadikoy Studio Flat is easy on the eyes. For travelers, it quickly becomes a cozy little nook where they can destress after a long day. The views of the city and Bosphorus are just the icing on the cake.
The price is affordable thanks to its unassuming decor, making it arguably the best cheap hotel in Istanbul.
Perhaps the most desirable feature of this vacation rental in Istanbul is its central location in Kadikoy. In the heart of the district, guests can enjoy the area’s best restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops at ease. But somehow, with its central location, the apartment is still very quiet!
Best Hostel in Kadikoy – Hush Hostel Lounge
There aren’t a lot of hostels on the Asian side of Istanbul, but you don’t need many if you have Hush Hostel Lounge. This hostel in Kadikoy is one that literally has it all. Do you want clean and modern rooms with good WiFi? Gotchu. What about a big garden for you to relax, chat with other travelers, or do some work? No worries.
The hostel is equipped with both chill common areas for you to socialize and work areas for digital nomads to get stuff done. There is also a terrace on the fifth floor for you to bathe in the Istanbul sun and do some yoga (if that’s what you like).
Another nice feature of Hush Hostel Lounge is its well-equipped kitchen. Hostels really lack one of these nowadays, but it is good to see the Hush Hostel Lounge is able to keep the daily budget of travelers low by providing a place to cook and talk with other guests.
And if you don’t like to cook, worry not. This hostel is situated in the heart of Kadikoy, so plenty of eateries are there to give your taste buds a ride to heaven. The Kadikoy ferry port is also a 5-minute walk away, making it easy to visit the European side of the city.
Where to Stay In Istanbul FAQs
Is it better to stay in Taksim or Sultanahmet?
Sultanahmet is the historic center of Istanbul, while Taksim is more like the modern center. We recommend staying in Sultanahmet if you want to have easier access to the historical attractions of Istanbul, but stay in Taksim if you enjoy dining and nightlife.
Is it better to stay on the European side or the Asian side of Istanbul?
As a tourist, we recommend staying on the European side of Istanbul. This part of the city is where most of the famous attractions are located. But if you want a more relaxing atmosphere and don’t mind commuting for a bit to go sightseeing, then you can consider the Asian side as well.
Is Istanbul safe for travelers?
Istanbul is a very safe city in general. Major crimes are super rare but travelers need to be aware of petty crimes such as pickpocketing, mugging, and bag-snatching. Sultanahmet is one of the safer neighborhoods to stay in Istanbul.
In a mega-city like Istanbul, deciding where to stay in Istanbul isn’t the easiest task. We hope we have helped you pick out some of the best places to stay in Istanbul!
Any questions? Leave a comment!
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