Istanbul is a metropolis of 39 districts, which themselves are divided into several small neighborhoods. AlltourstoTurkey has highlighted some of them for you that you can discover the top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul while strolling. Let yourself be taken in by beauty, originality, the next change of scenery.
Kadikoy – Top 10 Neighborhoods in Istanbul
Kadikoy is one of the top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul located on the Asian side, easily accessible by boat from the European side from many different places like: Eminonu, Karakoy, Besiktas, Kabatas or by dolmus (shared taxi) from Üskudar.
Kadiköy looks like a small town in its own right, with different neighborhoods with each its own atmosphere.
> What to do in Kadikoy
- Go visit the Haydarpasa train station (a very fine example of German architecture) close to the boat arrivals (iskele)
- Sip a tea upstairs from the Eminonu – Karakoy pier in the middle of a bookseller, souvenir shop and gaze at the Marmara Sea and the boats
- Go shopping on the shopping streets. Kadikoy is the place for good deals of all kinds (textiles, shoes, gifts etc.)
- Take the old tram from Iskele to Moda by the sea
- Get lost in the adjacent alleys for shopping
- Go through the central street “Iskele” which leads you straight to a bull made by a French artist
- Descend towards Sogutlucesme where you will find many shops for wedding dresses
- Go up the street Bahariye, (tramway path) you will discover a theater, cinemas, many good trendy restaurants, ice cream parlors, tea room, shops
- Go to Kadikoy market there are Greek, Armenian churches, lively plots
- Stroll the streets reserved for drinkers of good beers or raki (to be consumed in moderation)
- Get a tattoo in one of the many tattoo parlors
- Browse the flea markets
- Eat an ice cream in Moda, by the sea which looks more like a seaside district than a city and which is ideal for a nice stroll
Here Kadiköy is all that at once! Young, dynamic, entertaining, ideal for shopping and eating well
Uskudar is a neighborhood located on the Asian side, close to Kadikoy. Uskudar is a gem in a big city that is both conservative, exotic and authentic. It is a neighborhood that is gradually starting to be visited more by tourists. Again many things to see and do – top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul.
> Things to do in Uskudar – Uskudar Itinerary
- In Iskele (pier) take a nice walk along the Bosphorus
- Stop in a park and drink a black tea facing the Bosphorus while contemplating the seagulls
- Have a typical Turkish breakfast
- Visit Kiz Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower)
- Visit the Validei Cedid and Mihrimah Sultan Mosques
- Stroll through the alleys to soak up the oriental atmosphere of a local market
- Continue towards a part of the Uskudar district, exotic and colorful called Kuzguncuk
- Continue to Validebagi to discover another place in the Uskudar district which is definitely worth a visit. Very friendly place where you can enjoy a good meal in a trendy restaurant
- Visit the tomb of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi. Many faithful come every day to bow down in front of the tomb, near shops of religious products
Üskudar has managed to protect its typical, pleasant atmosphere, where people from different backgrounds rub shoulders with respect – top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul
Besiktas is a neighborhood on the European shore with easy access by bus, dolmus or boat from Üskudar and Kadikoy or the Prince Islands. Besiktas is a main axis to go by bus or dolmus to many other districts like Levent, Ortakoy, Bebek, Taksim, Sariyer, Karakoy, Bebek, Maslak, Zorlu center, Istinye park ..
Besiktas is a neighborhood where all the events start to spread to the other districts, dynamic, young, trendy, festive especially in the evening of a football match. Besiktas also has many other assets that will seduce you.
Top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul
Things to do in Besiktas
- Close to iskele (pier) numerous snakes, shops, bar, trendy restaurants
- Strategic point for transfers to other districts by bus, minibus and dolmus
- Visit the Dolmabahce Palace (second largest palace in the Ottoman Empire (1853)
- Discover the marine museum (magnificent exhibition of boats of the Ottoman sultans)
- Go see the iconic besiktas football stadium and take a picture
- Take a long walk in the superb Yildiz park
Ortakoy is a part of the Besiktas district on the edge of the Bosphorus, in a very pleasant setting, with a seaside atmosphere.
Things to do in Ortakoy
One of the places in the top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul is Ortakoy. In Ortakoy there are many street vendors, creators of all kinds of objects. You would really believe that you are in a seaside resort, yet in the center of a big city.
- Visit the Ortakoy Mosque from the Ottoman period, rococo dating from 1883
- Feed the pigeons on the main square of Ortakoy
- Take lunch, dinner and dance in one of the sumptuous restaurants facing the Bosphorus (eg Ruby, Sortie)
- Taste a big potato with fun concepts of à la carte garnish
- Eat a good waffle facing the Bosphorus
- Take a boat tour with a local
- Have a tea in an unusual place
Ortakoy is a very nice place, where you go to have a good time and relax. You can go there on foot from Besiktas iskele about 15 minutes walk or by bus and dolmus.
Eminonu – Top 10 Neighborhoods in Istanbul
Eminonu is a very colorful neighborhood, a must see for tourists and a neighborhood also frequented by many locals.
Things to do in Eminonu
- Visit the new Mosque dating from the 17th century
- Taste a Balik ekmek (mackerel in bread) sold by maritime restaurateurs who in a warm and unique atmosphere rock the son of the waves in an Ottoman-style boat
- Buy lokoums at the spice market (Egyptian market)
- Discover many shops for cheese, eggs, almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts
- Make purchases in Mahmutpasa (local market especially inexpensive textiles, market for fabrics by the meter)
- Walk on the Galata bridge to chat with the Istanbul fishermen while going to Karakoy or the Galata district
- Eat in one of the many fish and mezze restaurants under the Galata Bridge
- Go and see the magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque which majestically dominates the neighborhood
- Walk all along the Golden Horn towards the district of Fener and Balat
Most of Eminonu is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Historical, exotic, with multiple smells, Eminönü is a very lively, populated and visited top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Fener and Balat
The districts of Fener and Balat are listed as World Heritage by Unesco, and yet little visited while they are among the most important top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul.
I would name these two places in full-fledged village districts. You will find colorful Ottoman houses, most of which have been restored, religious buildings, small craftsmen, merchants, a timeless district that will allow you to discover another facet of Istanbul.
Fener is also home to places of worship including some very important such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople which houses the Church of St. George. It is a fundamental place for Orthodox Christians who regard it as their spiritual authority.
What to do in Fener and Balat
- Visit the iron church of Saint Stephen of the Bulgarians (a jewel unique in the world)
- See the exterior of the imposing Greek high school in red bricks which overlooks the Golden Horn
- Discover the largest Sephardic Jewish quarter in Istanbul, there are still 3 synagogues open to the faithful
- Have a coffee or lunch in one of Balat’s organic restaurants (several intellectuals from Istanbul have settled in Balat in recent years)
- Attend an auction in one of the many second-hand dealers in the neighborhood
Balat is a neighborhood with a mixed population, the bobos of the city of Istanbul rub shoulders with the more modest families who knew for some to resist the modernization of the places, and to keep their art of living, their freedom, which gives exceptional decor and a glaring contrast from one lane to another.
Eyup top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul was once a detached village from Istanbul. Today Eyup is a very important, conservative district located at the foot of a hill, where the view of the entire Golden Horn is breathtaking. This hill is known by its coffee named after a novelist, journalist, French philosopher Pierre Loti, Turkophile who used to frequent this place when he lived in Constantinople.
Things to do in Eyup
- Take the cable car to the Pierre Loti café
- Cross one of the most important Ottoman cemeteries
- Have the best Turkish coffee in Istanbul at Pierre Loti cafe, which majestically overlooks the Golden Horn.
- Go back down to the Eyüp district to visit the Eyüp mosque regularly frequented by practicing Turks who come from all over Turkey to visit the mausoleum of ebû eyyub el-ensâri (a close companion of Prophet Mohammed).
Nisantasi is a must-see in the list of or quality shopping in Istanbul. Nisantasi is an upscale top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul where fashion trends are noticed. Many boutiques of independent designers, luxury brands, haute couture, exceptional ready-to-wear make this place a beautifully beautiful, pleasant place where we also go to eat and have a drink in one of the trendy restaurants.
Nisantasi is a district of Istanbul Europeanized or Americanized for others and it makes this place a sophisticated location, at the forefront of fashion, original, sumptuous and modern. Many adjectives can be used for this district of Istanbul where living is pleasant.
What to do in Nisantasi:
- Eat in one of the trendy restaurants
- Have a drink in an original place
- Stroll around the neighborhood for the pleasure of your eyes
- Eat a good Turkish breakfast
Taksim and Galata – Top 10 Neighborhoods in Istanbul
Taksim is the place that caused a lot of ink to flow either in good or bad. This made the place known internationally. Who does not know Taksim in the list of top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul.
- Square with statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
- Many cultural events are organized in Taksim
- Flower wreath sellers
- Several types of hotels: without star, up to high comfort and luxury
- Taksim is a strategic point for a start everywhere in Istanbul
- Departure point for free services for many amusement parks, such as: Vialand, Aquaparc, Aquarium Istanbul
From Taksim square, you can take Istiklal street. Do not panic, the incredible crowd that you see is not an obstacle, it flows by itself, you would not get over the fluidity of this human fed up.
Istiklal Street is full of shops, restaurants, pastries, perfumeries, adjacent alleys, but also very beautiful churches, consulates, music dance schools, cinema, shopping centers, hotels, temporary art exhibition rooms.
Book a full day to go from Taksim square to Eminonu, a magnificent, exotic, enriching, pleasant walk, AlltourstoTurkey Istanbul advises you to take your time, to stroll, to get lost in the alleys.
What to do in Taksim:
- Shops of all kinds
- Street entertainment all along (singers, musicians, actors, storytellers)
- Consulates of several countries, French, Russian, Greek, Dutch etc
- Madame Tusseaud’s museum
- The Demiroren shopping center
- The Lycée Galatasaray (a French-speaking school and one of the most important high schools in the country)
- Restaurants, cafes and bars of all kinds like the famous 360 Istanbul restaurant
- Typical Turkish pastries (the stores of the biggest brands of Turkish lokoums like Ali Muhittin Haci Bekir, Hafiz Mustafa.
- Historical passages with exceptional architecture (Atlas Pasajı, Passage Hazzopulo, Çiçek Pasajı, Anzavur Pasajı, Avrupa Pasaji, Syria Passage, Elhamra etc.)
- Fish market, Beyoglu balik pazari where we find the best restaurants “meyhane of Istanbul“
- Several art showrooms like taksim sanat galerisi, Beyoglu sanat galerisi, Salt Beyoglu.
Arriving at the end of this very long street (Istiklal), you will find yourself in the Galata district with its many alleys of souvenirs, art sales, stalls. A lane of sellers of musical instruments, antiques, textiles, souvenirs.
Galata is a steep area, well worth the detour. Otherwise you also have the choice to take the tünel (underground tram from a station) which will take you to Karakoy.
Things to do in Galata
- Visit the Galata Tower
- Visit the Mevlana museum (the whirling dervishes).
- Stroll the streets to contemplate the beautiful buildings of 19th century in Istanbul.
- Discover many artists (paintings, sculptures, graphics).
- Go shopping for souvenirs.
- Have a drink at the foot of the Galata Tower.
Karakoy – Top 10 Neighborhoods in Istanbul
Karakoy is getting a facelift, the Karakoy is full of restaurants, original, nice, where you go with friends to unwind.
Souvenir craft shops, fish restaurants, soups, Turkish specialties.
I advise you to taste a very good homemade baklava at Gulluoglu or to eat at Namli “Gourmet” restaurant with an original and unique concept.
The French or Algerian street is a pedestrian alley where shops and restaurants rub shoulders, a nod to France in the center of Istanbul.
From Karakoy it is easy to go to the district of Galata on foot, or to cross the bridge of Galata to visit the district of Eminonu. And again by boat, you can go to Üskudar or Kadikoy.
What to do in Karakoy:
- Discovering the French street (Algerian)
- Eating in a nice restaurant
- Drinking a cup in a relaxed atmosphere
- Admiring the Bosphorus sitting in a bench. If you are lucky, maybe you will see a dolphin!
- Visiting one of the mosques of the top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Beykoz – Top 10 Neighborhoods in Istanbul
Beykoz “A town inside the town”, the atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. Old houses dating back from 18th and 19th century coexist with current houses in this top 10 neighborhoods in Istanbul.
What to do in Beykoz:
- Seeing the 3rd bridge “Selim sultan”.
- Eating fish in a good restaurant on the Bosphorus in a nostalgic decor
- Going to the coasts of the Black Sea by car, dolmus, bus, or taxi for “Anadolu Kavagi”.
- Stroll in the Beykoz korusu park of 27.9 hectares, magnificent viewpoint on the Bosphorus, really impressive
- Visit Kücüksu Kasri Baroque summer palace and the hunting palace of the sultans
Beykoz is a district which really worths the visit, easy to reach by boat, Beykoz is a fabulous place and a change of scenery in Istanbul.
AlltourstoTurkey has chosen for you 10 emblematic neighborhoods of Istanbul but know that there are still many neighborhoods to visit, if you have time like: Sariyer, Bebek, Beylerbeyi, Yesilkoy, Arnavutkoy, Levent, Kanlica …
The guides of AlltourstoTurkey are not only experts, but they are also passionate about their profession and their country. They don’t tell you, they make you live the city!