Best areas and inexpensive accommodation to pick where to stay in Istanbul if you are planning to visit this incredible city full of charm.
Istanbul is the gateway to Turkish culture, a huge city that maintains its Muslim traditions and the call to prayer of the mosques, but has been modernized and has leisure and shopping areas that have nothing to envy to any capital of Europe.
Touring the city is to delve into the legacy left by the sultans of the Ottoman Empire through the palaces, observe the splendor of the great mosques like Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque and stroll through the Grand Bazaar where you will find a bit of everything.
But Istanbul also has that modern air reflected in the Taksim district, where you will find international fashion shops, shopping malls and glamour.
Finally, you have to sail through the Bosphorus canal and, incidentally, step on Asian soil. The city is divided by the canal that separates the two continents.
If you are wondering where to stay in Istanbul, here are our recommendations for the best areas and hotels in the city.
1) Sultanahmet, the tourist district
Many of the hotels in Istanbul are located above the historic neighborhood of Sultanahmet. It is a perfect place to walk to most sites such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the Cistern Basilica or the Topkapi Palace.
In addition, the area has a lot of movement during the day, although at night it decreases significantly. Our recommendations for sleeping in the Sultanahmet neighborhood are as follows:
- Ayasultan Hotel: Top pick! Elegant hotel that mixes the modern and with the ancient. It has spacious rooms, double and family rooms. Excellent value for money in the heart of Sultanahmet.
- Boss Hotel Sultanahmet: close to the bazaar and mosques, this is a stylish accommodation both inside and out. Ample and varied breakfast.
- Florenta Hotel: housed in a building with a very elegant exterior facade. The rooms are modern and include an electric kettle. Splendid service and price according to the service provided.
- Q Inn Hotel Old City: a 10-minute walk from the mosques, it is a traditional hotel with extra services such as Finnish sauna and Turkish bath. It also has its own restaurant.
- Miss Istanbul Hotel & Spa: four-star accommodation with all the comforts including spacious rooms, outdoor pool, spa center, sauna and Turkish bath.
- Antusa Design Hotel & Spa: just 300 meters from Hagia Sophia and the Cistern Basilica, housed in a renovated building. Fabulous views from the restaurant, spa, hearty breakfast and brilliant service.
2) Eminönü neighborhood
If you are looking where to stay in Istanbul, close to the Grand Bazaar and the Galata Bridge, the Eminönü neighborhood is an excellent option. It is characterized by a great movement during the morning and afternoon and the number of small shops, tea shops and cafes.
It also has the ferry terminal that connects with the Asian side, Besiktas and Taksim. Our recommendations for sleeping in Eminönü are as follows:
- Fer Hotel: boutique accommodation with a perfect design, modern and in a quiet street of the neighborhood. Varied buffet breakfast and excellent service.
- Empire Suite Hotel: a few minutes from the Sirkeci streetcar station and the ferry station, it has very spacious and bright rooms. Good breakfast.
- Dundar Hotel & Spa: close to Istanbul University and the Grand Bazaar, this is superior accommodation with spa, sauna, and pool.
- HHK Hotel: its main attraction is the building it occupies, an old restored mansion, and the terrace with swimming pool and a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus canal.
3) Karakoy, strategic point to sleep in Istanbul
Karakoy is located across the Galata bridge from the historic area. It’s a place where the nightlife is very lively. There are lots of commercial places to go shopping, cultural centers, museums, many restaurants, tea shops and bars with life throughout the day.
Staying in Karakoy is to be very close to the Galata Tower, Istiklal Street and the Karakoy ferry station that allows you to cross by boat to Sultanahmet or to the Asian part of the city.
Our recommendations where to stay in Istanbul in the Karakoy area are as follows:
- DeCamondo Hotel: Top pick! Elegant and in a very quiet street to rest, it has a terrace with a beautiful sea view. It is less than five minutes from the ferry port and the modern area.
- The Galataport Hotel: classic Ottoman-style decor in the rooms, terrace overlooking the Galata Tower and surrounded by shops and restaurants.
- Momento Golden Horn Hotel: next to the Galata Bridge, with views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus canal both from the rooms and from the restaurant located on the hotel terrace.
- Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel: next to the Bosphorus canal, this accommodation has modern facilities including indoor pool, spa center and gym.
4) Taksim Square
Another good option when you are looking where to stay in Istanbul is near Taksim Square, a safe place both day and night, full of shops, pubs and nightclubs.
Taksim Square is the starting point of the famous Istiklal pedestrian street, known for the presence of international brands and the red streetcar.
Our recommendations for where to stay in Istanbul around Taksim Square are as follows:
- Naumpasa Konagi Hotel: for both couples and families, this fairly new hotel has modern facilities and excellent cleanliness.
- Kartal Palace Taksim Square: a few meters from Taksim Square, it is a modern building with family accommodation without too many luxuries and at a good price.
- Stay Inn Taksim Hostel: ideal location within walking distance of Taksim Square, Galata Tower and Istiklal Street. It has shared and small private rooms, ideal for young people or backpackers.
- Ayramin Hotel Taksim: only five minutes from Taksim metro station, it is a stylish hotel with spacious rooms and nicely decorated. Ideal for couples.
5) Besiktas, the top area to stay in Istanbul
It is not a touristy neighborhood, because it is not near the Sultanahmet area, but it is a very safe area all day long, where wealthy local people live. There is presence of renowned and expensive international hotel chains.
Besiktas also has its own nightlife due to the presence of bars and restaurants attended by local people. In the area there is the Dolmabahçe Palace, there are many green spaces and the Besiktas ferry station that connects with the Asian side and the old town.
Our recommendations where to stay in Istanbul in the Besiktas area are the following:
- Bosfora Hotel: one of the cheapest options in the area. Nice views of the city from the room, bar on the first floor and very good service.
- Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul: luxurious by any standards, it is an oasis of tranquility in Besiktas. Rooftop pool, spa and a mix of Swiss and Turkish architecture.
- Meydan Besiktas Hotel: prime location a few meters from the Dolmabahçe Palace, the fish market and the ferry station. Views of the Bosphorus canal from the rooms.
- AC Hotel Istanbul Macka: modern, elegant and spacious rooms, surrounded by restaurants, cafes and art galleries. Excellent breakfast.
6) Kadikoy, staying in the Asian part of Istanbul
To live an authentic experience and see the Turkish culture up close, it is best to stay outside the European part of the city and cross the Bosphorus canal to stay in the Asian part.
The best area to stay in the Asian part of Istanbul is Kadikoy, a place with good ferry connection with Sultanhamet neighbourhood, lots of nightlife with restaurants and bars, and above all, at a cheaper price than in the European part.
Our recommendations where to stay in Istanbul in the Karikoy district are the following:
- Parkhouse Hotel & Spa: with all the amenities of a large hotel with spa, sauna and hot tub, but at a lower price than in the districts on the European side.
- DoubleTree By Hilton Istanbul: a five-star operating in a modern, glass-fronted building facing the sea. Imposing pool and rooftop bar overlooking the Bosphorus canal.
- Istanbul Life Hotel: prime location across from the waterfront and a five-minute walk from the bus stop to the airport. Clean, modern and good breakfast.
- Khalkedon Hotel Istanbul: economical option with excellent cleanliness, good service and surrounded by many local stores.
7) Sleeping at Istanbul airport? Discover the “Sleepods”
If you have a long layover at Istanbul airport, you can approach the iGA Sleeppod and sleep in their individual cabins with compartment for your luggage and plug. They are individual and are rented by hours. It is a good opportunity to rest away from the noise of one of the largest airplane terminals in Europe. Here is a video for you to take a look.
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