Best area to stay in Istanbul
Surprisingly this is actually very straight forward to answer I am pleased to say. If you are asking this question this is either your first time travelling to Istanbul or are worried that you may have missed something the last time you visited. So I will answer this as detailed and complete as I can in the next couple of paragraphs. Before we decide on the best area to stay in Istanbul, read this:
- It doesn’t really matter as long as you are fairly central (so you are close to sightseeing locations & Airports)
- If you are not a fan of nightlife or noise then I can highly recommend Sultanahmet for its beautiful old worldy architecture and cobbled streets.
- If you want convenience of location, then Beyoglu is for you. Get a hotel anywhere near Taksim, this way you are close to sightseeing locations throughout the day and then for night you can come back to Taksim which has plenty of restaurant options and bars/clubs.
Which Airport should you choose?
One of the most difficult decisions when visiting Istanbul is which Airport to take and where to find your hotel! There are two Airports in Istanbul:
- Ataturk Airport (IST) (this is located in Yeşilköy)on the European side. It is roughly 20 minutes from Taksim & 30 for Sultanahamet by Taxi.
- Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) which is located on the Asian side of Istanbul and is therefore considerably further to any of the sites in European side.
For visiting Istanbul as a Tourist I can almost entirely guarantee that you want to fly to and from Ataturk airport on the European side as this is where the vast majority of tourist attractions are located.
Best area to stay in Istanbul for Historical Sites – Sultanahmet
The best area to stay in Istanbul without doubt for historical sites is Sultanahmet, it is simply stunning.
Sultanahmet is actually the first place I stayed in Istanbul. Albeit it was an extremely budget hotel as I was currently doing my degree at University and did not have much to spend. The hotel was lovely but down some back alleys and not something I would recommend for someone with a bit more budget.
The best thing about Sultanahmet is that you have the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar all on your doorstop to visit easily.
The worst thing about Sultanahmet is that after around 7pm everything is shut and you will have to travel to somewhere like Taksim to find anything open.
So I would recommend Sultanahmet if you are looking for a relaxing getaway where on a night you would like to sit in the hotel, some of which have cafes open late.
My personal preference of hotels In Sultanahmet
- Boutique Saint Sophia This hotel has extremely good Reviews. It has a beautiful view of the Hagia Sophia and if you book at the right time it can also be quite competitive with cost.
How to get to Sultanahmet from each Airport
- From Ataturk Airport
- Public: Take M1A Metro, get off in Zeytinburnu and take a tram (T1) to Sultanahmet. This will cost around 6TL using an IstanbulKart.
- Taxi: Ataturk to Taksim takes approximately 40 minutes in Taxi which should cost around 60/70tl.
- From SAW Airport
- Public: Take the Havataş bus from the airport to Taksim (14TL) and then a 13TL taxi ride from Taksim to Sultanahmet
- Taxi: 90TL from Airport to Sultanahmet
Best Area to stay in Istanbul for nightlife – Taksim (Beyoğlu)
Taksim Square is located within the district Beyoğlu which much more modern than Sultanahmet. If you were to get a hotel in Beyoğlu, then it would be best to be as close to Taksim Street as possible which reduces the time you need to walk to restaurants and clubs/bars.
Taksim Square is full of shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and is only a short taxi ride to Atatürk Airport and extremely central. If you got a hotel in Taksim, you could start the day by travelling to Sultanahmet to visit historical sites and then in the evening return to Taksim to go to have dinner and experience Taksim’s rich nightlife.
I would recommend Taksim as the best area to stay in Istanbul as it gives you easy access to historical sites but also means you have something to do In the evening and means you are exceptionally close to the airport for the next day.
My personal preference of hotels In Taksim
I will list here a few places I have personally stayed in and others which I would consider staying.
- Daru Sultan Hotels This hotel has beautiful views of either the Bosphorus or the Galata Tower which you can choose at the time of booking. The architecture of the rooms is also rather brilliant. And I think you will be quite surprised by the low cost!
- The Loft This Hotel is generally half the price of the Daru Sultan hotels however the views are nowhere near as spectacular and the breakfast was not as good. Despite this, it is still quite close to the main Taksim street and has some nice cafes nearby.
How to get to Taksim from each Airport
- From Atatürk Airport.
- Public Transport: Take the Havabus which goes direct to Taksim. Costs 12TL per person. It sets of every half hour.
- Taxi: Simply pay around 40tl for a taxi. You can get 4 people in a taxi so this may be cheaper if you have a few people.
- From SAW Airport
- Public Transport: Havataş Bus 14TL.
- Taxi: 70/80TL
Interactive Quiz to choose airport & area to stay
If this post has not yet answered your question of where to stay, then simply have a go with short quiz, and you will have your answer. If nothing else, I find it quite fun.
Will you be visiting places on the Asian side or European?
Conclusion of Best Area to stay in Istanbul
My opinion is that you should be looking for a hotel near Taksim as it is not too far from Historic Sites in Sultanahmet but also has places to see at night just before you go to bed. If you stay in Sultanahmet then you will not have a lot to do from 7pm onwards which may feel constricting to some.
Whichever area you choose, I hope this overview has helped.