Tourist’s guide to Istanbul districts: detailed description of areas of Istanbul

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with a population of almost 15 million people, many-sided and largely unpredictable. This versatility of the city is due, first of all, to its geographical location: one part of the metropolis is spread over European territories, the other – in Asian lands. The districts of Istanbul, of which there are 39 today, are diverse and have their own distinctive features. Some of them are modern and highly developed, others are characterized by conservatism and originality.

Istanbul is Turkey's largest city

When planning a trip to a metropolis, it is important to consider the most accessible quarters of the city and evaluate all their advantages and disadvantages. That is what we are going to do in our article. And to make it easier for you to navigate the information, we recommend that you look at the map of Istanbul with areas in Russian.

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If you are planning a trip to Istanbul and are looking for a solution in which area it is better to stay, then we suggest you consider options near the famous Sultanahmet Square in Fatih County. This is perhaps the most popular part of the city among tourists. After all, it is here that the main attractions of the metropolis are located, such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. And in the vicinity of the square there are famous objects: Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Gulkhan Park and the Archaeological Museum of the city .

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet is about 20 km from Ataturk Airport. But the closest metro station Zeytinburnu is located 14 km, therefore, to get to the square, you also need to use the T1 light rail. This historical part of the city is famous not only for its monuments, but also for its many restaurants, which offer picturesque views of the Bosphorus. And if the main purpose of your trip is to walk around iconic objects, and the endless noise, constant bustle and crowds of tourists do not scare you at all, then this is the place where you would be best to stay in Istanbul for excursions.


Fatih district in Istanbul on a map
  • An abundance of attractions
  • Variety of restaurants
  • Close to the airport
  • Large selection of accommodation where you can stay


  • Noisy, a lot of tourists
  • Far from the subway
  • High prices

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This is a rather old, but very prestigious area in the central European part of Istanbul. It harmoniously interwoven business and cultural spheres of the metropolis. The population of the district is more than 200 thousand people, and middle-class families, as well as students, are mainly represented among its residents. Besiktas is famous for its expensive Etiler quarter, where luxury hotels and luxury homes are located. But for most tourists, the area is well known due to its invariable sights: the palaces of Dolmabahce and Yildiz, the Ortakoy mosque and the Ataturk museum.

Ortakoy Mosque in Besiktas
Ortakoy Mosque

If you do not know which area to choose in the center of Istanbul, then Besiktas will be a very convenient option. Firstly, it is located not so far from Ataturk Airport – only 26 km. Secondly, the public transport system is well established here: ferries leave for the Asian region, and numerous buses leave for the European region. Metro has already been built here. About the metro system in Istanbul and how to use this type of transport, see here .

Besiktas district on the map of Istanbul

Tourists in this part of Istanbul will definitely not be bored, as the area has many good cafes and restaurants , several parks, a beautiful promenade with views of the Bosphorus, as well as a large weekly market.


  • Developed public transport network
  • A lot of valuable monuments
  • The presence of the promenade and parks
  • The choice of cafes and restaurants is much better than in other places
  • Near the airport


  • Crowded
  • Luxury hotels, hard to stay at a bargain price

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Kadikoy is the most popular tourist destination in the Asian part of Istanbul. This is a fairly large rapidly growing area of ​​the metropolis, the number of inhabitants of which exceeds 600 thousand people. Compared to European areas, it is considered a relatively calm area. There are few attractions here, but still there are several iconic places, such as the Haydarpasa Station, the Greek Church and the Toy Museum. And shopping and party-goers will love Baghdat Street with a host of branded stores, bars and restaurants.

Kadikoy District in Istanbul

A great advantage of the area is its close location to both Istanbul airports. The fastest toll road from Atatürk Airport to Kadıköy is 28 km, and about 34 km from Sabiha Gokcen Airport. Thanks to the developed transport hub, it is quite easy to get to other areas of Istanbul from here. In Kadiköy, the M4 line subway operates, as well as a ferry service with the European part of the city. As we can see, the area is quite interesting and favorable for living, so if you are still looking for an answer to the question of where to stay in Istanbul, do not miss the Kadikoy district.


Map of Kadikoy District
  • Developed public transport network
  • Calmly
  • A wide selection of cafes and restaurants
  • Good shopping opportunities
  • Close to both airports
  • Many decent hotels where you can stay


  • Not enough attractions
  • Far from the historic districts of Istanbul

Prospect Baghdat

Prospect Baghdat

As we mentioned above, this is a street in Kadikoy. It is famous throughout the Republic of Turkey as one of the largest trading avenues, which is in no way inferior to similar objects in other megacities in the world. Along the entire perimeter of the avenue, the length of which is as much as 14 km, boutiques of world brands, hairdressers, various bars and restaurants stretch. This part of Kadikoy is considered the most prestigious, but the prices here are much lower than in many areas of European Istanbul. If you do not want to stay away from the bustling nightlife and shopping, then you better stay in this area of ​​Istanbul, where although it is quite noisy, you definitely will not be bored.


  • A wide selection of shops
  • The abundance of restaurants
  • There are accommodation options where you can stay at an affordable price.


  • Noisily
  • No attractions


This is a picturesque district in the central European region of Istanbul, the southeastern part of which runs along the coast of the Bosphorus, and the western stretches along the shores of the Golden Horn. It is one of the oldest districts of the city with a population of more than 250 thousand people, where history and contemporary art are intertwined. And if you are looking for information about which area of ​​Istanbul it is better for a tourist to settle in, then we recommend that you take a closer look at Beyoglu. After all, it is here that the famous Taksim Square, as well as the ancient Galata Tower, are located. In addition, there are many museums in the area, including the Rahmi M. Koch Museum, the Miniature Park Museum and the Spinning Dervishes Museum. Well, lovers of parties and shopping will like the local Istiklal Street with dozens of nightclubs and hundreds of shops.

Beyoglu district in Istanbul

Beyoglu District is 22 km from Ataturk Airport. The public transport system is well established in the district: the M2 metro line runs here, numerous city buses run on which you can reach the historic quarters of Istanbul. A wide selection of housing will allow you to find an affordable option. Most hotels are located in the vicinity of Taksim Square and in the vibrant Karakoy quarter, which we will talk about below.


Beyoglu District
  • Near the airport
  • Mass of iconic objects
  • The choice of cafes, bars and nightclubs is better than in many other parts of Istanbul
  • There is a metro
  • Beautiful views of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn
  • An abundance of hotels where you can stay at a very reasonable price


  • Countless crowds of tourists
  • Very noisy

Choose a hotel in the area


Karakoy is an industrial part of Beyoglu County, where banks, insurance companies, manufacturing enterprises, as well as the largest seaport of Istanbul are concentrated. But at the same time it is one of the most youthful neighborhoods of the metropolis, where people gather in the evenings in local cafes and bars to dance to incendiary oriental and modern rhythms. Others prefer to walk along the numerous streets with a spray can and decorate the walls of local buildings with new graffiti masterpieces, of which there are a great many.

Waterfront Karakoy

Although street art has become the hallmark of Karakoy, there are many historical and cultural places in the region that deserve the attention of a tourist, including the Armenian Church of St. George the Illuminator, the Jewish Museum, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, the Church of Saints Paul and Peter, the Arab and Underground mosques. A variety of local restaurants will delight any traveler, but Gulluoglu Café and Confectionery deserves the most attention – a place with a two-hundred-year-old history serving authentic Turkish baklava.

At the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

It is noteworthy that it was in this quarter in the 19th century that the first metro line in Istanbul was launched, but today this line does not belong to the subway, but is an underground funicular. In Karakoy, it is always noisy and crowded, so if you decide in which area in Istanbul it is better to live, then you should consider this fact.


Lots of interesting graffiti
  • Lots of interesting graffiti
  • The choice of night bars is better than in other quarters
  • Museums and churches
  • An abundance of hotels where you can stay


  • Vanity
  • Noisy youth and tourists

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Chihangir is a bohemian quarter located near Taksim Square in the Beyoglu district. This is a pretty neat place, somewhat reminiscent of a corner of Paris, which was chosen by foreigners, as well as the creative intelligentsia of Istanbul. The chihangir with its miniature streets is distinguished by calmness and tranquility during the day, and in the evening, when its residents go to local cafes and bars, it turns into a busy quarter. In the area itself, in addition to a couple of unpretentious museums and a simple mosque, you will not find sights: it is remembered primarily for its unique atmosphere. But since Chihangir is located near Taksim Square, it will not be difficult to get from it to the city’s iconic objects.

Chihangir Street


  • Quiet and peaceful
  • Cozy atmosphere
  • Good selection of restaurants
  • Close to Taksim Square


  • No noteworthy objects
  • May seem boring
  • Expensive rental housing


Each city has an area where it is better not to drop in for ordinary tourists, and Istanbul was no exception. Tarlabashi is a small quarter located west of the famous Taksim Square in the Beyoglu district. It is considered one of the most unfavorable and cheapest parts of Istanbul, where mostly hostile migrants and transgender people live. The area has gained notoriety because of the flourishing prostitution and drug trafficking in its streets. Although the level of security has noticeably increased in recent years in the quarter, this is definitely not the place in Istanbul where a tourist can stop without any problems.

Dangerous and dirty area of ​​Tarlabashi


  • Extreme lovers will appreciate


  • Dangerous and dirty area
  • No attractions

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Sisli District is a kingdom of huge skyscrapers, various shopping centers and elite new buildings, which has become the embodiment of modern life in Istanbul. This rather large district with a population of more than 320 thousand people today is ready to offer a highly developed infrastructure, including many hotels, restaurants, banks and shops. Sisli is landlocked and there are not so many unique historical sites. Among them, it is worth visiting the War Museum, the statue of Abide Hurriyet and the monument to the Mediterranean Sea. Sisli is also famous for its stadium Ali Sami Yong and the Machka funicular connecting the district with Taksim Square.

Sisli District

Sisli is 30 km from Ataturk Air Harbor. An M2 metro line passes in the area and a network of bus routes is developed, so getting from here to the main attractions of Istanbul is not difficult. This is a relatively calm area, there are not many tourists here, so Sisli is a pretty decent place to stay in Istanbul.

Sisli County Map


  • There is a subway
  • Few tourists
  • Good selection of cafes, hotels and shopping centers
  • Developed transport system


  • No access to the sea
  • Few places of interest
  • Traffic jams

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Majidiyokoy – a quarter in Sisli district, which has all the same characteristics as the main district. This is the business part of the city, where office life is boiling behind the walls of modern skyscrapers. Medjidiyokoy is home to the largest shopping center in all of Europe – Cevahir Istanbul. Immediately you can look into the Antikacilar Carsisi antique boutique, where an impressive collection of rare things is collected. Therefore, all shopping lovers who are now deciding where and in which area of ​​Istanbul it is better to live, should definitely consider this option.

Cevahir Istanbul Shopping Center
Cevahir istanbul


  • The largest shopping center in Europe
  • Few tourists
  • There is a choice of restaurants and cafes
  • Subway passes (line M2)


  • No access to the sea
  • No remarkable historical sites
  • Traffic jams
  • Noisily
Balat and Fener

These are small areas of the city of Istanbul, spread along the left coast of the Golden Horn in Fatih County. Balat and Fener are literally saturated with history, and often the area attracts not only tourists, but also artists and journalists. There are several notable religious institutions here, such as the Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen, the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, St. George’s Cathedral, the Church of the Virgin Pammakarista, the Selim Yavuz Mosque and the Church of Mary of Mongolia. There are several parks along the shore of the Golden Horn, and the Fener Ferry Terminal is right there.

Selim Yavuz Mosque, Istanbul
Selim Yavuz Mosque

The road from Ataturk Airport to the area is 25 km. There is no metro in Balat and Fener, but there are numerous buses running here, and it is best to sail by ferry to the opposite shore of the bay.


Quarter Balat on the map
  • City center
  • Variety of attractions
  • Close to other key areas
  • Public transport is better developed than in many other locations.


  • No metro
  • Small selection of restaurants

Note: Overview of excursions in Istanbul from local residents .

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If you look at the map of the districts of Istanbul in Russian, you will immediately see the Eminenu Square, surrounded in the north by the waters of the Golden Horn. This is a historic quarter that is part of Fatih County. The once large industrial area today has acquired great cultural value thanks to the monuments that have been preserved here, among which the Suleymaniye Mosque and the unique Rustem Pasha Mosque . In addition, there are the famous metropolis markets – the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian market. From here you can quickly get to the sights of the Sultanahmet area.

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul
Suleymaniye Mosque

Ataturk Airport is 22 km from the area. There is no subway in Eminönu itself, the nearest stations are located in other areas – Zeytinburnu and Aksaray. But since the north of the quarter is a major transport hub, there are many ways to get here: you can do this by tram, shuttle buses, ferries and dolmushes.


Eminonu District in Istanbul
  • Many attractions
  • Close to Sultanahmet Square
  • A wide variety of shops and cafes
  • Better developed public transport


  • Expensive hotels, better stay in another area
  • No metro
  • Noisy, a lot of tourists

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Uskudar is a large district located in the Asian part of Istanbul. Its population is 550 thousand people. This area managed to preserve the true oriental flavor, largely due to the numerous mosques, which number more than 200 in Uskudar. Although there are not many attractions, the objects presented are of great tourist interest. Among them are the Maiden’s Tower, the fountain of Sultan Ahmed III, the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, and the Beylerbey Palace.

Beylerbey Palace, Istanbul
Beylerbey Palace

Uskudar is 30 km from Ataturk Airport and 43 km from Sabiha Gokcen Airport. There is an M5 metro line in the area, there are bus and train stations, as well as a port.

Map of Uksyudar


  • Authentic atmosphere
  • There are interesting objects
  • Transport runs better than in many other Asian districts
  • Almost no tourists
  • You can stay at the hotel for an acceptable amount


  • Few bars, no nightlife
  • Conservative residents
  • Boring

See also: Kariye Museum (Chora Monastery) – the legacy of the Byzantine Empire in Istanbul .

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This area of ​​Istanbul is spread along the coast of the Sea of ​​Marmara, its population is 250 thousand people. It is considered the business center of the city, but for the tourist there are many interesting activities. In addition to the picturesque views from the local promenade, you will be curious to visit the cultural center of Yunus Emre and the Fildama Cistern, see the main mosque of the area and the Greek church of the 19th century. In Bakırköy you will find many shopping centers and restaurants. This is a great place to stay in Istanbul for a few days.

Bakırköy District

Ataturk Airport is located right in the area, in its northwestern part, so you can get to the center of Bakirkoy in just a few minutes. There is a metro line M1A, a developed network of public vehicles. Since the district is a business center, here you will be pleased with a wide selection of housing at affordable prices.


Large selection of housing in the Bakirkoy district
Hampton by Hilton Istanbul Atakoy
  • Very close to Ataturk Airport
  • Reasonable prices
  • Metro availability
  • Good shopping opportunities
  • Large selection of accommodation where you can stay


  • Few attractions
  • Remoteness from historical areas
  • Noisy traffic jams


Having examined the districts of Istanbul from a tourist point of view, we can safely say that almost every one of them is a worthy place to relax. There are neighborhoods with expensive and reasonable prices, filled with interesting places and located away from the bustle of the city, offering a large selection of modern entertainment and saturated with real oriental flavor. And before deciding in which area of ​​Istanbul it is better to stay, it is important for a tourist to identify their specific goals and expectations from the trip, and on the basis of this, make a choice in favor of a particular district.

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