As Napoleon once said, “If the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” Indeed, Istanbul is an extremely significant and mesmerizing city. With thousands of years’ history, as well as its natural beauties, Istanbul captivates the beholders.
One of the first things that come to mind about Istanbul is for sure the Bosphorus’ coastal line, a place that has been subject to many legends. People started to settle around Bosphorus mostly during the Ottoman era, and today, it is one of the most popular tourist areas in Istanbul. But there are numerous places regarded as the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Istanbul has 39 districts with 25 of them being on the European side and 14 on the Anatolian side. The number of neighborhoods in Istanbul most recently reached 782.
If you’re wondering where to visit Istanbul, we suggest your first two destinations should be Fatih and Balat. These are the oldest areas in Istanbul, with many historical artifacts to see.
Nightlife in Istanbul centers around Beyoğlu and Kadıköy, while natural areas to visit are in Üsküdar and Sarıyer. And then there is Beşiktaş -where many of the Istanbul palaces are sitting.
You can never fully explore the city and the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul. Once known as the seven hills, Istanbul, the most crowded city in Turkey, welcomes travelers showing a different face of it in each neighborhood.
Beyazıt, Sultanahmet, and Eminönü are perfect destinations to start the Fatih tour, while Fener and Samatya have it all for those who want to see how the old city used to be. Keep reading to discover the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
What is the best neighborhood to stay in Istanbul?
People living in big cities opt for residential areas away from the crowd and hubbub. It is particularly difficult to find a quiet and peaceful neighborhood in a city like Istanbul, where there is constantly a traffic jam and bustle -but it is certainly not impossible.
The districts with the highest quality of life are Beşiktaş, Kadıköy, Bakırköy, Şişli, and Fatih, while the lowest standard of living is experienced in Arnavutköy, Sultanbeyli, Şile, Sultangazi, and Esenler.
According to research, Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, and Şişli rank highest in the social Progress Index regarding the human capital, economic development, transportation, and accessibility. On the other hand, the index for the demographic structure, healthy living, and environment reveals the disadvantages of these districts. The reason behind their low rank in such issues is that they are the business and social centers in Istanbul, and therefore among the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Where do the rich live in Istanbul?
The neighborhoods were classified between A+ and E. The A+ group that indicates the highest socio-economic status covers 20 neighborhoods. 10 neighborhoods in Beşiktaş, 4 in Kadıköy, 2 in Beyoğlu, 2 in Bakırköy, 1 in Şişli, and 1 in Beykoz have the highest socio-economic status score.
Where do expats live in Istanbul?
People who got tired of the crowd and who want to have a peaceful life mostly prefer Beylikdüzü, Çatalca, Şile, Zekeriyaköy, Esenyurt, and Silivri.
The Most Livable Places in Istanbul
Beşiktaş, Adalar, Nişantaşı, Sarıyer, Beykoz, Kadıköy, Cihangir, Maslak, Osmanbey,
Çengelköy, Kabataş, Kuzguncuk, Üsküdar, Baltalimanı, İstinye, Şişli, Balat-Fener, Beyoğlu,
Tarabya, Yeşilköy, Yeniköy, Fenerbahçe, Bostancı, Etiler, Teşvikiye, Ulus, and Bebek are among the places where the people with highest income rate choose to live. These areas are among the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia Museum, a historical building where the highest number of tourists visit, is a monument that sheds light on history. It is located in Fatih that covers the area where the city Istanbul was established in the famous historical peninsula.
Taksim Square and İstiklal Street
The liveliest areas in Istanbul, İstiklal Street, and Taksim Square have been the nightlife center for centuries now. It is a street that never sleeps and is among the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Imagine exploring the İstiklal Street, the touring Karaköy, and finally living the Nevizade night! Beyoğlu, the famous nightlife district, is the prime example of the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul that cannot be described but only experienced.
Galata Tower is regarded as the oldest tower in the world. Adorning Istanbul’s skyline since 528, Galata Tower still seems so robust that you want to bow before it. It is also remarkable for its height of 69.9 meters.
The archaeological excavation made on the pits on the ground revealed skulls and human bones, which indicates that the tower’s underground used to be a dungeon. According to the static calculations, the tower weighs 10,000 tons, and it is magnificent despite its modest design.
Galata Tower is located in the Galata district that is on the lower side of Beyoğlu and the upper side of Karaköy. You can arrive at the tower by getting off the metro in Şişhane station and then walking for five minutes on the İstiklal Street. If you are coming from Karaköy, you can opt for the Tunnel funicular and walk five minutes after arriving at Taksim. Don’t end your trip before you see Galata, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Karaköy is a lively neighborhood near the port, where unique cafes nest together with local pastries and family businesses.
The Ottoman-era buildings with graffiti on their walls host studios and fashion boutiques of young designers. You can visit Istanbul Modern, a building that used to be a storehouse, to see modern artworks of local and foreign artists alike. The art scene in the district makes Karaköy one of the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul. The Ali Paşa social complex built in the 16th century has a Turkish bath and a mosque.
Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque, Arap Mosque, Galata Tower, Yeraltı Mosque, Bankalar Street,
Kamondo Stairs, Ottoman Bank Museum, Karaköy Bazaar ve the French Passage are among the must-see places in Karaköy.
Renowned for the football team named after it, Beşiktaş is where the most famous palaces of Istanbul are located in. Beşiktaş Team has a perfect motto that suits the neighborhood: Come to Beşiktaş! Beşiktaş has a unique and special vibe to it with Yıldız, Dolmabahçe, Feriye, and Çırağan Palaces, Yıldız and Maçka parks and Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture nestling on the district grounds. The youth in the city consider Beşiktaş as one of the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Balat is a neighborhood on Haliç coasts in Fatih district, between Ayvansaray and Fener. Balat has a special palace in Istanbul’s history as a Jewish neighborhood after Jewish people immigrated here from Spain. Their immigration also resulted in Jewish people from Georgia settling in here.
Balat is a modest area with colorful houses and narrow streets with cobblestones. Popular cafes and modern galleries share the streets with old local stores. Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, synagogue, and Byzantine churches reflect the cosmopolitan history of the area that hosts Jewish, Greek, and Armenian communities.
Located in European Side’s Beşiktaş district, Arnavutköy is renowned for its long-established and historical structure. It is between Kuruçeşme and Bebek, on the coastal line of Bosphorus.
The district used to be a significant prayer center during the early Byzantine era and has a history of 1500 years. Arnavutköy is named after Albanian janisaries who were assigned to protect the district after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453.
Even though the fires that started in the second half of the century destroyed the historical buildings, the district with a 5000-people population still preserves its historical texture.
According to the English-based travel magazine Time Out, Arnavutköy is among the coolest neighborhoods in Istanbul and in the world, along with Beşiktaş.