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Best Area to Stay???

Denver, Colorado
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109 posts
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Best Area to Stay???

I'm traveling to Istanbul in late March and I'm looking for suggestions on the best area to stay in. It will be my first time there and of course I want to see all the sites in Sultanahment, but we will also want to check out the night life in/around Taksim. Would it be better to stay around Taksim and travel to see the other sites/areas, or vice/versa? How difficult is it to travel back and forth in the evenings, etc.

I appreciate any advice.

Thanks!

Perrysburg, Ohio
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1. Re: Best Area to Stay???

Hi RockyMountain2,

It's very, very easy to travel back and forth between Sultanahmet and Taksim. If you're traveling before midnight, just take the tram from Sultanahmet to the Kabatash tram stop and then the metro connector to Taksim Square. If you're traveling after midnight (which is when the trams/metros stop running) you'll have to take a taxi. As for which area is the best one to base yourself out of, that's entirely up to you! Some people prefer Sultanahmet, and others prefer Taksim.

Sultanahmet is historic, drop dead gorgeous, very atmospheric, very touristy and quiets down around midnight. Sultanahmet hotels are generally less expensive than the hotels in Taksim.

Taksim is the more modern area of the city, has a good mix of tourists and locals, has loads of good restaurants/clubs/bars, is alive until the wee hours of the morning, and will give you a better idea of how cosmopolitan and diverse the city is.

If you stay in Taksim, you'll be within walking distance to your hotel after an evening out. If you stay in Sultanahmet, you'll be within walking distance to the majority of the historic sites that you'll be visiting during the day. No matter which area you choose to stay in, I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time in Istanbul.

Jo

London, United...
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2. Re: Best Area to Stay???

Where you stay will depend mainly on what you wish to get out of Istanbul and I don't think you'll regret too much whichever area you choose.

I just wanted to add a point. When people talk about Beyoglu area (Istiklal Street) being the modern part of Istanbul, the majority of the buildings there are from the beginning of 19th century, some parts being much much older like the Genovese Galata tower with great history. Of course there is no doubt it is nowhere as old or historic as Sultanahmet is today but these both sides of Godlern Horn always coexsited throughout the history, beyoglu (Pera) side being the Genovese side.

The buildings have a more European feel as this area, this area was where the majority of the non-muslims lived and the embassies were based in this area, many consulates including the British, Russian, Dutch consulates still are. Owing to its multi-cultural history there are many old churches of many denominations as well as synagogues and mosques.Many of the old buildings are beautifully renovated in the last 10 - 15 years.

The school I attended between 11- 17 was in an old building on Istiklal street that used to be the British embassy in the early 1800s. There are still bathroom fittings with stamps of 1830s on them, so it never felt that modern to me!!

What is modern about this area is that it is not as old as Sultanahmet, it is a living part of town and it is modern in the sense that it is vibrant, cosmopolitan and young in spirit but it is for all ages. yes there are many bars/clubs/restaurants but it never has the atmosphere of Soho in London for example where drunk people party and scream in the streets at all times. It has very quiet parts, residential parts (Galata, Cihangir) bohemian artistic back streets with second hand and antique shops (Cukurcuma, the old book passages, cihangir) as well as vibrant aprts (Asmalimescit, Nevizade)The Taksim square is truly new and characterless but as soon as you walk in any direction the architecture is delightful with lots of small cobblestone streets and turns and passages and shops to discover. It is sometimes too easy to dismiss or label Beyoglu (old Pera) as the 'modern' part of Istanbul and giving it a characterless face, it is delightful if you know where to look.

Truly new parts of Istanbul are Levent, Ulus, Gayrettepe, Baghdat Street, etc.

Kozano

Perrysburg, Ohio
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3. Re: Best Area to Stay???

Oh Kozano, you gave a much more accurate description of the Taksim/Beyoglu area than I did. European is such a better word to use than modern when trying to capture the flavor of area! As I read your post about all of the wonderful things the area has to offer, all I wanted to do was immediately make a flight reservation so that I could experience it all again!

Cincinnati, Ohio
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4. Re: Best Area to Stay???

kozano, your post is so beautifully written and it also serves to remind me of how much more of the wonderful city of Istanbul remains to be explored on my next trip there! Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive response.

Denver, Colorado
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109 posts
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5. Re: Best Area to Stay???

Thank you all so much for the detailed info. This is exactly what I needed. I appreciate your time!

Rochester, Minnesota
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6. Re: Best Area to Stay???

Hello RockyMountain2: We had the exact same question when we were planning for our first trip to Istanbul, and Osumom, Kozano, Burak, Busy-Retired, Gonetothedogs, Cinti Attorney and all the other Istanbul DEs & forumites gave us extremely helpful and specific comments to consider. I just want to re-affirm the comment made above that regardless of which side you decide to stay in, do go to see the other sections of Istanbul to appreciate the many flavors and layers of history of this city.

In our case, although we ended up staying in Sultanahmet based upon our own interests and budget, we were very glad to have made a point of going to Kadikoy and Emirgan, and to spend half a day in the neighborhoods around the Kariye Museum and Eyup Mosque.

7. Re: Best Area to Stay???

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