Where to Stay in Istanbul — Beyoglu or Sultanahmet?
On a holiday to Istanbul, you are likely to run into one major issue regarding accommodation. That issue typically surrounds which area of the famous city to stay in. Should you book a hotel or Airbnb in Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet? There are a variety of hotel and apartment options in both areas, but the two districts provide a much different stay.
Also, if you prefer calm places and non-touristic areas there is Asian part of Istanbul — Kadıköy and Üsküdar. Kadiköy is modern Istanbul with a lot of small cafes and walking streets, but Üsküdar is more conservative area whith a lot of old historical mosques.
But if you travel to Istanbul for the first time it’s better to choose between Beyoğlu and Sultanahmet. So let’s find out which place is better!
Places to stay in Istanbul for tourists
Beyoğlu and Sultanahmet are near each other. The Golden Horn separates the two areas making a natural harbor for ferries sailing along the Bosphorus. The Golden Horn divides the old part of Istanbul — Eminönü, Sultanahmet, and Fatih and the newer portion of the city — Beşiktaş, Taksim and Şişli.
From the beginning we should say that Beşiktaş and Şişli are also good areas, safe and expensive. But if you choose to stay in Beşiktaş or Şişli be ready to walk a lot or to use bus and subway or bus and tram to get to historical places. it means that you will waste much more time to get to the attractions.
The answer to where you should book your accommodation – Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet – is down to your own personal preference.
Staying in Sultanahmet
Sultanahmet is an ideal place to book accommodation in Istanbul due to its proximity to the city’s most popular tourism sites. Almost everywhere you can reach by walk or by T1 tram line.
Must-see sites include the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Gülhane park, the cisterns: Basilica, Theodosius and <atitle=»Philoxenus cistern» href=»https://istanbulpoints.com/binbirdirek-cistern-in-istanbul/» target=»_blank» rel=»noopener noreferrer»>Philoxenus, Grand Bazaar and Spice market, Süleymaniye and Beyazıt mosques.
The great thing about these famous landmarks is that they are all within walking distance of a majority of Sultanahmet’s hotels. Booking an Airbnb may be another story, but at least the major hotels are near enough to the major tourist sites that you can walk to them.
Unfortunately, Sultanahmet isn’t one of the best areas in Istanbul after dark. No, it isn’t dangerous, but there are just no entertainment options after dark. It can actually be a barren part of the city with little to nothing happening once the sun goes down.
Staying in Beyoğlu: Taksim and Istiklal
Beyoğlu area contains such blocks and quarters as Taksim square, Istiklal street, Cihangir and Karaköy. Taksim square is a transport hub and a place for different kind of cafe and street food, Istiklal is a street with a lot of shops, passages and cafeterias, Cihangir is famous for its antique shops and Karaköy for its great graffiti.
There are many famous tourist sites in Beyoğlu as well. Some of the most notable landmarks are the Dolmabahçe Palace, Galata area and its famous tower, and Istiklal Caddesi. The district is mostly well-known for its quaint neighborhoods like Cihangir and Galata. You will find a wide variety of restaurants and cafés. Istanbul’s famous night life wakes up in Beyoğlu making it ideal for anyone seeking nights out.
Compared to Sultanahmet, Beyoğlu is open and ready to go 24/7. Despite being a popular place to go out in at night, there are a number of hotels and Airbnbs situated in quieter parts of the district. These quieter areas are still close to all of the great sites and action of Beyoğlu. Therefore, you won’t have any issue with walking to these great places.
Which should you choose?
Now that you know a little bit more about Sultanahmet and Beyoğlu, you can choose the district you would prefer to book accommodation in. Before you do, consider a few more things. Sultanahmet is the ideal place to stay if you have never been to Istanbul before. Tourists with a limited amount of time should book in the heart of the city to maximize the number of landmarks and sites to see. Photographers will enjoy spending their time in Sultanahmet.
Of course, if you would prefer nights out over sightseeing, then book your accommodation in Beyoğlu. As previously stated, Sultanahmet is “dead” after dark. There is so much to see and do when the sun goes down in Beyoğlu. In addition, you may experience more of the “real” Istanbul in this part of the city.