Istanbul is a city with an undeniable charm that captivates the hearts of its visitors. From its mesmerizing architecture to its rich cultural heritage, there is just so much to explore in this vibrant metropolis.
And what better way to delve into the essence of Istanbul than by taking a closer look at each of its 39 districts? In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey through the various neighborhoods and highlight their unique characteristics, giving you a glimpse into what makes Istanbul such an enchanting destination.
So put on your walking shoes, and join us on this exciting tour of Istanbul’s neighborhoods.
How Many Districts In Istanbul Are There
It used to have 32 districts in Istanbul, but due to its growing population and need for contemporary amenities, the urban reorganization was necessary to accommodate adjustments, maintenance, and expansion. Upon the establishment of a new city planning arrangement in April 2008, the Istanbul provinces were divided into 39 regions. Each neighborhood of Istanbul has a local municipality elected by its residents.
East vs. West: Which Side of Istanbul has More Districts
West. 25 vs. 14
Istanbul’s 39 districts are split between the European and Asian sides, creating a huge metropolis that is both majestic and enjoyable to explore. Whether you are searching for a unique neighborhood, a great shopping area, a lively nightlife scene, or an ideal family area, every one of Istanbul’s districts offers something unique.
Most Popular Districts In Istanbul
Of the 39 districts in Istanbul, these are just a few of the most popular (and for a good reason!):
- Eminönü: is located on the Golden Horn waterfront. Eminönü is home to some of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Blue Mosque and Spice Bazaar. The district is also a popular shopping destination and is a historic district is, also a major transportation hub, with ferry service to both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul
- Beyoglu: Also known as “Pera,” this chic district is full of art galleries, trendy cafes, and designer shops. Beyoglu is also home to Istanbul’s vibrant nightlife scene
- Fatih: The heart of Old Istanbul, Sultanahmet in Eminönü, is where you’ll find the city’s grandest imperial monuments like the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia. This district also has a large number of hotels catering to tourists
- Taksim: Taksim Square is the center of modern Istanbul, and the surrounding area is full of energy and excitement day and night. This district is home to some of the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment options
- Kadikoy: A more residential area on Istanbul’s Asian side, Kadikoy nonetheless has plenty to offer visitors interested in culture and history. This district is known for its lively street markets and traditional Turkish restaurants
Lesser-Known Districts in Istanbul
Istanbul is a huge city with many different districts, each with its own unique character. While the city’s more well-known areas, like the historic Sultanahmet or Beyoğlu districts, are worth exploring, many lesser-known neighborhoods and districts in Istanbul are just as interesting and worth visiting. Such as:
Fener & Balat, Fatih
One such district is Balat, which is located on the city’s European side. Once a thriving Jewish community, today Balat is a fascinating melting pot of cultures, with Orthodox Christian churches, mosques, and synagogues all located within close proximity to one another. The area is also home to some of the best Ottoman-style architecture in the city.
Another great place to explore is Fener, once known for its large Greek population; today, Fener is home to a mix of different ethnic groups and religions. The area’s most notable landmark is the Church of Saint Mary of the Mongols, a beautiful Byzantine church that was once an important center of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians.
Catalca, located in the far west of Istanbul, is a huge area (1,291 km2). It is approximately more than 50+ kilometers from the city center, full of natural beauty, and bordered by a remarkable coast with the Black Sea.
Renowned for its agricultural products and dense forest, Catalca is also home to several industries, such as textiles and pharmaceuticals.
Tourists traveling through Istanbul are often drawn to explore the mysterious attractions of this area, such as Flamengo Village, Yalikoy, and Ormanli. One thing you can not miss is the limestone cave which dates back to approximately 5,000 BC – one of oldest dwellings in human history!
So if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and explore some of Istanbul’s lesser-known districts, be sure to add one of these to your list!
Turkish Cuisine: European Vs. Asia
Istanbul is a sprawling metropolis, so it comes as no surprise that the city is home to a diverse range of cultures and cuisines. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the local culture and cuisine of each district in Istanbul.
- The European side of Istanbul is home to the city’s financial and business districts. This part of the city is also where you’ll find many of the city’s tourist attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapı Palace. The local cuisine on this side of Istanbul reflects the city’s cosmopolitan character. You’ll find everything from Turkish classics like kebabs and pides (flatbreads) to international dishes like sushi and Italian pasta that will cost a pretty penny
- On the Asian side of Istanbul, you’ll find a more traditional way of life. This part of the city is less developed than the European side and has a more relaxed feel to it. The local cuisine here is also more traditional, featuring dishes like döner kebabs, börek (pastries), and köfte (meatballs) at much lower prices
No matter which side of Istanbul you’re on, you’ll find some delicious food!
Accommodation In Istanbul
As one of the largest cities in the world, Istanbul boasts a wide variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and all kinds of preferences. From luxury hotels in the city center to more affordable options in the suburbs, there is something for everyone in Istanbul.
If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, the Beyoglu district is home to some of the best hotels in the city. The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is a popular choice for travelers who want to be centrally located and have access to all the city’s best sights. For something a bit more affordable, try the Maçka Palas Hotel, which offers comfortable rooms and great views of Taksim Square.
If you’re looking for more budget-friendly accommodation, there are plenty of options in the outer districts of Istanbul. The Ataköy district is a good choice for families or groups, as many apartment complexes and hotels with kitchenettes are available. The Pendik district is also a good option for those on a tight budget, as many low-cost hotels and hostels are available.
Districts On The Asian (Anatolian) Side Of Istanbul
Visitors to the city often overlook the Asian side of Istanbul, but plenty of districts are worth exploring on this side of the Bosphorus.
If you’re looking for districts that epitomize the city’s historical and cultural heritage, you must head to the Anatolian Side of Istanbul. Here, you’ll find neighborhoods filled with some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals you’ll ever meet, making it a great place to explore Turkish culture and sample some delicious local cuisine.
Here’s a comprehensive overview of the best districts to visit on the Asian side of Istanbul:
Adalar is one of the most unique and special districts in Istanbul. It comprises a group of nine islands in the Marmara Sea, just off the coast of Istanbul. The largest and most well-known island is Büyükada, which is a popular summer spot for Istanbulites looking to escape the city heat.
No cars are allowed on any of the islands, so people get around by walking, biking, or taking a horse-drawn carriage (called a fayton). Adalar is also home to some very important historical sites, such as the Imperial Palace of Dolmabahçe and the Kız Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower).
Ataşehir is a modern, cosmopolitan district in Istanbul. It is home to many multinational corporations and banks and upscale shopping and dining. The community has a young population living in highrises.
Beykoz is a lovely district bordered by the Bosphorus Strait and offers stunning city views. The area is also home to many parks and green spaces, making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. There are plenty of things to do in Beykoz, from exploring the fancy houses owned by the elite.
The district of Çekmeköy is relatively new, having only been established in 1987. The population of Çekmeköy is around 400,000, living in 21 neighborhoods and small villages. The district is known for its university. There are several shopping malls and several hospitals in Çekmeköy.
Kadıköy is a vibrant and very popular district frequented by tourists on the Asian side of Istanbul. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists, with plenty of things to see and do. From its bustling markets to its historic buildings, Kadıköy has something for everyone.
The district is home to one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, the Haydarpaşa Train Station. Built in 1909, the station is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture. Today, it is no longer in use but remains an important part of the city’s history.
Kadıköy is also home to the Kadıköy Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Istanbul. The mosque was built in 1597 and is known for its beautiful courtyard and grand interior.
If you’re looking for a place to shop, Kadıköy is the perfect spot. The district is full of markets selling everything from clothes to spices. Be sure to bargain when shopping here!
Looking for a delicious meal? Kadıköy has plenty of restaurants serving traditional Turkish cuisine. Make sure to try some of the local specialties like kumpir (baked potato) or kokoreç (grilled intestines).
Kartal is one of the districts of Istanbul, Turkey, located on the Asian side of the city. Ataşehir borders it to the west, Pendik to the east, and Maltepe to the north. The district has a population of 575,000 as of 2011.
Maltepe is located on the Asian side of the city, south of Kadıköy. The district covers an area of 38 square kilometers and has a population of 575,038 as of 2020.
The name Maltepe comes from the Greek word for “rubble” or “rock,” which describes the landscape of the area. Maltepe has been inhabited since Byzantine times, and the district has many historical buildings and landmarks.
Some of the notable sights in Maltepe include Maltepe Park, which is one of the largest parks in Istanbul; Büyükçekmece Lake, which is a popular spot for fishing and picnicking; and Küçükçekmece Lake, which is home to several bird species.
Maltepe is also home to several universities, including Marmara University, one of Turkey’s largest universities.
Pendik is a district on the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkey. It is located on the Sea of Marmara and is one of the most populous districts in the city. Pendik is home to several industries, factories, and Istanbul Ataturk Airport. The district has a population of over 500,000 people.
Sancaktepe is a district located in the southeastern part of Istanbul. The district has a population of 513,563 as of 2020. Sancaktepe is home to many parks and green spaces, including Sancak Park, the district’s largest park.
This district of Istanbul also has several historical sites, such as the Küçük Çamlıca Mosque, which was built in the 18th century.
Sancaktepe is a popular residential area for families and working professionals. The district has good transportation links to other parts of Istanbul, making commuting to work or school easy. There are also many shopping and dining options available in Sancaktepe.
Sultanbeyli is one of the most populous districts in Istanbul and is home to a large number of working-class families. The district has a diverse population, with residents from all over Turkey and other countries.
Sultanbeyli is important to Istanbul, and its residents contribute to the city’s vibrant culture. The district is great for living, working, and raising a family.
Şile is one of the most beautiful districts in Istanbul. It is located on the Asian side of Istanbul and is known for its beautiful beaches. Şile also has many historical sites, such as the Şile Castle, which was built in the 15th century.
Tuzla is located in the Asian part of Istanbul and is one of the city’s most populous districts. The district has a population of over 500,000 people. Tuzla is known for its large shipyards, which have operated since the Ottoman Empire. The district is also home to Istanbul’s largest university, Istanbul University.
Ümraniye is home to a diverse population. The district has a wide range of amenities, including parks, shopping malls, and restaurants. Several universities are located in Ümraniye, making it a popular destination for students.
Üsküdar is one of the most popular districts in Istanbul. It is located on the Asian side of the city, and it is known for its beautiful waterfront. In Üsküdar, you can sit at one of the seaside cafes with views over to Maiden Tower, Topkapi Palace, and Hagia Sophia.
Districts On The Europe Side Of Istanbul
Istanbul is separated by the Bosphorus Strait, with the European side to the west and the Asian side to the east. The city has a long history, dating back to the Roman Empire when it was known as Constantinople. Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire for centuries and is now the largest city in Turkey.
There are many districts on the European side of Istanbul, each with its own unique character. The most popular tourist areas are
- Sultanahmet: home to many of Istanbul’s historical sites, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia
- Beyoglu: a lively district with plenty of nightlife
- Eminonu: located on the waterfront and is known for its fish markets
The districts on the European side of Istanbul are well connected to the rest of the city by metro and bus lines. The European side of Istanbul is an exciting place packed with history, culture, and nightlife.
This district is home to the “New Istanbul Airport” and the soon-to-be canal route. Turkiye plans to construct the Istanbul Canal, an artificial sea-level waterway connecting the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. By bisecting the current European side of Istanbul, the Istanbul Canal would create an island between Asia and Europe (with a shoreline along the Black Sea, the Marmara, the new canal, and the Bosporus).
Avcılar is a district of Istanbul, Turkey, out of town on the European side of the city, just to the west of the Küçükçekmece inlet of the Sea of Marmara.
Bağcılar is one of the most populous districts on the European side of Istanbul. It is home to many immigrants from different parts of Turkey. The district has a central location and is well-connected to other parts of the city.
Bahçelievler is a working-class residential area of Istanbul and is home to over 570,000 people.
Bakırköy is one of the 25 districts of Istanbul located on the European side of the city. It is bordered by Ataşehir to the east, Beykoz to the north, Pendik to the west, and Kartal to the south. The Marmara Sea forms its southern boundary.
The district has an area of 38 square kilometers and a population of 575,000 as of 2016. It is divided into 12 neighborhoods: Ahmediye, Bakırköy Merkez, Çarşı, Cevizlidere, Göktürk-1, Göktürk-2, Güneşli-1, Güneşli-2 Kavaklıdere, Kurtuluş-1 Kurtuluş-2 and Sahrayıcedit.
Bakırköy was traditionally a fishing village, and its name means “copper mine” in Turkish. The district has undergone rapid urbanization in recent years and is now home to many highrise residential buildings, shopping malls, and office towers. Its central location and good transportation links make it a popular choice for both residents and businesses.
Başakşehir is a relatively new district on the European side of Istanbul. It was established in 2008 and is located in the northwest part of the city. Başakşehir is known for its medical facilities, as well as its wide range of housing options. The district has a population of about 400,000 people.
Bayrampaşa is a district located on the European side of Istanbul. The districts of Sultangazi to the east, Eyüp to the north, and Kurtuluş to the south border it. The name Bayrampaşa means “Bayram’s Place,” referring to a 16th-century Ottoman sultan named Bayram Pasha. The population of Bayrampaşa’s residents are immigrants from other parts of Turkey or Central Asia.
Located in the European side of Istanbul, Besiktas is one of the oldest neighborhoods and districts. It is declared that the name of the area originates from the Ottoman period. Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa, the most famous admiral of the Ottoman Empire, built five stone pillars in the district to serve as ship mooring, called Beştaş. Over time the name changed to Beşiktaş.
It is thought that Greek settlers first settled Beylikdüzü from Byzantion in the second century. It served as a famous resort town for those living in Constantinople during the Byzantine Empire, and this remained true even after the capital fell to the Ottoman Turks. This area was referred to as the “Garden” during the Ottoman period. Following the establishment of the Turkish Republic, it was named “Kavaklı,” derived from the abundant amount of poplar trees located there. This name held strong until 2003 when it was changed to its current name: “Plains of the Beylik.”
Beyoğlu is one of the most popular districts on the European side of Istanbul. It is known for its nightlife, its restaurants, and its culture. There are many things to do in Beyoğlu, and it is a great place to visit if you want to experience the best of what Istanbul has to offer.
The main attractions in Beyoğlu include the Galata Tower and Istiklal Avenue.
- The Galata Tower is an iconic landmark of Istanbul and offers stunning views of the city
- Istiklal Avenue is home to some of Istanbul’s best restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightlife spots
Beyoğlu also has plenty of cultural and historical sites to explore. Taksim Square and Gezi Park are popular places to visit for locals and tourists alike. Other notable attractions include Pera Museum, Saint Antoine Catholic Church, Yıldız Palace, and Chora Church.
When it comes to nightlife in Beyoğlu, there are plenty of options. There are numerous bars and clubs that offer entertainment until late at night all along Istiklal Avenue. Also worth visiting are some of Istanbul’s famous rooftop bars, which offer amazing views over the city skyline.
With a population of 380,000, Büyükçekmece is situated west of Istanbul, Turkey, on the Sea of Marmara coast of the European side.
The European side of Istanbul is home to many different districts, each with its own unique character. Çatalca is the biggest district in Istanbul
Çatalca is a district that is located on the European side of Istanbul. It is one of the most popular districts on the European side due to its proximity to the city center and its wide range of amenities. The district has a population of about 22,000 people and covers an area of 8 square kilometers.
The district is home to many different types of businesses, including restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, and hotels. The district also has several parks and playgrounds, making it a great place to raise a family. The district is also home to two hospitals and several schools.
If you’re looking for a district that has everything you need, Çatalca should be at the top of your list!
Eminönü is one of the most historical and touristic districts on the European side of Istanbul. It is located in the heart of Istanbul, on the Golden Horn waterway.
Eminönü comes from Ottoman Turkish, meaning “Emperor’s Landing Place.” This is because it was where the Sultan would disembark from his royal barge when entering Istanbul. The Eminönü district has many historical landmarks and tourist attractions. These include the Spice Bazaar, the New Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and Hagia Sophia.
The Spice Bazaar is a covered market that sells various spices, herbs, nuts, and dried fruits. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Eminönü. The New Mosque is a beautiful mosque that was built in 1665. It has an iconic onion-shaped dome and two minarets. The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets. It dates back to 1461 and consists of over 60 streets and 4,000 shops selling everything from jewelry to carpets. Hagia Sophia is a former Byzantine church that was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. It is now a museum and one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions.
If you’re looking for a district with plenty of history and things to do, Eminönü is the perfect place!
Esenler is a large, working-class district on the European side of Istanbul. The district has a reputation for being one of the city’s most deprived areas, with high levels of poverty and unemployment. It is home to many migrants from rural areas of Turkey and refugees from Syria and Iraq.
Esenyurt is located in the northwestern part of the city and is bordered by the districts of Bakırköy, Küçükçekmece, and Başakşehir. The population of Esenyurt is estimated to be around 600,000.
The name “Esenyurt” means “sunny place” in Turkish, and it is said to have been given to the district because of its location on a hilltop with a good view of the surrounding area.
Esenyurt has a large number of shopping malls and supermarkets. It is also home to Istanbul University’s Avcılar campus. The district has a growing number of highrise residential buildings, parks, and green spaces.
Eyüp is well known for its rebuilt 15th-century Eyüp Sultan Camii mosque, where a mausoleum holds the remains of a friend of the Prophet Mohammed. The slopes are covered by a huge Muslim cemetery with Ottoman sultans, military commanders, and scholars.
Fatih is located on the historical peninsula surrounding the Golden Horn, the Bosporus, and the Sea of Marmara. The district covers an area of 44 square kilometers and has a population of 817,000.
The history of Fatih goes back to the Byzantine period. The district was named after the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who conquered Istanbul in 1453 and made it his capital. Fatih was the first district to be established on the European side of Istanbul. In 1458, Sultan Mehmed II ordered the construction of a new palace in Fatih. This palace became known as Topkapı Palace and served as the main residence of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years.
In 1864, Sultan Abdülaziz ordered the construction of a new palace in Fatih. This palace, known as Dolmabahçe Palace, became the main residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 100 years. Today, both Topkapı Palace and Dolmabahçe Palace are open to visitors as museums.
Fatih is also home to many other important historical sites, such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and Suleymaniye Mosque.
Gaziosmanpaşa is one of the 39 districts of Istanbul, Turkey, on the European side of the city. It is located in the northwest of Istanbul and covers an area of 72 square kilometers. Gaziosmanpaşa was established in 2009 after merging the former district of Eyüp with parts of Beykoz and Çatalca. The population of Gaziosmanpaşa is 573,000 as of 2018.
The name Gaziosmanpaşa comes from Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejid I’s name, Sultan Osman Ghazi, and paşa, which was a high-ranking military title during the Ottoman Empire. The Gaziosmanpaşa district includes neighborhoods such as Bağcilar, Güzeltepe, Kurtuluş, Maltepe, and Sefaköy.
Gaziosmanpaşa has a long history dating back to pre-Ottoman times. The first settlement in the area was known as Akritas and was founded by Thracian tribes around 1000 BCE. Later on, the Byzantines built a fortress in Gaziosmanpaşa which served as a base for their military campaigns against the Ottomans in the 15th century.
During Ottoman times, Gaziosmanpaşa became an important commercial center due to its location on trade routes between Europe and Asia. In recent years, Gazios
Güngören is a working-class district on the European side of Istanbul. It is home to a large number of factories and has a population that is predominantly Muslim. The district has been undergoing rapid gentrification recently, with new apartment blocks and office towers springing up. Despite this, Güngören remains affordable for those looking to live on the European side of Istanbul.
Kağıthane is located on the European side of the city, between Sisli to the west and Beyoglu to the east. The district covers an area of 8.96 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 200,000 people.
The name Kağıthane comes from the Turkish word for paper, kağıt. The district was once home to many paper mills responsible for giving the area its name. Today, only a few paper mills remain in operation.
The majority of Kağithane’s residents are middle-class families. The district is known for its large number of parks and green spaces. Some of the most popular parks in Kağıthane include Gülhane Park, Yıldız Park, and Belgrad Forest.
In recent years, Kağıthane has undergone significant development and regeneration. Many old factories and warehouses have been converted into modern apartments and office buildings.
Küçükçekmece is a district of Istanbul on the European side. It is bordered by Ataşehir to the east, Bakırköy to the north, Beykoz to the northeast, Sarıyer to the northwest, and Eyüp to the west. The Marmara Sea lies to the south of Küçükçekmece. The district has an area of 156 square kilometers and a population of 575,462 as of 2018.
Küçükçekmece is one of the most populous districts of Istanbul. It is home to several large shopping malls, such as Kale Shopping Center and Akbatı Shopping Mall. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium, built for the Summer Olympics in 1980, is located in Küçükçekmece.
Sarıyer is located on the north shore of the Bosporus and has a population of about 200,000. The district is home to many Ottoman and Byzantine ruins, as well as many parks and gardens. Sarıyer is also popular for water sports such as surfing and windsurfing.
Silivri is a coastal town and district in Istanbul Province, Turkey. It is located west of the city center on the Sea of Marmara. The town is the site of an annual international sand sculpture festival.
The Silivri area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was known as Syllaeum during the Byzantine period. The town’s name comes from the Greek word for pomegranate, which is considered plentiful in the area at once.
Today, Silivri is a popular summer resort for Istanbul residents and tourists alike. The town’s beaches are crowded on weekends with sunbathers and swimmers. There are also several restaurants and cafes along the waterfront where visitors can enjoy fresh seafood or relax with a cup of tea or coffee while taking in the stunning views of the Sea of Marmara.
Sultangazi is one of the most populous districts on the European side of Istanbul. It is located in the north-central part of the city, and its boundaries extend from the Golden Horn to the Black Sea. The district is home to a diverse population, and its residents are engaged in various industries.
Şişli is one of the most cosmopolitan districts of Istanbul. It is also one of the most affluent districts, with a large number of shopping and nightlife options. Şişli is home to a number of foreign embassies, as well as the headquarters of many Turkish and international companies. The district has excellent transportation infrastructure, with a metro line and several bus lines running through it.
Zeytinburnu is a municipality in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located on the European side of the city and has a population of about 500,000 people. The district is known for its large number of refugees from Syria and Iraq and its many bakeries and kebab shops.
Wrap-Up On Istanbul’s Districts
Istanbul is an incredible city with a lot of history and a wide range of districts that add to its unique flavor. Exploring the 39 districts can be exciting, especially when you know what each one has to offer.
With this comprehensive overview, we’ve given you insight into some of the best spots in each of the Istanbul provinces so that you can make the most out of your visit to Istanbul. Whether it’s sightseeing or shopping, there’s something for everyone in every corner of this amazing city!