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Where Is Better To Stay In Istanbul – Sultanahmet Or Beyoglu?
When you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Istanbul, location is everything.
A quick Google search of apartments and hotels will throw up so many choices you’ll be totally overwhelmed. Remember, that Istanbul is a huge city and that means a massive choice of accommodation.
The problem with finding accommodation in Istanbul is that some hotels and apartments are located far away from the main sights, and because of the sprawling nature of the city and how generally busy it is, it’s very easy to find yourself stuck in a hotel which requires you to travel halfway across this massive city to get to where you want to be.
There are also countless districts in Istanbul. The main ones are:
- Beyoglu, which covers the Taksim area
- Besiktas, which covers the Ortakoy area
- Kadikoy (Asian side)
- Uskudar (Asian side)
That is by no means an exhaustive list and you should not underestimate the size of some of these districts. Besiktas, for example, stretches from the main part of the district right down to the bottom end of the seafront near to Sariyer. That’s a huge distance!
Sultanahmet or Beyoglu
Most people decide to stay in either Sultanahmet or Beyoglu. The reason is that Sultanahmet is where the main historic sights are located, including the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, etc. There are also many touristic restaurants around here that serve traditional Turkish food.
However, Beyoglu is the ideal spot for being central. From there you can get anywhere and you’re also in the middle of nightlife and shopping centers, with Taksim on your doorstep. The iconic Istiklal Street offers everything you could want and more.
So, which is best?
It really depends on what you’re looking for and what you want.
Let’s cover the main points of each one.
Accommodation In Sultanahmet
As with every other district of Istanbul, Sultanhmet is sizeable, but it’s one of the smaller ones by comparison. Do not confuse Sultanahamet with Fatih, which is huge. Fatih runs from the back of Sultanahmet and stretches on for miles. You’ll find countless hostels and cheaper hotels in Fatih, but you will need to get the bus or a taxi to be able to go anywhere of any substance.
So, if you’re sure that you want to be close to the major historic sights we mentioned earlier, make sure you check the walking distances to those attractions on a hotel’s page. Alternatively, you can Google it.
The problem with Sultanahmet is the expense. Because this is where the history is mostly located (although Istanbul entirely is full of history), you’ll find prices are higher here. If you want to eat a Turkish meal in Istanbul, to be honest, you’re best avoiding Sultanahmet for price and quality and going to Taksim or Besiktas where you’ll find better for cheaper.
However, millions of people every year decide to stay in this part of the city. Its also quiet at night which could be a plus point for you if you want a good night’s sleep. If you choose the wrong hotel in Taksim you could end up next to a nightclub which doesn’t close its doors till the sun has long been up!
- Plenty of choice of accommodation
- Close to the major historic sights
- Very traditional
- Quiet at night
- Very touristic
- Can be difficult if you end up staying in Fatih
- Getting to other parts of the city from Sultanahmet is totally possible, but not that easy because of the traffic and how busy the Metro and Tramway is
- Hotels here tend to be more expensive, as does food
Accommodation In Beyoglu
Beyoglu is a huge district that covers the Taksim area and beyond. This is where the majority of people tend to stay and it’s a very bright and vibrant spot. There are an equal amount of pros and cons to staying in Beyoglu as there are Sultanahmet and again, it depends what type of holiday you’re looking for.
Taksim itself is very busy. It’s possible that you will never have seen crowds like it when you stand at the top of Istiklal Street and look down. It can be crazy busy, especially at weekends. However, it’s crazy busy for a reason. There is a lot to see and do here and whilst Beyoglu isn’t the most historic part of Istanbul, there are still plenty of sights to be seen here which date back centuries, including old churches and museums.
The main point of staying in this part of the city, however, is entertainment and ease of travel. Taksim links to most other parts of Istanbul and it’s considered to be the heart of the city, even though many other districts lay claim to that also. Taksim is also packed with places to eat, drink, shop and party.
This is where the most vibrant nightlife is, but you’ll also find an equal number of tea gardens, coffee shops and small restaurants too.
The downside? There is a huge choice of places to stay in Beyoglu and because of the size of it, it can be hard to figure out whether you’re staying in a good part or not. The reason for saying that is because there are some very rough parts of Beyoglu which are best avoided. Try and stay in central Taksim to avoid these.
- Close to the main entertainment and nightlife
- Very busy area so you’re not going to be bored
- A huge selection of accommodation
- Some very low priced choices of places to stay here
- Easy access to other parts of Istanbul
- Very busy area, which may not suit you
- Some parts of Beyoglu are quite rough
- Not a particularly historic part of the city, however, there are some great sights to see
Sultanahmet Or Beyoglu Wrap Up
As you can see, there are pros and cons for choosing either Sultanahmet or Beyoglu, and it really comes down to your personal needs and wants. You won’t struggle to find somewhere to stay in either place and you’re sure to have a great time too!