Istanbul/Galata

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Istiklal Street

Galata, and Beyoğlu further north with its main thoroughfare, the pedestrianized Istiklal Street, and the adjoining Taksim Square is the district of Istanbul north of Sultanahmet/Old City, across the Golden Horn. This district, especially Taksim Square is usually considered the “city center” of Istanbul. Primarily visited for its nightlife, this district has also its own share of sights and accommodation.

Understand[edit]

Taksim Square
Monument at Taksim Square

Galata (Turkish: Karaköy) gained its importance by the virtue of transforming into a trade colony of the Genoese and the Venetians, beside then-Byzantine Constantinople. After Ottomans captured Istanbul, the autonomous status of Galata was left untouched, except that its city walls were razed (except a few disconnected parts in the length of a few meters spotted by the archaeologists here and there). The first time Beyoğlu area (Pera in the past), which lies north of Galata, was settled is during 1850’s, when Grand Rue de Pera (“the Great Road of Pera”), today’s Istiklal Street (İstiklal Caddesi), was opened. Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı) is even younger, it has taken its existing appearance as late as 1930s.

İstiklal Caddesi is Istanbul's prominent pedestrian street. At anytime of the day there are thousands strolling the street and a myriad of restaurants and retail offers in the side streets. This is also the original diplomatic district when Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, so search out the various impressive embassy buildings that are now consulates since the capital moved to Ankara. The British consulate in Hamalbaşı Caddesi is worth a look.

Starting its life as a Western/Catholic (Genoese/Venetian) stronghold beside Eastern (Orthodox Byzantine/Muslim Ottoman) Constantinople, Galata has always represented ‘West’. This is quite easily visible from the neo-classical architecture of most of the area, but there is more than that: First street lighting, first underground railway (Tünel, also oldest in continental Europe), as well as first European-style theaters in Turkey were always applied in this district. The decision of Ottoman dynasty to abandon Topkapı Palace in old city for western-style Dolmabahçe Palace near Beyoğlu was a largely symbolic but important act during the last century of Ottoman Empire, when the westernizing effort had a climax.

Get in[edit]

  • Airport shuttles run by HAVAŞ [1] connect Taksim Square with Atatürk Airport (~YTL 10/person); also with less significant Sabiha Gökçen Airport situated in Asian Side (also YTL 10/person).
  • Because of its very central location in the city life, it’s possible to find a direct bus from everywhere but the outermost suburbs in the city to Taksim Square. The most useful public bus lines for the travellers are:
    • 61B Taksim-Beyazıt near Sultanahmet
    • 96T Taksim-Atatürk Airport
    • 110 Taksim-Kadıköy
  • Dolmuşes also take pessengers from Beşiktaş, Bakırköy, Kadıköy and Bostancı (both in Asian Side) to Taksim.
  • A metro line connects Taksim Square with districts located north.
  • A modern tram line connects lower parts of this district on the shore of Bosphorus (such as Karaköy, Tophane, Fındıklı, Kabataş) with the peninsula of Old City.
  • Ferries from Kadıköy across the Bosphorus moor at Karaköy.
  • You can pass to Galata/Karaköy side from Eminönü via Galata Bridge on foot.

Get around[edit]

Tram at Istiklal Street

Vintage tram

The famous vintage tram of Istiklal Street is not as ancient as it may seem. Well, the tram cars are ancient (dating back to 1920s) but its track is not. The tram service in European Side of Istanbul had come to an end in 1961, when they were replaced by buses and their tracks were surfaced upon. In 1992, the city council decided to pedestrianize Istiklal Street (after the opening of a new and wider parallel avenue- which costed the city several hundred historical buildings). After the motorized vehicles were banned from the street, its tarmac was shelled out and new tracks for ancient tram were laid down.

Totally pedestrianized (save for police cars, garbage trucks, cars belonging to consulates, and, of course, the vintage tram) Istiklal Street (İstiklal Caddesi, also variously interpreted as “Istiklal Avenue” or “Istiklal Boulevard”) is the main thoroughfare of Beyoğlu area. Istiklal Street technically connects three squares: Taksim in the north, the biggest of three, Tünel Square in the south, and Galatasaray Square in the middle, the smallest one, actually nothing more than a simple widening of the street. Total length of the street is about 2 km, and squares are located about 1 km away from each other.

The easiest way to get to Istiklal Street from Karaköy on the shore of Golden Horn is to take Tünel funicular: the second oldest urban underground railway in the world (after London’s Underground) which date back to 1875. Although the distance travelled is rather short between its sole two stations (a whopping 573 meters, which perhaps make it also the title winner for being the shortest metro line of the planet), it beats the effort one has to make to climb up the steep slope between the aforementioned locations. For its lower station, look for the sign Tünel on the side of a building just over the Galata Bridge on the western side of the street. It costs TL 2.50/person one-way and departs every 5 minutes M-Sa 7AM-10:30PM, Su 7:30AM-10:30PM.

See[edit]

view of the Galata Tower from across the Golden Horn
  •    Galata Convent of Whirling Dervishes (Galata Mevlevihanesi), Galip Dede Caddesi 15, Tünel (on the downhill street just below the lower end of İstiklal Caddesi; very near Tünel's upper station—there is a small brown sign at the corner of Galip Dede Cd),  +90 212 245-41-41fax: +90 212 243-50-45, e-mail: . Tu-Su 9:00-16:30 (last entry 16:00; Oct 1-May 15), Tu-Su 9:00-19:00 (last entry 18:00; May 15-Oct 1). A ritual dancing hall of the mystical Mevlevi order (who are the followers of the teachings of Mewlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn, better known as Rumi in the West), the quiet and peaceful garden of this place is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Beyoğlu. The oldest Mevlevi lodge in Istanbul, the convent was started in 1491, when the surrounding area was, hard to believe today but, pure wilderness beyond the city walls of Galata, although the current building dates back to 1855, which took its shape after many repairs, rebuildings, and fires. However, the lodge was shut down in the early years of the republic (in 1925) along with all other 'reactionary' movements in Turkey, and the building has been serving as a museum dedicated to the Mevlevi order since 2010. Downstairs is a series of rooms dealing with the daily life of an average dervish, with informational signs in Turkish and English about the history of Islam and the Mevlevi order (also notice the original wooden pillars that support the building on this floor). On the upper floor is a dancing hall, a perfect example of 19th century Ottoman Baroque, where sema dervish ceremonies are held (once or twice every week at nights, an extra 45 TL—buy tickets in advance, as space is limited). On the third floor is a display of various traditional Turkish/Islamic arts, including paper marbling (ebru), and calligraphy. After exiting the building, check out the small graveyard (or the "silent house" as the sign at its entrance says) on one side of the building, shaded by a number of hackberry trees, which Ottomans favoured to plant in the yards of mosques and graves to sign holiness. Here, the carved fez, or the basket of flowers in case of women, perched upon the highly detailed marble gravestone indicates the occupant's rank in the dervish hierarchy. At one corner of the necropolis is the grave of İbrahim Müteferrika, a converted Hungarian who was the first to start automated publishing in Ottoman Turkish in the 18th century, and served as the translator of Hungarian revolutionaries who sought asylum in Turkey, such as Kossuth, who stayed for a year in Kütahya, or Ferenc Rakoczi, who lived his last years in Tekirdağ. 5 TL.
  •    Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) (between Karaköy/Galata and the lower end of Istiklal St),  +90 212 293 81 80fax: +90 212 245 21 33, e-mail: . It was built by the Genoese on the city walls of Galata, then a western (Genoese/Venetian) stronghold beside eastern (Byzantine/Ottoman) Constantinople. Ride an elevator to the top (20 TL), then walk the parapet for a 360 degree view of Istanbul, including the entire Sultanahmet peninsula: crowned by Topkapı Palace, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. A beautiful spot worthy of a lot of pictures. Also houses a restaurant.
  •    Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi), Meşrutiyet Caddesi 65, Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu (close to Istiklal Avenue),  +90 212 334-99-00fax: +90 212 245-95-11, e-mail: . Tu-Su 10:00-19:00, Su 12:00-18:00. A private museum with a large painting collection and archaeological collections of measurement units and tools used in Asia Minor since antiquity and faiences of Kütahya. 7 TL (students 3 TL Th-Tu, free We).
  •    French Institute (Institut français d'Istanbul / Fransız Kültür Merkezi), İstiklal Caddesi 4 (the first building on your right after entering İstiklal Cd from Taksim Square),  +90 212 393-81-11fax: +90 212 244-44-95, e-mail: . They have good art exhibits for free and sometimes have French films in the cinema.
  •    Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church (Aya Triada Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi), Taksim Square (entry from the first side alley to left in Istiklal Avenue). Finding a quite large and still operating church on the edge of the main square of the largest city of a predominantly Muslim country may not be expected by everyone, but this is exactly the definition of the quite elaborate Hagia Triada.
View of S. Antonio di Padova Catholic Church.
  •    S. Antonio di Padova Catholic ChurchIstiklal Caddesi No: 171 A (A few meters down the street from Galatasaray Square),  +90 (0)212 244 09 35. Although not at the size of Hagia Sophia, this is the largest church (still used for religious activities) in Turkey. It’s directly on Istiklal St, but somewhat hidden from view by its yard portal. Masses in Italian, Turkish, and English (in different days of the week). Free.
  •    Cezayir Street (Cezayir Sokağı) (behind Galatasaray Lisesi, walk the downhill street from Galatasaray Square). Better known as Fransız Sokağı or La Rue Française, i.e. "French Street", is an alley of statues and geraniums hanging from windows, featuring France-themed restaurants, cafes, and pubs housed in renovated and brightly-painted neo-classical buildings. Upon its inauguration in its present form in 2005, there was a brief debate on how political correct it is to rename the street from Cezayir (Algeria) to Fransız, who fought a bitter war against Algerian independence in 1960s, which led the city council to abandon the idea of officially renaming the street.
  •    Crimean Memorial Church (Kırım Kilisesi, Christ Church), Kumbaracıbaşı Yokuşu (on one of the downhill alleys to your left when walking towards the southern end of Istiklal Avenue in Tünel Square, look for street sign). A neo-gothic anglican cathedral which would not be out of place in northwestern Europe, Crimean Memorial Church was built for the protestant community of the city by Britain in late 1800s. It was named in honour of the soldiers died in Crimean War of 1856, which was fought against Russia by the allied Ottoman and British Empires. Still open for religious purposes, its congregation today mostly consists of Anglican East Asians and Sri Lankans residing in Istanbul.
  •    İstanbul ModernMeclis-i Mebusan Caddesi Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo No: 4, Karaköy (on the waterfront; tram: Tophane),  +90 212 334 7300. 10:00-18:00, Th to 20:00, Closed Mo. A must see for anyone interested in contemporary Turkish art, this is a nice, organized museum with contemporary installations. Including a cafe with a top notch menu and view. 15 TL/8 TL students (free for Turkish residents on Thursday).

Do[edit]

Galatasaray

It's not a coincidence. Galatasaray SK [2], one of the most successful and well-known Turkish soccer teams in Europe, has its roots in this district. Don't get your eyes weary by looking for a stadium, though—they have been playing in Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Mecidiyeköy about 5 km north of this district since 1960s after their original home stadium in Taksim Square was demolished (and scheduled to relocate to Türk Telekom Arena further north in Maslak in 2011). However, after a game in which Galatasaray beats one of the big teams, it is almost certain that you will see bands of rowdy fans marching up and down Istiklal Street, celebrating their team's victory (overly) enthusiastically, and chanting rather loudly—and you will be glad to have had left your favourite t-shirt with the colours of the away team at home.

Jewish Heritage[edit]

Since 1492 the prosperity and creativity of the Ottoman Jews rivaled that of the Golden Age of Spain. Today the Jewish community in Turkey is about 26,000 and most of them live in Istanbul.

  • The bankers’ town of Galata and the Tower: A cosmopolis and a finance center with bankers and stock exchange crowned by the Tower which was built by the Genoese in the 14th century, offering a great birds-eye view of the old city.
  • Neve Shalom Synagogue: The most beautiful and the largest in the city where most of the religious ceremonies like bar-mitzvahs, weddings and funerals are held.
  • The Ashkenazi Synagogue: The only active Ashkenazi Synagogue open to visits and prayers.                            
  • Jewish Museum of Turkey: Witness the past 700 years how the mixed cultures influenced each other.

Buy[edit]

  • Paristexas Concept Store, located next to the Galata Square, Sertaç Haznedaroğlu, the fashion-forward owner, stocks quirky Japanese labels and rare collections created for an Eastern market by designers such as Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Chloé. Also check out custom-made leather bags & shoes by Turkish designer Ahmet Baytar. Buyukhendek Cad. 4/A Galata, Beyoglu Phone: +90 212 252 6161

Eat[edit]

Restaurants under Galata Bridge

Budget[edit]

  • Bereket Dönerİstiklal Cad. 5 (right on Istiklal Avenue, a few metres down the street on the right from Taksim Square),  +90 212 251-42-21. A quite good value restaurant featuring döner (also on the plate as opposed to the usual wrap/sandwich variety; dipped in tomato sauce to the point of swimming) and traditional Turkish cuisine. The restaurant is a self-service one, i.e., you take a tray, and order your food by pointing at the entrance, and pay at the cash register right next to the food display (take your tableware and bread at this point as you won't be served any at the table), and then take your food to a table—there are two more floors upstairs. No alcohol is served. 10-15 TL for a full meal; can be substantially cheaper if you forgo salad or appetizers.
  • FermentasyonKüçükparmakkapı Sok. No:6 (near Taksim Square),  +90 212 244 26 37. One of the nicer cafes in this street and moderately priced. Sitting at one of the tables at the street is a good option, getting one of the tables on the 1st floor at the window and overlooking the street is even better. Staff is friendly and hospitable. Enjoy a good breakfast here with the typical Turkish Menemen (omelette with cheese and tomatoes).
  • A series of stalls right at the corner of Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue are renowned for their unique heavily spicy burgers, much smaller than the American variety. While Kızılkayalar Burger is the locals' favourite, as it's the oldest one and known as the "inventor" of the spicy burgers, all stalls, which are open 24-hr and serve both as a sit-in and take-out, offer basically the same stuff—döner, french fries, toasts, various cold and hot snacks, freshly squeezed juices, as well as canned soft drinks, and ayran. Spicy burgers make for a great snack after a night-long binge drinking, but keep in mind that garlic smell afterwards can be overpowering.
  • On the Balıkpazarı Alley (literally "Fish Market", next to Çiçek Pasajı and opposite Galatasaray Lisesi, on about the midpoint of Istiklal Avenue), there is a number of small eateries side by side, offering delicious fried mussels (midye tava, 3.50 TL per sandwich) with a yogurt sauce, best to be washed down by a pint of beer.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Degustasyon Restaurant (Degustasyon Restaurant), Balık Pazarı Beyoğlu Taksim (Located behind Istiklal boulevard, you can find it by entering Çiçek Pasajı. On the fish market street.),  +90 212 292 06 67fax: +90 212 244 57 44, e-mail: . 10AM-02PM. The restaurant is meyhane style, where lively conversation is the main dish on every table, next to fish and Rakı. With live Turkish music (fasıl) you will enjoy your time while drink your Rakı and eat your delicious fish. Other Alcohols are also served. 20-50 €.
  • Şehbender 14 Restaurant & Bar (Şehbender 14 Restaurant & Bar), Şehbender Sokak No: 14 Asmalı Mescit Beyoğlu Istanbul (Located across of Babylon in Asmalı Mescit),  +90 212 292 73 14, e-mail: . 01PM-02PM. The restaurant is meyhane style, where lively conversation is the main dish on every table, next to delicious mezes, Raki or wines. Other Alcohols are also served. Best choise for dinner before Babylon! Greek and Medditeranean mezes are great also good at winery 20-50 €.
  • Ficcin (Fıccın), Kallavi Sok. No:13 (side street off Istiklal Avenue, opposite the S. Antonio di Padova Catholic Church—there is a branch of Starbucks and a jewellery seller on the corner),  +90 212 293-37-86fax: +90 212 252-19-30, e-mail: . 7AM-midnight daily. The restaurant offers an exceptional value lunch, but is also pleasantly busy at night. Several of the staff speak English and foreign tourists are welcome alongside the many locals who eat there regularly. Fıccın is unusual in being a Circassian restaurant, which also serves Turkish food. Seats are available on the street and in several rooms inside. Alcohol is also served. Around 20TL per person without wine.
  • Nevizade, located behind Istiklal boulevard, you can find it by entering Çiçek Pasajı. It's one of the most famous streets in Istiklal boulevard. It's narrow, and is mostly known for its meyhane style restaurants, where lively conversation is the main dish on every table, next to fish and Rakı that is.
  • Haci Abdullah, Ağa Camii, Atıf Yılmaz Cad, (Eski Sakizagaci Cad), No: 9/A, +90 212 293-85-61 / 293-08-51 (Fax: +90 212 244-32-97). One of the best Ottoman restaurants in the country. You can find very traditional foods there. No alcohol.
  • Leb-i Derya. A nice cafe-restaurant with a splendid view of the Bosphorus and the Topkapi Palace in Tunel, Beyoglu.
  • The House Caféfax: +90 212 249-79-91. Istiklal Caddesi Mısır Apt. No:163 Beyoğlu, +90 212 251-79-91 ). They serve giant salads, main dishes and pizzas pleasing even to the gourmets. The menu is seasonal which allows them to use only the freshest ingredients.
  • ZencefilKurabiye Sokak 8 (on a side street of Istiklal Avenue),  +90 212 243 8234fax: +90 212 243 8233. M-Sa 10AM-00:30AM. A vegetarian cafe serving healthy and home-style dishes in Beyoglu. Also has a backyard. Credit cards are accepted..

Splurge[edit]

  • 360 IstanbulIstiklal Cad. 311, Mısır Apartmanı, floor 8 (on Istiklal Avenue, next to S. Antonio Church),  +90 212 251 10 42fax: +90 212 251 10 48, e-mail: . This gem is in the Beyoglu district on a 360 degrees rooftop, has awesome views of the city. Has a DJ and more party atmosphere late at night and quiet dinners before.
  • NuTerasMeşrutiyet Caddesi 145-147, Tepebaşı +90 212 245 60 70. 6:30PM-4AM. For a breath-taking view of the city and a phenomenal mean, go to NuTeras, the restaurant located on top of a 17 story hotel near the Galata tower. Prices are rather steep, but certainly worth it, especially for special occasions. Credit cards are accepted.

Drink[edit]

The liveliest part of the city is definitely Beyoglu and again the area of Istiklal Caddesi. Many clubs offer live music. Be aware that July/August 2011 has seen police crackdowns on outdoor seating in this area: the officers have tended to be unilingual so if you're seated outside and officers tell you to stand, just follow their instructions and let them throw the tables into awaiting trucks. In most cases you are allowed to finish your drink and in some cases even continue to drink and stand.

  • Indigo. Akarsu Sokak 309, Galatasaray, +90 212 2451307. Live music throughout the week.
  • Balans & Balans Tonique. Istiklal cad. Balo sok. 22 Beyoğlu. Live music in Balans, Experimental live music and electronic music in Blans Tonique.
  • Babylon +90 212 2927368. Seyhbender Sokak 3. Jazz and world music.
  • Mojo, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak 25, +90 212 2432927. 9PM-4AM. Rock music.
  • Dulcinea, Meselik Sokak 20. Mon-Sa 3PM till late. Popular bar, café, restaurant and art gallery during the week, but on Friday and Saturday it’s club night with trance and techno music.
  • Jazz Café, Hasnun Galip Sokak 20. For some fine jazz, on the top level of the two-floored club there's a performance space where you can enjoy live funk/acid jazz/ blues Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Biz Jazz Bar, Topcu Caddesi 18, Talimhane Taksim. 14PM-4AM. Cozy bar with live music every night.
  • Riddim, near Taksim square, +90 0212 251 27 23. A complex with three floor. Rıddim live is the performance hall of complex and you can listen rock pop and alternative kinds of music. Riddim Special is the conceptual parties floor. İstanbul's best R&B-HipHop club is Rıddım R&B-HipHop (the 3rd floor).
  • Atlas Axis. Great for listening to jazz, ethnic jazz, funk, trip hop or world music while enjoying your food or drink; you should visit that terrace social club on Beyoglu. Offers an amazing view of Istanbul through Galata Tower, Sultan Ahmet and Marmara Sea and lets you enjoy the quality of the food/drink together with live performances and Bosphorus scenery with low prices.
  • Sal, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak 18, +90 212 243 4196. Very popular with tourists seeking a true Turkish experience. Here low coffee tables bump your knees while you sip raki and watch some rowdy musicians.
  • MektupImam Adnan Sokal 20. Authentic live music. But, there is restaurant, too. Do expect to pay a cover charge (approximately 15 lira) if there is a band playing.
  • Haymatlos Barİstiklal Caddesi Rumeli Han 48 C Blok (Go through the gate at the right of the mosque on Istiklal. At the end of the passage, you will find Haymatlos Bar upstairs on second floor). Live music at the weekend. Rock, folk, etc.
  • DoRockİmam Adnan Sokak 10, Beyoğlu (on the right near the lower end of one of the streets to right close to Taksim Square). Open till late at night, like 3AM. One of the few still operating bars in the city playing loud heavy metal music, which used to be far plentier in 90s and early 2000s. And unlike the rest of them, this one also heavily features more extreme genres such as death and black metal, with live performances on Saturday and Sunday nights. DoRock is easily recognizable by its frequenters with their black clothes and miles of hair sitting in the sidewalk patio in front of the bar. Also one of the cheapest places to have a drink (if you can stand to loud music, that is). About 4 TL for a pint (0.5 lt) of beer.
  • ArafBalo Sokak 5 +90 212 244-83-01. Good Turkish music with no cover charge and reasonably priced drinks. Nice view towards the North. Selim Sesler plays every Tuesday.

Cafés[edit]

  • Melekler Kahvesi Ayhan Işık Sk No:36 Taksim, 212 251 31 01. Melekler Kahvesi which is a backstreet cafe is in Taksim. It is a very popular place among young people. You can play games such as Scrabble and drink Turkish coffee (6 TL). After drinking Turkish coffee, fortunetellers will look at the coffee grounds and tell your future for free.

Small streets south of Taksim Square offer a variety of cafes with more than reasonable prices. Tea can cost TL1 or TL1.50 instead of TL5 or TL6 in more touristy areas. A more authentic feel with locals spending their time there and also playing boardgames.

Hooka[edit]

In Tophane near the waterfront are a number of well-known hooka/hubble bubble (nargile) cafes all clustered together, though the recent national ban on smoking tobacco products indoors in public places in place since summer 2009 led these cafes not to serve traditional hooka unless you are sitting on their outdoor patios. In reaction to the ban, they have "invented" some other kind of hooka which does not contain tobacco and touted as bitkisel ("herbal"), thus staying within the borders of legality for smoking inside, though those passionately in love with traditional hooka usually find it unpleasant.

Sleep[edit]

  • Route 39 HouseMebusan Yokusu 39 (Taksim), e-mail: . Check-in: 13.00, check-out: 11.00. Im the heart of the modern city Taksim and close to all transportation with wi-fi access and free breakfast offers friendly and relaxing atmosphere to international travellers. 7-17.

Budget[edit]

  • Arch-ist HostelSiraselviler cad. no:40 Cihangir, Beyoglu +90 212 245-86-90, e-mail: . Check-in: 24h, check-out: 12pm. The design hostel in a walking distance to Taksim Square and in the hip neighbourhood called Cihangir. All rooms have air-conditioning, bathroom and wc inside. Also you can enjoy the common roof terrace and the full equipped kitchen. Dorms 12€ / Private 22 €.
  • Planet Paprika hostel, Taksim, Taksim akarcası sokağı 3.

Located near Taksim square and Taksim metro and airport shuttle station, just a few steps away from Istiklal Street, center of Istanbul night life. Hostel is clean and cozy, staff is fluent in English, Turkish and Serbo-croato-bosnian, very friendly and helpful. Price for the bed in dormitory is €15, double bed private room is €60. Breakfast is not included, but there is a kitchen that guests can use, as their own, with free tea and coffee.

  • BonApart - Taksim 1&2İstiklal Cad. Kumbaracıyokuşu Sok. No: 64 Dilek Apt. Daire:2 Kat: 2 Beyoğlu – İstanbul 00905352134081. The apartment is located on European side of Istanbul nestled in the popular district of Taksim. Commonly regarded as the epicenter of Istanbul, Taksim is the place with everything. With all the major transport links (Buses, Metro and many Taxis) available, getting around will be the least of your worries.
  • Chillout Cengo HostelHüseyin Ağa Mah.Atıf Yılmaz Cad.Halas Sok. No 3 00 90 212 251 31 48. Fun hostel located close to Taksim Square. Hostel staff speak good English and they are very helpful. Prıvate rooms as well as dorms are available. Dorm rooms start around 20 Turkish Lira a night and double private rooms for 70 Lira. Inside has been newly repainted and is very artistic. There are several common rooms to relax.
  • Chillout Classic Hostel. Located along Istiklal Cad. and Balyoz Sk. The positive side is that the staff speak good English, free breakfast (coffee/tea, buns) is included, free internet access (one desktop + wireless access). On the negative side, at least our room was very bare and unfinished (perhaps 130 cm x 3 m) with bunk beds. It was quite possible to get a good night's sleep in there. Dorms and private rooms available, common toilet/shower. Room for two about 30 € / night total..
  • Hostel World House, e-mail: . Galipdede Caddesi No:85, Beyoğlu, +90 212 293 55 20. Two minutes walk from the restaurants and bars of Istiklal Street in Taksim. Nice and friendly new hostel, popular with long-term travellers. Free internet. €10/12/14 for 8/6/4 bed dorm rooms, private rooms for €35-40 in high season.
  • i-HouseIstiklal Caddesi Zambak Sokak No:5, Beyoğlu +90 212 244 37 73, e-mail: . Recently renovated, very clean, and located only 3min from Taksim Square. Staff speak good English and is friendly and helpful. There is a common room and a roof terrace. It's owned and managed by the same guys as the Hostel World House. Dorm beds €8.50, en-suite double rooms €39.
  • NeverlandBogazkesen cad. No:96, Beyoğlu +90 212 243 31 77, e-mail: . Basic hotel that has internet, kitchen, common rooms, breakfast and tea; Pets are welcome; Organised by a very friendly collective. Dorm beds(8/4) €9/12€, double (ensuite) €14 (€17), single €20.
  • Rapunzel Guesthouse & CaféBereketzade Mah. Bereketzade Camii Sk. No:3 +90 212 292-50-34, e-mail: . Brand new hostel located right next to Galata Tower. Hostel staff speak good English and they are very helpful. Great music, valuable suggestions, wi-fi access and refreshing breakfast is for free. Twin bed rooms are 25 €/person. Dorms are 16/18€ (6 bed/4bed) per person.
  • Stray Cat HostelMebusan Yks No: 35, CIhangir, Beyoglu (Between the famous Taksim sqr and the Bosphorus Sea),  0090 212 29 39 103. Check-out: around 11. Stray Cat Hostel has 3 kittens, and an artistic vibe, very helpful and friendly staff. Private or dormitory style rooms with clean bathrooms. Dorms €7, privates €18.
  •    Sumo Cat HostelLüleci Hendek Cad. Ali Hoca Ar 9, Galata +90 212 292-78-66, e-mail: . Check-in: 24h, check-out: 11pm. The colorful boutique hostel, surrounded by the fashion shops, hip residences, music workshops and art galleries of Galata. Private rooms & Dorms available. Very friendly atmosphere. Dorms 8€ / Private 20 €.

Mid range[edit]

  • Midtown Hotel TaksimLamartin Cad. No. 13, 34437 Taksim (Just Located in Taksim Square),  +90 212 361 6767fax: +90 212 361 6768. Midtown Hotel Istanbul, designed as an exceptional business hotel with a modern and innovative understanding of service, is on the Lamartin Street, in the Talimhane area of Taksim / Istanbul.in. 110.
  • Pera Rose Hotel, Mesrutiyet Caddesi No 201, Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu. Nice little hotel about a ten minute walk from Taksim square, close to the British consulate-general. Good value for money. Single room $80-100.
  • Taksim Apartments - Vacation Rental, e-mail: . Topçu Cad., Asri Apt. No:8 Taksim, +90 532 271 3843. Located in the heart of the city, this vacation rental provides you with home comforts while enjoying the high service standards of a hotel. Apartment come with air-conditioner, TV, minibar and wireless connection. This apartment can be used as a home office during business trips to Istanbul. Daily rentals start around €150 and can get much lower for long term stays.
  • Taksim Apart, e-mail: . Prof. Celal Oker Sok. No: 7, Harbiye, +90 505 283 5855. It´s a very comfortable and nice apartment hotel in Beyoglu’s city centre. We stayed in two different rooms (because we made a round trip through turkey and came back) and both were very clean and tastefully decorated. The building is in the heart of Istanbul, very close to Taksim and Beyoglu Bar destrict. By bus it is 10 minutes to Sultanahmet and 15 minutes to the old city. Prices from €15 to €70 per person per night.
  • Thomas-ay GroupSiraselviler Avenue, Bakrac Street, No:22/1, Cihangir-Beyoglu / ISTANBUL +905389204960. Serviced holiday apartments in Istanbul. Multiple apartments options for big groups. Combination of hotels and homes. Daily cleaning, airport transfers and everything that you may need.

Splurge[edit]

  • Ceylan IntercontinentalAsker Ocagi Cadessi No 1, Taksim +90 212 368 44 44. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel brags 5-star ambiance with the best address in the city. I can attest that the bar is very stunning in the evening (with stunning views of the Ayasofia and the Blue Mosque in the distance). The three restaurants are mediocre. €200.
  • Grand Hyatt IstanbulTaskisla Caddesi, Taksim +90 212 368 1234fax: +90 212 368 1000, e-mail: . Formerly Hyatt Regency, the hotel is near Taksim Square and has 360 rooms and suites overlooking the city and the Bosphorus. Hotel has formal dining, outdoor pool, Turkish bath, fitness center and business center.
  • Misafir SuitesGazeteci Erol Dernek Sok. No: 1 Beyoglu +90 212 249 89 30. Great small seven suites boutique hotel with huge modern/chic rooms in a very central location. Friendly owner who will recommend good restaurants or the coolest bar at the moment. €200.
  • Pera Palace (Pera Palas), Meşrutiyet Caddesi 52, Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu +90 212 377-40-00fax: +90 212 377-40-77, e-mail: . The grand old hotel of Istanbul opened in 1892 to welcome the courteous passengers of the legendary Orient Express connecting Paris with Istanbul, Pera Palace situated on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn hosted kings, kaisers, emperors, czars, and shahs in a literal sense throughout in its history. However, most renowned guest to the date is perhaps Agatha Christie, who wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 411. Long under renovation, the hotel has recently been re-opened with its tastefully decorated rooms. From €230, going all the way to €600 according to the room and view.
  • The Marmara IstanbulTaksim Meydani Taksim Istanbul 34437 (Taksim metro station is right across the street.),  90 212 251 46 96, e-mail: . 4 star hotel that offers chic, contemporary design and modern facilities, Marmara is something of an institution in Istanbul. Hotel contains the Tepe Lounge, which is intimate and relaxing, as well as a spa onsite, which looks clean and professional.
  • Witt Istanbul SuitesDefterdar Yokusu No. 26, 34433 Cihangir +90 212 393 7900. Ultra-modern boutique hotel with 17 designer suites. All include a kitchenette, minibar, flat screen TV, iPod dock, and free wireless internet. A Turkish breakfast buffet is served each morning. 129-329€.

No.18 Beyoglu +90 212 292 4949. An exceptional boutique hotel converted into high-ceilinged luxury suites from the old 1850s home of the Soeurs Gardes Malades. In a pretty, peaceful square between the Italian ambassador’s Palazzo Venezia and the Palais de France, in a quarter of Beyoğlu named after a captain in the Ottoman navy ( Tomtom Kaptan )

Stay safe[edit]

Generally, it is safe to walk around in this district, even by night, though crossing the Tarlabaşı Boulevard (Tarlabaşı Bulvarı) towards the dilapidated quarter of Tarlabaşı to the west of Beyoğlu/Istiklal Avenue wouldn't certainly be wise after the night falls. Some other parts of this district also have some crime issues. A rule of thumb to follow would be to look for young people around having fun, which suggests that you are more likely in an OK zone.

Taksim Square and Istiklal Street there are always (7/24) police officers and security cameras. Do not be afraid. This is a safe area.

This part of the city is where much of the bar scams take place. These scams are explained in dedicated section of main Istanbul article in detail.

Connect[edit]

There are some internet cafes on the side alleys of Istiklal Avenue, especially on the ones nearer Taksim Square. Look for the signs when passing by, especially for those hanging from the second or third floors of the buildings. Most cost around 1.50 TL/hour.

This district travel guide to Galata has the status usable. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page
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