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Where to Book Hotels in Istanbul: Istanbul not Constantinople!

Updated on November 18, 2010

Go where the locals go! Eat where the locals eat!

Istanbul’s population is well over 15 million people, this is a huge metropolis with many centers and an endless list of things to do and places to explore. Like New York or London, Istanbul is also divided by water running through it. The Bosphorus flows between the European and the Asian sides of the city. If you have booked a flight to this amazing city, it is a good idea to look carefully into the different options you have for accommodation. This is not the time to pick your hotel according to its closeness to the Istanbul airports.

Get the most of your visit to Istanbul

Istanbul Rooftops
Istanbul Rooftops

Do your research before booking your hotel and flight

Istanbul has a lot to offer in terms of shopping, culture, entertainment, history, or just sights to see on a simple boat tour or walk. There is something for everyone. But you need to strategically choose where you will stay in order to make the most of your trip.

Even though, traditionally the Asian side has been regarded as more residential, there is an equal amount of sights to see and places to visit there. Staying on the Asian side will be a lot more inexpensive than staying on the European side, where most of the traditionally famous sights are located. Keep in mind though that crossing from certain downtown neighborhoods on the Asian side to the European side is very easy, and it involves a very pleasant 10-15 minute boat ride. So, definitely first check prices for hotels in the downtown areas of the Kadikoy and Uskudar neighborhoods. In Kadikoy especially, right by major hubs of transportation, a few minutes walk from the buses and the boats, there are many fair hotels that offer a lot better rates than their equivalents on the other side.

Istanbul not Constantinople

Generally you will be recommended by agencies or fellow travelers to book a hotel in the in the old city. This is generally referred to as the Sultanahmet area, by the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazar. This is also the where the famous Topkapi Palace is located. These are super touristic places and they are mostly visited by foreign tourists during the day and not much happens at night. In short, the locals do not hang out here. While the highlights in the Sultanahmet area are definitely worth seeing, staying in the Taksim area during your visit in Istanbul will let you do more.

Taksim is the cultural and entertainment center of Istanbul. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods and it is home to many great hotels of different budgets. Here you can find numerous restaurants and cafes, as well as many night clubs or upscale bars. There is a lot of opportunity for shopping as well, If you stay in Taksim, you will experience the city like the locals do, you will eat at the most reputable restaurants that have been around for a long time.

Sultanahmet is a short cab ride from Taksim. You can easily go there in the mornings to visit the sights by catching a cab, a local bus, shared taxi or a nice long walk. Then when you get back to the hotel you can rest and just step outside of your hotel to Taksim to have a nice evening. Remember this is a city that does not sleep. It is also a pretty safe one, so you could make the most of your time day and night by staying in the Taksim area, or even Kadikoy or Uskudar and save some cash, too that you can spend on a beautiful rug or carpet that you can take back with you.


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    • mysunsuion profile image

      mysunsuion 6 years ago

      Great hub.. The palace is very unique

    • profile image

      eric 6 years ago

      wow. wonderful article! when i was in istanbul last christmas it took me several days to figure out that there was more than mosques int he city!

    • profile image

      eli 6 years ago

      i appreciate this advice. i travel a lot and very often get stuck among many other tourists. it helps to know where local hangouts are.