Also known by the old Greek name of Pera, this district is on the European side of the city. While inhabited for thousands of years, the area that would become Beyoğlu was first incorporated as a suburb of the city in the 5th century. Dominated by European merchants during the Middle Ages, the area still boasts grand reminders of the time, including the ruins of the Genoese Palace and the Galata Tower. When modernization came to Istanbul in in the 19th century, Beyoğlu became the first part of the city to have electricity, telephone lines, and many other conveniences. After years of decline following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Beyoğlu has finally reasserted itself as the cosmopolitan heart of the city. From Western-style restaurants, bars, and cafés to art houses and antique stores, the area is filled with a bustling and creative energy at all times of day.
Resting along the European banks of the Bosphorus, Beşiktaş is an affluent area containing many of the city’s most visually striking sites. Long favored for its stunning views and wind-shielded weather, the area became a haven for emperors and other wealthy citizens during the Ottoman era. Standing apart from even the magnificent Bosphorus-lining mansions, Dolmabahçe Palace dominates the coastline with its jaw-dropping grandeur. Whether visited directly or taken in via a scenic boat tour, Beşiktaş is an ideal destination for a romantic getaway.
Located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, Kadıköy is the cultural center of the city’s eastern region. One of the oldest settlements in all of Istanbul, Kadıköy has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times. Today, the area is known for its cobblestone streets, book stores, and cafés. With numerous middle-class dining and entertainment offerings also available, Kadıköy is popular among day-trippers looking for an authentic taste of modern Istanbul.
Known as historic Istanbul, the Fatih municipality consists of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Surrounded by water and defended by the Walls of Constantinople, the area was the seat of government for four major empires. With a history rich in the traditions of Christianity, Islam, the East, and the West, it’s no surprise that many of Istanbul’s most famous attractions can be found here. From the Grand Bazaar in Eminönü to the Hagia Sophia and Topakapi Palace in Sultanahmet, there’s a reason why the area is the centerpiece of Istanbul’s tourism industry.
A part of the Şişli district, Nişantaşi is one of Istanbul’s most exclusive neighborhoods and one of the most popular shopping districts in the city. Situated on the European side of the Bosphorus, the area reflects the most fashionable areas of New York, London, and Paris. With land originally used as a shooting range for Ottoman soldiers, the area was officially settled in the 19th century and quickly became a hotspot for Istanbul’s elites. Lined with Art Nouveau apartment blocks, Nişantaşi now features an array of up-scale boutiques, chic cafés, and exciting night clubs.