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. If anywhere can be regarded as the "downtown" of Istanbul, it is this district, more specifically the Taksim Square. Primarily visited for its nightlife, this district has also its own share of sights and accommodation.
Beginning as a village named Sykai ("the fig fields"), Galata (Turkish: Karaköy) rose to prominence as a trade colony of the Genoese, also with a large population of the Venetians, just north of the then-Byzantine Constantinople. After the Ottomans captured Istanbul, the autonomous status of Galata was left largely untouched, except that its city walls were razed (all what remains of the once mighty Galata Castle are the Galata Tower, built as a tower of the castle, and a short wall section in ruins just below the metro bridge spanning over the Golden Horn). While there were a few countryside retreats of the rich and powerful as well as dervish lodges of those seeking seclusion among its wilderness at that time, the first time the Beyoğlu area ("son of the lord", probably after the certain son of a Genoese ruler of the area, who had a mansion there), formerly Pera (Greek for "the other side", as it literally is from the point of view of Constantinople), which lies north of Galata, was settled en masse is during the 1850s, when the Grande Rue de Péra ("the Great Road of Pera"), today’s Istiklal Street (İstiklal Caddesi), was opened. Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı) is even younger; it was developed as a city square as late as the 1930s.
Starting its life as a Western/Catholic (Genoese/Venetian) foothold beside the Eastern (Orthodox Byzantine/Muslim Ottoman) Constantinople, Galata has always represented the "West". This is quite easily visible from the neo-classical architecture of the most of the area, but there is more to that than what meets the eye: the first street lighting, the first underground railway (Tünel, built in 1875, also the oldest in continental Europe), and the first European-style theaters in Turkey had all come about in this district. During the last century of the Ottoman Empire, when the modernization and westernization efforts reached a climax, the decision of the Ottoman dynasty to abandon the centuries-old Topkapı Palace in the old city for the western-style Dolmabahçe Palace near Beyoğlu was a symbolic act that clearly manifested the direction that was decided for the country to take.
The core of the district is pedestrianised İstiklal Caddesi (or Avenue, or Boulevard), thronged by people strolling and lined by restaurants and retail outlets. It's 2 km long and connects three squares: Taksim in the north is the biggest, Galatasaray Square in the middle is really just a widening of the street, and Tünel Square in the south. A vintage tram trundles along its length. This is the former diplomatic district from when Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, so look for the various impressive embassy buildings, nowadays consulates since the capital moved to Ankara. The British consulate in Hamalbaşı Caddesi is worth a look.
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 cost 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.
- A metro line connects Taksim Square with districts located north and airport (change at Yenicapi)
- Airport shuttle buses run by Havaş connect Taksim Square with Istanbul (new) Airport and with Asia-side Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
- 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:
- Dolmuşes also take passengers from Beşiktaş, Bakırköy, Kadıköy and Bostancı (both in Asian Side) to Taksim.
- 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.
- A funicular connects Istiklal Caddesi with Karaköy on the shore of Golden Horn. The Tünel funicular is the second oldest urban underground railway in the world (after London’s Underground), dating back to 1875. Although the distance travelled is rather short between its 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 2.50 TL/person one-way Istanbulkart is accepted) and departs every 5 minutes M-Sa 07:00-22:30, Su 07:30-22:30.
Around Galata TowerEdit
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.
- 1 Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) (between Karaköy/Galata and the lower end of Istiklal St), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00-20:30. 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 and take two flights of stairs to the top, 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 has an underwhelming restaurant and a café at the top. 25 TL, Museum Pass is not valid.
- 2 Galata Convent of Whirling Dervishes (Galata Mevlevihanesi), Galip Dede Caddesi 15 (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), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00 (Oct 1-May 15), Tu-Su 09:00-19:00 (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 (every Saturday and Sunday at 17:00, an extra 90 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. 12 TL.
- 3 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. free but 10 TL donation is requested for maintenance of the church.
- 4 Arap Camii (Galata Camii, San Paolo, San Domenico), Galata Mahkemesi Sokak. The building was erected as a Roman Catholic church in 1325 by the friars of the Dominican Order, near or above an earlier chapel dedicated to Saint Paul (Italian: San Paolo) in 1233. In 1299, the Dominican Friar Guillaume Bernard de Sévérac bought a house near the church, where he established a monastery with 12 friars. A new, much larger church was built near or above the chapel of San Paolo in 1325. Thereafter the church was officially dedicated to San Domenico. After the Fall of Constantinople, according to the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire with the Republic of Genoa, the church, which by that time was known by the Turks under the name of Mesa Domenico, remained in Genoese hands, but between 1475 and 1478 it was transformed, with minor modifications, into a mosque by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and became known as Galata Camii ("Galata Mosque") or Cami-i Kebir ("Great Mosque"). Towards the end of the century Sultan Bayezid II assigned the building to those Muslims of Spain (Andalusia) who had fled the Spanish Inquisition and migrated to Istanbul; hence the present name Arap Camii (Arab Mosque). Today, Arap Camii is the largest mosque on the Galata side of the Golden Horn. It is one of the most interesting mosques in the city due to its early Italian Gothic architectural style and church belfry, which has practically remained unaltered even after being converted into a minaret.
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.
- 5 Neve Shalom Synagogue, ☎ . M-Th 10:00-16:00,F 10:00-13:00,Su 10:00-14:00. The most beautiful and the largest in the city where most of the religious ceremonies like bar-mitzvahs, weddings and funerals are held.
- 6 Ashkenazi Synagogue. The only active Ashkenazi Synagogue open to visits and prayers.
- 7 The Jewish Museum of Turkey, Bereketzade Mahallesi, Büyük Hendek Caddesi No: 39, Beyoğlu, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10:00-16:00. Fr 10:00-13:00, Su 10:00-14:00. Witness the past 700 years how the mixed cultures influenced each other.
Along İstiklal CaddesiEdit
- 8 Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi), Meşrutiyet Caddesi 65 (close to Istiklal Avenue), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 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. 20 TL, concessions 10 TL, free Fr 18:00 - 22:00, students free on We.
- 9 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), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. They have good art exhibits for free and sometimes have French films in the cinema.
- 10 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.
- 11 S. Antonio di Padova Catholic Church (Sent Antuan), Istiklal Caddesi No: 171 A (A few meters down the street from Galatasaray Square), ☎ . 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. Catholic Masses in Italian, Turkish, and English (in different days of the week). Free.
- 12 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 renaming the street.
- 13 İstanbul Modern (İstanbul Museum of Modern Art), Asmalımescit Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Caddesi, No:99, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, Th to 20:00. A nice, organized museum with contemporary installations. It may be seen as overpriced given its small size. It also has a simple cafe. 60 TL, concession 40 TL, free for Turkish residents on Thursday.
- 14 Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi), Çukurcuma Caddesi, Dalgıç Çıkmazı, 2 (Just a few minutes walk down from İstiklal Avenue), ☎ , e-mail: info@masumiyetmüzesi.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, Th 10:00-21:00. Opened in 2012, this museum is unique and a must-see when you are in the Beyoğlu area. It was created by Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk alongside a novel of the same name. It tells the love story of the two main characters from the novel, and represents life in Istanbul during the late 1970s to early 1980s, as it exhibits thousands of objects from that era. 40 TL, 30 TL students, free admission on presentation of the novel.
- 15 Orhan Kemal Museum, ☎ . 10:00-18:00. Tiny house museum on the life of the writer Orhan Kemal. 10 TL, students 5 TL.
- 16 Adam Mickiewicz Museum, 23 Tatlı Badem Str. Tu-Su 9:00-17:00. A historic house museum dedicated to the life of Adam Mickiewicz, renowned Polish poet, where he lived, since he came to Turkey in September 1855 and died from illness on 26 November 1855. Free.
It's not a coincidence. Galatasaray SK, 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—after their original home stadium in Taksim Square was demolished, the games have been relocated to Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Mecidiyeköy, about 5 km north of this district, from the 1960s until 2011; and after that, to Türk Telekom Arena, further north in Maslak. 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.
- 1 Paristexas Concept Store, Buyukhendek Cad. 4/A Galata, Beyoglu (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.
- 2 Seyahan Jewelry, Camekan Sokak.
- 1 Bereket Döner, İstiklal Cad. Sadri Alışık S. 5 (It's on the street just across the Demiroren Shopping Mall.), ☎ . 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. 13-23 TL for a full meal; can be substantially cheaper if you forgo salad or appetizers.
- 2 A series of stalls right at the corner of Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue are renowned for their burgers, much smaller than the American variety. While Kızılkayalar Burger is the oldest one, all stalls, which are open 24-hr and serve 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.
- On the 3 Balıkpazarı Alley (literally Fish Market, next to Çiçek Pasajı and opposite Galatasaray Lisesi), 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.
- 4 Tadinda Kokorec, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Hoca Tahsin Sokak, No 15/A Beyoglu. A special restaurant mostly focused in kokorec which is a special form of lamb intestines. It tastes great and is very budget-friendly: only 10 TL/wrap. Try stuffed mussels as well.
- 5 Degustasyon Restaurant, Balık Pazarı S. 25 (Located behind Istiklal boulevard, you can find it by entering Çiçek Pasajı. On the fish market street.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-02:00. The restaurant is meyhane style, where lively conversation is the main dish on every table, next to fish and Rakı. A lot of negative reviews. 95-125 TL including local spirits.
- 6 Ficcin, Kallavi Sokağı 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), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 07:00-24:00 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 20 TL per person without wine.
- 7 Nevizade Street (behind Istiklal boulevard, you can find it by entering Çiçek Pasajı). 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.
- 8 Haci Abdullah Lokantası, Ağa Camii, Atıf Yılmaz Caddesi (Eski Sakizagaci Caddesi) No: 9/A, ☎ , , fax: . One of the best Ottoman restaurants in the country. You can find very traditional foods there. No alcohol.
- 9 Leb-i Derya. A nice cafe-restaurant with a splendid view of the Bosphorus and the Topkapi Palace in Tunel, Beyoglu. Starters 18-45 TL, mains 30-70 TL.
- 10 The House Café, Istiklal Caddesi Mısır Apt. No:163, ☎ , fax: . M-Th 08:00-02:00; F-Sa 08:00-04:00; Su 08:00-01:00. 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.
- 11 Zencefil, Kurabiye Sokak 8 (on a side street of Istiklal Avenue), ☎ , fax: . M-Sa 1000-00:30. A vegetarian cafe serving healthy and home-style dishes in Beyoglu. Also has a backyard. Credit cards are accepted..
- 12 Miss Pizza Sishane, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 86A (at Şişhane station), ☎ . Very cozy Italian restaurant run by three women serving pizza, pasta, and salads.
- 13 Privato, Tımarcı Sokak 3B, ☎ . 09:00-23:00. Traditional Turkish food with a focus on vegetarian dishes. Great for breakfast. Has a small patio in the back with a view of the Galata tower. Breakfast 65 TL per person, mains 30-40 TL.
- 14 360 Istanbul, Istiklal Cad. 311, Mısır Apartmanı, floor 8 (on Istiklal Avenue, next to S. Antonio Church), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
The liveliest part of the city is definitely Beyoglu and again the area of Istiklal Caddesi. Many clubs offer live music.
- 1 Indigo, Akarsu Sokak 309, Galatasaray, ☎ . F-Sa 23:00-04:00. 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.
- 2 Babylon, Şehbender Sokağı 3, ☎ . Jazz and world music.
- Mojo, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak 25, ☎ . 21:00-04:00. Rock music
- Dulcinea, Meselik Sokak 20. M-Sa 03:00 till late. Popular bar, café, restaurant and art gallery during the week, but on Friday and Saturday it is club night with trance and techno music.
- Jazz Cafe, 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.. 14:00-04:00. Cozy bar with live music every night
- Riddim (near Taksim square), ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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.
- Mektup, Imam Adnan Sokal 20. Authentic live music. But, there is restaurant, too. Do expect to pay a cover charge (approximately 15 TL) if there is a band playing.
- Taksim Kahve, İstiklal Caddesi Ayhan Işık Sk. No : 19, ☎ . Different types of traditional Turkish coffees and snacks.
- Haymatlos Bar, İstiklal 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.
- DoRock, İmam 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 1990s 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 L) of beer.
- In&Out, Hüseyin Ağa Mahallesi Nevizade sokak no:12, ☎ . Located in Nevizade where you can see so many small bars located next to each other. The cocktail list is sufficent and prices are OK. They do have a small smoking terrace as well.
- 3 Snog Rooftop Bar, Galip Dede Caddesi 56 (Just north of the Galata tower). Good bar. But the attraction here is the stunning view.
Istanbul Jazz Cafe, Asmalımescit Mahallesi, İstikal Caddesi, No 172. Live jazz music throughout the week. Friendly staff and nice atmosphere Drinks from 10 TRY.
- 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 1-1.50 TL instead of 5-6 TL in more touristy areas. A more authentic feel with locals spending their time there and also playing boardgames.
In Tophane near the waterfront are a number of well-known hooka/hubble bubble (nargile) cafes all clustered together, though the national ban on smoking tobacco products indoors in public places 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.
Much accommodation is business-oriented, for people on expenses. There's a dearth of mid-range hotels, and many hostels and other budget places have perished in the downturn. Nevertheless it's still possible to stay for budget to mid-range prices in this part of the city.
- 1 World House Hostel, Galipdede Caddesi No:85 (near Istiklal Street in Taksim), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice and friendly new hostel, popular with long-term travellers. Free internet. Dorm €12, private rooms €40 ppn.
- 2 Neverland Hostel, Bogazkesen cad. No:96, Beyoğlu, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Basic hotel with internet, kitchen, common rooms, breakfast and tea; pets are welcome; Organised by a very friendly collective. Dorm €7-9, double €12 ppn, cash only.
- Hotel Mara, Turnacıbasi Cad. No:4 Kuloglu Mah, Beyoglu (Just off Istiklal street). 3-star, reasonably spacious for the price, clean rooms with en suite bathroom. Decent wifi in the rooms. B&B double €45.
- Planet Paprika Hostel, Taksim akarcası sokağı 3 (off Istiklal St). Hostel is clean and cozy, staff is fluent in English, Turkish and Serbo-Croato-Bosnian, very friendly and helpful. Breakfast is not included, but there is a kitchen that guests can use, with free tea and coffee. Dorm €15, double €30 ppn.
- 3 Midtown Hotel Istanbul, Lamartin Cad. No. 13 (in Taksim Square), ☎ , fax: . Modern business hotel. B&B doubles from 430 TL.
- 4 Pera Rose Hotel, Mesrutiyet Caddesi No 87, Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu, ☎ . Nice little hotel about a ten minute walk from Taksim square, near Modern Art museum & national stadium. Free Wifi. B&B doubles from €50.
- 5 Intercontinental Istanbul (formerly Ceylan), Asker Ocagi Cadessi No 1, Taksim, ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star ambiance with the best address in the city. The bar has stunning views in the evening. The three restaurants are mediocre. Doubles from €200.
- 6 Grand Hyatt Istanbul (formerly Hyatt Regency), Taskisla Caddesi, Taksim (near Taksim Square), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 5-star with 360 rooms and suites overlooking the city and the Bosphorus. Hotel has formal dining, outdoor pool, Turkish bath, fitness center and business center. B&B doubles from €170.
- 7 Misafir Suites, Gazeteci Erol Dernek Sok. No: 1 Beyoglu, ☎ . Boutique hotel with huge modern/chic rooms in a very central location. Friendly knowledgeable owner. Doubles from €120.
- 8 Pera Palace, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 52, Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Opened in 1892, last renovated in 2006, sits on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn. They make much of their history - Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 411. More relevant, it's next to the national football stadium. Doubles from €150.
- 9 Marmara Taksim, Taksim Meydani Taksim 34437 (Opposite Taksim metro station), ☎ , e-mail: Istanbulfirstname.lastname@example.org. 4 star hotel that offers chic, contemporary design and modern facilities. With the Tepe Lounge, which is intimate and relaxing, as well as a spa. B&B doubles from €150.
- 10 Witt Istanbul Hotel, Defterdar Yokusu No. 26, 34433 Cihangir, ☎ . Modern boutique hotel with 17 designer suites. All include a kitchenette, minibar, flat screen TV, iPod dock, and free wireless internet. B&B doubles from €130.
- 11 Tomtom Suites, Bogazkesen Caddesi. Tomtom Kaptan Sokak No.18 Beyoglu, ☎ . Boutique hotel with spacious luxury suites in the 1850s home of the Soeurs Gardes Malades. Tomtom was a captain in the Ottoman navy. B&B doubles from €110.
- 12 House Hotel Karaköy (Formerly Vault Karakoy), Bankalar Caddesi 5 (Next to Karaköy T1 tram stop, just south of Galata tower.), ☎ . Check-out: 12:00. This old bank building has been transformed into a modern elegant hotel. The rooftop lounge has stunning views over the old town and Bosphorus and great food. €100.
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.
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.