Istanbul’s nicest neighbourhoods

by Deborah Durrfeld
vrouwen in Istanbul Karakoy, ontdek de leukste wijken van Istanbul

Istanbul is a city with millions of people and there’s so much to do and explore. There are many lovely neighbourhoods, each having its own atmosphere and vibe. And you would be able to discover new neighborhoods during every visit to this city. Istanbul’s coolest neighbourhoods are Cihangir, Curkucuma and Karaköy. Cihangir is also called the French Quarter, Curkucuma the Antique Quarter and Karaköy the former red-light district. Read more about my favorite neighbourhoods in Istanbul.

1. Cihangir & Curkucuma | Istanbul’s Coolest Neighbourhoods

These neighborhoods merge into each other and consist of small little streets, squares and alleys, often connected by stairs, with beautiful houses and local mosques on the left and right hand side. The neighborhood hasn’t lost its local character. In addition to hip little stores, coffeeshops and terraces, there are many local shops where you can buy herbs, spices or drink a local tea  Along the way you come across street art. Also, the cutest street-cats are part of daily street life.

Antique & Vintage

The Cukur Cuma Cadessi is thé street with antique shops. And even if you don’t want to buy anything, it is nice to just walk in and have a look.

Restaurants and literature

The Firuzaga Cami Sk, Akarsu Yks and the Siraselviler Cadessi are full with nice restaurants including Otto Cihangir, Savoy, Rose Marine, Smyrna, Mellow and Firuzaga Kahvesi. On the Akarsu Yks you will also find the Orhan Kemal Museum, the former home of the famous Turkish writer Orkan Kemal. To be honest, I didn’t know him before. For me this was an extra reason to visit the museum, find out more and discover his work. After my visit, I bought the book The Idle Years, a semi-auto-biographical novel set in Turkey of the ’20s and’ 30s.


At the Aga Hamami Sk you will find a number of cool vintage stores, including the super cool store Mozk. On the Bogazkesen caddesi there are some beautiful design and fashion stores, bseides many local neighborhood shops.


You will find cats in every direction you are looking. Fortunately the animals are taken good care of. And as a cat-lover, this make me very happy. Moreover, I had the sweetest cat-encounters here!

2. Karaköy

This former red-light district is located at the harbor and the Bosphorus, is described as the place for hip Istanbul. In the meantime this place has also been discovered by many tourists. Nevertheless, it is nice to visit this neighborhood because you will be able to observe some cool street art, find many shops, nice food and coffeeshops. Karaköy is the area between the Kemaralti Caddesi and the water.

Looking for a cool place to spend the night?

Located on the outskirts of Cihangir and Curkucuma, around the corner from the Taksim Square and the main street, Istiklal Cadessi, there is the Room Mate Emir Hotel. This is a wonderful base for exploring the city and different neighborhoods. In addition to the super cool design, it is a nice and quiet place in the busy city.

Curious about what to do in Istanbul for the first time? Read the next article with the best things to do.

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Decline Accept