Districts of Istanbul: 39 Areas to Explore
Collectively, 39 districts of Istanbul spread over the European and Asian sides make up a large city that is not only glorious in name, but a delight to explore. Each diverse area offers something special whether it is excellent shopping choices, a lively nightlife scene or an ideal family neighbourhood for home buyers.
Before 2009, Istanbul had 32 districts, but a growing population and a higher demand for modern facilities meant urban reorganisation was essential for upkeep, maintenance and future of those areas.
25 districts sit on the European side, and 14 rest on the Asian side. From posh residential suburbs to financial and touristic hubs, such is the enormous size of these districts, to get to know them all would take a lifetime.
Some have earned notoriety thanks to their historical claims to fame or for their modern-day contribution to an urban lifestyle, while others keep a low key, an off-the-grid reputation perfect for buyers looking to get away from crowds
39 Districts of Istanbul
Areas on the European Side
1: Arnavutkoy – Not to be confused with the smaller village of the same name, Arnavutkoy district sits in Northern Istanbul, and in recent years, real estate investment tripled because of mega projects like new Istanbul airport and the planned Canal route.
2: Avcilar – Once a small village, then wealthy summer retreat, Avcilar had turned into an industrial factory town by the 1960s. These days, the rapid urban transformation has led the way to large residential complexes with extensive facilities that make up a large part of properties for sale.
3: Bagcilar – With excellent transport links to the rest of the city, Bagcilar is another district shedding its past reputation to represent excellent urban planning through community and housing projects.
4: Bahcelievler – Its name translates as “houses with gardens”, and this reflects the primary neighbourhoods of Bahcelievler’s middle-class status. Although tourists have little to explore, residents love the ideal location and excellent transport services.
5: Bakirkoy – This residential, coastal district earns fame as a commercial and shopping hub with landmarks like the 76,000 square meter Carousel Shopping Centre hosting over 1 million visitors every year with food, shops and entertainment centres under one roof.
6: Basaksehir – Becoming a standalone district in 2009, Basaksehir’s low key reputation keeps it off the tourism and property grids. Turkey’s biggest artificial lake, and Sular Vadesi, a park with walking tracks, playgrounds and themed events are local landmarks.
7: Bayrampasa – Covering 8 square kilometre, Bayrampasa’s historical claim to fame was as a major producer of artichokes. This trade is non-existent now, but the town still displays its artichoke statue, a nostalgic symbol of the past.
8: Besiktas – As the home of one of Turkey’s most successful football teams, famous landmarks and neighbourhoods within Besiktas include old Ottoman houses in nostalgic Arnavutkoy, the grand mosque and jacket potato alley of Ortakoy and Bebek, a popular, high priced Bosphorus village.
9: Beylikduzu – If you want green landscapes head to Beylikduzu, with the highest ratio. Also known for delightful seaside towns like Gurpinar, the area’s popularity on Istanbul’s housing market grows thanks to excellent prices per square meter.
10: Beyoglu – Sometimes called the new part of Istanbul, Beyoglu enjoys an international reputation as the best place to shop, party, indulge in gourmet food and enjoy culture and art pursuits. Istiklal Avenue, Turkey’s busiest street, includes notable landmarks include Cicek Pasaj, French Street and Taksim Independence Monument.
11: Buyukcekmece – Sancaklar mosque, an international award-winning architectural design, a stunning 26 kilometres of coastline, and a historical bridge designed by Mimar Sinan, a famous Ottoman architect makes Buyukcekmece popular on the domestic tourism scene.
12: Catalca – Sitting in outskirt areas of European Istanbul, Catalca, a favourite weekend destination for Istanbulites, enjoys a retirement and summer home reputation. Two notable landmarks are Yalikoy, a popular holiday coastal resort and Cilingoz National Park.
13: Esenler – Previously called Litros, Esenler stays off the mainstream grid, despite a prominent, inland position in European Istanbul. With no tourist attractions and a dormant housing market, it is one of those lesser talked about districts.
14: Esenyurt – Over the last ten years, Esenyurt underwent a rapid transformation as large property investments also prompted new cultural centres and parks to be built. With three shopping centres and a large university, this bustling hub attracts many foreign property buyers.
15: Eyup – The 19th-century Eyup Sultan Mosque and Pierre Loti café with amazing Golden Horn views make Eyup a popular tourism hub. Conservative Muslims and families love the district’s Islamic historical importance.
16: Fatih – Most visitors to Istanbul have been to Fatih, where the Sultanahmet neighbourhood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sits and from where the Byzantine and Ottoman empires ruled. Other prominent neighbourhoods include Fener, Balat, the old Jewish and Greek quarters, and Eminonu sitting on the Golden Horn.
17: Gaziosmanpasa – After rapid population growth, Gaziosmanpasa was broken down into three further districts in 2009, yet it remains a low-key area, because of a lack of facilities. Recent urban planning developments hope to put it on the map though.
18: Gungoren – This small district comprising of just 11 neighbourhoods, is a conservative family destination, yet is another low-key district unable to keep up with other areas regarding shopping, eating and entertainment facilities.
19: Kagithane – Middle-class workers who often buy property in Kagithane and commute into main city centres love this district with much future potential, excellent transport services and a well-established housing market.
20: Kucukcekmece – Including a larger lake of the same name, real estate investors flocked to Kucukcekmece because of its location on the planned Istanbul Canal route. The TEM and E5 highways also sit close by making it ideal for commuters.
21: Sariyer – Home of famous landmarks like Emirgan Park, Rumelihisari castle, Ataturk Arboretum and sitting next to Belgrade Forest, Sariyer, a much-desired district with characteristics of a nostalgic past, is worth exploring.
22: Silivri –18 small villages and eight neighbourhoods make up Silivri that borders the Tekirdag province. Receiving little international attention, most Istanbul locals know it in summer when the 45-kilometre coastline becomes a hub of fun.
23: Sultangazi- Founded in 2009, Sultangazi, a multicultural hub of 11 small neighbourhoods and one village earned fame because of Ottoman stone aqueduct systems of which a few is still in use.
24: Sisli – Home to famous neighbourhoods like Esentepe, and Nisanti, Sisli is a high-profile district with notable landmarks like Istanbul Military Museum, Turk Telekom stadium, four shopping malls, and two of the city’s tallest skyscrapers.
25: Zeytinburnu: Translating into “olive cape”, Zeytinburnu’s many historical landmarks include Constantinople’s old city walls. Breaking down into 13 neighbourhoods, it did not capitalise on the success of the nearby district of Fatih and remains low-key on the international travel and property scenes.
Areas in Asian Istanbul
26: Adalar – Despite an off-shore location, Adalar, more often called Princes Islands, is a top tourist attraction. Reached by ferry from major European and Asian ports, its classical Ottoman architecture and island, traffic-free lifestyle are key themes.
27: Atasehir: In 1993, urban plans turned Atasehir into a satellite town, and tall skyscrapers appeal to families and students who attend the nearby universities. The planned finance hub, set to match America’s wall street, will also be in this district.
28: Beykoz – If you are looking to live in a green area, with long lines of coastline, Beykoz could be for you. Sitting at the Bosphorus entrance, famous and rich locals own many old wooden Yali mansions hence it's not cheap but exclusive.
29: Cekmekoy –17 separate neighbourhoods and 4 small villages make up the family-friendly atmosphere of Cekmekoy that residents know and love. Students flock there because of the nearby university, and hardcore shoppers will be surprised with what’s for sale.
30: Kadikoy – As a famous district of Asian Istanbul, Kadikoy hosts many day-trippers eager to sample the lively nightlife scene and famous fish market. This cosmopolitan coastal town boasts of famous landmarks like Bagdat Avenue, a shopping haven, and the nostalgic, Haydarpaşa train station.
31: Kartal – Meaning eagle in Turkish, Kartal’s planned urban projects to make it a fledged green city attracted much attention. Other urban regeneration projects included better transport, shopping, housing, education and health facilities.
32: Maltepe – Its distance far from the central city hub have not deterred families and first-time budget buyers from tapping into an affordable real estate market. A long coastline, frequent transport and social, shopping, and family entertainment centres are making this a popular outskirt district.
33: Pendik: Also sitting far from the main centres, in 1970, rural Pendik evolved to become a small-town offering everything and anything for a comfortable lifestyle. Two significant landmarks are Sabiha Gokcen airport, and Istanbul Park, the Formula 1 racetrack.
34: Sancaktepe: Residents of Sancaktepe love neighbouring forested areas that make it easy to explore natural landscapes despite belonging to Turkey’s most populated and largest city. Its inland status doesn’t deter buyers either since it’s just a 40 minutes drive to the coastline.
35: Sultanbeyli – This landlocked district was farming land until 1945, and since then, grew from a small village to fledged working-class suburb. Comprising of 15 more modest neighbourhoods, the conservative, family atmosphere keeps a low-key reputation.
36: Sile – Many Turks from large cities throughout the country have summer and retirement homes in Sile. Beaches, a quaint harbour and seaside restaurants also make it an idyllic daytime trip. Therefore, the population boosts during summer.
37: Tuzla – In the 1980s, leading Turkish shipbuilders overtook Tuzla’s fishing industry. Turks from the bustling city centre also own summer and retirement homes in Tuzla.
38: Umraniye – Voted as a clean area in Istanbul, Umraniye, also underwent urban development through better transport, road, and increased shopping and eating facilities. This boosted the real estate market.
39: Uskudar – Ah Uskudar. Despite being a populated district, it stays a city gem, hosting day-trippers and a growing number of residents choosing to buy away from the more popular European side.
Find out More: To find out what to see and where to go within districts of Istanbul, browse our blog articles talking about everything and anything to do in the city including famous landmarks, eating out, shopping and much more.