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Istanbul City Centre Area Guide

Istanbul city centre has many faces, encompassing all levels of society, interests, cultures, past-times and traditions. Throughout history, many empires have fought to gain strategic control of it. Thankfully, the city is more peaceful these days and, instead, the hub of shopping, tourism, business, and nightlife. Istanbul is the city centre where everything happens, and each district has a unique theme.

Property buyers looking at Istanbul city centre will also be pleasantly surprised with the choice on offer. Istanbul is a vast and sprawling city with multiple centres. Still, the most commonly referred city centre area for tourists is the Sultanahmet district, while shopping and nightlife are the new city centre part of Beyoglu. Let's take a look at prominent neighbourhoods to know about.

Istanbul City Centre

                                           About Istanbul City Center

Historical Attractions in Sultanahmet

Sultan Ahmet, in the Fatih district, was formerly home to the Ottoman and Byzantine empires, hence its reputation as the old part of Istanbul. Holding historic landmarks, anyone buying apartments as buy-to-let rental investments has an already existing market of potential renters. The atmosphere and vibes also lend weight to a relaxed, easy-going lifestyle, but with everything at your disposal. This area, often called the "Historic Peninsula," is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Famous landmarks include the Hagia Sophia, originally built as a cathedral in 537 AD and later converted into a mosque. Officially known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the 17th century Blue mosque built during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I is famous for intricate blue Iznik tiles, which adorn the interior walls. Topkapi Palace was the residence of Ottoman sultans and houses an extensive collection of imperial treasures, including jewellery, manuscripts, and relics.

The 6th-century Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı), an underground water reservoir, was constructed during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Lastly, while the original structure is no longer standing, several historical monuments, including the Theodosius Obelisk, Serpent Column, and Column of Constantine, mark the ancient Hippodrome. Also, visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museums and Grand Bazaar complex, just a short walk away.

Beyoglu: The New Part of Istanbul City Center

The Beyoglu district comprises many smaller neighbourhoods, such as cultural Karakoy, Tophane, and the famous Istiklal Avenue, Turkey's busiest street. Known as the new city part, it is the centre of nightlife and shopping. Karakoy, consisting of the famous Galata Tower landmark, has achieved a retro reputation with swanky sidewalk cafes and a modern art gallery. The backstreets of Istiklal Avenue house many antique shops, boutiques and eateries that perfectly portray Istanbul's hedonistic face.

Pera, which means "across" in Greek, is historically referred to as the foreign quarter of Istanbul. Today, it's part of Beyoğlu and houses several cultural institutions, including the Pera Museum. Cihangir, a bohemian and artistic neighbourhood near Taksim Square, earns fame for unique cafes, art studios, and laid-back atmospheres that attract tourists and expats.

At the southern end of Istiklal Avenue, Tünel Square boasts of the historic Tünel funicular, one of the world's oldest underground railways. Atlas Pasajı off Istiklal Avenue earns fame for bookshops, cafes, and shops. Also, visit French Street (Cezayir Sokağı), a charming street filled with French-style cafes and restaurants, offering a taste of Paris in Istanbul.

Taksim Square – The Beating Heart

Taksim Square, in Beyoglu, is the heart of the new city centre and has played a pivotal role in Istanbul's history. The name "Taksim" is derived from the Turkish word for "distribution" or "division," as the square historically served as a central point for distributing water during the Ottoman Empire.

Taksim Square, a central transportation hub and terminus of the historic Istiklal Avenue, is also a central point for various public transportation options, including buses, trams, and the famous Taksim Metro station. The square has also been the site of numerous political protests, celebrations, and gatherings throughout Turkish history.

One prominent feature is the Republic Monument (Cumhuriyet Anıtı). This monument, erected in 1928, commemorates the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. It consists of a central column with a bronze statue representing Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and his comrades during the Turkish War of Independence.

Several notable landmarks surround Taksim Square, including the historic Taksim Gezi Park, Atatürk Cultural Center (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi,)  Pera Museum, and Istiklal Avenue. In the evening, Taksim Square and surrounding areas come to life with bustling nightlife scenes. People gather in bars, clubs, and restaurants, making it the most significant nightlife scene in Istanbul.

Sisli: Luxurious Living in Istanbul

Parts of Sisli, like Nisantasi and Bomanti, portray Istanbul's prestigious side of Istanbul. Sisli was merely hunting grounds before the turn of the 20th century, but now luxury apartments for sale attract buyers with unlimited budgets. Elite schools and shopping are primary attributes, and for year-round living, the comfortable pace of the city centre in Sisli is a big lure.

Şişli is urban and commercial life, bordered by several other districts. As home to numerous corporate offices, multinational companies, and business centres, the Sisli district boasts many high-rise office buildings and shopping centres. But the community is a shopping paradise, with several major shopping streets and malls. The most famous shopping street is Nişantaşı, with luxury boutiques, international brands, and upscale shops. Istanbul Cevahir Mall, one of Europe's largest shopping malls, is also in Şişli.

Şişli offers various cultural attractions, including theatres, art galleries, and historical sites. Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater hosts concerts and performances during the summer months. Istanbul Military Museum in Harbiye is another notable attraction.

While Şişli sits in an urban environment, there are green spaces to enjoy nature. Maçka Park is a popular spot for relaxation and leisure activities. Şişli is a diverse district with a population of various backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. It has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and is welcoming to expatriates and tourists.

Besiktas: Affordable Property for Sale in Istanbul City Centre

Besiktas is most notably home to the famous Turkish football club and Dolmabahce Palace, the last home of the Ottoman sultans. The population of Beşiktaş, a melting pot of cultures and lifestyles, includes students, professionals, expatriates, and long-time residents, blending traditions and cultures. Consisting of many smaller districts, Ortakoy is also a favourite spot for locals to hang out. It is well renowned for jacket potato street foods. Another picturesque neighbourhood is Arnavutköy, with narrow streets, wooden Ottoman-era houses, and seafood restaurants along the Bosphorus waterfront.

The Levent neighbourhood is where it is all happening, though. As a significant business district, modern apartments for young working professionals offer the latest technology and amenities. Levent features the Sapphire Tower, Turkey's tallest skyscraper, but that has not stopped it from competing with the Maslak district for impressive skyscraper projects featuring the latest architecture.

Beşiktaş's cultural landmarks include Ihlamur Palace (Ihlamur Kasrı), a historic palace surrounded by beautiful gardens, and Akaretler Row Houses, which have been restored and now house upscale boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The district has excellent transportation connections, including buses, ferries, and the Kabataş funicular, making accessing other parts of Istanbul easy.

Beşiktaş offers various parks and green areas like Yıldız Park, a large and well-maintained park with tranquil atmospheres and historic pavilions. Beşiktaş brims with restaurants, cafes, bars, and entertainment venues, and the district's dining scene offers several cuisines, from traditional Turkish dishes to international options.

Maslak: Apartment Living on the Edge of Nature

Maslak is another Istanbul city centre business district, but don't let that fool you because it also sits near the 5,000-hectare Belgrade forest. The sense of wilderness and being at one with nature seems quite unplaced in the middle of Istanbul's city centre. Yet, it is one of its most significant attributes.

Naturally, as a business district, apartment living is trendy. Still, architects have used many contemporary designs to make each skyscraper building look attractive and highly functional. Seaside life is only 30 30-minute drive away, so Maslak is an all-rounder for city life.

Maslak features modern and business-oriented atmospheres, making the district a critical financial and commercial hub. Maslak is often called Istanbul's financial district because of national and international companies, banks, financial institutions, and corporate offices. The district has several high-rise office buildings and towers, contributing to its skyline.

Some of Istanbul's tallest skyscrapers and modern office complexes are in Maslak. These buildings house various businesses, including technology companies, consulting firms, and financial services. While primarily a business district, Maslak also has residential neighbourhoods and housing developments. Many professionals live nearby for convenience.

Several shopping malls include the Istanbul Sapphire Mall, one of Istanbul's tallest buildings with shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Maslak is also well-connected to the rest of Istanbul through a network of roads and highways. It's also served by public transportation, including bus lines and the Istanbul Metro.

From Istanbul International Airport to the City Center

Several transportation options exist to get from Istanbul International Airport (officially known as Istanbul Airport, IST) to Istanbul city centre. Both the airport and city centre are on the European side.

Istanbul International Airport has a designated taxi stand where you can easily find a cab. The journey takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your destination. You can also book private airport transfers in advance. This option offers a comfortable and hassle-free ride to your destination. Many companies provide this service, and you can book in advance online.

Havabus shuttle bus service operates between Istanbul Airport and various central locations in Istanbul, including Taksim Square and the Yenikapı Interchange near Sultanahmet. It's a cost-effective option and runs regularly. Public buses (known as IETT) also operate between Istanbul Airport and various city parts. Bus lines serving the airport include H-2 (Havaist) and 98 (IETT).

Istanbul International Airport is connected to the metro system. You can take the M11 metro line from the airport, which connects to the M1 metro line at the Gayrettepe station. The M1 line runs through Istanbul city centre, including stops at Taksim Square and Sultanahmet. If you prefer flexibility in your transportation, rent a car at Istanbul Airport. Remember that traffic in Istanbul is challenging, and parking is limited and expensive.

The Istanbul Province of Turkey

Istanbul city centre belongs to the province of the same name. Istanbul Province, also known as Istanbul İli in Turkish, is one of Turkey's 81 provinces. The Bosphorus Strait, a narrow waterway, divides the province into two parts: the European side to the west and the Asian side to the east. The region has a diverse landscape, including hills, forests, and coastal areas along the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.

Istanbul is well-connected by various modes of transportation, including an extensive network of buses, trams, ferries, and the Istanbul Metro. The province is also served by two major airports: Istanbul New Airport on the European side and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport on the Asian side. Istanbul Province is a significant economic and cultural centre and a city of immense historical and architectural importance. It remains popular for tourists, offering a unique blend of modernity and tradition. Read more about Istanbul here.

Buying Property in Istanbul City Center

So, as you can see, Istanbul city centre is a hub of everything and anything from shopping, dining out, entertainment, leisure, business, and historical attractions. Since the city centre is also the transport hub, it is a desirable place to buy property and live. You can see the range of property for sale here. Each listing contains contact details to arrange viewings. Alternatively, call us today and drop into our local office to chat with an agent about Istanbul city centre.


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