In addition to the famous tourist attractions like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar, Istanbul has a lot more to offer. From lively neighborhoods along the Golden Horn to upscale areas by the Bosphorus, the city is full of unique places and vibrant districts waiting to be explored. It’s through this diversity and atmosphere that you can truly experience Istanbul. But more than just visiting historical sites, it’s by immersing yourself in the daily life of the locals that you’ll truly appreciate the city. Take your time and embrace the rhythm of Istanbul alongside its people for an unforgettable experience.
Discover 8 Unique Places In Istanbul :
Table of Contents
1. Kadikoy -District (Moda / Fenerbahce / Caddebostan)
Located on the Asian side of the city, these neighborhoods are often shunned by tourists, who prefer to focus their time on the European side of the city. Wrongly. If indeed these districts are not of major interest from a historical or cultural point of view, they are nonetheless places for pleasant walks , perfect for immersing yourself in a modern and Europeanized but still authentic Istanbul.
Near the Kadiköy pier, you will discover a very lively shopping district where the whole of Asian Istanbul seems to cross paths to board the vapör , devour a simit or do shopping.
Then as you go down the Fenerbahçe side, you will discover a much more upscale face of the city: wooded avenues , chic villas ,high-end boutiques follow one another until you reach Bagdat Caddesi (Bagdat Avenue), the most famous shopping street on the Asian bank , an almost infinite place to walk (14 kilometers long) and a paradise for shoppers.
Finally, the Dalyan Parkı (Caddebostan Dalyan Park)which stretches along the seafront is a favorite among locals who particularly like to come here to stroll, sit on the many terraces or run. This place has some California vibe!
2. Eyup (District)
The district of Eyüp is an ideal place to immerse yourself in a popular and traditional area of the city. Around the famous mosque of Eyüp, built in the 15th century in homage to a companion of Muhammad, this is a very lively working-class district where a rather traditionalist population lives or comes to visit on pilgrimage.
Friday, day of prayer, or the period of Ramadan are ideal times to go to Eyüp, the excitement is palpable there ,especially at the time of breaking the fast .
A visit to Eyüp will allow you to go at the same time to the famous Pierre Loti café , accessible from the funicular or on foot by crossing the impressive cemetery on the hill, or even to the SantralIstanbul cultural complex , only a few minutes away by taxi.
3. Princes’ Islands
Take a trip back in time by spending the day on the Princes’ Islands. Located about twenty kilometers southeast of the city, in the open Sea of Marmara, the Princes’ Islands are the ideal destination for a one-day getaway ,far from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Nine islands make up this pocket archipelago, four of which are accessible to visitors: Büyükada ,the largest and most popular, Burgazada , Heybeliada and Kınalıada .
One of the main characteristics of the island is certainly the calm that reigns there. All motorized vehicles being prohibited there, you can only hear the clicking of hooves, the bells of bicycles and the seagulls which fly over the islands permanently. On Büyükada , walk along the hillsides and discover many beautiful wooden villas . Stop in one of the many gardens that serve as a café and enjoy the moment- in barely an hour, you have gone back a century.
The Princes’ Islands can be reached by speed boat (50 minutes, 8TL) or by traditional boat (1h30, 4 TL) from Kabataş pier.
4. Uskudar (District)
On the Asian side of the city, north of Kadiköy is the district of Üsküdar, one of the oldest residential areas of the city and today popular with Istanbul students, due to low rents and it is also relatively central, just opposite Eminönü.
If the boat crossing from the European side, and the magnificent views it offers, is in itself a reason to go to Üsküdar, it is obviously not the only one. An extremely lively district with many shops and restaurants , Üsküdar is a district where youcan enjoy life . It is an ideal place for a coffee break along the Bosphorus , and it is also here that you can take the boat to Maiden’s Tower , for an exceptional dinner on the Bosphorus. It is no coincidence that the shore is a favorite place for Istanbul residents to stroll.
And all this just eight short minutes from Besiktaş by boat.
5. Bebek & Arnavutkoy (Villages)
To the north of the city, on the western shore of the Bosphorus, Bebek and Arnavutköy are two neighborhoods resembling seaside villages popular with Istanbul residents.
Walks along the Bosphorus , panoramic terraces , traditional wooden houses and villas , historic buildings from the Ottoman era, trendy restaurants and bars (like Lucca ), there is no shortage of reasons to come to Arnavutköy or Bebek, in particular on Sundays when all the chic Istanbul seems to came here to stroll.
Do not hesitate to get there by boat from Kabataş or Besiktaş, you will avoid the traffic jams that sometimes paralyze the city, and above all the possibility of enjoying a mini-cruise on the Bosphorus at low cost .
Often compared to London’s Tate Modern , SantralIstanbul is a cultural complex housed in a former power station (the first in the Ottoman Empire), converted and rehabilitated in 2007. The complex, attached to the neighboring Bilgi University, now houses a museum of modern art, a contemporary art gallery, a concert hall, an amphitheater, and an energy museum !
An impressive place with majestic volumes (118,000 square meters) which very regularly hosts exhibitions of gigantic works. And if the modern art museum doesn’t have the most fascinating permanent collection, it’s the whole place that will seduce you, as well as the arty atmosphere that reigns there . At the northern end of the Golden Horn, tourists are rare, the place is mostly frequented by locals and students from the nearby university .
To get there, a free shuttle leaves every half hour from Taksim (in front of the Atatürk Culture Center). Another option is to take a vapör that goes up the Golden Horn from Eminönü: a slightly longer journey, but a real immersion in traditional Istanbul.
Emniyettepe Mh., Kazım Karabekir Cd No:2, Istanbul, Turquie
7. Haydarpaşa Railway Station
On the eastern bank, in the immediate vicinity of the Kadiköy district, Haydarpaşa station is one of the most amazing places in Istanbul . Almost completely closed to rail traffic since 2012, this station where trains arriving from Anatolia now looks like a film set.
Marvel at the counters and waiting rooms from the period and an amazing neo-classical interior!
To get there, take the vapör from the Eminönü pier in the direction of Kadiköy. Get off at the first stop, Haydarpaşa, pass the beautiful vintage pier and re-enter the station to enjoy the silence there. Time seems to stand still here . The contrast is all the more striking when arriving from Eminönü, an always overcrowded pier.
8. Fener (District)
Along the Golden Horn, midway between Eyüp and Eminönü , in the Fatih district, is the historic district of Fener (or Phanar). Formerly populated by Phanariotes, descendants of the Byzantine aristocracy, but deserted today by the wealthy populations, it is now a modest and colorful district , which is worth the detour.
Historic wooden houses , countless Orthodox churches and synagogues , laundry drying in the windows , colorful houses , busy fishermen and children playing in the streets, here is in a nutshell what you can see if you venture to Fener.
A real dive into popular Istanbul , just a few minutes by bus or boat from the center of Eminönü.