Airport (in the Bakirkoy District)
Ataturk Airport was first built in 1912 for military purposes. Later it was renamed Yesilkoy Airport. In 1947 work began to convert it into an international airport and it was finally completed in 1953. Further development took place in the 1970’s. Today it is used by approximately 20 million passengers every year. It is currently the only airport in Istanbul Europe.
The airport is located on the west coast and it leads onto the motorway.
The airport is also surrounded by business hotels and exhibition halls. A mere 10 minutes away from the airport is a cosy, little town on the coast where you will find some nice restaurants and cafés.
Click on the link for the airport shuttle timetable and to organise your journey;
This castle was built in 1394 by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid, approximately 60 years before the castle on the European side of the Bosphorus, Rumeli Hisari, was built. It was constructed for the same purpose, the initial preparation for the Siege of Constantinople which took place in 1395.
Rumeli Hisari is situated on the narrowest point of the Bosphorus Strait.It is a rather small castle with a creek on the side called Goksu, as well as wooden houses and kiosks, making it a very cosy area. It is very nice to see from both land and the sea.
Bebek (in the Besiktas District)
Along the Bosphorus Strait, you will see the most splendid houses and mansions, all the way from Bebek to Rumeli Hisari. Bebek is one of the most luxurious places in Istanbul to eat and live in. Young people living in Istanbul Europe meet here at the weekends.
Beyazit (in the Fatih District)
The Beyazit district is centred on Beyazit Square, which was the main city square and palace entrance during Byzantine times. Today it is still at the centre of the historical peninsula. It is very easy to get there by tram. There is also a bus station on the square with transport running to all areas across the city.
Beyazit Mosque and the Grand Bazaar are the places to see here. The biggest university in Istanbul is Istanbul University and it has a huge campus and a library. The library is home to old handwritten texts. It receives many visits by researchers as it is a great historical resource. The library is closed during the weekends. You can go during normal visiting hours throughout the week.
Follow the tramline from Beyazit Square and you will find yourself at Sultanahmet, a district full of history.
Beylerbeyi (in the Uskudar District)
The most amazing mansions in Istanbul Asia start at Beylerbeyi. This side of the Bosphorus is quieter and more peaceful than the European side. On the north of the Bosphorus Bridge, there is a splendid palace, the Beylerbeyi Palace. It was built in 1865 and acted as an Imperial Ottoman summer residence, also hosting visiting heads of state. The palace is really magnificent when seen from the sea.
Beylerbeyi is a quiet but more expensive area to live in. The wealthier people in Turkey own pavilions and mansions here, Mansions and pavilions line the water front and the surrounding area from Beylerbeyi to Anadolu Hisari.
Bostanci (in the Kadikoy District)
The Asian side is much less crowded than the European side of Istanbul. There isn’t much industry there. Bostanci is one of the oldest districts in Asia. In the olden days there were mainly villas and mansions, situated on the waterfront. Today, there are only apartments due to the increasing population, however, the atmosphere hasn’t changed that much from the past.
There are nice restaurants and cafés by the waterfront. You can also see some of the Princes’ Islands from there and take a boat to see them.
When you go uphill, you will find yourself in a similar shopping area to Nisantasi. The atmosphere is different but again you will find most of the top brand name stores there.
Cihangir (in the Beyoglu District )
Galata is becoming so popular that it is beginning to replace Cihangir however, it is still the top district in Istanbul Europe with lots of people living there.
So, why do lots of people like it there? It is a small town where everyone knows each other. When you live in Istanbul this is something you miss; friendly greetings from your neighbours or walking along the street . There is much less personal contact in the big city, as everyone is in a rush to get to work or go to school. However, Cihangir is much more relaxed in that respect. It has nice cafes and small restaurants, where you can relax in the afternoon or go on a pleasant evening out with your friends.
Walking down the hill from Cihangir, you will end up in Tophane, where all the well known shisha bars are found. After trying a traditional shisha, you can continue along the coast which will take you to Besiktas, home to the great Dolmabahce Palace and where Ataturk died (founder of the Republic of Turkey).
Eminonu (in the Fatih District )
If you follow the coast from Sultanahmet, the first place you will get to is Eminonu and the Spice Market, which has stood there since 1664. Legend has it that it was around in Byzantine times as well. The market is in an L shape, thus you will enter one way and end up at another door. In 1691 and 1940 there were huge fires, however the market fortunately survived both. Although, it was badly damaged by the second fire, it has been well renovated.
On the coast there is a great mosque, which was completed in 1663. At the Mosque’s main entrance stairs there are always a lot of pigeons. These pigeons are fed by people visiting the mosque during the day or by passers-by.
Etiler (in the Besiktas District)
Etiler is famous for its chic cafés, bars, night life, restaurants, fashion shops and shopping centres, such as Akmerkez and Mayadrom Uptown. It is a popular area amongst Istanbul's elite. There are mainly villas and private residences here.
Etiler is an older name in Turkish for the Hittites, as it was fashionable in the early years of the Turkish Republic to give the names of ancient Anatolian civilizations to the new districts of Istanbul.
This district extends from the Golden Horn all the way to the shore of the Black Sea and is a historically important area, especially for Turkey’s muslims. Highlights of the neighbourhood include the Pierre Loti café named after the French novelist and naval officer (1850 – 1923), who lived there for some time, and the Eyup Sultan Mosque.
It has stood there since 1458 and is more than just a mosque given that it has tall cypres trees and very important people from the Ottoman Palace have been buried there. No other mosque in Istanbul can boast this. For this reason, the mosque is visited by many who go to pray, ask for good things for the future and beg for mercy from the Eyup Sultan.
The most important historical places to see around the Golden Horn are;
Pammakaristos Church (Fethiye Mosque) : Built in the 12th century, it was the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate from 1456 to 1568. The church was converted into a mosque in 1591. The side-chapel is a museum and contains wonderful Byzantine mosaics.
Valens Aqueduct :This two storey aqueduct (water supply channel) was built in 368 during the time of Emperor Valens. The water ran from the Belgrade Forest to the Great Palace in Sultanahmet. This aqueduct was used up until the 19th century.
Fatih Mosque : This huge baroque mosque is where the tomb of Mehmet the Conquer lies. Many Byzantine emperors are also buried here, including Constantine. The building was destroyed in an earthquake in 1766 and rebuilt in the 18th century.
Prince’s Mosque (Şehzade Camii): Built by architect Sinan during the reign of Suleyman The Magnificient. It is the first imperial mosque and has a very elegant design.
Theodosian Walls : These walls were built between 412 and 422 by Emperor Theodosius. The walls stretch from Yeditepe (the Sea of Marmara) to Ayvansaray (the Golden Horn). You can still walk upon some of the sections, especially those in the Yedikule district.
Church of St.George (Aya Yorgi) : This is the worldwide headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Pierre Loti : French author Pierre Loti lived in this area for a long time whilst he was writing his novel. He fell in love with a local woman. The hill and the café that he went to on a frequent basis were named after him. You can reach Pierre Loti Café situated on the hill via the cable car nearby to Eyüp Mosque or even by walking up there. The view of the Golden Horn from the top is beautiful.
Miniaturk : This is a park where miniature versions of Istanbul and Turkey's most impressive structures are exhibited. Bosphorus Bridge, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace all feature. There is also a miniature railway, model cars, boats, a cinema and a playground.
Galata (in the Beyoglu District )
Galata is one of the districts in Istanbul that you can write pages about or talk about for hours. It is old, but also modern; it is a peaceful but also dynamic place; and it isn’t trendy but it is very popular.
Galata is situated between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait. It is a place where the intellectual population of the city desires to live. And many do.
Galata is mostly visited for the Galata Tower, the Kamondo Steps and the Voyvoda Police Station. Galata Tower was built in 507 by the Byzantines as a lighthouse. It is one of the oldest towers in the world. It was last renovated in 1967. Today the tower offers tourists a 360 degree view of the city and there is a restaurant at the top.
The Kamondo Steps were built in the 1850s by a banker named Avram Kamondo to connect Voyvoda Street with Bankers Street. It has been photographed many times for its architecture, and it is a popular tourist destination.
Levent (in the Besiktas District)
This is one of the main business districts in Istanbul. What attract tourists the most in Levent are the huge shopping centres hosting international brand stores.
The tallest building in Turkey is also located here. Sapphire, with 54 floors and 238 metres high is a residence, also housing a shopping centre and offices.
Maslak (in the Sariyer District)
Maslak is another business district in Istanbul Europe. Again, the main attraction for tourists here are the stores. Here you will find famous brand shopping outlets.
There are a lot of skyscrapers in this area which makes it looks like Manhattan Island, especially at night. The tallest building here has 38 floors.
Nisantasi (in the Sisli District)
A new and very chic and elegant city district. All the restaurants, shops and buildings here have been organised and decorated in an elegant way. Top international names and famous local brand stores line the main street Rumeli. It is quite expensive to eat or go shopping here, however it is nice for enjoying a pleasant walk.
Ortakoy (in the Besiktas District)
The Ortokay Mosque is an amazing building and a great work of art, a definite must-see. It has stood on the Bosphorus Strait since 1853, and looks splendid day and night.
Particularly worth seeing in this area are the nice cafés, tall trees, a small boat landing stage, people exhibiting handmade goods on the street and vendors selling baked potatoes. Ortakoy is most popular for its famous night clubs and bars.
They are known as the Princes’ Islands or the Red Islands. There are 9 altogether, 4 large and 5 smaller islands. The reason they are called Princes’ Islands is that the unfavorable members of the dynasties during Byzantine and Ottoman times were exiled there. They were considered a remote area then.
Buyukada is the preferred island for many. Here you can see the Hagios Giorgios Church, built on the highest point of the island. It is a three-quarters of an hour climb to the top on foot as cars are not allowed on the island and it is too steep to ride a bike or a horse. When you get there you will also get an amazing view of the other islands. In addition, if you go there on national wish day, you will be joined by tens of thousands of other people.
Rumeli Hisari (in the Besiktas District)
The castle was built in 1452, to prevent aid reaching Constantinople during the planned Turkish siege of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet II. The castle has 3 main towers, which have the largest bastions in the world. The castle was completed between 1451 and 1452, is situated at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus, and stands across from Anadolu Hisari, another castle on the Anatolian side.
Today, the castle is used for cultural activities like shows and concerts following its renovation.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport
This airport has become an international airport, taking some of the pressure off Ataturk Airport, and is getting busier every year.
(The airport has become International and taking the load of Ataturk Airport away and is becoming a busy international airport every year.)
It is named after the world’s first female combat pilot Sabiha Gokcen, who died in 2001 at the age of 88.
The airport area was empty up until recently however, it is now becoming more and more crowded and Istanbul is getting bigger every year to accommodate the ever increasing population.
Click on the link for the airport shuttle timetable and to organise your journey.
Sultanahmet (in the Fatih District )
It is the most popular destination in Istanbul and a favourite amongst the locals. Everyone, down to the smallest child, has seen the great Blue Mosque, Ayasofya and Topkapi Palace. It is always quite crowded but it is a very pleasant walk along the historical roads in the district as cars are not allowed to pass.
There are more than twenty mosques, churches and museums, amongst many other attractions, to see. To properly visit Sultanahmet and Beyazit, you will probably need an entire day. There is something interesting to see around every corner. With its large gardens and great restaurants, exploring the area won’t be too exhausting an experience.
Taksim (in the Beyoglu District )
Making your way north from the historical district, you will arrive at Taksim Square. You can also access all the other areas of the city with the public transport from the square. However, Taksim Square is not busy all day simply due to the transport system, but more for the activities on offer during the day and the nightlife.
You can also drive to Cihangir or walk to Galata along Istikal Street, where cars aren’t allowed to pass, from Taksim Square. On the way there you will come across well-known brand stores, good restaurants, and of course lots of cafés, bars and clubs. With all kinds of live music ranging from pop to jazz on offer and DJ’s featuring everyday of the week, visitors will have an unforgettable experience.
Taksim is the multicultural, multilingual and multireligion area of Istanbul. When walking down Istiklal Street you will come across Orthodox and Catholic churches, as well as synagogues, foreign institutes and embassies from ten different countries. There are also museums and modern art galleries.