Welcome to Istanbul, the fascinating city of two continents where East meets West. Istanbul is a sprawling metropolis that spans two continents, divided by the Bosporus Strait that separates Europe from Asia. The European side of Istanbul is a fascinating blend of the city’s rich history and modern lifestyle, and it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience the best of both worlds.
History of the European side: Traditional Part and New
The European side of Istanbul is home to some of the city’s most beautiful and historical landmarks. From the traditional part of Istanbul located on the peninsula to the new part located north of the Golden Horn, there are plenty of areas to explore on the European side of Istanbul.
The Traditional Part of the European Side of Istanbul
The traditional part of the European side, located on the historical peninsula, is the heart of the city’s rich history. This area was the center of power during the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and is home to many of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. The old part of the European side is characterized by narrow, winding streets, historic buildings, and traditional bazaars.
The New Part of the European Side of Istanbul
The new part of the European side, on the other hand, is a more modern area that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. This area, north of the Golden Horn, was built during the Ottoman Empire’s decline and the early years of the Turkish Republic. The new part of the European side is characterized by broad avenues, modern buildings, and commercial districts. Read more…
Despite the differences between the two areas, both the old and new parts of the European side offer unique experiences to visitors. The old part of the city provides a glimpse into Istanbul’s rich history and culture, while the new part of the city is a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Whether you’re interested in history, art, culture, or nightlife, Istanbul’s European side has something to offer for everyone.
The Most Touristic and Interesting Areas
Fatih: Sultanahmet, Eminonu, Balat, Fener
One of the most popular areas to visit on the European side of Istanbul is Fatih. Fatih is home to some of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. Additionally, Fatih is also home to the vibrant Eminonu market, where you can find everything from spices to souvenirs. For a glimpse into Istanbul’s past, explore the colorful houses, vintage shops, and street art in the historic neighborhoods of Balat and Fener.
Explore the Old City with Guided Tours
Beyoglu: Taksim, Galata, Karaköy
Beyoglu is another popular area to explore on the European side of Istanbul. Taksim Square, one of the most famous spots in Istanbul, is located here. Surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops, Taksim Square is a hub for public transportation.
The Galata neighborhood, located just uphill from the square, is home to the iconic Galata Tower and offers stunning views of Istanbul. For a more artistic and creative experience, explore Karaköy, a lively neighborhood in Beyoglu that’s popular for its street art, cafes, and galleries.
Besiktas: Ortakoy, Arnavutkoy, Bebek, Yildiz
Besiktas is another popular area to explore on the European side of Istanbul. The trendy neighborhood of Ortakoy, known for its stunning Ortakoy Mosque that sits right on the Bosphorus, is located here. Arnavutkoy, Bebek, and Yildiz are all upscale neighborhoods that offer stunning views of the Bosphorus, along with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
The Best of the Modern Istanbul: Don’t Miss Unforgettable Atmosphere
Nisantasi is a fashionable neighborhood in Sisli that’s home to high-end boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The neighborhood is known for its elegant architecture and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Read more…
Top 10 Attractions on the European Side of Istanbul
When visiting Istanbul’s European side, there is no shortage of amazing attractions to explore. Here are the top 10 must-visit destinations on your trip.
1. Sultanahmet Square
Located on the historical peninsula, Sultanahmet Square is home to some of Istanbul’s most impressive landmarks. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace are all located in this area, making it a great starting point for exploring Istanbul’s rich history.
2. Galata Tower
For panoramic views of Istanbul, head to the iconic Galata Tower. This medieval stone tower offers breathtaking views of Istanbul’s skyline and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
3. Dolmabahçe Palace
If you’re interested in art and architecture, make sure to visit Dolmabahçe Palace. This stunning 19th-century palace is home to an impressive collection of European and Ottoman artwork and is a prime example of Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage.
4. Emirgan Park
For a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to Emirgan Park. This lush park on the Bosphorus is known for its tulip festival in the spring and is a great spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
Find more parks in Istanbul >>>
5. Basilica Cistern
An underground cistern that dates back to the Roman Empire, the Basilica Cistern is a fascinating attraction that’s not to be missed. With its eerie atmosphere and impressive architecture, it’s a must-visit spot for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.
6. Rumeli Hisari Castle
Built in the 15th century to protect Istanbul from invading armies, Rumeli Hisari Castle is an impressive fortress that’s worth exploring. With its stunning views of the Bosphorus and its fascinating history, it’s a great spot for a day trip.
7. Atatürk’s Home
The former home of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, Atatürk’s Home has been turned into a museum that showcases his life and achievements. With its elegant architecture and fascinating exhibits, it’s a great spot for history buffs and anyone interested in Turkish culture.
8. Chora Church (Temporarily Closed)
If you’re interested in Byzantine art and architecture, make sure to visit Chora Church. This stunning church is known for its intricate mosaics and frescoes and is a prime example of Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage.
9. Istiklal Avenue
For shopping and dining, head to Istiklal Avenue. This bustling pedestrian street in Beyoglu is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes and is a great spot for a day out with friends or family.
10. Ortakoy Mosque
For a unique architectural experience, visit Ortakoy Mosque. This beautiful mosque located on the Bosphorus is known for its unique style and is a must-visit spot for architecture enthusiasts.
Things to Do on the European Side of Istanbul:
Try Balik Ekmek on Galata Bridge
If you’re a food lover, you can’t miss trying the Balik Ekmek on Galata Bridge, a traditional Turkish fish sandwich that’s a must-try for visitors to Istanbul’s European side. You should definitely try the Balik Ekmek on Galata Bridge. This traditional Turkish fish sandwich is a must-try for anyone visiting Istanbul. Moreover, you can take a boat tour on the Bosphorus to admire the stunning skyline of the city and cross from Europe to Asia, which is an experience of a lifetime.
Explore Grand Bazaar
Exploring the Grand Bazaar market is a unique experience that will provide you with a taste of Istanbul’s street food and souvenirs. You can find anything from colorful spices and textiles to traditional ceramics and jewelry.
Walk on the Streets of Galata Neighborhood
Furthermore, you can admire the stunning views of old streets of Galata Neighborhood and enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee at one of the nearby cafes.
Stroll through Gulhane Park
If you’re a nature lover, then you should definitely take a stroll through Gulhane Park and enjoy the beautiful tulip festival in the spring. This is a great way to experience Istanbul’s natural beauty and immerse yourself in its culture.
Feel the Culture in The Istanbul Modern Museum
The Istanbul Modern Museum in Karaköy offers an opportunity to appreciate the city’s contemporary art scene. You can explore the vast collection of art and exhibitions that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Istanbul.
Wander through Balat and Fener
Wandering around the colorful houses and street art in Balat and Fener is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Istanbul. This is a great way to explore the city’s rich history and culture.
Go Shopping in Nisantasi
If you’re a shopaholic, then you can indulge in a shopping spree in the high-end boutiques of Nisantasi. This luxury shopping district is home to some of the world’s most famous brands and offers a unique shopping experience. Read more…
Head to Pub Crawl in Taksim
If you’re looking for some fun and excitement, then you can enjoy the nightlife in the trendy bars and clubs in the Taksim area. This bustling neighborhood is the perfect place to dance the night away and make new friends.
Try Turkish Cuisine in Restaurants in Istanbul
Last but not least, you can savor the delicious Turkish cuisine at one of the many restaurants in Besiktas. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and try some of the best Turkish dishes.
Try Istanbul E-Pass: Your Chance to Save Money and Time
Embark on a journey through Istanbul’s rich history, culture, and breathtaking sights with the all-inclusive E-Pass. This ultimate key unlocks access to over 50 top attractions, including iconic landmarks like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the bustling Grand Bazaar.
Enjoy free entry tickets, guided tours, skip-the-line privileges, and personal discounts at numerous top sites. Invest in the Istanbul E-Pass today, and embark on an unforgettable adventure that will leave you captivated by the enchanting allure of this timeless city.
How to Get Around the European Side of Istanbul:
Getting around the European side of Istanbul is relatively easy thanks to the city’s extensive public transportation system. Also read our article “Transport for Tourists in Istanbul: the Main Routes of Tram, Metro, Funicular and Ferry (2023)” to learn all you need to know about transport in Istanbul.
Here are some of the most popular modes of transportation to explore the European side of Istanbul:
The metro is a fast and efficient way to travel around Istanbul. The M2 metro line runs through the European side of the city, connecting the Taksim Square area with the Haciosman district. Read more…
The tram is another popular mode of transportation in Istanbul. The T1 tram line runs from Kabatas to Bağcılar, passing through many popular areas of the European side, including Sultanahmet, Eminonu, and Karaköy. Read more…
Istanbul has an extensive bus network that covers all parts of the city. The European side of Istanbul is served by a number of bus lines that connect different neighborhoods and areas. Read more…
Istanbul is surrounded by water, and the ferry is a popular mode of transportation to explore the Bosphorus and the Princes’ Islands. The ferry is also a convenient way to travel between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Read more…
Taxis are widely available in Istanbul, and they’re a convenient way to get around the city. However, be sure to use a metered taxi or agree on a price beforehand to avoid getting overcharged. Read more…
Finally, walking is a great way to explore the European side of Istanbul, especially in areas like Sultanahmet and Beyoglu, which are pedestrian-friendly and offer plenty of sights to see along the way.
In conclusion, the European side of Istanbul is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves history, culture, and beautiful scenery. From the stunning landmarks in Sultanahmet Square to the trendy neighborhoods of Beyoglu and Besiktas, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on the European side of Istanbul.