The worst neighborhoods in Istanbul for hotel reservations
Certainly, the image you hold of Istanbul is that of a beautiful and modern city, with convenient and livable areas everywhere. Your perception is mostly accurate; however, it’s important to note that, like any other city, Istanbul has neighborhoods that are best avoided. In this article, we will explore the least favorable neighborhoods in Istanbul for hotel reservations, ensuring that you, dear friends, do not end up in these areas when you visit the city. Stick with us to learn more about these neighborhoods in detail. You can also visit the Manolya Tour website to plan an affordable Istanbul tour.
The worst neighborhoods in Istanbul for hotel reservations
Situated at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa – Istanbul is one of the largest cities globally, where the meeting of the East and West creates a unique blend. A place where time seems to wander, strolling through its timeless streets and rediscovering itself; repeatedly. Once known as Constantinople, this city has become one of the most cherished destinations on the planet, captivating and drawing millions of visitors each year. Among them, a fortunate few decide to make this place their home. While moving to this incredible city is a reward in itself, the journey includes the challenge of finding a new home or temporary accommodation like a hotel. Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of the best and less favorable neighborhoods in Istanbul. Without further ado, let’s explore the neighborhoods to avoid for hotel reservations in Istanbul!
Fatih – Aksaray & Kumkapı Village
Surprisingly, another renowned neighborhood that we don’t recommend for accommodation is the vibrant and bustling heart of Istanbul, located right next to the Sultanahmet Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – the Fatih Quarter in the southern part of the European district of Eminovo. While exploring this legendary area of Istanbul is undoubtedly worth the visit, with its attractions like Golhane Park, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, and Tokapi Palace, residing in this tourist-centric part of the city comes with its distinct drawbacks. It tends to be more expensive, as prices cater to tourists, who might not be aware of better options. Additionally, it can be noisier, somewhat less affluent, and may not be as secure as areas south and west in Fatih, such as the neighborhoods of Aksaray and Kumkapi.
While Fatih has its merits, if you’re contemplating booking a hotel in this area of Turkey, be prepared to navigate the challenges of being treated like a tourist daily, often without a clear understanding of local prices and norms. This can lead to potential cost concerns and impact your overall travel budget!
Basaksehir, gaining popularity among real estate companies and housing developers, may initially appear attractive, almost resembling another version of Sisli – clean, safe, and modern. However, the primary concern and distinction between this European neighborhood and Sisli lie in its location. Basaksehir sits on the western outskirts of the European half of Istanbul. To put this in perspective, considering the immense size of this metropolis, you might feel like you’re in a different city altogether, given how far removed it is from the center of Istanbul. The commute to Istanbul takes about an hour one way, and having a car becomes essential for survival if you reside in this part of the city. While some may not mind this kind of commute, and there are indeed some affordable real estate options, we advise those seriously contemplating a trip to Istanbul to steer clear of neighborhoods this distant from the center. It’s more worthwhile to stay in another city in Turkey, considering both your time and money. Additionally, for those who care, Basaksehir currently harbors the most disliked football team in Turkey.
Tarlabasi neighborhood (Tarlabaşı)
We regret having to designate Tarlabasi as one of the challenging neighborhoods in Istanbul, but unfortunately, it is a reality. The reputation of Tarlabasi as a relatively unsafe area, especially after nightfall, is undeniable. Situated west of Taksim Square, just north of Tarlabasi Boulevard, this neighborhood is surprisingly close to areas like Cihangir and Beyoglu. However, do not let this proximity deceive you; the contrast between them is significant.
The adverse impact of poverty in this part of the city has led to a lack of infrastructure development, a noticeable increase in the local crime rate, and a roughness that sets it apart from the rest of the city. Unfortunately, the residents of this area face numerous challenges. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Istanbul, prioritize your safety by avoiding Tarlabasi at all costs.
Dolapdere, located just a few steps from Taksim Square and Istiklal Street, is considered one of the more impoverished areas of Istanbul. When discussing poverty in Istanbul, many locals immediately think of Dolapdere and advise steering clear of the area. Daily life here is marked by extreme poverty, violence, and destruction. Those who can afford it leave this neighborhood as quickly as possible. Drivers who unintentionally find themselves on the streets of Dolapdere risk losing their vehicles (no exaggeration). One taxi driver mentioned that, before entering the neighborhood, he turns off the interior lights of the taxi, switches off the radio, and hangs some old clothes inside the vehicle. His safety, he claimed, was only ensured because he knew someone living there. Therefore, it is strongly advised against booking a hotel in this area of Istanbul.
Gazi Osman Pasha is a densely populated area that was a wasteland until the mid-20th century. In the 1950s, illegal immigrants from the Balkans, along with the Romani people, settled here, prompting authorities to construct orphanages and homes for the elderly. From that time until today, this remains one of the more precarious areas in Istanbul. It is marked by deprivation, with inadequate infrastructure and disorderly buildings. During our recent visit to the area with a friend, we learned about the police uncovering a weapons cache in one of the streets. The incident involved the deployment of a police tank and a helicopter. Just a week before that, there was a shooting on another street resulting in a local man’s death, though, regrettably, such incidents are not surprising for the residents. Gazi Osman Pasha is situated close to the historical center, making it a tempting exploration for many. However, it is strongly advised against doing so, as the area poses risks even during daylight hours.
Similar to Basaksehir, Esenyurt is situated in the far west of the city, albeit a bit closer to the center than the former. However, in contrast to Basaksehir, Esenyurt has witnessed a surge in crime due to an influx of illegal immigrants, particularly refugees escaping conflicts in neighboring countries like Syria and Iraq.
Despite real estate agencies attempting to market appealing deals in this area of Istanbul, any investment in Esenyurt may unfortunately result in a depreciating asset. Even staying in a hotel in this district is not recommended. Crime rates, overcrowding, and the state of infrastructure in Esenyurt unfortunately continue to be challenging, exacerbated by ongoing political instability in the broader geographic region.
The neighborhood is not necessarily dangerous, but it is considered a relatively impoverished and somewhat deprived area. Over the past few years, there have been some positive changes and improvements, with the emergence of some decent apartments. However, many Istanbul residents do not choose to live in this part of the city. Some expats might explore the Kasim Pasha neighborhood when considering a move, especially if they are unfamiliar with where expats usually reside in Istanbul. It’s a prudent decision to visit the neighborhood before finalizing any apartment reservations. That said, the overall impact of Kasim Pasha might not be favorable, as some streets appear quite rough and even intimidating, with houses showing signs of neglect. Local friends have mentioned that Kasim Pasha is known for housing some fraudsters and thieves. The neighborhood is associated with President Erdogan, who grew up on its streets, but these days, it is also linked to immigrants from underprivileged countries, refugees, and pickpockets. Kasim Pasha is in proximity to Galata Tower and Istiklal Street, and it’s advisable to know the address of your hotel if you plan to walk around the area.
While Laleli and Aksaray may seem comfortable, they are not particularly safe for solo travelers, especially women. These neighborhoods are predominantly visited by Eastern Europeans who come to shop at local markets and trade leather and fur products. However, beyond the bazaars, Laleli is known for its presence of sex workers, and Aksaray is characterized by a large conservative population adhering to old traditions, following a strong religious lifestyle, and dressing conservatively, with many women wearing hijab and men donning clerical attire with turbans and robes.
In Aksaray, it is common to see women wearing hijabs and men dressed in clerical attire with turbans and robes. If you ever travel to this area, it is advisable to dress as modestly as possible. Otherwise, you may encounter comments or arguments. If you visit Laleli for shopping, it’s recommended to do so only during the daytime, as the area can become unsafe after 7 PM. There are instances of people attempting to sell items, follow you, or engage in unwelcome interactions. At times, men may make inappropriate comments (in Russian or English) or shout without any apparent reason.
If your purpose in Istanbul is to go on a guided tour or engage in bulk shopping at the bazaar, staying in Laleli or Aksaray may not be an issue. However, for other reasons, it’s advisable to choose a different neighborhood.
Gulsuyu is a neighborhood in the Maltepe district on the Asian side of Istanbul. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll visit this area as a tourist. However, if someone asks about living in Istanbul with a family, especially with children, it’s strongly discouraged to suggest this neighborhood. Overall, the Maltepe area, which is extensive when you look at the map, may not be the best choice for living in Istanbul. If you have a choice, consider other options for a short or long stay. While the view from many apartment buildings, especially with the distant Prince’s Islands, is beautiful, the area is known for safety concerns. It’s almost impossible to go out at night as it becomes unsafe. As darkness falls, police patrols increase, viewing everyone walking the streets as potential suspects and frequently checking identities.
Gulsuyu, in particular, is a neighborhood with concerning activities, such as instances of burning public buses. Past incidents include burning buses to protest political decisions, and last year, they set fire to buses simply because they didn’t depart on time. Generally, people here tend to engage in protests that can become aggressive and uncontrollable. There is no police station in this neighborhood, and if an incident occurs, it takes a long time for the police to arrive.
The goal of this article is to steer you away from areas that might leave you with a negative memory on your next trip to Istanbul. Keep these areas in mind, and don’t forget to check with Manolya Tour for any last-minute Istanbul tours.
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