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Istanbul Historical District Hotels & Restaurants

Hi All,
I'm planning the summer trip to Istanbul for 4 first-timer mature-female elementary-school teacher friends of mine. They want to stay in the historical district (ie. tourist area), 2 are budget travelers. Since I stayed in biz hotel on the modern Taksim side the 5 previous visits and never dined in the tourist area, I would very much appreciate your recommendation for unpretentious moderately-priced Turkish restaurants in tourist area, as well as moderately-priced hotels in/near historical center (safe street, clean room, private bath, elevator, accepts American credit card). If you had a good Turkish bath (hamam) experience or have any warning re scams, please share also. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
1153 posts

You might also post on the Trip Advisor Istanbul forum for input from locals in the area of Topkapi Palace, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque), and Hagia Sofia. Lots of helpful posters on there. Incidentally, we've found that the people of Istanbul have been the most cordial and the most helpful of just about anyplace we've traveled outside the US. Be sure and book a performance of a Whirling Dervish ceremony at

Posted by
124 posts

Rick Steve's Istanbul guidebook is a good source, though its going on 4 years old (April 2016). It worked for us last year, supplemented with online searching.

Posted by
608 posts

We stayed at Ada Hotel in Istanbul which was small, in a good location, had clean, comfortable rooms and a large rooftop patio with a delicious breakfast. We would definitely stay there again. We didn't have as much luck with good meals on that end of things, as the restaurants seemed very touristy. Our best meals were in other areas, but it was a great location for sightseeing. Hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
159 posts

The Antik Hotel in the Beyazit neighborhood of the old city (the heart of the tourist area). It is a very nice hotel and has reasonable rates. Also, the Antik Hotel has an excellent restaurant in it. Great food and amazing views of Istanbul. Highly recommend both the hotel and its restaurant. I copied and pasted the contact info from their website.
Antik Hotel Istanbul
Ordu Cad, Sekbanbasi Sok. 6 Beyazit 34130 Fatih, Istanbul Turkey

P: +90 2126385858
F: +90 2126385865

Posted by
1028 posts

I of course had many good meals in Turkey. But the best meal in Sultanahmet was at Dubb Indian Restaurant. Very yummy.
I also had a pleasant experience at Cagaloglu Hammam, but it wouldn't be for the budget traveler.

The advice I would give to 4 first-timer mature-female elementary school teachers going to Istanbul is to understand how the touts work. A very nice gentleman will help you find a location or talk to you about your home town and try to make you feel obligated to go to his store to see his carpets. These men aren't scary, but they are good at what they do. Going to a carpet selling demonstration is a great event accompanied by good food and chai, but don't buy anything that you don't want!

Posted by
83 posts

Top 4 picks would be in Old Istanbul Area for me:

Sultanahmet Koftecisi:
Established in 1920, they are the most famous meatball place in Turkey. Its right by Hagia Sophia. Their address is in their website I provided above.

Konyali Lokantasi:
Established in 1897, it is definitely a should place to eat.

Kumkapi Area:
This area is in Old Istanbul. About 3-4 km from Hagia Sophia. There are over 40 fish restaurants next to each other. It is also a should area to eat.

Istanbul Edebiyat Vakfi:
To have delicious Turkish desserts and have a nice a Turkish coffee,
I would recommend here. Its in half mile to Hagia Sophia.

If you drop by Besiktas Area, I would also recommend to eat at Karadeniz Donercisi. They have been chosen to have one of the best doner food in Turkey. You will see that people wait on the line to eat their doner..

Posted by
83 posts

In Istiklal Caddesi for sweets, I would recommend Saray Muhallebicisi.
Established in 1935, it has branches all over Turkey but the one in Istiklal Caddesi is the first one. It belongs to old Istanbul mayor.
Their website:

There are tons of different restaurants in Istiklal Caddesi and in surrounding areas. Istiklal Caddesi. 1 million people walk on that at weekends, so there are alot of restaurants.
I would recommend you to go Cicek Pasaji. There are alot of restaurants inside. Their website:

In Uskudar, if you go to Old Shopping Area, you will see many places.
You should definetely visit Uskudar and Besiktas. Besiktas is more vibrant than Uskudar though with more cafes and places to see and to eat.

There are 5 restaurants by Suleymaniye Mosque. You will see them on the entrance but they only cook rice and beans. ( Famous and old places)

Posted by
159 posts

Route 785NB: Great suggestions! I would love a couple of specific restaurant recommendations for Kumkapi. Most of those restaurants are pricey. Do you have a particular restaurant or two that are reasonable in price and delicious in Kumkapi? Do you know anyone who owns or runs one of those restaurants?

Posted by
83 posts

In addition that for Uskudar you can try here:
For Istiklal Caddesi:
For Kumkapi, walk by around restaurants, you decide on your own. All of them are similar to each other with similar prices. But they specialize on fish in Kumkapi.

Posted by
277 posts

I am a “mature” female and traveled solo to Istanbul a couple years ago. This was a year after I took a RS tour of the city so I was comfortable getting around the city on my own. I had a very good experience at Hotel Amira which is just down the hill behind the Blue Mosque. They had an elevator and my room was quite nice, facing the street with a great view of the neighborhood. On the rooftop was a bar with a terrific view, although I was there in November so it was a bit cold to be up there. They had a nice breakfast and an evening reception too. They arranged transportation to/from the airport for me.

When I arrived, the very nice concierge invited me to sit down with him (and a free drink) to discuss my plans. He offered many excellent suggestions for my time there (restaurants, sights, how to use the trams, maps) and would have arranged tours or reservations if I had wanted them. I saw him do this again with other tourists the next day and he seemed to really personalize his suggestions based on the needs/wants of the traveler.

Their rates were quite reasonable a couple years ago. An excellent value and they really made this solo traveler feel safe and cared for.

Posted by
97 posts

Very grateful to all the kind folks who took the time to share, especially route785NB! Very valuable information.