Overlooking the waters of the Bosphorus, Karaköy is one of Istanbul’s oldest and now coolest neighbourhoods. Filled with design hotels, hip cafés, art galleries and cool boutiques, it’s the perfect area to explore when visiting the city. Here we’ve picked our must-visit places in Karaköy
With a population of over 15 million, Istanbul is one of the world’s busiest, most vibrant cities. Each district has its own distinctive feel; from the colourful Greek Orthodox and Armenian neighbourhood of Balat to the buzzing nightlife hub of Arnavutköy and the historical centre of Galata, no two areas of Istanbul are quite the same.
Karaköy, located on the European side of the city, on the waterside where the Golden Horn meets the Bosphorus, was once one of Istanbul’s most important ports, but today it has become of the city’s coolest neighbourhoods, seeing an influx of boutique design hotels, on-trend cafés and stylish boutiques. Here’s our guide to exploring this must-visit area of Istanbul.
The House Hotel Karaköy
Housed in what used to be one of Istanbul’s leading banks, The House Hotel Karaköy is the latest, and one of the most beautiful, new hotels to open in the city. With many of the building’s original neoclassical features lovingly restored, the hotel is the perfect mix of grand design and relaxing comfort. For the ultimate in luxury, book the penthouse suite, which has a bathroom with one of the best views across the city (pictured above). The hotel is located on Bankalar Caddesi (Avenue of the Banks) and its neighbours include many galleries, restaurants and cafés that occupy grand buildings which were also formerly banks, making it the perfect place to stay while exploring the area.
The House Hotel Karaköy, Bankalar Caddesi 5, Karaköy, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 244 6434
Fransiz Geçidi (French Passage)
Take a walk towards the shore to discover some of the area’s most exciting small boutiques and independent stores. A trip down the picturesque Fransiz Geçidi (French Passage) is a must. In this atmospheric arcade, you can find enticing stores including Fashion At Eye (pictured above), which is filled with covetable sunglasses from brands including Italia Independent and Thom Browne, as well as vintage and local designer finds. Make time to explore other boutiques along the arcade, including Kağıthane, where you can find beautiful stationery, home accessories and gifts.
Fransiz Geçidi, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Karaköy, Istanbul
What would a trip to Istanbul be without sampling some of the city’s famous coffee? At Karabatak, a coffee house in a previously abandoned metal workshop located just a stone’s throw from the French Passage, visitors can enjoy a full array of speciality Turkish coffee, alongside traditional pastries and sweet treats. Be sure to explore the coffee beans and kitchenware sold at Karabatak so you can recreate the authentic Turkish coffee experience at home.
Karabatak, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kara Ali Kaptan Sokak, Karaköy, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 243 6995
The Karaköy Gallery Building
Istanbul’s exciting contemporary art scene has found a new home in Karaköy, in the gallery building on the district’s Mumhane Caddesi. Opened in the past year, the building is home to four separate galleries, Pi Artworks, Galeri Nev, Mixer and ArtSümer (pictured above), which will soon host an exhibition by painter and Istanbul native Gökçe Erhan. Showcasing the best in Turkish and international contemporary art, this venue is a must for art lovers.
ArtSümer, The Karaköy Gallery Building, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Mumhane Caddesi 46-50, Karaköy, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 251 6089
Shop meets café meets gallery at FilBooks, one of Karaköy’s leading cultural hubs. Filled with photo books and various other titles, artworks, stationery and a charming and unusual range of ornamental toy cameras, it’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir of your time in Turkey. The store often plays host workshops and talks from leading Turkish and international artists and photographers, and, in typical Turkish fashion, FilBooks has its own coffee shop, making it well worth a visit.
FilBooks, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Ali Paşa Değirmeni Sokak, Karaköy, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 243 1994
As Karaköy becomes one of Istanbul’s coolest districts, it’s no surprise that there has been an influx of hip new cafés and restaurants, including Dem. A contemporary take on a traditional tea house, Dem is the ideal place to enjoy a cup of tea. There are over 60 different varieties to explore, from oolong to pu-erh, alongside sweet treats and snacks, as well as more substantial salads and simits (traditional Turkish bagel-style bread), making Dem the perfect place for a pause during a busy day of exploring the neighbourhood.
Dem, Arap Cami Mahallesi, Söğüt Sokak, Karaköy, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 293 9792