A Ottoman-style doctor’s surgery in Sultanahmet.
Sultanahmet is a peninsula encircled by water and old city walls, a region of Istanbul that was known as Constantinople 600 years ago; it was also home to one of the world’s earliest settlements 8, 000 years ago. Sultanahmet is now a World Heritage Site, containing most of Istanbul’s main attractions, so this is the place to find a convenient hotel in Istanbul if you don’t don’t mind quiet nights.
Just over the water in Galata are masses of hotels and city transport is excellent so it’s no great hardship to be based there and lively nightlife will be easier to access, but beware club scams and safety.
One way to accomplish an efficient sightseeing day is to take a highly rated Istanbul Daily City Tour. See bugbog Things to Do listing.
The Sultanahmet ferry port of Eminonu, with the Blue Mosque visible on the horizon right, the Hagia Sofia museum on the left and Topkapi Palace out of the picture further to the left.
Sultanahmet is where everything happens in Istanbul – museums, attractions, hotels, shops and restaurants. It’s packed with tourists, hustlers and waiters trying to get the tourists into their restaurants. Some parts are dirty, some pavements are uneven and traffic can be crazed, but it’s still got a lot of charm, it’s as safe as London or New York and there are a lot of excellent restaurants so stay here if you can find reasonable accommodation.