This free self-guided walking tour of Istanbul will guide you to explore and some of the must-see spots in the Beyoglu district of the city on foot, from the Taksim Square through Istiklal Street and Galata. Here we also do share our recommendations for the best places to stop by for having a coffee, lunch, or street food with plenty of stops along the way.
The route we have chosen is about 2,5 kilometers long. You can also chose your own optional detours. You should allow about 2 to 3 hours to finish this walking tour without stopping. You can also be sure that you can spend a full day here if you spend time in the museums, inside the several sights, art centers, at several stops, coffee houses, patisseries, or restaurants to eat, drink, wander the food markets, and so on.
As being Istanbeautiful team who have collectively lived in Istanbul for more than 40 years, we are sharing our four decades of insider knowledge in this practical guide. While we think our walking tour recommendation is one of the best walks in the city, there are plenty of other options for wandering.
About the region
Taksim is a cosmopolitan region, communications hub and an important commercial, entertainment and shopping area for the tourists, as well as the modern part and heart of Istanbul.
Galata is a lovely neighborhood, rich for its historical and cultural heritage. It is situated downwards Beyoglu, and surrounded by the Azapkapi and Karakoy neighborhoods by the Golden Horn and the famous Galata Tower.
Both neighborhoods are always crowded with tourists. But one of the best ways get to know this part of Istanbul is of curse by exploring it on foot.
- Tour Name: Taksim to Galata Self-guided Walking Tour
- Starting Point: Taksim Square
- # of Attractions: 30
- Tour Duration: 2 to 3 hours
- Travel Distance: 2,5 km.
- Sights Featured in this guide: Taksim Square & Monument to Ataturk & Republic, Istiklal Street, French Consulate, Hagia Triada Church, Huseyin Aga Mosque, Demiroren Shopping Mall, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Aleppo Passage, Atlas Passage, Flower Passage, Fish Market, Nevizade, Galatasaray Square, Aznavur Passage, Egypt Apartment, St. Antony of Padua Church, SALT Beyoglu, Pera Museum, Terkos Lane, Santa Maria Church, Lebon Patisserie, Tunnel Square, Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum, Galata Tower, English Hospital, Galata House, Saint Pierre Church, Schneidertempel Art Center, Banks Street, Kamondo Stairs
What to pack?
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, pack a water bottle, some snacks, WiFi, Map or GPS and of course your camera.
How long will it take?
You should allow about 2 to 3 hours if you follow the route without stopping. We recommend you to reserve a half day for this walking tour so that you can make the most of the sights, do shopping, having a rest in several pretty cafes and restaurants in the region.
No Regrets Booking Advice
Taksim to Galata Walking Tour Sights
You’ll begin this walking tour in Taksim Square. This square is a cosmopolitan one, a communications hub and also a popular meeting point and ideal place to have a nice Istanbul city walking tour from Taksim.
Today, Taksim Square is Istanbul’s one of the most popular tourist places, and also where you’ll find superb array of city’s top tourist places like restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes, sights, museums situated along from the square to the Istiklal Street and through Galata. Arrive at the square to start your walking tour early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Insider Tip: If you stay in Sultanahmet or Besiktas hotels, you can easily get to Taksim by taking the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) and drop yourself off at the Kabatas stop, and than take the 5 minutes funicular ride directly to the Taksim Square.
Heads Up: We have created a Google Map of this free self-guided walking tour route to make help you explore the region faster. You can download it to your mobile phone and use offline while you’re in Istanbul!
Ready to start your Taksim to Galata walking tour? Here we go!!!
1. Taksim Square & Monument to Ataturk & Republic
Once you’ve reached the center of the square, you’ll see the famous monument in heart of the square: Monument to Ataturk & Republic.
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This is the Taksim Republic Monument that was opened on 8th of August, 1928. The pedestal and landscaping of the monument was made by the Italian architect Giulio Mongeri.
Stone and bronze were used in the construction of the monument, which lasted for 2.5 years, and donations were collected from the public for financial resources. The monument weighing 84 tons was brought from Rome to Istanbul by ship.
The one side of the monument symbolizes the War of Independence, and the other side the symbolizes the Republic of Turkey.
Once you’ve wandered around the square, enjoy the lively atmosphere here and take several photos, it’s time to continue to the next stop on the walking tour.
When you cross the square and head to its southwestern corner, you’ll reach the start of the world famous lively street of Istanbul: Istiklal Street.
Now you can start your Istiklal street walking tour.
2. Istiklal Street
Once was known as Grande Rue de Pera, the Istiklal Street is one of the most popular streets in the city and without a doubt, is one of the most popular meeting points, a center for leisure activities in Istanbul. Istiklal means “Independence” in Turkish.
Istiklal street is a 1,5 km. long colorful (a perfect place for long and self-guided walking tours) and grand boulevard cutting through Beyoglu. The nostalgic tram also runs through the length of the street.
It runs all the way from the Taksim Square, northern end, and ends at the Tunel Square, southern end, which leads to Galipdede Street and than to famous Galata Mevlevihanesi (Dervish Lodge) with its historic gate and if you go further downhill, to famous Galata Tower. On the half way, there is a break on the Galatarasay square.
The street is lined with 19th century former palaces, mansions and embassies which are now home to high street brands. It is just as busy at night with numerous great shops, bars, cafes, discos, clubs and restaurants.
It’s said that up to a million people walk up or down through Istiklal Street every single day.
3. French Consulate General
After just a few steps upon you enter the street, you’ll see the French Consulate General and the French Cultural Center on the right.
This a very modest building. The cultural center offers French lessons, events and festivals throughout the year. You’ll also find Armenian Catholic Surp Voskeperan Church located behind the consulate.
4. Hagia Triada Church
As you continue walking a little furter, when you turn left to Meselik Street and walk for a while, you’ll come up to the Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church. It can easily be seen with its dome and twin bell towers, as a mixture of Byzantine and modern architecture.
Hagia Triada means ‘holy trinity’ (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Dating back to 1880, it is a newly restored Greek Church of Holy Trinity.
After you have a closer look to the Hagia Triada Church, you can now go back to Istiklal Street and continue your walking tour.
5. Huseyin Aga Mosque
When you continue walking on, you’ll see the Huseyin Aga Mosque on the right. Dating back to 1597, this is the only Muslim building, as well as the only mosque along the street. The fountain in the courtyard of the mosque is also known to be built by the famous architect Sinan.
6. Demiroren Shopping Mall
After a few steps, on the right, you’ll see the Demiroren Shopping Mall. This is the only shopping mall on the Istiklal Street. It is not a huge one when compared top other huge shopping malls in Istanbul, but it still works with wide range of world brand stores.
7. Madame Tussauds Istanbul Wax Museum
After a few steps again, on the right, you’ll see the Madame Tussauds Istanbul. It is a wax museum housed in a 2,000 square meters venue of the Grand Pera building.
Madame Tussauds is a world famous museum chain for life-size wax replicas of famous celebrities, historic and cultural heroes from the arts, sport and politics. A fun place especially for families with kids.
If you want to enter the museum, you’ll need to pay about 94 TL at ticket window.
8. Aleppo Passage
Continue walking, you’ll reach the famous Aleppo Passage on the right. This is one of the most important cultural and meeting points of the street. The passage was built in 1885 by a person from Aleppo with the surname Hacar, and so called with this name.
You’ll find Beyoglu Cinema, a theater stage and several stores souvenirs, musical instruments and clothes.
9. Atlas Passage
Right across the Aleppo Passage, there is another famous one: the Atlas Passage. The passage was built in 1870 as the winter mansion of Agop Koceyan, one of the prominent names of the Catholic Armenian community at the time. Today, it is one of the symbols of the culture and entertainment life of Beyoglu district.
You’ll find Atlas Cinema and several lovely stores selling many products such as souvenirs, music records and clothes.
Insider Tip: You can enjoy a good movie break in the historical Atlas cinema in the Atlas Passage.
It’s time to continue to the next stops on the walking tour. On the right again you’ll see the historical Flower Passage.
10. Historical Flower Passage
Dating back to 1870, and once the White Russian refugees from the Bolshevik Revolution used to sell flowers here, the historical Flower Passage is a popular arcade that you can enjoy the lively atmosphere of its lively restaurants famous for the dinners of mezes, raki and gypsy musicians.
The passage is one of the most decorated buildings in Beyoglu and attracts attention with the caryatids used on the façade, the lion and human heads in the middle of the top floor.
11. Fish Market (Sahne Street)
Next to the Flower Passage, on the right, you’ll see the Fish Market (Balik Pazari) leading to Sahne street. This is a historical market place and a popular tourist zone where you can an impressive culinary experience.
You’ll find several stands selling delicious street food like midye dolma (rice-stuffed mussels), midye tava (mussels fried in sizzling oil), kokorec (seasoned intestines from mutton or lamb that are skewered and grilled), fresh vegetables, fruits, caviar, fish and more.
Insider Tip: Inside the market, we recommend you try some local street food like the kokorec or midye tava. Especially kokorec might sound weird, but it’s a totally delicious Turkish street specialty.
12. Nevizade Street
If you go further into the market, you’ll come up to a street going down to the right, and leading to famous Nevizade Street.
Nevizade is one of Beyoglu’s most famous entertainment spots. You can enjoy the lively atmosphere of its narrow streets with eateries, cafes, bars, fish restaurants, meyhanes, dining places and more.
You can take a short break in a cafe and enjoy your drink, listen to live music and chat with your friends. Or you can spend a great dinner time with entertainment.
Turning back to Istiklal Street, across the street is the Galatasaray High School on the left and Historical Flower Passage (Cicek Pasaji) on the right.
You are now in the middle of the Istiklal Street. And the pretty square here is the Galatasaray Square.
13. Galatasaray Square
Galatasaray Square is an intersection point on the Istiklal Street, almost at the midpoint between Taksim and Tunnel squares. Mesrutiyet Street coming from the Tepebasi and the Bogazkesen slope coming from Tophane intersect at this crossroad.
14. Aznavur Passage
As you continue your walking tour, than comes the Aznavur Passage on the right. The passage was built in the early 1900s and is the only example of “Art Nouveau” passage that has survived to the present day. You’ll find several tourist stores and upstairs cafes here.
15. Egypt (Misir) Apartment
After the Aznavur Passage, you’ll come across the historical Egypt (Misir) Apartment. This apartment is one of the first reinforced concrete structures in Istanbul.
It was built by Abbas Halim Pasha, an Ottoman statesman, one of the Egyptian state administrators. It was completed in 1910 and handed over to Pasha. It attracts attention with its ostentatious balconies, lodges and large windows on its front façade.
Insider Tip: On top of the Egypt Apartment, there is the 360 Istanbul Restaurant, an award winning one. You can have great lunch or dinner with the stunning Bosphorus views.
Insider Tip: Across the Egypt Apartment, along the Olivya passage, there is the famous Mandabatmaz, that made a breakthrough in service with a few stools and small tables placed on the road. You can have a quick rest and enjoy one of the best Turkish coffee in the city.
16. St. Antony of Padua Church
When we continue, a few steps later on the left you’ll find the glorious St. Antony of Padua Church. Also called as St Antoine’s Cathedral, this is an Italian neo-Gothic style church that was built between 1906 and 1911, by the Italian architect Giulio Mongeri.
Saint Antoine was a Portuguese Catholic priest who lived in between the years 1195 and 1231 under the disciple of St. Francis of Assisi. He was known for his being a miracle worker, as well as the patron saint of finding people and things.
No matter your religion, here you’ll definitely enjoy the peaceful environment and architecture. It is especially enjoyable if you come across the ritual times. You can also make a small donation to the church and make a wish by lighting a wish candle.
17. SALT Beyoglu
A few steps away on the left, you’ll see SALT Beyoglu, a cultural institution in public service and offers research-based exhibitions, publications, web and digitization projects, as well as developing programs including screenings, conferences and workshops.
You will find variety of FREE artworks, exhibitions, an outdoor cinema, movie screenings, talk and performance programs at different times of the day. On the upper floor there is a cafe and Robinson Crusoe 389 bookstore (closed on Mondays), an excellent spot for those who want to look at a book without being disturbed.
After SALT Beyoglu, a few steps away on the right is the Odakule. You’ll see a crossing point here leading to the Tepebasi, the Pera part of the Istiklal Street.
You can take this pass to the neighboring Mesrutiyet Street to see several sights within 200-300 meters walking distance, or continue walking down the Istiklal Street.
18. Pera Museum
If you take the way to Mesrutiyet Street, you’ll find the famous Pera Museum. This is a private museum housed in an impressive historical building that was originally conceived as the Bristol Hotel.
Permanent collections of Orientalist Paintings, Anatolian Weights and Measures, and Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics are exhibited at the museum as well as various other exhibitions, publications, audio-visual events, educational activities.
If you want to enter the museum, you’ll need to pay about 25 TL. Free of admissions from 18:00 to 22:00 every Friday.
Now you can turn back to Istiklal Street where you came from and continue the walking tour.
19. Terkos Lane (Cheap Shopping)
As you continue for awhile, you’ll see a lane on the left. This is the Terkos Lane, a famous place especially for locals to find cheap clothing. It worth a visit and stroll along the stands with loads of quality clothing and accessories in very affordable prices.
20. Santa Maria Draperis Church
Continue walking you’ll see the Dutch Consulate on the left and the Santa Maria Draperis Church a little further.
This is a Franciscan Roman Catholic church and it dates back to the conquest of Istanbul. The church has gone through many fires and moved from Sirkeci to Galata and than to Beyoglu.
In the inscription at the entrance of the church that was restored in 1904, Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit II and Istanbul representative of the period are thanked for the convenience they showed during the construction of the church.
While it is attractive and important church, it usually does not take the attention of many as it is descended by stairs.
21. Lebon Patisserie
As you continue walking on, you’ll see the Russian Consulate on the left and just a few steps away you’ll come across a historical pastry shop, the Lebon Patisserie (1886). This was a classy place during late 1800s where celebrities of that period come visit here and taste delicious cakes. You can also do that if you feel a delicious cake would bear your mind.
As you continue walking on, you’ll pass through the Swedish Consulate, located in an impressive building.
22. Tunel (Tunnel) Square
Walking on a bit more, you’ll come to the end of the Istiklal Street, where you are now at the famous Tunel (Tunnel) Square. The name comes from the tunnel connecting the square with Karakoy and Galata.
There operates a 573 meters long funicular system which is the world’s second oldest underground transport line that was built in 1875. The oldest one was built in London 1863. You can travel from here down to Karakoy in 90 seconds.
The environment around the square is very lively with many musical instruments and souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants.
You can now continue your walking tour down to the coast, to Galata region. Take the narrow Galip Dede Street on the left. Just a few steps away, on the left, you’ll see the Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum.
23. Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum
Dating back to 1491 and has become a museum in 1975 under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, the Galata Mevlevi Lodge (Galata Mevlevihanesi) is an exciting museum showcases variety of Turkish calligraphic art items, music items and items belonging to the Mevlevi culture.
If you want the visit the museum, you’ll need to pay about 18 TL. Open every day except Mondays between 09:00-19:00 (from 01 April to 01 October), 09:00-17:00 (from 01 October to 01 April).
As you continue walking on downhill through the Galip Dede Street, you’ll enjoy variety of lovely craft, souvenir and music shops as well as a couple of art galleries.
As you arrive to the end of the street, on the right, you’ll see one of the most iconic landmarks of Istanbul, the Galata Tower.
24. Galata Tower
Dating back to 14th century, the tower topped with a distinctive witch’s-hat roof, is an old Genoese tower overlooking the beautiful Istanbul and has a massive cone shaped structure that was built at approximately 38 meters above the sea level and rises to a height of 62 meters above its base.
Today, Galata Tower serves as a popular tourist sight, that its observatory deck has a 360 degrees view of Istanbul. There are two elevators in the entrance that takes you to the top.
There is also a cafe and restaurant (Galata Tower Restaurant) on top that visitors may have Turkish breakfast and meals in the company of excellent views, and a souvenir shop in the entrance of the tower.
If you want to go on top, you’ll need to pay about 25 TL. Open every day from 09:00-19:00, the Galata Tower restaurant is open between 20:00-22:00
You can than enjoy the recently restored small square around the tower, the Kuledibi, (means “bottom of tower” in Turkish) along with several lovely outdoor cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops.
As you continue walking downwards from the Galata Tower through the Galata Kulesi Street, you’ll see a fantastic building, the English Hospital.
25. English Hospital
This building with an unusual tower looking like a large egg cup will take your attention at first sights. The building dates back to 1904 and originally used as British Seamen’s Hospital.
The egg shaped tower was to offer a good view out to the sea, to let the incoming ships could signal if they need a medical treatment. In 1924, the British donated the building to the Red Crescent and today it serves as a hospital belonging to the Turkish Ministry of Health. Now it serves as an eye hospital.
Just a few steps again, you’ll see the Saint Pierre Church on the right.
26. Galata House
Also known as the British Police Station, this historical three-storey building was built as a British embassy in 1904. It is also one of the rare British buildings in the region. During the First World War, the building was used as a civil prison for the minorities living in the region and than transformed into a military checkpoint and police station in 1919.
Today it serves as an authentic cafe offering special pastries during day time, and transforms into a classy restaurant with a lovely ambiance. You can have a rest here.
27. Saint Pierre Church
The church was built in the years between 1841-1843. After the seizure of the Dominican priests of Galata, which is now the Arab Mosque, the church moved here.
With its Basilica style and four-sided altar, the rear walls of the church are built within a section of the old Genoese walls of Galata.
Just a few steps again, you’ll see the Galata House, on the road connecting Galata Kulesi Street to Bankalar Street, on the right.
As you continue walking down and take the first turn to left, you’ll be in the Kart Cinar street. Following the street, you’ll see Austia High School on the left and come up to the crossroad. Just a few steps away on the left, there is the Schneidertempel Art Center.
28. Schneidertempel Art Center
This is a contemporary art center and one of the focal points of Istanbul’s multicultural past. Situated in one of the synagogues established in Galata in the 19th century, now it serves as an art center. You’ll find several art exhibitions here.
Turning back to the crossroad and heading downwards for about 30 meters, now you are in the Bankalar (Banks) Street.
29. Bankalar (Banks) Street
This pleasant street stretches along the old Genoese walls of Galata. The area was the business center of the city during late 1800’s and the very unique and attractive bank buildings lined up along the street has been constructed by the local and foreign investors.
That’s also why this name is given to the street. The reliefs and the architectural elements on the façades of the buildings are worth a stop by and admire.
The Central Bank of Turkey is also located here.
Following the street to the left towards Karakoy direction, it will lead you the famous Kamondo Stairs.
30. Kamondo Stairs
This is fantastic sight, artwork and example of a civil architecture that was built in the 1850s. You can take great photos with its art nouveau architecture.
You can now end your Taksim to Galata self-guided walking tour by walking down to the coast, and having a rest in one of the terrace cafes or any other pretty cafes or restaurant situated around Galata tower or Karakoy coast.
The Karakoy tram stop is within 3 minutes walking distance. You can take tram for getting to Sultanahmet or Kabatas. You can also take the historical funicular to get back to Tunnel Square.
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So have you enjoyed our self-guided walking tour recommendation? If you have questions about this city walking tour, or any comments about how we can improve this resource, please please hit us up in the comments below.
We also would be glad to read your Taksim to Galata walking tour experience. So fire it up!