Famous for their lively city life, tourist zones, and beautiful sights and sounds of the city, the Galata, Karakoy & Tophane neighborhoods are one of the most popular tourists areas in Istanbul. Here you’ll find a quick guide to explore Galata, Karakoy & Tophane with top things to do and see plus insider advice.
Belonging to the Beyoglu district, those three neighborhoods are situated by the Bosphorus, on the mouth of the Golden Horn, and within walking distance from each other.
Galata is a lovely neighborhood of Beyoglu district, 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.
Famous for its fantastic Galata Tower, that is topped with a witch’s hat roof, the Kuledibi (means “bottom of tower”) area with its sweet narrow streets housing variety of lovely cafes and restaurants, the name of Galata neighborhood comes from the Greek word “gala” which means “milk”, and stands for the milk market that was once on the site.
Situated on the mouth of the Golden Horn, downwards Galata, Karakoy is famous for its lively city life, banks, inns, extraordinary cafes, patisseries by the shore, street art, historic studios and boutique shops.
Situated on the Bosphorus coast after Karakoy, the Tophane neighborhood is the oldest industrial district in Istanbul during the Ottoman period. Tophane means “Cannon Foundry” or “Arsenal” in Turkish and took its name after the Ottoman Empire’s cannon foundry that were operated here. Today, Tophane attracts both domestic and foreign visitors with its hookah cafes, fantastic shops and the American market.
Things to Do & See
From strolling along the restored colorful narrow streets around Galata Tower, the shoreline of Karakoy through Tophane, and witnessing the historical sights, to enjoy your meal or drink at the variety of colorful and fantastic cafes, restaurants, bars, hookah cafes and rooftop terraces with great views of the city, and taking a look at the extraordinary shops and boutiques, there are wide range of attractions and sights for the travelers in the Galata, Karakoy and Tophane region.
Galata and around
Galata Tower is an old Genoese tower overlooking the beautiful Istanbul and has a luxurious restaurant at the top. Traveler may enjoy the excellent panoramic views of Istanbul, Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Continue reading…
Kuledibi (bottom of the Tower)
Kuledibi is the area near the Galata Tower and travelers may also spend great day out of its recently restored small square, along the couple of lovely outdoor cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Galip Dede Ramp
From the Galata Tower square, if you go upwards through the Galip Dede Ramp leading Istiklal Street, you can find variety of lovely craft, souvenir and music shops as well as a couple of art galleries.
Serdar-i Ekrem Street
Located very close to the famous Galata Tower, the beautiful pebbled Serdar-i Ekrem Street is one of the best places for strolling around and make shopping in Istanbul. The region is very popular for its unique boutiques selling stylish clothes, souvenirs and antiques. You’ll also see many authentic coffee shops and patisseries offering delicious homemade chocolate cakes. Location >>
Galata Mevlevi Lodge & Museum
The Galata Mevlevi Lodge (Galata Mevlevihanesi) is a lively place located at the end of Galip Dede ramp, on 6,800 square meters of this vast territory that variety of Turkish calligraphic art items, music items and items belonging to the Mevlevi culture are exhibited. You can visit the museum and also see whirling dervishes show there. Continue reading…
Beyoglu (British Seamen’s) Hospital
Many people wonder about the building with an unusual tower located just in front of the Galata Tower. Yes this fantastic building with a tower looking like a large egg cup really takes the attention of the travelers. It is the Beyoglu Hospital building located in the Camekan Street. 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.
Arab Mosque is a lovely Gothic style mosque located on the Kalyon street of Galata. The mosque was built by the Arabs during the siege of Istanbul. It is the only mosque in Istanbul that doesn’t look like a mosque. There was a church Mesa Domeniko on the current foundation during the Byzantine period, and later on it was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul and called as “Galata Mosque”. And than in 1942, when the Andalusian Arabs have expulsed from Spain into Istanbul, they settled around the mosque and it is called Arab Mosque.
Karakoy and around
The Galata bridge is situated at the mouth of the Golden Horn and connects Karakoy and Eminonu neighborhoods. There are several cafes and restaurants under the bridge. Walking through the bridge with great views of the city is a great attraction. Continue reading…
Istanbul Modern Art Museum
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art is the first private museum of Turkey to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions. A great place for modern art lovers. hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities that include permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a photography gallery, and spaces for educational and social programs. Continue reading…
Located by the Bankalar and Banker Street towards Karakoy, and was built in the 1850s, the Kamondo stairs is a fantastic place where you can take great photos with its art nouveau architecture.
Ottoman Bank Museum
Osmanli (Ottoman) Bank Museum is located at the banks street in Karakoy. The museum offers great collections of official archives of the Ottoman era. Visitors may enjoy the Ottoman banknotes, orders of the palace officers and the photographs of the bank branches. In addition; the exhibition of the bank workers’ registry files with 6000 photos is a great historical source. Open every day between 10am and 6 pm. Address: Bankalar Str. No:11, Karakoy, Tel: +90 212 334 22 00
Saint Pierre Church
Located downwards Galata Tower, the Saint Pierre Church was built in the years between 1841-1843. After the seizure of the Dominican priests of Galata, which is now the Arab Mosque (read above), 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.
Surp Krikor Lusavoric Armenian Church
Located in the Kemeralti Sakizcilar street, the Surp Krikor Lusarovic Church is oldest Armenian Orthodox Church in Istanbul that was built in 1431. It is also the oldest known church in Istanbul. The domes and the bell tower is very elegant that there are few churches in Istanbul that has that kind of domes. The name Krikor stands after the Patriarch Krikor II of Kayseri, that was buried next to the church wall in 1635.
Tophane and around
The Tophane Fountain is a beautiful baroque style one located between Kilic Ali Pasa and Nusretiye Mosques in Tophane. It was built in 1732 by Sultan Mahmut I. also has a great architecture with marble walls ornamented with flowers.
Kilic Ali Pasa Mosque
Kilic Ali Pasa Mosque is a lovely mosque located on Tersane street, on Tophane Square. The mosque was built by the architect Mimar Sinan in 1580.
The Tophane-i Amire building was first established in the 15th century during the Byzantine period. After the conquest of Istanbul, the building became the center of artillery and military cannons. Since 1992, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University has been serving as the Tophane-i Amire Culture and Art Center.
The building has three domestic and international exhibition halls: Tophane-i Amire Five Domes, Tophane-i Amire Single Dome and Tophane-i Amire Cisterns. Address: Boğazkesen Str. Defterdar ramp No:2, Tophane, Tel: +90 212 293 46 48
Galata, Karakoy and Tophane region is live for 24 hours and host wide range of dining and wining opportunities. You can find many high quality, delicious, extraordinary and lively cafes, restaurants and terraces located on the Mumhane street stretching from the Karakoy coast through Tophane, as well as back streets of the region. The Galata Tower area also has good number of cafes and restaurants.
The Guney Restaurant near the Galata Tower, Neolokal Restaurant, Nola Restaurant, Velvet and Konak Cafe in the Galata region;
The Mukellef Tavern, Karakoy Restaurantant and Karakoy Gulluoglu (desserts) in the Karakoy region;
The Muhit Karakoy, Pas Coffe House, Zanaat Workshop Cafe & Restaurant and Falls in Galata in the Tophane region, are the popular places to visit and enjoy your meal or drinks.
Nightlife in the Galata, Karakoy and Tophane region of Istanbul is very lively. The Karakoy coastline through Tophane, and the area surrounding Galata Tower are the popular zone for great nightlife activities.
You can find wide range of great cafes, bars, pubs, bistros, live music bars and night clubs here.
The Nardis Jazz Club, Anemon Hotels Sensus Wine, Snog Roof Bar, Tower Pub and Social Jazz Bar in the Galata region,
The Mitte Karakoy, Fosil Bar, Peninsula Terrace, Nabu Italian Gastropub, Vor Klein and Finn Karakoy Cocktail Bar in the Karakoy region, are the popular places to spend a great night out in the region.
Where to Stay?
As for accommodation; Galata, Karakoy and Tophane region of Istanbul hosts wide range of accommodation opportunities in from budget apartments, apart hotels to residents and from two to five star hotels.
The Peninsula Galata Boutique Otel, Golden Galata Hotel, Ada Karakoy Hotel, Triada Hotel Karakoy, Tophane Suites ve Port Hotel Tophane-i Amire are the popular mid-range hotels in the region at first sight. You may check and find your ideal Galata, Karakoy or Tophane hotel via Booking.com Hotels or Agoda Istanbul with the hotels info, photos, comments and price comparison and book your hotel online.
How to Get to There?
Getting to Galata, Karakoy and Tophane region is very easy as they are one of the most popular hubs for both tourists and locals in Istanbul. For intercity transportation, you may find many transportation options. It is possible to access Galata, Karakoy and Tophane;
* From Kadikoy and Bostanci; by public ferries to Karakoy.
* From Taksim, you may take the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) from the Kabatas and drop off at Karakoy stop. To get to tram stops; from the Taksim Square, you may take the Taksim-Kabatas funicular (F1 line), get to Kabatas tram stop. And from the end of the Istiklal Avenue, on the Tunel Square, you may walk downwards or take the Tunel-Karakoy funicular (F2 line) to get to Karakoy.
You may see the public bus routes and timetables as well as make a route/station search from the Istanbul Municipality Public Busses website. Also check the Istanbul Railway Network Map for the Tram stops and Istanbul Ferry Lines Map for ferries.
From Istanbul Airports
For getting to Galata, Karakoy and Tophane region of Istanbul;
- from New Istanbul Airport (IST) (41 km. to Galata & Karakoy and takes about 90 mins.) – you may take Havaist Airport Shuttle to Taksim and than to Galata, or take a taxi or take a Private Shuttle which is the best of all and we recommend.
- from Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) (38 km. to Galata & Karakoy and takes about 80 mins.) – you may take Havabus Airport Shuttle to Taksim and than to Galata, or take a taxi or take a Private Shuttle again which is the best of all and we recommend.
By Private Shuttle
We highly recommend Tranigo (a Turkish company operating since 1996, and partnered with renowned names like Hertz, Thrifty, Budget, and many reliable and efficient local suppliers) as we recently booked with them had a great trip to our hotel.
They offer fast, comfortable, safe and FIXED price service and have variety of different models of cars ranging from Micro for 3 passengers to Minibuses for 19 passengers and also offer child seats. They met us inside the airport, helped with our luggage, brought us in front of the hotel and there also helped us with our luggage. You may check and decide from below.
- Private Shuttle from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Galata & Karakoy
- Private Shuttle from New Istanbul Airport to Galata & Karakoy