Explore Golden Horn – Halic (Top Things to Do and See, Dine, Stay)

The Golden Horn, also known as Halic, was the trading center of the old Istanbul and is also one of the most popular tourist areas of the city. Being the primary harbor of the city for centuries, it is also the only biggest bay of the Istanbul Strait.

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Things to Do & See

From enjoying the Eminonu Square and make shopping at the historical Egyptian Spice Bazaar, strolling along the restored colorful narrow streets around the former Greek neighborhood of Fener and the old Jewish quarter Balat, with the Bulgarian church, which is one of few prefabricated cast iron churches in the world, and having a rest at the open air cafe situated on the famous Pierre Loti Hill (by a cable car trip) with the stunning views of the Golden Horn, to visiting several attraction areas such as Vialand Theme Park, Miniaturk Open Air Museum, SantralIstanbul, Istanbul Dolphinarium, Rahmi Koc Transport Museum are top things to do and see around the Golden Horn.

You can also get around the Golden Horn by taking the small boats that zigzag between quays on each side of the Golden Horn.

Southern shores of Golden Horn

Eminonu area

The Eminonu and nearby Sirkeci are the two neighborhoods situated along the Golden Horn, on the shores down the Topkapi Palace. Eminonu offers great tourist attractions and facilities such as historic cafes, restaurants, as well as quality hotels.

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Egyptian Spice Bazaar

The Ferry decks, Eminonu Square, the famous Egyptian Spice Bazaar and Yeni Mosque are the popular sights to visit and see in Eminonu. Continue reading…

Fener and Balat area

The former Greek neighborhood Fener and nearby the old Jewish quarter Balat, situated on the southern shores of the Golden Horn, have very rich historical heritage and very popular tourist zone of Istanbul.

Fener and Balat have become a touristic place with the recent contributions in the field of tourism. The region is very famous with both locals and tourists. The main squares are quite colorful with touristy cafes and restaurants. At the same time, the region is crowded with antique shops.

Did you know that Fener is the “Vatican of the Greek Orthodoxy”? Fener houses the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen, which is one of few prefabricated cast iron churches in the world. The Greek Patriarchate is still mother-church for Greek Orthodox Christianity worldwide. The Greeks lived in Fener until the mid-20th century. Afterwards has been more resident by the poor immigrants from eastern Turkey. There is a UNESCO/EU project in the region to restore the many buildings together with Balat. Continue reading…

Eyup and Sutluce area

Eyup is a holy district situated on the southern shore, on the far end of Golden Horn. Eyup can be considered as Istanbul’s most holy shrine, hosting several important mosques, dervish lodges and cemeteries.

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Eyup Sultan Mosque

The 15th century Eyup Sultan Mosque is located over the tomb of Eyup Sultan, the bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, who died during the siege of Istanbul in the year of 670, is the most important and famous one. There is also a beautiful cemetery and tourist facilities by the mosque.

Feshane (see location map) is a lively place located by the coast with a big garden, and home to numerous festivals and events throughout the year in Istanbul.

Pierre Loti Hill

And than comes the famous Pierre Loti Hill, a great leisure and tourist area with an open air cafe overlooking the Golden Horn with beautiful views. The hill is about 55 meters from sea level. Taking its name from a famous French poet, the hill is accessible by a nice cable car trip. You can have a good rest there while drinking your Turkish coffee or tea, or enjoy the restaurants.

Some far from the Eyup district, comes the Sutluce district that was once an industrial wasteland, and today is home to several theme parks and museums, such as Miniaturk, SantralIstanbul and Vialand.


The Miniaturk, an open air miniature Turkey museum that hosts the miniature forms of the greatest monuments of Turkey. The museum also houses the Istanbul Crystal Museum and Panorama Victory Museum. A fantastic place to enjoy on the sunny days in Istanbul with your kids.


SantralIstanbul ( is a cultural event venue established with the conservation and restoration of an old Power Plant established by the Bulgarians in 1911. It is Turkey’s first museum of industrial archaeology. It consists of energy museum, an amphitheater, concert halls and a public library, and hosts contemporary art exhibitions and cultural events. You’ll find award-winning food and beverage places.

Northern shores of Golden Horn

Haskoy area

The northern shores of Golden Horn start with the Haskoy neighborhood. The area is not much touristic one, home to an old Jewish cemetery and the famous M. Rahmi Koc Transport Museum, which is Turkey’s first museum of industrial heritage.

M. Rahmi Koc Transport Museum

M. Rahmi Koc Transport Museum is a must see place, a science and technology museum that is housed in a former anchor foundry, where you can enjoy a trove of machines, vintage cars, trains and submarines.

You can visit the museum late in the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday, and then when the Museum closes at 7 o’clock, drop into Nelson Pub for a drink, and than take your dinner on the shores of the Golden Horn at Halat Restaurant.

Kasimpasa area

Kasimpasa neighborhood comes after Haskoy through the Galata reagion. The area is famous with Ayanlikavak Pavilion.

Aynalikavak Pavilion

This structure that adorns the shores of the Golden Horn for three centuries is only example of the group of buildings known as Aynalikavak Palace during the Ottoman Empire era. In addition, the area was a resting place belonging to the emperors in the Byzantine Period.

You’ll find cafes during summer months, as well as classical Turkish Art Music performances, and national and international receptions. You’ll also find a Music Museum on the ground floor that you can enjoy the exhibitions of reeds, drums, sheet music and stone plaques.

Karakoy and Galata area

Karakoy and Galata region is the starting location of the Golden Horn on the north, across the Eminonu region on the south.

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.

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. Continue reading…

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