Last updated on September 14th, 2023
Cihangir in Istanbul is one of the most popular neighborhoods in the entire city. You’ll see it mentioned in pretty much any guidebook or post thanks to its artistic vibe and unique character.
But there is more than that to Cihangir than just a vibe.
And I want to talk about it below in this post with tips on how to have a fabulous time visiting Cihangir for a few hours or possibly a full day, best restaurants in Cihangir (there are quite a few and you should definitely come for breakfast here!) and also include a few thoughts about living in Cihangir. This neighborhood attracts many foreigners for many reasons!
Get Ready to Travel to Cihangir & Istanbul
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FAQs About Cihangir Istanbul
Why Cihangir is So Popular?
This question might be answered differently from the points of view of different people.
For the Istanbulites, Cihangir has always been among the dream neighborhoods with its lively social scene, famous frequenters and locals, intellectual circle, characteristic streets, and historical apartments with lovely Bosporus views.
For the expats and tourists, it is the most European of all Istanbul neighborhoods largely because of its people and culture, and it is right at the center of the city, within five minutes of walking distance to Taksim Square (plus the reasons above).
It is also more or less the safest neighborhood in the area, so people often choose it for the base when planning one day in Istanbul itinerary, 4 days in Istanbul, and if when they come here for the long term.
Where is Cihangir?
Cihangir is basically the area between Taksim, Gümüşsuyu, Çukurcuma, and Kabataş.
When in Taksim Square, you can walk straight down from Sıraselviler Street, and in five minutes you will reach a crossroads with a very small, green Cihangir mosque called “Firuzağa Camii”, which will be more or less where Cihangir starts. The left of that area, right up to Gümüşsuyu, is Cihangir.
Is Cihangir in Istanbul Safe?
I talk more about Cihangir safety at the end of the post in the section about life in Cihangir.
But shortly – yes, Cihnagir is safe, yet you still need to watch your surroundings late at night. Be aware that Cihangir is located not that far from some unsafe neighborhoods in Istanbul, so you don’t know who can wander in there.
Also, you may stumble upon some shoe polishes that provide shoe shine service which in reality is a famous scam in Istanbul. From time to time they walk into Cihangir knowing how many tourists are there, trying to deceive some, so be aware of that and stay away from these people!
Other than that, Cihnagir is very safe!
Should You Stay in Cihangir When Visiting Istanbul?
If you find accommodation to your liking and budget, then Cihangir is a fantastic choice where to stay in Istanbul on a first visit and any other time if you haven’t stayed there yet!
It is a quiet quarter where any accommodation is in a great location (thanks to which everything is close and you can easily travel to other neighborhoods with ease), oftentimes with views.
You’ll find some nice authentic airbnbs with views of the Bosphorus like this one (and cheaper ones, just browse around) or hotels (even a 5-star like Loop Hotel Bosphorus). Although for hotels, read reviews carefully since many of them have pretty average reviews.
Must-do Things in Cihangir
Have Turkish Tea (or Coffee) at Firuzağa Kahvesi
Firuzağa Kahvesi sits right at the crossroads where Cihangir starts (the place you will reach if you walk down from Taksim Square as mentioned above) and is a famous place visited frequently by locals, as well as visitors.
It is an old-school Turkish-style tea place that still defies the fancy third generation coffee shops that surround it and has a very lively mixed crowd, consisting of basically everyone from locals, TV-movie personalities, expats, and tourists.
Have a Coffee at Any Other Place
If you happen to like specialty coffee, Cihangir is the right place to have it.
As you may have noticed, I said ‘at any other place’ because there is a number of quality third-generation coffee shops in the neighborhood with the best coffee in Istanbul together with homemade sweets (plus Cihangir is famous for lots of vegan options too), and friendly staff.
Some of the most popular coffee shops in Cihagir are:
- Swedish Coffee Point (very good espresso with cakes here)
- Kronotrop (there are a few locations of this coffee shop around Istanbul but we love this one above all)
- Tea or Coffee (best cappuccino, matcha, and vibe)
- Norm (quiet corner where besides coffee and baked goodies you can also work a couple of hours on your laptop)
Get Ice Cream From “Yaşar Usta’nın Sorbe ve Dondurmacısı”
Yaşar Usta’nın Sorbe ve Dondurmacısı is a small ice cream place that is famous within the neighborhood. It might look a bit shabby, but its selection of delicious ice creams is definitely worth having a look at.
So if you happen to visit Cihangir in Summer, make sure to pay this place a visit! Here is the location, so you don’t look for too long.
Walk the Streets of Cihangir
Simple as it sounds, just walking the narrow streets of the Cihangir neighborhood with old apartments on each side is a great joy. As streets in this part of Istanbul look very much like decorations from a good old Turkish movie.
You can pick up a coffee-to-go from a coffee shop mentioned above (or one of your own choice), and just get lost in its beautiful streets.
Check out Çukurcuma
Çukurcuma is Cihangir’s neighboring neighborhood, and is almost as popular as Cihangir, especially within the expat community.
It will take you about 5 minutes to walk to Çukurcuma, an old Istanbul neighborhood filled with antique shops, specialty coffee places, art galleries, and of course, cats that are hungrier for attention than for food.
There is also a historical hamam (Turkish bath) there, called Çukurcuma Hamamı (which is among the best hammams in Istanbul) if you are interested! I personally prefer it even more than my other favorite bath place in the Sultanahmet neighborhood.
It is a mixed hammam meaning that women and men go together which is a rarity in Istanbul among authentic Turkish bath places. Whenever you go, purchase a hammam experience that includes a message, it is well worth it!
See many photos of their interior and services on their insta page.
View this post on Instagram
Cihangir nightlife is not as big as nightlife in some other neighborhoods, including nearby Karakoy. But it is still a good area where to head to in the evening if you look for a relaxing bar experience with live music or even a disco.
Just remember that you won’t find anything wild there as well as no loud events. Cihangir is quite calm at night and offers more of a peaceful nightlife experience.
Cafe 21 is not just a cafe, but a café-bar-restaurant which is possibly the most famous one in Cihangir.
It is that type of small place where it is quite hard to find a free table at night (doesn’t matter which day it is). 21 is frequented by both locals, famous faces, and people who come to Cihangir from other parts of Istanbul. You can even meet here celebrities who like to chill at the bar with a cocktail.
I personally like this spot for having a very warm, tavernish atmosphere. They also offer great food, have a friendly staff, and a rich selection of drinks and cocktails.
If you are walking in Cihangir at night (especially during a weekend) and see a dozen people occupying a narrow street with cocktails in their hands talking, singing, and laughing, you are probably approaching Geyik, the only cocktail bar in Cihangir and one of its most famous places.
Located not far from Cafe 21, it is a very small place, and its crowd (which is around 20 – 30 people on a busy night) just spills onto the streets with drinks in their hands socializing, leaving room for others inside to magically find a seat.
The bar itself has a range of delicious cocktails (including both classics and creative recipes), very helpful staff, and a warm, welcoming crowd.
Note that it becomes a bit chaotic after 10 pm at weekends, and it can be very hard to place an order. Sometimes they even may refuse you because there are already so many people as its customers just stand on the street, and there is no actual seat limit.
Self-claimed the oldest underground club in Istanbul, MiniMuzikhol is what comes to mind when people want to go clubbing in Cihangir, a neighborhood not exactly famous for its clubs.
Known for its always lively crowd and energetic DJ sets, it is here where people in the neighborhood go to dance, drink, and have fun for hours.
Kaktüs is another local favorite, just like 21. Again, like the former, you can see famous Turkish personalities here from the TV and music circle, as well as locals just having a good time eating and drinking.
Kaktüs is not exactly a club, but kinda turns into one after late hours at the weekends, with upbeat music and a lot of dancing going on. It is also the place where people from Cihangir head to after every other place is closed at late weekend nights, as unlike others it remains open until 4 am.
See the location and what they offer on the map.
And old favorite of Beyoğlu circle, although Kiki is not as popular as it used to be, it still deserves a mention because of its almost historical value and the fact that it is still bustling at the weekends.
Kiki is a small club on Sıraselviler Caddesi (street) where Cihangir starts from the Taksim side. And it is still one of the very few places to go in Cihangir if you want to enjoy some live DJ music and dance.
Best Restaurants in Cihangir
Demeti is the ultimate Turkish meyhane in Cihangir (traditional type of tavern with meze), with a rich selection of rakıs, fish, and other sea products.
Here, in a lovely atmosphere, you can just sit for hours, slowly eating meze and drinking rakı, and have the true meyhane experience. It has a beautiful little balcony with a breathtaking Bosporus view, which only has space for 3 – 4 tables and feels very intimate which is why people on honeymoons and romantic dates like to sit there.
It is usually very hard to find a table on the balcony but just ask for a reservation a couple of days prior to your visit as you might get lucky, especially on weekdays.
You’ll find the restaurant’s contact information as well as see what food is on offer on their insta profile.
View this post on Instagram
Susam is one of the old Cihangir restaurants (also a café and a bar) that is somewhat (if not entirely) in an isolated space.
Most of the places listed in this article are on Akarsu Street, the main street of Cihangir where most action occurs at night. But Susam sits alone in a street that it shares its name with, so it provides a serene atmosphere where you can just lay back and enjoy a good meal and/or drink.
If you wish to stay a bit away from the crowd (not too far though), this is the perfect place.
Hayat is another place to have Turkish rakı in Cihangir with seafood and meze. It is located on Akarsu Street as well and you can either sit on the street in cute little tables or just stay inside.
Unlike Demeti, it is easier to find a table here, mostly because it has more available space.
Craving for some greasy fast food? Cross Fingers is the place to go in Cihangir. It is also on Akarsu Street and is probably the place you will be directed to if you ask the locals where you can have a good burger in Cihangir.
It also makes delicious tacos!
View this post on Instagram
A local favorite, Kasabım is a steakhouse where you can enjoy a wide selection of delicious meat dishes, ranging from lamb ribs to classic steaks, to Turkish sausages (sucuk) and delicious burgers.
It is located at a beautiful, central spot in the neighborhood, where you can watch people go by (an interesting activity by itself as there are so many interesting people in Cihangir) while enjoying your food.
Their own take on the traditional Turkish İskender (döner kebab) is a must-try!
Possibly the best pizza place in the area, Çukurcuma 49 is just outside the Cihangir neighborhood, somewhere between Firuzağa and Çukurcuma, but still considered as Cihangir by many people.
It offers a broad range of pizzas, as well as delicious homemade wines.
Kat restaurant is currently closed but the owner plans to reopen it soon again. This is why I wanted to include it on the list as it is one of the most famous Cihangir restaurants with a nice view and vibe.
This is a restaurant and bar at the same time with an unpretentious atmosphere.
During the winter months, they work more as a boudoir-style bar, while in the summer people go for a drink on the delightful outdoor terrace, which offers great views of the coast and the minarets. There is also always good lounge music played by local DJs.
Best Cihangir Breakfast Places
Cihangir has a few very good breakfast places which is the reason why you’d want to come here in the morning or early afternoon even if staying in nearby neighborhoods. And after breakfast, just stroll the streets while there are still not many people around.
Van Kahvaltı Evi
The ideal place to have a “serpme kahvaltı” (Turkish breakfast with little amounts of basically everything you can think of on the table) Van Kahvaltı Evi is a favorite of both locals and expats.
Prices are very good, and everything tastes great.
If you want a more posh breakfast experience rather than the traditional one, this is the place to go. It has a rich menu that has a lot of interesting choices ranging from simple bacon and eggs to Turkish pastries to Moroccan-style eggs and more.
And there is a lovely small garden in the back, a perfect place for a lazy Sunday. Having said that, it might be a bit hard to find a table there at the weekends. Try to go early as people in Cihangir tend to wake up late during weekends (to recover from crazy nights before!)
Oh, and on the map it is shown as Cafe 6.
Probably only known by locals, it is where you can try possibly the best menemen (a traditional Turkish breakfast dish with egg & tomatoes) in Beyoğlu.
It is a very small breakfast joint where they make eggs and sandwiches and serve Turkish tea (although it is open all day).
What is Living in Cihangir Like?
I also thought to mention a few words about life in Cihangir as it is seriously one of the best places where to live in Istanbul if budget allows and you want to be in the center of all events.
Cihangir has a magical quality. It is located minutes away from the most chaotic, loud, and crowded spot in Istanbul -Taksim Square/Istiklal Street- but it is almost always relaxed, serene and quiet, probably because it is not directly reachable by public transport.
There is a strong neighborhood culture here. Everyone knows everyone (either by face or personally) and even if you are an “outsider”, people are always friendly so you can basically start a conversation with anyone, at any time.
There is a mixed crowd of artists, old Istanbulites, TV personalities, and expats from around the world, making it probably the best place in Istanbul to meet interesting people with interesting stories.
Cihangir is also famously expensive (though not as much as places like Nişantaşı or Bebek). But if you can afford to live here, it is probably the best spot to be in Istanbul.
It is also probably the safest neighborhood in Beyoğlu, but mind that it is still Beyoglu which is not exactly the safest district in Istanbul.
And last but not least, of course, there are the cats. Cats are all around İstanbul, as you may have probably heard/seen. But there is no other neighborhood where they are loved and respected more than they are in Cihangir.
So, if you are about to visit this neighborhood for a meal, drink, or coffee, prepare to share your seat, table, and quite possibly plate with them!
More Neighborhood Guides in Istanbul
I have other neighborhood guides in Istanbul for a visit or where to stay, check them out. And many more are yet to come!
- Guide to all neighborhoods and areas in Istanbul – introduction to all Istanbul’s districts
- Guide to Sultanahmet – Old Town of Istanbul where sultans lived
- Arnavutoy neighborhood – one of the most romantic areas in Istanbul
- Balat & Fener – neighborhood of different cultures & nations
- Posh Nisantasi – shopping center of Istanbul
- Areas in Istanbul that are better to avoid – know where to go & where not to
- My guide to Burgaz island – avoid the crowds and visit the best beaches in Istanbul on this island
- Beach destinations from Istanbul – if you feel like getting outside the city
- Weekend Getaway Places from Istanbul – where to go for 2 or 3 days not far from Istanbul
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- More Posts About Turkey – all my posts on one page!