Nisantasi in Istanbul

Guide to Nisantasi: Istanbul’s Most Posh Neighborhood With Cool Things to Do

Nisantasi in Istanbul (or Nişantaşı in Turkish language) is one of the popular Istanbul neighborhoods, located in the European part of the city.

It is probably the most European-like place in the entire of Istanbul thanks to its numerous boutiques of world brands and distinct atmosphere that resemble European neighborhoods.

In Nisantasi, you can buy almost anything while being sure that everything is of very high quality. For people who can’t live a week without shopping, this is the best place in Istanbul where to buy things and where to stay if you want to combine a classical Istanbul itinerary that includes sightseeing with a bit of retail therapy. The Istanbul Fashion Academy is also located here.

However, those who are not really into shopping still can find some fascinating things to do in Nisantasi to have a great day or even a weekend getaway from Istanbul’s other districts.

Nisantasi restaurant and nightlife scene is rich as this neighborhood has pretty wide entertainment options and cuisines from around the world. By the way, local celebrities like to spend their free time in Nisantasi, so there is always a chance to meet someone famous while there. 

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Is Nişantaşı Worth Visiting on a Trip to Istanbul?

Described in detail in novels of Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who grew up in the neighborhood, Nişantaşı is an essential part of Istanbul’s European side, a truly posh district with grandiose historical buildings towering over long, narrow streets populated with showrooms of luxury brands, art galleries, breakfast joints, elegant restaurants, and charming cafes.

Whatever you want to highlight your day with, be it food (local or global), drinks, art, fashion, culture, history, or entertainment, you will surely find it in Nisantasi, wrapped in luxury but never without authenticity.

European-style architecture
Nisantasi neighborhood

It is one of those original districts (in some ways similar to Beyoglu), but in a much different way that makes Istanbul what it is – a vibrant metropole that offers an exciting experience to anyone, at any time of the day.

In other words, Nisantasi plays an important role in Istanbul’s character and obviously, appeal. And it will be hard to imagine a complete Istanbul experience without spending at least a couple of hours in this inviting place.

That being said – yes, Nisantasi is well worth a visit if you want to see a different face of Istanbul. You should probably give it at least a day of your Istanbul itinerary and take your time to explore and enjoy all that it has to offer.

Things to Do in Nisantası Neighborhood

Visit Maçka Park

Maçka Park, officially called Maçka Democracy Park, is a public park that spans a wide area between The Dolmabahçe Palace, Nişantaşı, Harbiye, and Maçka (the last two are beautiful residential areas).

It is a popular leisure spot for Istanbulites who wish to take a step away from the concrete jungle and just relax on the green grass surrounded by trees while reading a book, taking a walk, exercising, doing a picnic, or just laying down doing nothing really.

If you are visiting Istanbul on a short trip, you may want to skip this park preferring other places more. Otherwise, it’s a nice place where to relax and de-stress on the European side and where to hide from the heat on a hot summer day.

There is a small funicular going through the park which may be of particular interest to families with children who visit Nisantasi.

areas in istanbul
Istanbul in spring

Have a Coffee or Tea in ‘The House Cafe’

Arguably the most popular coffee shop in the area, The House Cafe welcomes its visitors to one of the best spots in Nişantaşı right at the center of Teşvikiye, next to the famous Teşvikiye Mosque.

Open since 2002 and still going strong even in the age of third-generation coffee shops, The House Coffee is an ideal place to sit at the heart of the neighborhood and enjoy a beverage while working, reading a book, or just watching people go by.

There are two locations one next to another (this one Atiye and Cafe Corner), but I personally prefer the second one more. It’s next to the historic mosque and depending on the table, you can even see it from this cafe.

Reminder 1: they do not serve alcohol, as it is right next to a Mosque.
Reminder 2: if you can find a table there during the weekend, you might as well go buy a lottery ticket too!
Reminder 3: their traditional Turkish breakfast is amazing!

Visit Teşvikiye Mosque

A landmark of Nisantası, the iconic Teşvikiye mosque is usually where the funerals of famous people in Istanbul take place.

Completed in the mid-19th century, during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecit the First, this neo-baroque style mosque was designed by Krikor Balyan, and looks significantly different than most other mosques in Turkey.

It is definitely worth paying a visit to its grand courtyard while you are in Nisantası! The location is right here next to the cafe mentioned above which is difficult to miss!

Teşvikiye mosque
Teşvikiye mosque at night

Pop Into the Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Museum

Nisantasi neighborhood is also home to some of the best Istanbul museums, like for example the museum about the life and legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of modern Turkey.

It is located in his former residence and features a nice collection of personal belongings, artifacts, photographs, and documents related to his life and achievements.

You can explore different rooms, such as his bedroom (on the second floor of a museum), study room, and reception area, all thoughtfully preserved to immerse visitors in the historical ambiance of Atatürk’s era. 

More details about the working hours and fees are here.

Take a Stroll in Abdi İpekçi Street

Named after a prominent journalist who was assassinated in 1979, Abdi İpekçi Street is quite possibly the most popular street in the Nisantasi area, and for good reasons.

It is a pure joy to just walk its cobblestone pavements, surrounded by fancy restaurants, cafes, and showrooms of world-famous brands.

And if you are lucky enough to be there during Christmas time, be prepared to be amazed by the sparkling Christmas decorations all around. In fact, Nisantasi in general is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul in December!

Nisantasi in December
Nisantasi is probably the only neighborhood in Istanbul that dresses up for Christmas abundantly. Here, you can find lots of lights, Christmas decorations, and Christmas trees on many streets

The street is rather short but its most vibrant part starts here near the northern area of Macka Park.

Despite its short length, reaching only 700 meters, Abdi İpekçi Street is considered the epicenter of Istanbul’s shopping with fancy shops and boutiques. So you can head there directly when the goal is also to do some shopping.

Hang Out in Topağacı

Topağacı is the new hip area of Nişantaşı. There are no defined borders as it is part of the Nisantasi neighborhood but it starts approximately near City’s Mall northeastern side and stretches for 6-7 blocks almost towards MOC Coffee Roastery.

So if you are in the mood to blend in with a young, dynamic (and of course always stylish) crowd in a neighborhood filled with third-generation coffeeshops, fancy burger joints, popular cocktail bars, and interesting local shops – then you should definitely give Topağacı a chance.

Its charming narrow streets are lively at any time of the day, especially on Fridays nights, and weekends.

Some of my favorite establishments there are Petra Topağacı coffee shop (they have really good iced coffee) and Barrio Topagaci Bar. But there are many more places where to go for drinks, food, and awesome atmosphere!

streets of Nisantasi
cafe in Nisantasi

Check Out the Designer Boutiques

If there is such a thing as a “shopping district of Istanbul”, it has to be Nişantaşı, with no question.

Exactly here, in Nisantasi you can find a wide array of showrooms ranging from local boutiques to global luxury brands such as Prada, Louis Vitton, Burberry, and others. Although besides high-end boutiques, there are also mass-market stores and shops offering Turkish clothing.

I talk more about shopping in Nisantasi in a separate section below, so scroll down to take a look.

But one thing to remember – the entire Nistantasi district has a crowd of influencers, models, and designers thanks to its fashion and design scene. So once you visit, be prepared to be distracted by people posing for cameras on the street!

Look for Events in Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall & Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Theatre

Cemal Reşit Rey and Cemil Topuzlu are among the most popular concert venues on Istanbul’s European side. While you are in the area, you might want to check out the schedule of these venues online, as they are frequently visited both by local and global stars.

Both of them also have websites with events that you could check in advance. But they are often outdated. Still, you may want to keep an eye on the online program.

Cemal Resit Rey concert hall website is here and this one is for Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu

streets of Nisantasi
One of the streets in Nisantasi…

Go to an Art Gallery

Although not as strong in this department as let’s say Beyoğlu, Nişantaşı also has a range of art galleries guaranteed to satisfy those who wish to add some color and inspiration to their day by seeing some influential work by contemporary artists.

Some of the places that first come to mind are Maçka Modern Art Gallery, Niş Art Gallery, and F Sanat Art Gallery.

Nişantaşı Nightlife

As one would expect, the nightlife is as lively as it gets in Nişantaşı, no matter if it is a weekday or a Saturday night.

Whatever your idea of a fun night out (be it clubbing, hanging out in a quiet bar, having a nice dinner, or enjoying some tasty cocktails while mingling with people) – you will find the perfect spot in Nişantaşı for all of that. Some of the things to do in Nisantasi for nightlife include:

Grotesk Bar

Located in the above-mentioned Topağacı area, Grotesk Bar in Nisantasi is among the favorites of both locals and visitors from other parts of Istanbul.

It is undoubtedly one of the best places to have a cocktail in Istanbul, this is why it’s also always busy. It is usually packed with a dynamic crowd that pours into the street during busy weekend nights, so if you prefer a bit quieter atmosphere, it may be best to come here during the week.

You’ll find this bar in Nisantasi at this location.

Istanbul life at night
Panoramic cafe

Nişantaşı Yeni Nesil Meyhane

If you wish to have an old-school Turkish meyhane experience, then you should try Yeni Nesil Meyhane.

Here is first a quick lesson for those who don’t know what “meyhane” experience means.

It is basically a traditional Turkish dining and socializing tradition that centers around meze (appetizers) and alcoholic beverages (especially raki, an anise-flavored alcoholic drink). As guests enjoy their meal, sip on raki, and engage in lively discussions, they often watch live music shows, such as for example Turkish folk songs or “fasıl” performances.

And Yeni Nesil Meyhane offers just that, including some rakı, Turkish tapas (meze), and delicious fresh seafood or meat dishes. It has great service with fairly reasonable prices.

Note that if you wish to go there during the weekend, you might have to make a reservation at least two days before.

Scotch Club Discotheque

Wanna forget about the time and dance all night to upbeat Turkish classics?

Somehow modern and old school at the same time, Scotch is a celebrated nightclub/discotheque with an energetic atmosphere, a friendly crowd, good service, and always exciting DJ performances.

It might be too loud and crowded for certain tastes, but if you don’t mind that, Scotch is an excellent choice for a night of endless fun.

You can visit their page for the address, photos of the venue, and a better idea of what this Nisantasi disco bar is all about.

Nisantasi in Istanbul
Another street in Nisantasi…

Spago Restaurant (at St. Regis)

Located on top of the St. Regis Hotel, right next to Maçka Park, Spago is a stylish rooftop bar & restaurant in Nisantasi. There you can enjoy a rich menu of delicacies, and/or feel refreshed with an authentic cocktail against one of the best views in the city.

The luxury restaurant was recently added to the Michelin Guide list and requires a certain dress code for a visit as well as it is on a pricey side. See more of what they offer on their site.

Where to Go Shopping in Nisantasi

The best quality Turkish clothes come from a brand with the name ‘Vakko’, known for its top-notch quality. Vakko boutiques in Nisantasi offer women’s and men’s clothing, leather goods, and footwear. You can find Vakko in both shopping centers and standalone multi-story stores.

City’s Nisantasi Mall is one of the most popular shopping centers in Nisantasi. The building has several floors housing predominantly mid-range foreign brands, but there is also a supermarket, a food court, and even a whole gastronomy market.

shopping in Nisantasi

In Nisantasi, there are also two stores that regularly host seasonal sales. First and foremost, it’s worth checking out Beymen – a large shopping center that offers clothing and accessories from various brands.

Another option where you’ll find many discounts is the store Brandroom. This store is famous for wardrobe items from Turkish and European manufacturers at reasonable prices.

NOTE: The best time for shopping in Istanbul (including Nisantasi) is July-September and January-February when massive sales events take place.

Suggested Itinerary for 1 Day in Nişantaşı

If among all places to visit in Istanbul, you are ready to add Nisantasi to the list, I want to share a quick sample itinerary for one day in Nisantasi. It is good for people who come to Nisantasi from other neighborhoods of Istanbul, including more distant ones like Balat & Fener or Sultanahmet.

Needless to say, a day in Istanbul should best start with a hearty Turkish breakfast. There are plenty of breakfast joints in Nişantaşı, and Bazlama Çeşme Kahvaltı might probably be the most famous one. Keep in mind though it is a bit touristy.

For a more croissant-coffee style breakfast, you can try places like Gizia or Origami.

After breakfast, a stroll in the streets with occasional window shopping (as it is impossible not to do this in Nişantaşı) would be cool. You can check out the City’s Nisantasi Mall too, for a variety of local and global brands.

residential buildings in Istanbul
Man selling salep

A Cup of Joy might be a nice stop for a mid-day coffee, as it has a lovely garden that is perfect to work/read and it serves great coffee.

In the afternoon, you can spoil yourself with a fresh cocktail and an appetizer in places like Grey, Socrates Bistro, or Grotesk. Or simply make a small picnic in Maçka Park with a bottle of wine and some snacks you can purchase from the local shops.

Then move on to see some art galleries, and in the evening have a nice dinner in one of the countless restaurants in the area, depending on what you will be craving.

Best Hotels in Nisantasi Istanbul

There are over fifty types of accommodation options available in Nisantasi. Some are luxurious options while others are relatively budget-friendly places.

However, overall, Nisantasi is not cheap. Prices in this part of Istanbul, including hotels and some historic mansions and heritage homes are higher than in many other popular districts.  

The only thing is – I do not recommend Nisantasi as a place where to stay in Istanbul for families with children and those seeking a peaceful vacation. The central area is quite noisy and bustling. But it is a perfect place where to live long-term as you’ll find quieter residential complexes away from streets with all the shopping.

Reasonably Priced Luxurious & 5-Star Hotels in Nisantasi

Nisantasi homes and hotels

Cheap Hotels in Nisantasi With Good Reviews

Nisantasi has cheap hotels too but for the most part, they always get bad reviews for different reasons. I tried to find you a few options where reviews are good on multiple resources. Here they are:

What is Living in Nisantası Like?

I want to finish this quick guide to the Nisantasi neighborhood by mentioning a few words about life on this side of Istanbul as some people asked me about it.

Life in Nişantaşı can be what you want it to be, really. You can walk on the quiet streets and hear the birds chirping in trees, then in two minutes find yourself on a bustling pavement where people jostle against each other walking.

Next, you can have a great döner kebab in a shabby old diner, and right next to it would be a fine dining restaurant with celebrities inside. After that, you can go shopping in a busy mall, or opt for the green grass of a public park where people lazily lay down on the ground.

Basically, Nisantasi offers a lot of variety and leaves you to do what you want. It is surely one of the most expensive districts of Istanbul, but it is also one of the most stylish ones as well.

walking on the street

It’s also worth noting that Nisantasi is among the safest places in Istanbul, so generally you shouldn’t be worried about staying out late at night or returning home in the middle of the night from work or somewhere else.

Its frequenters include celebrities, intellectuals, and socialites. And although you will obviously see tourists, it is never as touristy as Beyoğlu, which is a good thing as it is refreshing to spend time in a popular area like this that still preserves its neighborhood culture.

More Neighborhood Guides in Istanbul

I have other neighborhood guides in Istanbul for a visit, check them out. And many more are yet to come!

guide to Nisantasi in Istanbul

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