Those who travel to Istanbul for the first or second time will be looking forward to visiting the famous historical areas. Like Sultan Ahmet Area…Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, Cistern and of course Galata tower.By all means. Very few people will venture into locals’ favorite district, where you will rarely see someone walking around with a camera. We are talking about Nisantasi located only one metro stop away from central Taksim Square.

Nisantasi, Istanbul’s equivalent to New York’s Upper East Side, used to be the place where the sultan’s soldiers used to train their target, hence its name – Nişantaşı means “target stone”. This privileged district has several small buildings that now house the world’s top fashion brands, as well as prominent Turkish ones like Dilek Hanif, Derin Design, Ela Cindoruk, Gönül Paksoy. Abdi İpekçi street, for instance. it is a shopper’s paradise, with Christian Louboutin, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Armani, and l’Occitane, to name a few, lined up. Prices, in general, tend to be a tad lower than in European capitals.

This part of town is also home to many nice cafes and restaurants, serving from the traditional to the best of the international cuisine. Here are few of our favorite ones:

Nusr-Et, It is a very upscale restaurant serving Turkish food especially for the ones who love meat. They have a very nice outside area, perfect on sunny days, but the internal area is beautifully decorated in modern classic style.

The House Café belongs to a chain of cool cafes all around Istanbul and there are two of them in Nişantaşı. One is right in Tesvikiye street, behind the mosque, and is very popular with the cool crowd. The other one is in Atiye street, is the chain’s first establishment, with a tiny room on the ground floor, and a very spacious area upstairs.

There is quite a distance separating Nisantasi and Istanbul’s historical district of Sultanahmet. But this is a good alternative to the hustle and bustle of Taksim. Most hotels around Nisantasi are high end category and tend to range from luxury to ultra luxury, with few budget options. Our recommendations in the area for a short term stay are:

The Sofa Hotel, a very modern hotel with its own art collection. Service standards are high and its restaurant is very buzzy.

Park Hyatt Istanbul, part of the Hyatt group, this modern hotel has a very nice swimming pool, gym, and spa.

After a busy day, if you would like to rest and take a breath, you can visit Macka Park. The park is crowded on sunny weekends, but you can still find a place to sit. There are playgrounds for kids (and dogs!), a couple of cafes, decorative pools and outdoor sports equipment if you’re in the mood for some exercise.

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