Guide to Galata & Karakoy Istanbul: things to do, see, places to eat, drink

Located north of the Golden Horn and connected to the Historic Peninsula by bridges and ferries, today, Galata is part of the larger Beyoglu district of Istanbul, which also includes the neighboring Karakoy area. Here we explore top things to do, see, places to eat, drink and stay in Galata and Karakoy with local expert help.

A ferry passes along the Bosphorus with Galata Tower in the distance.

Both Galata and Karakoy are considered the city’s creative hubs and hipster areas and are packed with small cafés, alternative bars, international and traditional restaurants, and some of the best-rated boutique hotels in Istanbul.

Exploring Galata & Karakoy – What to Do & See?

Enjoy panoramic views on top Galata Tower

The Galata Tower is undoubtedly one of the most famous monuments in Istanbul, providing the most spectacular views of the whole city. It offers stunning views over the entire Istanbul peninsula and its surrounds and is located at the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.

Aerial evening shot of the Galata Tower in Istanbul, Turkey. Aerial view of landmark at golden hour with beautiful sunlight.

It is also one of Istanbul’s most prominent attractions, overlooking Galata and Karakoy from its perch. Its brilliant lights can be seen from all across the city at night.

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Have a fun night-out at Galataport

Galataport Istanbul is home to several cultural and arts centers, a world-class cruise terminal, a port hotel, and an entertainment district with a variety of brands, cafés, restaurants, and offices.

With its accessible and low-rise buildings, architecture constructed in a neighborhood concept, in harmony with the historical texture of the region, and substitute transportation options, Galataport Istanbul provides a “breathing” healthy and safe culture-arts, shopping, dining, and wining experience to its guests.

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Galata Bridge

A walk on this bridge is highly recommended for tourists. The main attraction on this bridge is the famous Golden horn waters that will definitely take your breath away at first sight.

You can also enjoy the Turkish cuisine at cheaper prices here. if you are in Istanbul for a romantic getaway, this is your spot. There are street vendors that will serve you excellent cuisine. A walk on the galata bridge which spans the golden horn waters under the starry sky is the perfect romantic gesture.

Istanbul Modern Art Museum

A museum of modern and contemporary art, including permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a photographic gallery, a cinema, a café, a design store, and a library.

Saint Pierre Church

The Saint Pierre Church is worth seeing with its history dating back to 1700 years and its interesting architecture. It was built by the Architect Fossati Brothers, who worked for the restoration of Hagia Sophia in the 1840s, and is accessed by passing through a small wooden door and a courtyard. The back wall of the church near the Galata Tower was built inside a part of the old Genoese walls of Galata.

Private Pera Museum

Located along Tarlabasi boulevard in the Beyoglu district and close to famous Istiklal Street, the Private Pera Museum is one of the city’s active cultural and artistic venues. Housed in the magnificent Hotel Bristol building, originally built in 1893, the museum was opened by the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation in 2005 and you can enjoy the special collections belonging to the foundation. There are also multi-purpose exhibition halls, auditorium, education room, Artshop and Pera Cafe.

Orientalist Painting Collection, Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection, Kütahya Tile and Ceramics Collection, and Includes Photo Collection are among the permanent exhibitions you can see at the Pera Museum.

Cihangir

Named one of the five best places in the world to live by the British newspaper The Guardian, Cihangir is a neighborhood in the Beyoglu district. The area is home to an important community of expatriates.

As such, Cihangir is one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan areas in Istanbul. The neighborhood is not serviced by the metro or tram lines, however it is a short walking distance from Galata, Taksim and Karakoy.

Getting to and around

To move around, the area offers a wealth of transportation options including ferry stations, a funicular line and a few tram (T1-T2) and metro (M2) stops.

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