Karaköy: Istanbul’s New Hipster District with Tons of Alternatives

Karaköy was once famous for its fish stalls and hardware shops. But now, an exciting new tide of art galleries and design-driven hotels swept up this gritty waterfront district. So, this one of the coolest Istanbul‘s neighborhoods has been welcoming both local and international explorers!

Hotels in Karaköy, Istanbul

Where to Stay?

The Vault Karaköy

The hotel is the newest opening from the hipster-friendly House Hotel group. However, this one, set in an imposing 19th-century bank, is a much more grown-up affair. So, they have preserved the original features and the vaults reinvented as a bar and wine cellar. What’s more, there is a cool rooftop restaurant, traditional hammam, and modern-art collection, as well.

Cafes and bars in Karaköy are a great way to spend a weekend
Cafes and bars in Karaköy are a great way to spend a weekend

Address: Bankalar Caddesi 5 (+90 212 244 34 00; www.thehousehotel.com). Doubles from about £175

Sub Hotel

It is an industrial-chic aesthetic is channeled at the SuB Hotel, with polished concrete walls and steel factory windows. Nevertheless, any hardness is tempered by Turkish cotton towels and beds topped with anti-stress mattresses and feather-light duvets.

Address: Necatibey Caddesi 91 (+90 212 243 0005; www.subistanbul.com). Doubles from about £85

Karaköy Rooms

The nine fantastically big bedrooms in Karaköy Rooms, above buzzy hangout Karaköy Lokantasi, pack quite a design punch. Then, they combine lofty ceilings, ornate plasterwork, and parquet floors with minimalist, retro-style furniture and surprisingly elegant exposed copper piping.

Karaköy is a living district with its living habitat
Karaköy is a living district with its living habitat

Address: Galata Sarap Iskelesi Sokak 10 (+90 212 252 5422; www.karakoyrooms.com). Doubles from about £95

Restaurants in Karaköy, Istanbul

Where to Eat?

Lokanta Maya

Owner and chef Didem Senol sources seasonal ingredients from all over the country for her contemporary take on Turkish home cooking at Lokanta Maya. So, the mücver (courgette fritters) are absurdly good. Therefore, many people have asked for the recipe, so, she’s written it on one of the mirrors.

Address: Kemankeş Caddesi 35A (+90 212 252 6884; www.lokantamaya.com). About £65 for two

Karaköy offers tons of options from delicious and tempting Turkish cuisine
Karaköy offers tons of options from delicious and tempting Turkish cuisine

Komodor Restaurant

The diminutive Komodor restaurant serves thin-crust pizzas with creative toppings, including figs and purslane. So, you must try the Hektor with homemade sausage and the Milas, topped with Aegean herbs and cheese. And then, wash it down with one of the freshly made hibiscus and ginger juices.

Address: Kilic Ali Paşa Mescidi Sokak 11A (+90 212 293 5300). About £15 for two

Unter

The people behind Auf, Kauf, and Nuteras, the trio of popular restaurants in the Nupera building, have a new project, Unter. This three-storey restaurant-café-bar whips up a cracking weekend brunch. Moreover, it consists of a mix of Turkish cheeses, olives, and salmon with scrambled eggs on brioche. So, it is the best hangover cure.

Address: Kara Ali Kaptan Sokak 4 (+90 212 244 5151; www.unter.com.tr). About £20 for two

CAFÉS IN KARAKÖY, ISTANBUL

Where to Snack?

Karabatak

The Viennese coffee, fat slices of cheesecake, piles of magazines, and pieces of vintage furniture have made Karabatak a popular little stomping ground. So, if you want some quiet time, head upstairs to the reading room.

Address: Kara Ali Kaptan Sokak 7 (+90 212 243 6993; www.karabatak.com)

Ops Café

The cafe is cool but cozy. Moreover, a retired sea captain owns Ops Café. Therefore, it explains the nautical memorabilia such as the anchor chains hanging on the walls. Moreover, the menu is simple and hearty. Made-to-order sandwiches, just-baked cookies, and a breakfast that includes the house specialty will amaze you! So, this specialty, by the way, is Macedonian smoked beef.

This cool neighborhood in Istanbul has been welcoming both local and foreign visitors
This cool neighborhood in Istanbul has been welcoming both local and foreign visitors

Address: Mumhane Caddesi Nimet Han 45B (+90 212 245 0288; www.opscafekarakoy.com)

BARS IN KARAKÖY, ISTANBUL

Where to Drink?

Gaspar

Gaspar is the new bar and nightclub from Ferit Sarper. He is, in the meantime, the owner of the slick Münferit restaurant. By the way, it is based in an old printing press. As for his wife, she is one half of the Istanbul design team Autoban, which also does the interiors for House Hotels. The look she has created here is dark and moody. So, if you’re feeling bold, take on a round of thrice-distilled Beylerbeyi Raki. It is, meanwhile, Turkey’s potent anise-flavored spirit. By the way, it is Sarper’s family who produces it.

Address: Müeyyeyzade Mahallesi, Necatibey Caddesi, Arapoğlan Sokak 6 (+90 212 293 6660)

Fosil Lounge Bar

Owners have recently opened Fosil Lounge Bar. The bar is on the third floor of an old building with a spot-on view across the mouth of the Golden Horn. So, come here to watch the sunset over Sultanahmet mosque. Afterward, try one of the interesting cocktails such as the Southern Comfort- and Amaretto-laced Star Wars.

Karaköy is the place where the history and the modern meet
Karaköy is the place where the history and the modern meet

Address: Kemankeş Caddesi 34C (+90 216 355 7791)

WHERE TO SEE ART IN KARAKÖY, ISTANBUL

Where to See Art?

Galeri Manâ

The gallery is located in a converted 19th-century wheat mill. It is at the forefront of the area’s burgeoning contemporary art scene. Furthermore, the gallery is holding inventive solo and group shows from international and Turkish artists. Besides, it is including boundary-pushing video maker Kutluğ Ataman.

Address: Ali Paşa Değirmeni Sokak 16-18 (+90 212 243 6666; www.galerimana.com)

SALT Galata

The marble halls of the landmark Imperial Ottoman Bank are now home to SALT Galata. It is a spectacular cultural institution that puts on a variety of talks, screenings, and workshops. They all, by the way, are free.

An image from SALT Karaköy
An image from SALT Karaköy

Address: Bankalar Caddesi 11 (+90 212 334 2200; www.saltonline.org)

Istanbul Modern

It began life as a waterfront customs warehouse before being converted into a vast public space. Alongside cutting-edge exhibitions, there are photography and video-art galleries. What’s more, you will also find a new media space, a library, and an arthouse cinema.

Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi Liman Işletmeleri Sahası Antrepo 4 (+90 212 334 7300; www.istanbulmodern.org)

SHOPPING IN KARAKÖY, ISTANBUL

Where to Shop?

Lab: Istanbul

Along the historic French Passage arcade, Lab: Istanbul sells an ever-changing selection of quirky interiors items. So, they are local designers, who produce these precious materials. Moreover, there is a covetable assortment of vintage sunglasses from [email protected] What’s more, velvet Italia Independent frames will also accompany your fashion taste.

The Viennese coffee, fat slices of cheesecake, piles of magazines, and pieces of vintage furniture have made Karabatak a popular little stomping ground
The Viennese coffee, fat slices of cheesecake, piles of magazines, and pieces of vintage furniture have made Karabatak a popular little stomping ground

Address: Fransiz Geçidi C blok 9 (+90 212 252 1262; www.labistanbul.com)

Selda Okutan

Young Turkish jewelry designer Selda Okutan makes, displays, and sells one-of-a-kind pieces at her glass-fronted atelier. Furthermore, splendiferous human figures populated them. And what’s more, they’re less jewelry and more miniature sculpture.

Address: Ali Paşa Değirmeni Sokak 10A (+90 212 514 1164; www.seldaokutan.com)

So, if this article and Karaköy itself have drawn your attention, it should be the first thing to visit this cool district in Istanbul. We assure you that you will find even more than we have just mentioned above. Meanwhile, comments, likes, and critics are welcome as always!

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