Şişli-Nişantaşı

This part of Istanbul really gives visitors more of a sense of modern-day Istanbul. It also gives them the opportunity to experience the cosmopolitan and chic side of this amazing city. In 1854 western style  modern buildings and homes were built by the government in Nişantaşı and Şişli became an area for upper managers and nouveau riche residents. At the time of the republic this tradition continued in Nişantaşı, and this neighbourhood kept its socialite character. Nişantaşı is part of İstanbul where socialites can be seen. Featuring fine shopping, a haven for cafés and brasseries, a rich neighbourhood, and a happy hour buzz, Nişantaşı is where the locals go to hang out, to see and be seen. Nisantasi is famous for its Art Nouveau apartment buildings and itsplethora of designer label stores. It is undoubtedly Istanbul’s most elegant quarter, home to a refreshingly large choice of excellent and stylish restaurants and bars. Nisantasi was originally an area for Ottoman soldiers in need of target practice. The land was opened up in the 18th century by Sultan Abulmecid, who ordered the construction of the Art Nouveau Police Station and Tesvikiye Mosque on the street which bears its name. Today the neighbourhood has left the military behind and provides consumerist fulfilment and dwellings for the affluent jet-set.

Rumeli, Vali Konagi and Tesvikiye Avenues

The heart of the neighbourhood is the point where Vali Konagi crosses Rumeli and Tesvikiye Avenues. Rumeli Avenue leads down from Osmanbey, the closest metro station. Rumeli forms the border of the rag trade district and here in the back streets wholesale clothing retailers are the norm. Signage is often in Russian and Turkish and it’s common to see taxis filled to the brim with leather jackets and shoes or clothing racks skittering along the sidewalk. Remzi Kitapevi is an excellent bookstore offering a vast selection of English books on its first floor just 100m or so from Osmanbey station. Vali Konagi Avenue is an everlasting traffic jam disguised as a major arterial road. At 4 pm the honking of horns becomes cacophonous as chauffeur-driven vehicles compete with each other on a one-way street. No one gets anywhere quickly until after 8pm. Tesvikiye Avenue is where Nisantasi really gets going. The two-year-old City’s Nişantaşı commercial centre has just the right amount of front-door security to impress everyone and the shops will assist even the most avaricious to max out their credit card. Everything but Turkish food is available here in a food court that will set you back a day’s salary.

Abdi Ipekci Street

Abdi Ipekci Street has the country’s most expensive retail space. This is not the place to come for a Turkish bath experience, though it may be possible to actually buy one here. Hugo Boss, Alexander McQueen, Cavalli, and Louis Vuitton are all tenants, in addition to Turkey’s best designers. Beymen is metrosexual heaven and offers all the brands yet to open exclusive stores on the street. It’s the place to come when in need of serious retail therapy.

Nisantasi’s Cafes

Cafes in Nisantasi are certainly worth trying out at least once. Good food. Great atmosphere. Superior people-watching. House Cafe, Brasserie Nisantasi and Cafe Mavi are all on or close to Abdi Ipekci Street and it’s along these sidewalks that friand-and-foccacia lovers can rub shoulders with Turkish celebrities. The neighbourhood has zillions of small boutiques that ensure unique and one-off gifts. Beyond the European facade are many wonderful stores stocked with household accessories that show a distinctly Turkish slant. The back streets are home to many galleries and windows brimming with what appear to be treasure troves from estates. In general, the smaller stores have pleasantly helpful staff members who are more than happy to explain the provenance and history of an interesting sculpture, painting or intricately carved commode.

Nightlife in Nisantasi

This neighbourhood is a pleasant escape from both the lacklustre nocturnal offerings in Sultanahmet and the unforgiving crowd of Taksim. The bars are quieter and more welcoming to those in search of a moderate night out on the town. Patrons with an appreciation for interior design and modern architecture will appreciate the care and thought that’s gone into the realisation of the city’s most elegant bars. It’s the one neighbourhood in Istanbul where Turkish may eventually become a second language, but in any case it’s the place for those not speaking the local tongue who want to mix with the locals.

Getting To and From Nisantasi

Osmanbey Metro Station is the place to get off, just one stop from Taksim. From there it's just a matter of following Rumeli Avenue for 250 metres until an intersection at which the traffic is at a standstill. This is Nisantasi. Taxis should be avoided from late afternoon until early evening because of nightmarish jams. However, it's always easy to get a cab from Nisantasi when it's time to head out. A drive to Sultanahmet takes approximately 20 minutes and up to 45 in peak hours.