Off the Beaten Path in Rome’s Monti Neighborhood

by Amy Knauff

Monti is the historic area located between Termini Station and the Colosseum/Roman Forum.  It’s where Woody Allen shot a good deal of “To Rome with Love” – so it’s your picture postcard version of Rome: ivy covered buildings, narrow cobblestone streets – but it’s less touristy, more authentic and hip than the area around Piazza Navona/Pantheon.  On a rainy autumn day, here’s what we’d consider an ideal visit:

9:30am: Start at the Cavour metro stop. Walk straight up the street in front of you, via Leonina. Here you’ll find two great cafés to choose from for breakfast. Ciuri Ciuri, at nr. 18, is a classic Italian bar with yummy Sicilian pastries (cassate, cannoli, marzipan, Modica chocolate, sweets made with Avola almonds and Bronte pistacchios). 2 Periodico Café, at nr. 77, is a cozy spot where you can enjoy a more leisurely breakfast while listening to chill-out music, snuggled up in an armchair as you read the morning paper.  For a typical Roman bar, with amazing coffee and good pastries, head right up Via del Boschetto to Er Baretto on your left at nr. 132 (has a few outside tables too).

10am: Head back down via Leonina to nr. 46/48, where you’ll find a big, blocky industrial-looking building that stands out like a sore thumb from the more quaint buildings in Monti. It’s a parking garage, and on Saturdays and Sundays, the ground floor is home to Mercato Monti, a small but interesting vintage-styled market. Purists, take note: most stuff in here is not actually vintage. But it’s the style that counts, and it’s a fun spot to pick up some interesting, offbeat finds and hang out with creative types.

11am: Leave the market and head out for a wander around the narrow cobblestone streets of Monti. This neighborhood is charming, picturesque and packed to the brim with interesting, eclectic shops for clothing, jewelry, and home goods. Stop by the uninspiringly named Candle’s Store (via Urbana, 21), which has gorgeous homemade candles. Aromaticus (via Urbana, 134) is like being in an adorable greenhouse; they sell garden and home decorations (and you can enjoy lunch or an organic smoothie or snack surrounded by greenery). On via dei Serpenti (nr. 141) check out Pifebo Vintage Shop, which has authentic vintage finds.

Of course, Monti isn’t just about shopping: the architecture is fascinating, as the mix of individual homes with street entrances, ivy-draped streets, and planters exploding with red and pink flowers make you feel like you’re not in otherwise chaotic Rome. Being something of a bohemian/artsy area, there is also plenty of interesting street art and graffiti to see as you walk around. (See if you can spot the space invader mosaics!) And of course, it’s de rigueur to pay a visit to the neighborhood church – the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti right in the main piazza was designed by none other than Giacomo della Porta.

1pm: You’ve earned a long lunch. Monti is loaded with good restaurants (for all budgets). Urbana 47 (at via Urbana 47, of course) is one of the most popular ones in Monti, and it’s “zero-kilometer” (locally sourced). But in general, it’s hard to go wrong in this area – it has mostly authentic, non-tourist-menu restaurants. Even La Bottega del Caffè located smack dab in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti is good, packed with tourists and locals alike. It has covered outdoor seating (so it’s great for people-watching) and I like their pasta with salmon in cream sauce. If you’re in the mood for something non-Italian, you can also get sushi at Daruma (via dei Serpenti 1) or Indian at Maharajah (via dei Serpenti 124) or Sitar (via Cavour 256) to name two of the four different Indian restaurants in the area.  Down Via dei Madonna ai Monti, almost at the end on the right, is Taverna ai Fori Imperiali (via della Madonna dei Monti 9), a well known Roman trattoria with great food – but you’ll definitely need to make a reservation.

2:30pm: Stretch your legs after lunch – climb the stairs next to the Irish pub on via Leonina and cross the busy street (via Cavour). On the other side there is a big tunnel with stairs. Walk up the stairs and keep going straight until you get to Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli. Follow the hordes of tourists into the church and visit the stunning marble statue of Moses, sculpted by Michelangelo.

3pm: Leave the church and keep going straight, away from via Cavour. You’ll soon get to the back end of the Colle Oppio park, which overlooks the Colosseum. On Sundays the dirt soccer field (called “la polverera” for its dustiness in the summer) in this part of the park is used all day by Latin American soccer teams. They play rain or shine. Huddle under your umbrella for a while and watch the back-to-back soccer games with the Colosseum as a backdrop. The smell of South American food and the sound of Latin rhythms add to the atmosphere.

4pm: It’s time for an afternoon coffee (or hot chocolate). Get out of the rain and into the closest coffee bar. Caffe dello Studente, just across from the soccer field, is Rick Steves-recommended and has a nice view of the Colosseum.

And no visit to Monti is complete without a stop at Fata Morgana on Piazza degli Zingari (up at the end of Via degli Zingari, and not on the lower part near the Cavour metro).  This is one of the top 3 gelaterias in the entire city and not to be missed.

Want to stay in the neighborhood? Here’s some of our top suggestions:

Piccola Venere from €129/night

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Appartamento Panisperna from €114/night

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Apparatmento Urbana from €110/night

 

Shoreditch – The Coolest Neighborhood in London’s East End

by Steven Brenner

 

There’s something about the East Side of many cities that sounds unsavory.  Who knows why – maybe historically it comes from the wind’s direction, blowing bad smells from nearby industry toward the East, or maybe it has something to do with the current of the Thames and the crap it would wash up down shore to the have-nots.

Whatever the reason, the East End has typically been considered the less salubrious part of London – and perhaps many East Sides worldwide have inherited that same reputation.

 

 

But these are also the areas that have the wealth of ethnicity and the youthful artistic flair to be transformed into the kinds of fashionable neighborhoods I hunt for – neighborhoods with small, non-corporate businesses; artistic industry and the people who work in them.  In London, this is what you find in Shoreditch, the area just north of the City of London’s financial district which has been undergoing gentrification since the late 1990′s.

 

 

Shoreditch (the name may even come from a variation of “Sewer Ditch”) is technically in the borough of Hackney, and includes Old Street Tube station, Shoreditch High Street, Brick Lane (the Bangladeshi area made famous by Monica Ali’s novel of the same name), and Hoxton.  At its borders are Islington to the north and Liverpool Street station in the south, which is right at the edge of the City of London.

Here’s some of the great things about the area:

 

 

Boxpark, a pop-up mall made from shipping containers.  Ok, it’s a mall, but I have to appreciate how much it deviates from the typical model of a shopping mall.

 

 

Columbia Road flower market.  On Sundays this outdoor market is as alive as can be.  Again, it’s lots of shopping, but mostly vintage, food, flowers and it’s all outside and convivial with lots of great people watching.

 

 

Brick Lane.  Once the slums (and apparently the scene of Jack the Ripper’s murders), it’s now an entire universe of ethnicity.   This is the place to come for a Bangladeshi curry.  It’s punks, street art, music, street food, vintage, and sometimes so crowded you can barely walk down the street.

 

 

People watching.  There are some people in Shoreditch who are so cool, there isn’t even a name for their fashion sense.

Old converted warehouse buildings make the best lofts and restaurants.  Nearby, an old Framery from the 1920′s was converted into a group of funky flats:

 

Flat 1 – £125 a night

Flat 2 – £125 a night

Flat 3 – £125 a night

Flat 4 – £159 a night

Flat 5 – £142

Flat 6 – £142

Flat 7 – £142 a night

Loft – £301 a night up to 8 people

 

Vietnamese food. When Shoreditch High Street becomes Kingsland Road you’re in Vietnamese heaven. If you have yet to be completely converted to the wonders of Pho – a Vietnamese noodle soup, you’ll need to plan a little visit here.

 

  

 

Shopping. Yes, there is plenty of vintage, but there is literally everything else too. If you’re looking for something unique, something you can say you bought in London and not just anywhere else in the world, you’ll probably find it here. There’s also a number of semi-outdoor markets, such as the Spitalfield Market.

 

 

More cool places to stay in the area:

Shoreditch Studio for £119 a night

Shoreditch 1 bedroom for £165 a night

Victory Chambers 2 bedroom from £160 per night

Broadway Market from £95 per night

Florence Neighborhood Guide

by Steven Brenner

Overview of the city

I can’t stress enough how easy it is to visit Florence – it’s small, it’s flat, it’s more pedestrian than car-centric, and everything you want to see is within walking distance.  You won’t need public transportation or taxis and you won’t need to worry too much about whether you’re central enough.

To a Florentine, the city would encompass a much greater area than I will detail here, and the neighborhoods have specific names that I’m not using, because essentially I want to give you the very simplified, practical version of Florence, designed for someone who knows nothing about the city and wants to get their bearings.

You’ll probably enter the city by the main train station, Santa Maria Novella (top left circle), which is at the upper, western edge of the city center.  About a 10 minute walk away, towering over the center of the city, you have the Duomo at Piazza Santa Maria del Fiore (middle blue circle).  South of that you pass Piazza della Repubblica and then hit the Piazza della Signoria (with the statue of David copy), then the Uffizi, then the river Arno which is crossed at this point by the Ponte Vecchio (bottom circle).

That whole walk, to give you an idea of size, should take under 30 minutes.

Just beneath the Ponte Vecchio is the Pitti Palace and to the east of that, the Boboli Gardens.  This whole area south of the Arno river is known as the Oltrarno (it means “across the Arno”).

As this map above shows, Florence is not a particularly large city, and the neighborhoods are fairly the same in terms of architecture and the density of shops/cafes and restaurants, but there are some variations to the different areas that I’ll point out that might help you choose which area is the best for you.

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South of Santa Maria Novella

If you’re on the cheap, this is a pretty logical place to stay.  It’ll probably take you about 5 minutes to get over here from the station and then about 10-15 minutes to get pretty much everywhere else in the historic center.  There are some narrow streets, but cars are still allowed over here.  Lots of people on bicycles.  A mix of aging locals, immigrants, hotels, and a general bustling vibe.  It’s also home to the historic Erboisteria Santa Maria Novella, and some good, cheap eats (some ethnic, some traditional).

Where to stay:

Tre Gigli  – double rooms from €70 a night in high season.

Casa Corsi – double rooms from €75 a night in high season

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Behind SM Novella

About a 5 minute walk behind the station, going away from the center, this is a good choice if you are traveling by car, or want to save even more and don’t mind adding 5-10 minutes on to all that walking you’ll be doing.  The area, for the most part, loses some of the vibe of the rest of the city, and has some newer buildings that kill the architectural landscape a bit, but the plus is that the accommodations over here are more modern and functional.  It feels mostly residential and quiet, despite being so close to the station.  It doesn’t have that sketchy train station atmosphere that many train stations do, but if you really want to be on a small, cobblestone street, you’ll have to go a bit further in (and pay a bit more).  If you favor a room that’s more modern, this might be a better option for you.

Where to stay:

Residenza Giulia  – double rooms around €102 a night.

Bed and Bed Cassia - double rooms for €55 night in high season

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Fortezza da Basso and the Mercato Generale

This is a very residential, quiet part of Florence, with a number of ethnic food shops peppered here and there.  There are more cars, but not much congestion of traffic.  The buildings are older, typically Florentine.  Once you get to the Mercato Generale you have some serious old-school Florentine food – more tripe sandwiches than you can shake a stick at.  On the north of this circle you have the Fortezza da Basso which was a fort built in the 1500′s and is now a convention center.  From there you’re looking at a 10 minute walk to the Duomo and the Mercato.  It’s an obvious choice for anyone coming to Florence for a convention, but it’s also a good way to be away from the crowds and traffic and people around the train station without adding too much space between you and the stuff you want to see.

Where to stay:

Casa di Barbano – €92 for a double room in high season, with breafkast.

Gianna’s B&B – €100 for a double with breakfast in high season.

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Historic Center

Pretty much everything in your guide book is here.  One way to reach this area from the station is to go through Via Faenza, a very touristed street, made more crowded by hotels and pensioni thanks to it being a Rick Steves’ preferred, budget area in Florence.  It’s a mixed bag of good restaurants and tacky tourist souvenir stuff, lots of hotels and internet cafes.  Architecturally speaking, it’s still old-Florence and a narrow, quaint streets and feels just like anywhere else in the center, but without the glamor.  The street essentially ends at the Duomo, so it’s a good budget option for being just outside the “center”.

I consider the center the few blocks from the Duomo at the north to the Ponte Vecchio at the south.  There’s a few main streets that are wider and have taxis and literally swarms of people.  Often in the summer you can barely walk down these streets.  Florence doesn’t absorb tourists all that well, given that the center is so small, and it can be quite overwhelming in high season.

Accommodations are generally more upscale here.  Restaurants are pricier and you’ll see lots of boutiques and high fashion.

Where to stay:

Via Faenza:

Casa Billi - doubles around €65 a night in high season

Bencidormi - artsy doubles at €95 a night

Historic Center:

Cimatori B&B – traditional, charming doubles at €115 a night

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Oltrarno

Literally meaning “across the Arno”, the Oltrarno is my favorite area.  A bit harder to get to with bags for new arrivals (maybe a 20-30 minute walk), but once here you’re in a real neighborhood.  Better, cheaper food.  More local culture and less crowds.  You can walk to the Ponte Vecchio in about 5-15 minutes depending where you are.  There’s usually some savings for staying around here as well.  As for sites, just south of the Ponte Vecchio you have the Pitti Palace and then the Boboli Gardens behind that (to the east).  Via Maggio is a main street that runs away from the river and cuts through the Oltrarno.  Going further west you have Via dei Serragli, which can take you to all sorts of good local restaurants, and then crossing through the Oltrarno is Via di Santo Spirito and Borgo San Frediano.  In the center of all this is Piazza Santo Sprito with a daily fruit and vegetable market in the morning.  This is the area of the vanishing artisans that I’ve written about here and is much more easy going and less touristy than the other side of Florence.

Where to stay:

Casa di Annusca - €68 euro doubles and a nice little garden where breakfast is served

Ponte Vecchio Suite – 2 bedroom apartment for €160 a night for 4 guests

Barcelona Neighborhood Guide

by Amy Knauff

If you’re trying to decide where to stay during your trip to Barcelona, keep reading for an overview of the most central neighborhoods. And keep in mind my personal rule of thumb (though absolutely not a hard-and-fast rule!): if you’re there for just a couple days, better to splurge and stay somewhere very central so you can make the most of your time and avoid any time wasted on public transport (efficient though it may be). If you’re staying for a longer period of time (say, 4 days and up), stay somewhere a little less central and a little more residential: you’ll save money and you’ll get to know the “real” city and not just the touristy parts.

The Ciutat Vella (Old City) is basically the historic center, which is subdivided into a few different neighborhoods – Gothic Quarter, El Born/La Ribera/Sant Pere, La Rambla.

These are the most central neighborhoods of Barcelona. If you stay in the Gothic Quarter, El Born/La Ribera/Sant Pere, or La Rambla, you will be within walking distance of most tourist sites and you’ll only have to take public transport to get to the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, or Montjuïc. If you’re into walking, you can also easily get to the Manzana de la Discordia in L’Eixample. El Raval and Barceloneta are also central, but slightly less so, so you may use the metro a little more often if you stay in either of these areas.

Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter) – this is the very oldest part of Barcelona. It has the ruins of an ancient Roman wall and the medieval Jewish quarter. You’ll find the Cathedral as well as Plaça Sant Jaume with City Hall and Plaça Reial (my favorite square in Barcelona!). Fairly new restrictions on accommodations in this area have forced many to close or move; you will find some here but not as many as you might think.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – The Codols Flat

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El Born/La Ribera/Sant Pere – there is a confusing mess of names for this neighborhood (three of which I’ve mentioned above): the areas referred to overlap one another, or are different names for the same area. But for our purposes, we’re talking about the neighborhood on the other side of via Laietana – the main artery that basically cuts the old city in half — from the Barri Gòtic. El Born (more or less the lower part of the neighborhood) is now a very trendy area with lots of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The upper part of the area is a little more traditional and less touristy. This area is home to the Picasso museum, and is close to the Arc de Triomf and the lovely Parc de la Ciutadella. There are more accommodations here than in the Barri Gòtic, but they’re still limited simply due to space constrictions.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – San Augustì Flat

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La Rambla – also referred to as Las Ramblas, this is the big tourist strip of Barcelona. While you’re on or near La Rambla, you must be viligant about watching your wallet or bag because pickpocketers abound. La Rambla runs from north to south starting at Plaça de Catalunya and ending at the port, and divides the Barri Gòtic and El Raval neighborhoods. La Rambla itself is a tourist trap – but an interesting, not-to-miss one. A stroll down it to see the human statues and performers, and the flower, bird, and souvenir stalls, is obligatory. But I don’t recommend eating or drinking anything at the restaurants/bars: I’m sure it makes for good people-watching, but the arm and leg you will be charged is not worth it. As far as accommodations, right on La Rambla and the Plaça de Catalunya you’ll mostly find expensive hotels.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – Apartamento Boqueria

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El Raval – the neighborhood on the other side of La Rambla from the Barri Gòtic. It used to have a very bad reputation as being seedy, dirty, rundown, and even dangerous (think: prostitutes and drug dealers). However, since Barcelona got cleaned up for the 1992 Olympics, like the rest of the city, it’s been revitalized. These days it’s an up-and-coming trendy, artsy, bohemian, multicultural neighborhood, full of interesting night spots and bars. Here you’ll find the MACBA (Modern Art Museum of Barcelona), the Boqueria market, and the Rambla del Raval (don’t miss the fat-cat statue!). The lower area close to the port is still more rundown looking with some litter and graffiti. More and more tourist accommodations are opening up in El Raval, from hotels to B&Bs or private apartments.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – Lleó Flat

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Barceloneta – If you’re looking at a map of the city, this is the small area that juts off the bottom of Barcelona on the east side of the port. It used to be a working-class area populated mostly with fishermen and their families; today it’s a mix of local families who have been there for generations, expats, and tourists. The grid-pattern streets are narrow and in the more traditional parts of the neighborhood you’ll see laundry strung out to dry on lines stretching across the street.  Closer to the water and in the squares, you’ll find some of the best seafood and paella restaurants in the city. The city’s most popular Barcelona beach is here, and you can walk up and down the boardwalk to get to other beaches. Smaller tourist accommodations, mostly rental apartments, are in this area and especially popular in the summer.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – Natalie’s Barceloneta Flat

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The following three neighborhoods are very central, though less so than the historic center. They’re all well-connected by metro and bus so you can very easily get anywhere you need to. L’Eixample is a mix of touristy and residential, being the closest of the three to the Old City. Gràcia and Sagrada Familia are the least touristy and will give you the most genuine what-it-feels-like-to-live-in-Barcelona experience.

L’Eixample – locals further narrow this neighborhood down to “L’Eixample Esquerra” (left-hand side) and “L’Eixample Dreta” (right-hand side), but it’s all part of the same residential neighborhood just north of the historic center. The main thoroughfares are the Passeig de Gràcia, the Rambla Catalunya, the Gran Via Corts Catalanes, and the Avinguda Diagonal. L’Eixample is a mix of residential apartment buildings, offices, businesses, stores, bars, and restaurants. Here you’ll find the most important Modernista buildings, including Gaudí’s La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. The neighborhood is also packed with tourist accommodations (hotels, B&Bs, rental apartments).

Where to stay in this neighborhood – Zoo Rooms

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Gràcia – north and a little to the east of L’Eixample. This area is absolutely adored by young Barcelonians and expats alike. Once a very traditional neighborhood, you’ll still find older locals mixed in with the artsy, bohemian types who are flocking here. You won’t find many “tourist sites” in this area, but its charming streets and squares filled with terrace (outdoor) bars offer good nightlife and food, and the interesting little shops are great for a not-so-touristy souvenir to take home. Being less touristy than the historic center of neighboring L’Eixample, you will find accommodations here, but not nearly as many.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – Angie’s Gràcia Attic Guestroom

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Sagrada Familia – here we’ve got another confusing neighborhood-name issue. The Sagrada Familia is technically in L’Eixample, but tends to be referred to anyway as its own neighborhood. Also, nearby neighborhoods that are within walking distance of the Sagrada Familia have their own names – for example, Hospital de Sant Pau, Guinardó, or Clot – but for clarity purposes here I’ll just refer to the whole thing as “Sagrada Familia”. The main tourist site in this area is, obviously, Gaudí’s magnificent Sagrada Familia Basilica, and there’s not much else there in the way of tourist attractions. That means most tourists stay in other areas and take the metro out to see the Sagrada Familia. Besides the few blocks around the basilica, the area is mainly residential, with shops, businesses, and restaurants. Like Gràcia, you’ll find some tourist accommodations (as you will all over Barcelona) but not as many as the more central neighborhoods mentioned earlier.

Where to stay in this neighborhood – Apartamento Los Wiwoos

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It’s worth mentioning that there are, of course, plenty of other neighborhoods in Barcelona, although they aren’t as central as the ones mentioned above, and are less frequented by tourists. For instance, we work with some properties, like Anita’s B&B, in the Sant Gervasi area (kind of far out near Tibidabo mountain, but with an amazing view of the city), Poble Sec (a residential neighborhood close to Montjuïc), and the Olimpic Port area (a kind of industrial-looking residential neighborhood, but super close to the beaches and Barceloneta). If you’re considering accommodation in an area that’s not mentioned above, just take a look at the map of Barcelona: if it falls within the boundaries of a tourist map, or if it’s close to a metro stop, you’ll be just fine.

Some notes on Barcelona’s fantastic public transport system:

-The metro is extensive, with 11 different lines going throughout the city and into the surrounding areas. There are close to a hundred bus lines which also cover places the metro doesn’t quite get to.
-In my experience, the buses and metro are clean and safe, and staff is pretty helpful.
-The metro is super easy to navigate; ticket machines are self-evident (and you can choose English), and there are maps everywhere clearly indicating where you have to go. The bus system is a little trickier, but if you get a bus map or ask the driver or a local, you’ll get where you want to go.
-Both the metro and buses run until late. You can easily get back to your accommodations after a late dinner and a leisurely stroll around the city. If you’re planning on partying into the night, you’ll probably need to grab a taxi back (which is cheap in Barcelona).
-Both buses and metro are rather efficient. Metros go by every few minutes, with wait times updated to the second on screens over the platform. Buses go by pretty frequently too and you can use your smartphone to easily get wait time updates.

If it sounds like I’m raving… well, maybe I am just a tiny bit. After years of living in Rome, the public transport system in Barcelona really is impressive to me. The point, though, is that it’s so easy to get around the city at almost any time of day that you can really stay anywhere you want. You’re not confined to the historic center because it’s too much of a pain to get back and forth from other areas, as you are in some big cities. This, in turn, means that accommodations are spread out all over the city rather than just being concentrated downtown. In fact, from my experience and research, it seems that the residential L’Eixample neighborhood has more hotels, B&Bs, and rental apartments than the historic center does.

Where to stay in Istanbul – Cihangir vs. Sultanahmet

What’s the best, most central neighborhood in a city that spans over 2,000 square miles and has almost 3,000 years of history?  Well, the first hurdle to get over is the idea of there being one “center” to this city and one “best” area.  Many consider Sultanahmet the center of Istanbul – and although it’s a logical base to visit the main, historic sites from, it’s hardly the most interesting part of the city (unless you want chain-hotels and tourist restaurants).  Many first timers choose Sultanahmet for the convenience, but Istanbul is a pretty easy city to get around in, so don’t be afraid to use public transport, and taxis are cheap.   Istanbul is also one of the most vibrant, interesting cities I know and worth staying in a neighborhood that combines both the old and new, a neighborhood that feels like “home” base.

One such neighborhood, perhaps my favorite in Istanbul, is Cihangir (pronounced gee-hun-gear). This district was named by Suleiman the Magnificent during the 16th century after his son, the crown prince Cihangir, in order to compensate for the fact that he was deformed.  It means, “Conquerer”.

Throughout the decades, Cihangir has become a center of multiculturalism; it is still very popular among the very crowded expat community in Istanbul.  Like any other district famed for its “bohemian” qualities, Cihangir went through the stages of respectable, classic, nostalgic and now it’s part of Istanbul’s new “chic” areas, with countless cafes, and loads of great apartments for short term stays.

Currently a famous Turkish sitcom, Yalan Dünya (World of Lies), uses the district as a background to the artsy, funky, the not so traditional characters on the show.

Cihangir lies very close to the Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait) and the Golden Horn and since the neighborhood is up on a hill, many apartments and cafes have views of the Bosphorus and the Asian skyline.  Moreover, it is only a 5 minute walk away from Istiklal Street – a total madhouse of shops, pubs and clubs that never dies down, no matter what the hour.

Just before opening up to Istiklal Street, Taksim Square is the final destination of many bus lines, as well as the metro system. You will find your way to the Atatürk airport easily whether you want to use the direct private bus lines (Havas or Havatas), or the metro to get there.  However, a new building project is trying to move all the traffic around Taksim Square below ground allowing for better pedestrian access.  So depending on the time of your arrival you might be in for a surprise.  The project is planned to be completed by August, 2013.

Cihangir is a neighborhood that needs to be lived in, not just visited from somewhere else in the city.  It’s a place to come home to after a day of sightseeing in Sultanahmet and the best place to wake up to and go out for a hearty Turkish breakfast.

Some of our favorite local spots:

Susam Cafe – great local hangout.  Good for coffee or drinks any time of day.

Van Kahvaltı Evi – The best place for breakfast.

White Mill Cafe – Great place for a drink on their terrace.

Firuzağa Kavesi – The quintessential neighborhood tea house.

Pazi Yemek Evi – Simple, cheap and good food.