Balat – Secret Gem of Istanbul | A Rainbow of Colors

Balat is certainly a secret gem of Istanbul, a hidden treasure. Tucked away in a quaint area, far away from most tourist attractions, most people aren’t lucky enough to come here for a visit. But it is certainly not to be missed as it’s an amazing opportunity to see a different side of Istanbul’s multi-faceted array of places to visit.

Balat Istanbul Colorful

Colors, Colors, and More Colors!

I’m pretty sure you can guess what drew me to Balat in the first place. Really, who can resist these whimsical, colorful houses, rainbow stairs, and bright cafes? Hipster heart of Istanbul. Local, organic cafes and restaurants. Laid back vibes. Colorful and quaint streets. Sounds like a dreamland.

Balat Istanbul Colorful Houses

After spending the whole morning in the Sultanhamet area, we decided to take a taxi to Balat to see a different side of Istanbul. About 15/20 minutes later and the whole city seemed to change. From the traditional Istanbul you see in tour books to a quaint and local neighborhood. I would have been super sad to miss this lovely place.

Balat Istanbul Colorful Rainbow Stairs

Beyond seeing the colorful houses and cute cafes, I was most excited to find the rainbow stairs and the umbrella street. After asking a few people and roaming a bit, we finally found it! And we were not disappointed!!

Balat Istanbul Colorful Umbrella Street

How to Get to Balat

It’s quite easy to get to Balat from anywhere in Istanbul. So even if you are not staying precisely in Balat, it’s only a short taxi drive away. It is about 15/20 minutes drive from the Sultanhamet area of Istanbul (where all the most famous tourist attractions are. From the Karakoy/Galata area it is also about a 15/20 minute drive.

Check out this post for more information about transportation in Turkey, tips, and tricks:


Tips for Visiting Balat

Balat Istanbul Colorful Cafes
  • Food– Balat is filled with adorable little cafes. It feels quite Parisian as you walk down the cobble-stone like streets and there are cafes on every corner, people talking over a coffee, smoking a cigarette. If you’re looking for a place to eat, you’ll certainly have no trouble!
  • Shopping – If you want to find some traditional Turkish goods, Balat can be a great place to go shopping. As it is a much less touristic area, it’s easier to find traditional items at a better price!
  • Where to Stay – Although there are some Airbnb’s in Balat itself, it would probably be better to stay in a different area of Istanbul and just take a 15 minute taxi drive for a few hours of wandering Balat. There isn’t too much to do in the area, so it may not be the best place to stay for many nights. We stayed in a cute boutique hotel in the Sultanhamet neighborhood, just a short taxi drive away.
  • History – Balat is traditionally the Jewish quarter of the Fatih district of Istanbul. There are even some ruins of a Synagogue in the area.

Looking for other amazing things to do in Istanbul or Turkey? Check out our Turkey travel page for more tips and tricks.

Don’t forget your travel essentials!

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a water bottle, hat and sunscreen! Here are some of our favorite essentials that we bring on every trip:

Every Day Bucket Hat – Everyone needs to bring along a hat while traveling…. it’s perfect to offer protection from the sun and also to hide bad hair days! Our favorite bucket hat also comes in tons of different colors.

Amazing Everyday Water Bottle – We literally don’t go anywhere without this water bottle. Perfect for hikes and also everyday! We can’t even describe how delightful it is to take a sip of water from this perfectly made bottle. Also available in multiple different sizes.

Timeless Vintage Backpack – What could be better than lots of different pockets to store all the little goodies that you bring along with you on your journeys? This backpack is comfortable, convenient, and a classic. A stylish backpack perfect for every environment.

Mini Tripod – Who doesn’t want to get the perfect photo while traveling? Not everyone is lucky enough to have a personal photographer with them at all times to capture the special moments, so that is where this portable tripod comes in handy. Adjustable, with a selfie stick handle, and a wireless control make it the perfect combo.

Rogue Fishing Co. The Protector Phone Tether – Adventurous journeys call for a little more caution when it comes to our electronics. This phone tether has saved us more than once on kayaking trips, rappelling, and hiking. The compact leash is small enough to stay out of your way, but stretches enough to help you get the perfect picture.

Lots of Love and Safe Travels,

Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters


  1. Love your blogs. Am getting ready to go back over to Turkey.

    1. Oh wow!! Thanks and I hope you enjoy your time there!! A truly lovely country!!

      1. Yes I’ll need to go through your Turkey stuff again…

      2. Yess please do!! And I hope it can be useful :))

  2. Really enjoyed this one.

    1. I’m happy! Thank you!

  3. Colorful place.

    1. Very much so!!

  4. Beautiful places πŸ™‚

    1. Lovely little nook of town!

  5. Colorful to say the least!

    1. Very true indeed!!

  6. Beautiful pictures. It seems you truly enjoyed yourself.

    1. Thank you so much! Was lovely πŸ™‚

  7. beautiful colors as always!

    1. It’s such a bright and beautiful place!!!

  8. One of the many reasons I work in the travel industry. Beautiful descriptions and pictures

    1. Thank you so much! And I can understand your love of working in the travel industry!!

  9. Balat is my favourite to so far ☺️

    1. Ooo I’m happy you enjoyed!!

  10. There are many wonderful sights outside of the standard tourist fare in Istanbul. The Spice Bazaar, early in the morning just as the traders are opening for the day. Mainly the local people, mixed with a few knowing tourists, wander through and get their sensory overload. The Ciragan Palace in Besiktas in the evening overlooking the first bridge is very nice too. Park Fora Fish and Seafood Restaurant on Muallim Naci Caddesi (again next to Bosphorus) in Besiktas is fine food. Finally the seafood restaurants in Uskudar close by the ferry terminal all enjoy great views and good food.

    1. Yess there are really so many incredible and hidden gems of Istanbul, it’s truly an amazing place!! I’ll keep those places in mind if I ever go back!

  11. Looking forward to visiting the place and experience the magic

    1. I really hope that you can!!

  12. Wow the colours on the stairs reminds me of Batu Caves in my country (Malaysia). Amazing website you have here, not just in content, but aesthetically as well. One of the best blogs I’ve seen on WordPress in a while!

    1. Wow thank you soo so much!! Really means a lot πŸ™‚ I would love to visit Malaysia one day, seems like a beautiful place!

  13. Beautiful! That’s all I can say. I’ve seen those stairs on Instagram a couple times and the umbrellas are sure mesmerising. Surely, you’re the colourful sisters.

    Cheers to more adventures!!!

    1. Hahahah it really is the perfect place for the Colorful Sisters, bright and colorful to say the least! Such a lovely little nook of the world πŸ™‚

  14. WOW!! This place is beautiful! Got to add this place to my bucketlist! πŸ™‚

  15. […] View the full post: BALAT – SECRET GEM OF ISTANBUL | A RAINBOW OF COLORS […]

  16. So beautiful! I’ll keep this place in mind if I ever make it back to Istanbul.

    1. Yayy amazing! It’s such an underrated part of the city! I loved it so much πŸ™‚

  17. Hi, how did you find the rainbow stairs and umbrella street please?

    1. Hii I don’t remember the exact street honestly, but the Balat area is not too large! If you walk around and ask the locals you’ll be sure to find it easily!

  18. How far is Balat from Kadekoy Asian side

    1. It is about a 30 minutes drive.

  19. Hii! where is the sunflower field pls? going to Turkey this August 😁

    1. I wish I could give an exact location, but we simply saw soooo many fields of them as we took busses throughout the country. There are lots in the area outside of Cappadocia. We saw them driving towards Konya. Hope this helps!

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