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.
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.
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.
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!!
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
- 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.
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters