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.

Lots of Love and Safe Travels,

Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters

Join the discussion

  1. oldbirdtravels

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

  2. FortunateCave

    Really enjoyed this one.

  3. Timothy Price

    Colorful place.

  4. Talent Discovery

    Beautiful places πŸ™‚

  5. salsaworldtraveler

    Colorful to say the least!

  6. Optimal Health

    Beautiful pictures. It seems you truly enjoyed yourself.

  7. hitravelstories

    beautiful colors as always!

  8. Cheryl Echevarria

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

    • Colorful Sisters

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

  9. universityoflife&son

    Balat is my favourite to so far ☺️

  10. rescuedogdexter

    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.

    • Colorful Sisters

      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. Adlynejep

    Looking forward to visiting the place and experience the magic

  12. Stuart Danker

    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!

    • Colorful Sisters

      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. Eromonsele Emmanuel

    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!!!

  14. zuludelta45

    Color indeed!!!

  15. Manny

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

  16. Pingback: 2 Days in Istanbul? Top 7 Things to See Before you Leave | Turkey Travel

  17. Laleh

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

    • Colorful Sisters

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

  18. Christine

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

    • Colorful Sisters

      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!

  19. Mary Ann

    How far is Balat from Kadekoy Asian side

  20. Priya Nagawah

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

    • Colorful Sisters

      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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