After all my recent trips to Istanbul in the last couple of years, I finally made the effort to return to beautiful area of Arnavutköy, in the district of Beşiktaş (pronounced baeshiktásh).
Arnavutköy, which means “Albanian village” in Turkish, is a charming neighbourhood on the European side, away from the touristic hustle and bustle of Sultanahmet. In my opinion – and that of many other Istanbulphiles – is that Arnavutköy is the city’s best kept secret.
There aren’t many museums or so-called world-class landmarks. But Arnavutköy wasn’t born to be flashy. The charm of this residential area is the fact it retains its quiet fishermen’s village feel, even though it’s located in one of the world’s busiest metropolis. On top of that, there are a number of old Ottoman wooden mansions to add to its beauty.
Arnavutköy is also one of Istanbul’s most progressive areas, probably because of its multi-cultural population. Yes, the area is home to a large Greek, Jewish and Armenian community – in addition, of course, to Muslim Turks – who live in harmony.
Although they prefer to keep their distance from the horde of tourists that come into Istanbul every day, the area is slowly being discovered – and loved – by visitors, attracted by the area’s beauty, tranquillity and fantastic views over the Bosphorus.
WHAT TO DO IN ARNAVUTKÖY
In terms of what to do in Arnavutköy, there isn’t a lot to do. My recommendation is to visit the area early morning, when the fishermen are still capturing the day’s catch – you’ll definitely get great images. Apart from that, you can cross the street from the pier, walk across the small square and walk up two streets.
I hadn’t been to the area for at least three years and I was amazed by how it seems unchanged – apart from a few trendy restaurants by the marina. Still, Arnavutköy is far from becoming flashy like neighbour Bebek our Nisantasi.
HOW TO GET TO ARNAVUTKÖY
Arnavutköy is located by the Bosphorus, in the district of Beşiktaş, on the European side, far from Sultanahmet and Taksim.
The easiest – if not the most obvious – way to get there is by taxi. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll prefer to use public transport. Since there’s no metro in the area, the best way is taking a bus.
From Kabataş station (that’s the last stop of the tram), take buses 22, 22RE or 25E. The journey takes roughly 30 minutes and you’ll go past Dolmabahçe and Ciragan Palaces, and also cross the neighbourhood of Ortaköy.