Galataport Travel Guide — Your Ultimate Guide to Istanbul’s Cruise Port 

Opened in late 2021, Galataport is one of the newest tourist attractions in Istanbul. This new neighborhood is made up of a cruise ship terminal, more than 250 shops and restaurants, a hotel, entertainment facilities, and even the Istanbul Modern art museum!

If we want to wax poetical, then it’s also where the Bosphorus meets with the Golden Horn and Sea of Marmara, where gastronomy meets art, and where locals and travelers come together to relax and unwind.

While it may look small, Galataport is more than 110,000 square meters — and with so many opportunities to shop, eat, and explore, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of things to do in Galataport. 

Visiting Istanbul on a cruise? Good news — Galataport is also the main port of Istanbul, and will be your first contact when you disembark!

With all of this, a lot of travelers still wonder, Is Galataport worth a visit? (especially since it’s a new destination)
And to that we say yes! Galataport is a great place to enjoy a stroll near the waterfront, do some shopping, or relax after a long day of sightseeing in Beyoglu. 

If you’re curious about exploring this modern neighborhood, our Galataport travel guide is here to help! This blog post has everything you need to know, including how to get here, what to do, where to eat and shop, and other helpful Galataport travel tips to make the most of your visit. 🙂 

HOW TO GET TO GALATAPORT

If you’re wondering about transportation to Galataport, this section will come in handy! We’ve compiled the most popular departure points from Istanbul’s city center, and added information on how to reach Galataport. 

Galata Tower to Galataport: The easiest way to go from Galata Tower to Galataport is by walking, as it’s a short 15-minute stroll downhill.

Taksim Square to Galataport: You can reach Galataport from Taksim with a 18 minute walk. If you dislike steep hills, you can also take the F1 funicular (Taksim to Kabatas) and walk the flat road from there.

Sultanahmet to Galataport: One option is to take a taxi directly to the Galataport ferry terminal (a 15-minute ride) or take the 25-minute tram ride on the T1 to Tophane station (note that there’s no Galataport tram station or Galataport metro station — it kept the old name!) 

You can also check out the map below to learn the exact location of Galataport: 

Fun fact

Galataport is the World’s First Underground Cruise terminal!

WHAT TO DO IN GALATAPORT 

Galataport is a very casual and leisure destination where you can walk along the coast, sip a cup of third-wave coffee while watching the boats glide across the Bosphorus, and then enjoy a stroll through a museum. It’s the perfect place to relax after a long day of sightseeing in Istanbul 

Here are some of the best places to visit in Galataport if you’re looking for things to do:

Visit the Istanbul Modern Art Museum

The Istanbul Modern Art Museum (or just Istanbul Modern for short) was established in 2004, and after a lengthy restoration, it reopened in mid-2023 at Galataport!

Istanbul Modern is, without a doubt, one of the top Galataport attractions. The museum covers five floors, with hundreds of works from both Turkish and international artists. The ground floor has a spacious library, cafe, and gift store, while the upper floors contain exhibits and workshops. 

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, then we highly recommend a visit to Istanbul Modern! 


See Galataport’s Historical Gems  

Located just a few steps away from Istanbul Modern is Galataport’s historical landmark, the Tophane Clock Tower. Also known as Nusretiye Clock Tower, this beautiful neoclassical tower was completed in 1848 and is one of the oldest of its kind that still stands in Istanbul. 

Right behind the clock tower is another historical attraction in Galataport — the Nusretiye Mosque. This ornate mosque was built in the early 1820s and was the first major work by architect Krikor Balyan (if that name sounds familiar, it’s because the Balyan family built the  Dolmabahçe, Çırağan, and Beylerbeyi palaces!)

Finally, there’s the Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque, which is located at the far eastern side of Galataport (near Tophane tram station and the start of Karakoy). This landmark is actually a complex made up of a mosque, madrasah, hamam, and fountain. The mosque traces its history back to the late 1500s (really!) and was built by famed architect Mimar Sinan, who was in his 90s (!!) when he worked on the project. Sinan was the same architect who built the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul’s Old City, Stari Most in Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina), and about 300 other works across the Ottoman Empire. 

The hamam is still working to this day, and recently underwent an extensive renovation that aimed to restore the hamam’s original splendor. 

Galataport is an excellent example where history and modernity peacefully coexist, don’t you think? 


Marvel at 19th & 20th Century Art at the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture

Boasting more than 10,500 paintings, 700 sculptures, and 500 other works of art, the IMPS is lesser-known than its famous cousin (Istanbul Modern), but just as interesting!

The museum features Turkish paintings and sculptures from the late Ottoman era through modern times, as well as ceramics, calligraphy, icons, and art installations. Of particular interest is an entire gallery dedicated to the works of Osman Hamdi Bey, the founder of Istanbul’s first art school and creator of one of the most famous Turkish paintings (The Tortoise Trainer). 


Walk Along the Waterfront Promenade 

Finish your trip to Galataport with a lovely stroll along the waterfront promenade, which measures a little over a kilometer and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. 

It’s an excellent activity at any time — ​​During the day, the beautiful Bosphorus will greet you with its charms, while at night, you’ll be captivated by an awe-inspiring view.


Go shopping! 

Did you know that this sprawling cruise port complex also has a mall? Commonly referred to as Galataport Mall, the main shopping area of Galataport consists of dozens of open-air shops, boutiques, brand-name stores, and more. 

There are more than 250 shops at Galataport, including international brands like Adidas, GAP, Kiehl’s, Leica, Marks & Spencer, Pandora, Samsonite, Swarovski, Yves Rocher, and more. 

WHERE TO EAT IN GALATAPORT

There are more than 50 restaurants in Galataport (seriously — we counted), so naturally, you’ll have a lot of choices when you get hungry. From new wave cafes to upscale restaurants, dessert shops, and much more, the restaurants and cafes at Galataport won’t disappoint!

Here is a selection of some of the most popular: 

SaltBae Burger — If you’re a fan of the spice-sprinkling and sunglasses-wearing Salt Bae, then you’ll be happy to hear that he opened his signature Nusr-Et restaurant in Galataport. While the food is fairly standard (it has a solid 4 stars on Google), the experience and views are what makes it worthwhile. 

The Populist — For some seriously delicious Western food (think burgers, brisket, smoked meats, nachos, and the like), head on over to The Populist. Besides mouth-watering dishes, this restaurant group established Istanbul’s first brewery since 1890! Although new on the scene, the brewery already won the prestigious Meininger’s Award (gold), as well as silver and bronze at the Brussels Beer Challenge. If you can’t decide, they also offer a Sampler Set of 6 glasses. 🙂

Frankie — An upscale restaurant with really nice panoramic views of the Bosphorus. Frankie is especially popular for its cocktail menu.

Liman — A classic restaurant deeply intertwined with Galataport’s history, Liman opened its doors in 1947 and had the privilege of being managed by Ataturk’s former chef in the 1950s!

While the restaurant was recently redecorated, it kept the beautiful Art Deco style of its era, with spacious seating and sweeping views of the bay. 

Muutto Anatolian Tapas Bar — A Turkish tapas bar? You bet! The restaurant took the concept of Turkish meze and street food, and beautifully turned it into a fine dining experience. Not sure what to order? The tasting menu is a good start, as it features 5 of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers. 

Hafız Mustafa 1864 Galataport — One of Turkey’s most famous dessert shops recently opened up in Galataport, and it’s an absolute treat — both in terms of food and design! The interior is absolutely gorgeous, with stacks of the confectionary’s most famous sweets, while the menu is full of delightful sweets like baklava, ice cream, kadayif, cakes, and much more. 

Cafer Erol – Hafiz Mustafa’s competition 😉 Just kidding — Cafer Erol is another popular confectionary shop that specializes in colorful and playful sweets. If you’re visiting during the holidays, be sure to get their winter-themed gift boxes.

The colorful streets of Karakoy await!

WHERE TO GO NEXT

If you have the whole day ahead, why limit yourself? There are tons of attractions near Galataport, and the majority of what we’ve visited below are within a short walking distance! 

The area closest to Galataport is Karakoy, which is literally right next door. Karakoy is famous for its street food and eclectic handmade boutique stores, selling all sorts of unique goods from local artists. It’s also a very popular area for locals in the evening, as there are many pubs, taverns, and bars that open their doors once the sun goes down.
Since we’re on the topic of Karakoy… If you’re adventurous, you could also take a ferry from Karakoy to wherever it takes you 😉 Some suggestions are Balat or Besiktas on the European side, or Kadikoy or Uskudar on the Asian side. 

Next up is an absolute classic: the Galata Tower! The walk from Galataport to Galata Tower only takes about 15 or 20 minutes, and the area around the tower offers plenty of cafes and cute stores. Of course, don’t forget to buy a ticket and go up to the top to get a bird’s eye view of Istanbul!

A 15-minute walk slightly northeast of Galataport is the charming neighborhood of Cihangir, which is famed for its adorable breakfast cafes (and the regular kind too, of course), historical buildings, and a historical hammam. Neighboring Çukurcuma is a paradise for antique lovers, as each corner is full of antique stores that are an absolute treasure trove of bygone eras, with vintage trinkets, weathered books, and delicate curiosities eagerly awaiting their new home.

If you’re visiting Galata Tower or Cihangir, you can continue further north and take a stroll along Istiklal Street, or check out the attractions around Beyoglu.  

From Galataport, you can also take a taxi/bus/tram or walk 20 minutes over to the opulent Dolmabahce Palace, which used to be the sultan’s palace but was turned into a museum filled with art, calligraphy, and the royal family’s personal belongings. 

WHERE TO STAY IN GALATAPORT 

The Peninsula Istanbul (in Galataport)— If you’re set on staying in Galataport, then there’s no better option than The Peninsula Istanbul, as it’s the only hotel that’s located inside Galataport! The rooms are gorgeously decorated in an Old Money style, and the hotel features a pool, spa center, extensive terrace (with views of the city!), restaurant, and much more. 
Check rates & book here →

Metropolitan Hotels Bosphorus (5 min. walk to Galataport) — Situated just outside of Galataport, this hotel has chic modern rooms, friendly employees, and an excellent location. 
Check rates & book here →

SuB Karakoy (8 min. walk to Galataport) — With its modern touches and quirky-industrial character, SuB is definitely one of the most beautiful boutique hotels near Galataport. Think vintage rugs, quirky portraits of sultans, Nespresso machines in every room, and concierges that will tell you about some of the best places in the city (that aren’t in guidebooks!) 
Check rates & book here →

JW Marriott (5 min. walk to Galataport) — For a classic luxury experience, look no further than JW Marriott. As one reviewer noted, “ Everybody from the security, the reception to the restaurant was ever so polite and hospitable and above all very helpful in any aspect.”

Thanks to its waterfront location, the hotel has an unbeatable view of the Bosphorus.
Check rates & book here →

Novotel (5 min. walk to Galataport) — If the Marriott is all booked, the Novotel next door is an excellent option. Besides its spacious rooms, the hotel is known for its grand breakfast spread and fantastic view. 
Check rates & book here →

10 Karakoy (9 min. walk to Galataport) — Located in a gorgeous 19th century neoclassical building, 10 Karakoy expertly blends classic charm with modern delights. The hotel is especially popular for those who love art and culture, as it’s just steps from art galleries, chic restaurants, museums, and boutique stores. 
Check rates & book here →

Zimmer (12 min. walk to Galataport) — Located between Galataport and Kabatas pier (where you can take the ferry to all sorts of interesting locations), Zimmer is an absolutely delightful boutique hotel that combines a boho style with modern design. It’s also excellent for families or large groups, as the hotel offers connected rooms! 
Check rates & book here →


OTHER OPTIONS: 

Port Bosphorous — The higher-end rooms have a terrace with a gorgeous view of the bay. Check rates & book here →

Hotel De Reve Galata — Beautiful modern rooms with exceptional service.  Check rates & book here →


Merhaba and welcome to Let’s Travel to Türkiye!

This website was created by locals to help travelers plan their trip to Turkey (Türkiye) from start to finish. You’ll find everything you need, from city guides to road trip itineraries, resources on transportation and accommodations, and so much more.

Iyi yolculuklar (happy travels)!