Remote Working in Istanbul

Istanbul should be on the radar of all digital nomads. It is a city that incorporates history and modernism. With its variety of cultural landmarks and experiences, it offers a dynamic environment for both the relaxed lifestyle and the fast-paced one.

Remote Working in Istanbul

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Plan your next CoWorking Trip to Istanbul

Istanbul's low pricing, high livability, and reasonable safety levels meet all of the criteria for a remote working lifestyle, making it a popular destination for digital nomads. The city is well-connected by public transportation and boasts one of the world's top airports.

While planning your next CoWorking trip to Istanbul, the information listed below will help you make the most of this digital nomad city. You will find the top things to do, how to get around the city, how much it costs to live there, the best CoWorking spaces in Istanbul along with some tips and tricks.

Top Things to discover in Istanbul

Known as Constantinople, the great capital of the Byzantine Empire, Istanbul was also the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Filled with centuries of history, Istanbul is still to this day a glorious city to visit, explore, and live in.

Here are the top 5 things to discover in Istanbul while working remotely:

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul's most famous and renowned historic landmarks. Its vast, transcendent dome is stunning and may easily be stared at for hours. 

Even after being turned into a mosque, its walls are covered with Byzantine mosaics depicting images of bygone rulers and figures of Jesus Christ, making it an architectural masterpiece.

Topkapı Palace

Topkapi Palace

Topkapı Palace was the main palace of the Ottoman sultans for over four centuries. Topkapı's large chambers and unique artifacts, like the 86-carat Spoonmaker's Diamond and the staff of Moses, make the museum a top must-see destination.

In addition to its enormous and distinguished permanent collections of weapons, valuable gems, and religious relics, it hosts temporary exhibitions.

The Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern, or Yerebatan Sarnc in Turkish, is one of Istanbul's most interesting sights. It was constructed in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian I to store water and send it to surrounding palaces.

The cistern has two unknown-origin column bases embossed with Medusa's upside-down head, leaving visitors perplexed as to why they were placed that way.

Because of the superb acoustics in the cistern, it is also used as a venue for concerts. Another fun fact, a scene in the movie "Inferno" was filmed there.

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahce Palace

The opulent and beautiful Dolmabahçe Palace demonstrates the Ottoman Empire's 19th-century impact on European décor and architecture.

Sultan Abdülmecid I built it in 1854 to replace Topkapı Palace as the sultans' main home.

During the formative years of the Turkish Republic, Dolmabahçe Palace was used by Atatürk (the father of modern Turkey) who died here in 1938.

Fountains, ornate basins, and beautiful flower beds dot the formal gardens.

Inside, Rococo, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Ottoman components are combined with massive crystal chandeliers, the overuse of gold, French-style furniture, and frescoed ceilings to make a magnificent Turkish Renaissance style of absolute beauty and grandeur.

Rüstem Paşa Mosque

Rustem Pasa Mosque

The Rüstem Paşa Mosque, maybe Istanbul's most aesthetically pleasing mosque, houses the city's best-preserved Iznik tile panels, the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) gets all the attention, but the greatest examples of these wonderfully ornate hand-painted tiles can be seen here — covering both the external courtyard walls and the mosque's interior.

Interior of Rustem Pasa Mosque

Even better, because it's less well-known, you'll be able to observe the reds, blues, and greens in the tiles without being pushed by the crowds.

This mosque is hidden along a narrow road, packed with market booths, and always humming with activity since it's near the Spice Bazaar.

Top Things to do in Istanbul

If you’re looking for an activity to do after a long day of work or during the weekend, here are a few options to consider!

Yildiz Park

Yildiz Park

If you want to save money while still exploring Istanbul, a visit to Yildiz Park is a good option. The park is located in the middle of Istanbul, and it is surrounded by these little cafés.

Another thing to do is take a stroll around the well-known Fener and Balat neighborhoods. Because of the vibrant streets and rainbow residences, these districts have become popular on Instagram.

Belgrad Forest

Belgrad Forest

The Belgrad Forest, Istanbul's most treasured natural space, is a woodland beauty spanning over 1300 acres.

The woodland is a popular weekend destination with designated picnic spots and a 6.5 km track utilized by joggers and walkers. It starts with the Neşet Suyu fountain and features half-kilometer markings to keep track of your progress. After a few steps into the forest, you'll feel the refreshing touch of the pure, clean air.

You can also visit the neighboring Atatürk Arboretum, a lesser-known but equally lovely natural park with ponds and stretches of luscious vegetation.

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets, with so many shops scattered across dozens of lanes.

It's a worthwhile excursion even if you don't intend to buy anything. The ambiance is so overwhelming and captivating.

Important note: If you're going to buy something, don't be afraid to haggle and show no compassion.

The Princes’ Islands

The Princes' Islands

The Princes' Islands are a group of nine islands in the Marmara Sea. Only four of them are available to the public: Büyükada, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Kınalıada. During the Byzantine era, they were known as the place of exile, and today, they are a popular day-trip destination for both visitors and Istanbulites to get away from city life.

The 6th-century Hagia Yorgi Church, located at the highest point on Büyükada, the biggest island, offers panoramic views.

All fuel-powered vehicles are prohibited, making the islands a peaceful destination. Bicycles, electric buses, and electric taxis are the primary modes of mobility. Since 2020, the latter has been replacing traditional horse-drawn carriages.

But that isn't the only thing that distinguishes the Princes' Islands. You'll be strolling or biking through small lanes surrounded by either unspoiled pine trees or lovely wooden Victorian houses.

Bomontiada

The enormous Bomontiada complex, located on the European side of the city, is home to the legendary music venue Babylon, Leica Store and Gallery, multi-disciplinary art space Alt, the Ara Güler Museum, and five distinct restaurants.

The establishment of Bomontiada within the historic and long-abandoned Bomonti beer brewery has single-handedly altered the district of Bomonti, sparking a rush of creative activity.

During the summer, Bomontiada's open courtyard hosts free outdoor music concerts and film screenings.

Cost of living in Istanbul

If you are planning on moving to Istanbul and working remotely there, the costs mentioned below are an estimation of the general living expenses to expect.

The average cost of living in Istanbul for one person is $1100-1500 per month.

Here is a list of average costs:

  • Airbnb: $1450 per month
  • Hotel: $1400 per month
  • Single Bedroom Apartment: $300 per month
  • One Bedroom Studio in the center: $120 per month
  • CoWorking space: $35 per month
  • Coffee: $ 0.5
  • One Meal: $1.5 - 4
  • Soda Can: $0.2
  • Beer: $1 - 2 depending on the size  
  • Wine: $7
  • Smokes: $2.58
  • Uncapped Fibre Internet line: $15 per month
  • Taxi: $0.44 per 1km distance

How to Get to Istanbul and How to Get Around

Extremely well connected, you have a variety of transportation options at your disposal.

However, Istanbul is a crowded city, and you need to keep in mind that traffic becomes a major blocker when planning your schedule.

The two best methods of getting around this historic city are via bus and tram.

A refillable Istanbulkart can be used on all types of public transportation. A major plus is that it provides a 30% discount on public transport fares. The cards can be bought from the blue and yellow vending machines at several metro and tram stops, even at the airport. You will know which ones by the sign “Biletmatik.” You can add money to the card on the same device. The website and app can also be used for topping up your card, but non-Turkish speakers might find it difficult to use. The Istanbulkart credit can also be used to pay for the public toilets run by Istanbul’s municipality.

Plane

You can reach Istanbul from abroad via two airports, Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) and Sabiha. You can reach Istanbul from abroad via two airports, Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.

If you are traveling from within Turkey, then you can also reach this bustling city via car.

On Foot

Walking around Istanbul is enjoyable in areas like Eminönü and Sultanahmet. On foot, you can explore the narrow alleys filled with unique shops and bazaars.

Bicycle and scooter

Bicycles and electric scooters are not highly used for daily transportation since bike lanes are lacking in the city. Hence, it is not a safe means of getting around the city.

On the other hand, you can take in the beautiful scenery through a pleasant bicycle ride along the Bosphorus and on the Marmara coastline 

Car

Driving is strongly not recommended since road signs are in Turkish making the roads difficult to navigate and accidents are common. Moreover, parking is difficult to find, and gas is pricey.

If you decide that you want to drive in Istanbul, you can rent a car at the airport, or at one of the international rental agencies whose offices are close to Taksim Square.

You'll need an international driving license to rent a car. The cost differs from company to company, but usually, it is $20-30/day for standard models.

Taxi

Taxis are abundant, inexpensive, and convenient, but taxi drivers are known for scamming riders, especially foreigners. The scam usually starts with them telling you that the meter is damaged and then they charge you more.

Taxi drivers in Istanbul have a temper, most probably due to the traffic. They sometimes decide not to stop on the street when calling for them. In the scenario that they stop and your destination is not feasible for them; they may wish not to take you.

Yellow marked taxis are the ones you should take.

Before you get in, ask the driver how much you should anticipate paying and establish your pricing - most drivers go by the meter, but it is better to know the amount ahead of time.

​​Uber

Cab drivers have been vocal in their opposition toward Uber, which as a result exclusively uses normal yellow or turquoise cabs.

Dolmuş and minibus

This form of shared transportation only departs when it is full. A dolmuş is a yellow van with only a few rows of seats that travels back and forth between two places in Istanbul. They can be useful for going from Taksim Square to Beşiktaş, or from Taksim Square to Kadıköy when the ferries have stopped their services for the night.

Minibusses often travel longer distances on a scheduled timetable.

Minibusses pick up and drop off passengers at predetermined points along the route, whereas dolmuş passengers instruct the driver where they wish to exit. Another notable difference is that a dolmuş driver will only accept cash for the fare, rather than an Istanbulkart or token.

Bus

The "Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's Route/Station Search” provides timetables for all bus lines. Most buses operate between 6 a.m. and midnight every day.

They are the cheapest and most convenient mode of transportation. Buses also run till the early hours of the morning.

Two major bus stations can be found in a tunnel beneath Taksim Square and a parking lot at Eminönü near the ferry ports.

In Istanbul, there are two types of buses: regular and fast metro buses. This bus can also take you from the European side to the Asian side.

Six Metrobus routes run in their highway lanes, however, they largely service outlying residential and commercial districts rather than the city center.

Metro

The metro is a quick, dependable, and inexpensive way to move about; but, stops are far apart and not very well positioned for sightseeing.

Metro Istanbul has six lines, the majority of which serve the city's European side. The Metro operates from 6.15 a.m. until midnight.

The M2 between Hacıosman and  Yenikapı, which goes through the business and retail districts of Levent, Taksim Square, and Şişhane in Beyoğlu, as well as over the Golden Horn, is likely to be used by the majority of tourists.

The Yenikapi-Atatürk Havalimani (M1A) bus runs between the airport and the central bus hub (Otogar). The Marmaray, a distinct underground rail system, links with the metro at Yenikapı and travels under the Bosphorus in a tube to Kadıköy on the Asian side.

The last service departs at midnight. 

Tram

The T1, which begins at the Kabataş ferry terminal and travels across the Galata Bridge and through the landmarks of Sultanahmet, is the most likely to be used by visitors among Istanbul's four new tram lines.

Along the Golden Horn, there is also a tram (T5) that stops in the vibrant communities of Fener, Balat, and Eyüp.

The T3 tram runs through Kadıköy which is on the Asian side.

Ferry Boat

The breathtaking scenery makes a trip on one of Istanbul's ferries an excursion in and of itself. Boats cross the Bosphorus regularly between Eminönü, Karaköy, Kabataş, and Beşiktaş (on the European side), and Kadıköy and Üsküdar (on the Asian side).

Ferries sail every hour or so along the Golden Horn, every few hours to the Princes' Islands, and more sometimes up and down the Bosphorus.

While ferries may get pretty crowded, they're rarely overcrowded, making them a more comfortable method to cross the water.

The last service leaves at 11 p.m.

Best CoWorking Hubs in Istanbul

Historic sites are fascinating, but digital nomads are naturally interested in remote working locations.

Istanbul, Turkey's economic hub, attracts hundreds of ambitious young professionals and entrepreneurs from around the country and the Middle East. Even better, there is no shortage of cafés, co-working spaces, and other places where you may work as a digital nomad. Unfortunately, the bulk of individuals who use co-working spaces also earn dollars and euros, and the market has adjusted based on that.  you're working with strict deadlines, large amounts of data, and sensitive data, co-working facilities may be worth it, despite their expensive prices. For everyone else, though, the city may be viewed as one enormous co-working place.

Renting an Airbnb near Taksim, Galata, or Levent, two of the city's new commercial areas is the greatest option for a remote worker. Both districts feature a number of coffee shops, houses with good WiFi, and inexpensive co-working spaces.

Here are some of our recommendations for good CoWorking Hubs to choose from:

Workinton

Workinton Levent 199 combines a prime location with easy accessibility and cutting-edge technology. 

Kamara

Kamara's virtual offices, serviced offices, and co-working facilities have drawn everyone from start-ups to large corporations. 

Kolektif House Şişhane

Kolektif House Şişhane collaborated with the cultural and arts venue IKSV in the ancient Deniz Palas building, now known as Nejat Eczabaşı, to adapt their second floor into a live coworking space.

Kolektif House Levent

They converted an abandoned embroidery factory in Istanbul's financial center into a live coworking space.

ImpactHUB İstanbul

Impact Hub Istanbul is an event venue and member-based coworking space that connects and inspires people who want to make a difference.

Atölye İstanbul

Atölye is a conscientious curator of a vibrant community centered on design, technology, and entrepreneurship.

BIZWORLD

This CoWorking space provides a calm and pleasant environment. In their Levent and Maslak locations, they have constructed light and spacious workplaces surrounded by vegetation.

The Best Food Spots in Istanbul

It's a running joke that the final remains of the Ottoman Empire are the budget-friendly doner kebab stalls that can be found all over the world. However, Istanbul is on a completely different gastronomic level.  

On every corner in the city, you can buy affordable and tasty handcrafted foods like pide (diamond-shaped, stuffed pizza bread) and lahmacun (bread with minced meat on top). 

There's an unlimited supply of fresh seafood along the shoreline, or if you're in a hurry. You can also eat meze (Turkish tapas) at a rooftop restaurant during sunset.

In short, Istanbul is a superb place for food. As a result of many years of commerce and interaction, Istanbul's food has evolved into a unique combination of European and Asian culinary styles.

If you want to grab a drink after work or just want to enjoy a good meal, here are some suggestions:

Traditional Cuisine

There are numerous traditional Turkish dishes, and Istanbul has a large assortment.  Döner (kebab), Köfte, lahmacun, meze, manti, and pide are all traditional meals. Several restaurants and cafés are providing traditional food in town. 

Here are a few of the best:

-Old Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant

-Mivan Restaurant Café

-Divella Bistro Restaurant

The tastiest traditional eateries are usually found in the city's Old Quarter.

Street Food

Istanbul is a terrific location for street food, with meals costing as low as $2-3 USD! Street sellers serve everything from kebabs to roasted corn and the best street food is located near and around the bazaars and markets.

A fairly tiny lane just outside the Grand Bazar is packed with local street food merchants cooking up a storm. This would be the perfect location to try Turkish street food. 

However, keep in mind that most street food is made of meat and is bread-based, so it may not be suitable for individuals with certain dietary requirements.

Also, while ordering, keep in mind that many of the street food sellers may not be multilingual.

Fast Food

As you wander through Istanbul, you will note that there are numerous western fast-food businesses, as they are highly popular here. McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC, and more are all represented.

Fusion Restaurants

If you're searching for something a little different and more innovative with your meals, Kadiköy is the place to go.

It is the hip district of the city, with new concepts that have affected the evolution of local food.

There are sushi fusion restaurants and several adorable cafés providing food that experiments with traditional Turkish cuisine.

Vegetarian and Vegan 

Because Istanbul is such a city that attracts thousands of travelers from all over the world each year, there are a fair number of vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

The majority are in Kadiköy, which is the hip student zone with many new restaurants coming up that are managed by the younger generation; but still, there is a fair selection around the city.

Some suggestions for you:

-Galata Kitchen

-Vegan Istanbul

-Vatka Coffee & Vegan Goods

-Falafel Koy

-YUZU Moda

Istanbul Nightlife

There is much to do, ranging from excellent dining to all-night partying.

Because a large portion of Istanbul's population is Muslim, be mindful of what is culturally acceptable in certain locations in terms of dress code and activities (i.e. drinking alcohol). 

Bars

You can always find a place to have a few casual drinks in Kadiköy or Beyoğlu. Just going along the main street will lead you to a plethora of interesting pubs to unwind in. On various evenings of the week, some have DJs and live music.

The following are the best bars in Kadiköy:

-11 Kadıköy

-Hush Rooftop Bar

-Dopamine Coffee Shop

-Karga Bar

In Beyoğlu, there are more trendy bars. Some of the greatest places to visit are:

-The Pub Beyoglu

-Pendor

-Base Beyoğlu

-The Wall Bar

-Papillon

Nightclubs

The majority of the nightclubs are located in Beyoğlu, which is known as the party district, home to Istanbul's largest nightclubs.

Kadiköy is mainly the party district for the students.

The nightclubs in Istanbul provide a more extravagant night out, which is reflected in the pricing of the drinks and, on occasion, admission fees. Drinks cost roughly twice, if not triple, the price of ones at a normal restaurant or café in the vicinity.

Some nightclubs play a wide variety of Arabic music, while others play more western club music.

Some of Istanbul's top-rated nightclubs include:

-Escape Club İstanbul

-Jungle 8

-Sharq İstanbul İnara

 Pub Crawl

The pub crawl experience is a good way to make new friends on a night out while touring the city as a huge group. Several companies provide various pub crawls. Drinks, games, admission to four places and challenges are normally included in the price.

Tips & Tricks for CoWorking in Istanbul

WiFi Connection

There is no doubt that WiFi is one of the most important things when it comes to remote working. Although the WiFi is fast in Istanbul, there might be some exceptions when the location is a bit remote from the city center. Always ask your host if the WiFi is fast and stable at the accommodation. 

CoWorking Spaces  

Istanbul is a touristic city, but it is also the heart of the business. There are many business people from around the world in Istanbul and there are many CoWorking Spaces where you can meet digital nomads like you who work remotely, and this will help you expand your network!

Public Transportation 

Like any other big city, the traffic in Istanbul is a bit of a problem. Luckily, public transportation is so easy to use! Many tourists use public transportation during their stay in Istanbul. You can get an IstanbulKart and use it every time you use public transportation. It is so easy and it is the cheapest and the fastest way to get around! 

Currency 

The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira, TRY. You can find exchange offices everywhere or you can use ATMs which is the most convenient way to exchange money. 

Language

The official language of Turkey is Turkish. However, many people also speak English! It would be nice if you could learn some Turkish phrases like Merhaba which means Hello. 

Weather

If you plan to visit Istanbul in Winter, make sure you have thick clothes because it’s going to be cold and windy! The weather is around 25-30 Degrees Celsius during Summer, but it might be breezy!

Airports

There are two airports in Istanbul which are Sabiha Gökçen International Airport and Istanbul International Airport. Istanbul Airport is one of the biggest airports in Europe and most of the flights come here. 

Make sure to check the location of the airports if you have connecting flights because they are on different continents. 

Museums 

There are so many museums in Istanbul, but don’t forget to check on which days they open during the week before your visit. Most of them are closed on Mondays and Thursdays.

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