Stepping away from the Sultanahmet and all the amazing sites of old Istanbul, cross the Golden Horn and explore other areas like Beyoglu. Stroll busy Istiklal Caddesi filled with restaurants and shops.
Relax or drink coffee outside the Galata Tower. Take a cruise down the Bosphorus River. Whatever you do, Beyoglu will give you another perspective of Istanbul.
Crossing over the Golden Horn to the Beyoglu side of Istanbul, Galata Tower stands proudly on the top of the hill.
The Tower offer amazing 360-degrees view of Istanbul, from the Old Town, the European side, the Bosphorus and up to the Oriental side of town. You have a wait quite a while before getting into the elevator, but it’s worth it. Once at the top, you can also rest by the restaurant. Try to grab a table by the window – a great way to enjoy the view while sipping your hot tea!
The area offers lots of opportunities to stop for Turkish coffee or tea, along with local Istanbulites enjoying smoking Nargile or playing Backgammon in the street. The area around Galata Tower is rather hilly, with narrow windy cobblestone streets. One can take a taxi on the way up if you want to rest your feet, and stroll your way down, wandering along.
Istiklal Caddesi & Taksim Square
Carrying on our visit to the modern Beyoglu area, we made our way to Istiklal Caddesi, a commercial pedestrian street 1 mile (1.4 km) long. This is a lively street to walk along, with fashion shops, corner Kebab restaurants and cafes and bookstores.
Leading up along Istiklal Caddesi is Taksim Square, a popular place of gathering for the local Istanbulites. Beyoglu has a totally different vibe than the conservative Old town and complements the duality of Istanbul, a true mix of European and Asian culture.
We spent an evening on the Caddesi and were amazed at the population on the street. About one mile long (one and half kilometers), the street was packed from side to side! It was like a constant wave of people, non-stop hours after hours. Surprisingly Taksim Square was rather empty, just a few people here and there.
Boarding one of the numerous boats that cruise the Bosphorus, we passed along Dolmabahce Palace, Rumeli Fortress and Ortakoy. A Bosphorus cruise is definitely the leisurely way to enjoy the scenery and discover more of the town.
You can take a ferry to cross over to the Oriental side, or take a full day cruise up to the Black Sea. Some of the ferry options let you go on land in some areas, allowing you to visit the sights along the Bosphorus.