Galata Tower: On a clear day, the view is spectacular and it is possible to see the main monuments of Istanbul and even the Princes’ Islands. Built in 1348 by the Genoese as part of their fortifications, this distinctive 62m tower with conical roof is visible from most of Istanbul. It was converted to cater for tourism and has a lift, a nightclub and restaurant on the top floors.
Basilica Cistern: it is the largest of several hundred ancient underground cisterns, featuring two giants upside-down. Rumor has it the heads are upside-down to negate the power of the Medusa’s gaze! The cistern was one of the locations for the 1963 James Bond film “From Russia with Love”.
Süleymaniye Mosque: Istanbul’s largest and most striking mosque. Marvelous stained glass with Turkish motifs covers a niche wall and scatters color across the ancient floor. Witness the amazing Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque due to the 20,000 cobalt-colored tiles that adorn the walls and minarets- it is the last of the city’s imperial mosques.
Bosphorus: One of the best ways to discover Istanbul is to experience the Bosphorus by boarding a boat cruise that enters from the Black Sea and stops at various fishing villages.
Modern Art Museum: The building itself is worth seeing it- a converted warehouse that now features a sleek industrial design with state-of-the-art technology, including a library, cinema and flat-screen TVs featuring video art. The Istanbul Modern Café is also a big hit with excellent food and a great view.
Sakıp Sabancı Museum: Owned by one of Turkey’s wealthiest businessmen, this museum is housed in a fabulous villa right on the shores of the Bosphorus. The steeply sloping lawns are scattered with stone treasures on loan from the Archaeology Museum.
Cartoon Museum: Set in a beautiful 17th-century medrese, this is one of the city’s more unusual museums. Where instructors once lectured students in Islamic philosophy, they now give lessons in illustration, engraving and screen-printing. The permanent collection, with pieces dating back to the 1870s, illustrates the long-standing popularity of caricature and satire in Turkey.
Beylerbeyi Palace: Meaning “Lord of Lords” is a former summer residence of the sultans located in the Asian side. The palace looks its most attractive from the Bosphorus, from where its two bathing pavilions, one for the harem (women’s only) and the other for the selamlik (men’s only), can best be seen.
Çukurcuma and Galata districts: located in the back streets of Beyoglu and also known as Istanbul’s SoHo, hosts over 100 designer & antique shops.
Grand Bazaar: in Turkish, Kapalı Çarşı, meaning ‘Covered Market’ is truly a whole new world. Made up of a maze of interconnecting vaulted passages, the Bazaar has its own banks, baths, mosques, cafes and restaurants, a police station and post office, not to mention the thousands of shops, all glittery and fairy-lit in the absence of natural light. Since the rise of the mall it is no longer the biggest shopping centre in the world, but it can still claim to be the oldest. We recommend spending your time browsing the gorgeous and varied kilims, as an authentic Turkish carpet is a great way to take a piece of Istanbul home with you.
Nişantaşı: Istanbul’s most European neighborhood, streets packed with internationally recognized brands and boutiques, stylish cafés and restaurants and stunning Art Nouveau apartment buildings. For shopping and style enthusiasts, missing Nişantaşı would be a real shame.
Istiniye Park shopping mall: In addition to the international brands, the shopping center has fabulous restaurants. The outdoor shopping section features high-end lines and resembles a mini-Rodeo Drive. With 291 shops in total, you are bound to find something you like.
Cezayir in Galata: Located in a historical building dating back to the 19th Century, Cezayir is a hip venue with a sense of original style and elegant decoration. While its cafe/lounge has a simple and modern ambiance, the venue turns into a totally different atmosphere thanks to its chic restaurant with crystal chandeliers in detail. There is a creative cuisine serving traditional Turkish delights and the bar is open until 2am.
Sunset in Ulus: Overlooking the Bosphorus, Sunset has one of the greatest views of Istanbul. Being a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, the food is excellent- a mixture of Mediterranean and Turkish dishes and Japanese new cuisine. The service is impeccable.
Poseidon in Bebek: Supremely stylish affair, Poseidon serves superior seafood at vertiginous prices. Sampling the meze menu will hike up the bill, but specialties like stuffed calamari, marinated sea bass and fish croquettes are worth it. The catch of the day is priced by the kilo. Your dining companions will be well-bred, well-manicured big spenders. The large deck is virtually suspended above the Bosphorus and has gorgeous views of Bebek bay.
Meyhanes in Asmalımescit in Beyoglu, Taksim: The most traditional of Istanbul’s eateries are the taverna-style meyhane where you can sample tapas-like meze. It is the right place to go if you want to try meyhanes.
Lucca: By night, sleek society girls pick at plates of sashimi and check each other out from the pavement seating or through the floor-to-ceiling windows. At weekends, the party people like to kick off the night with exotic cocktails, and big-name DJs hit the decks.
Reina: The outdoor complex sits on the edge of the Bosphorus just near the first suspension bridge, housing a handful of chic dining rooms around the periphery of a huge dance floor that buzzes into the small hours underneath a giant open-air chandelier.
Nu Pera Terrace: Top-notch local DJs are complemented with a guest DJ from Paris once a month. Unpretentious and great fun.
Suada: Located 165 meters away from the European shore in Kuruçeşme this night club is actually on an island. Suada has a pool, a night club and several restaurants offering refined tastes.