Explore Beyoglu's backstreets
Beyoglu is not just Istiklal Caddesi. From this main artery lead a thousand and one backstreets, each with its own character. At the Taksim end, most of the sidestreets are full of bars, cafes, cheap eateries and clubs, some seedy, some not. Buyukparmakkapi Sokagi (or was it Kucukparmakkapi? Turn left by McDonalds anyway...) has my favourite nargile cafe, the Kafeka, popular with tourists and locals alike. Further on, the Atlas Sinema has a cafe serving all manner of strange teas, a good place to spend an evening playing backgammon. Take any street off to the left and keep going...soon you'll be lost among the wooden houses and antique shops of Cihangir and Cukurcuma. On the right, Cicek Pasaji is an ornate arcade full of expensive touristy restaurants. Go in and have a look at the building, but for eating, continue through the adjacent Balik Pazari (fish market) and take a right turn into Nevizade Sokak, a raucous alley jammed full of meze restaurants, gypsy bands and streetside bars.
Just after the bend in Istiklal, look for a tiny hidden alleyway on your right, passing some terribly kitschy shops...it will bring you to a picturesque courtyard full of "alternative" shops and home to a great cafe in the middle. On the other side of the courtyard, a gate leads to the road, and you come face to face with the British consulate, which was bombed a few years ago; still being reconstructed, it has recovered well. Not too far away is the famous Pera Palas Otel, a favourite of Ataturk and Agatha Christie, while Hemingway preferred the nearby eccentric Buyuk Londra Otel.
Further on, you reach the arty Asmalimescit quarter, once shappy backstreets now boasting small art galleries, bookshops and cafes, as well as a few top restaurants. With a bit of luck, you'll arrive at Tunel, where you can take the train down to Karakoy.
(See also Warnings and Dangers)