Most travelers to Istanbul will stay within the comforts of Old Istanbul, the main tourist precinct where the Aya Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Spice Bazaar lie. But lingering here will leave one to ask, “Where are all the local women?” or, “Where are the 13 million people who live here?” Old Istanbul is awash with international tourism dominated by male business owners and workers. If you find yourself asking these questions, then simply walk over the Galata Bridge, or take a tram via the same route (over the Golden Horn) to find Beyoğlu—one of Istanbul’s modern districts.
Here you’ll find the neighborhoods of Taksim and Tünel nestled either end of the 3 km pedestrian street called Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue). Istiklal is the European side's most famous street that’s lined with brand-name shops, art galleries, embassies, bars, cafes, historical arcades, and places of worship. Here you can literally rub shoulders with the locals because, as they say, over three million people walk this street every day.
Allow plenty of time for shopping, sightseeing, and meandering the sidestreets that hide some of Istanbul’s best shops, bars, and cafes. If the crowds get too much, though, jump aboard the nostalgic tramway (3TL p.p.) that cuts through the crowd with stops in Taksim Square, Galatasaray (halfway down the street), and Tünel.