We are traveling to Istanbul in May for 4 days. We have been before and stayed in Beyoglu and loved it. We love restaurants, shopping and touring famous historical sites. We have a day scheduled to tour the main sites in Istanbul, and another day scheduled for a cooking class and another specialized tour in Kadikoy. We will be coming off of an 8 day tour of Egypt and plan to have our days in Istanbul a little more relaxed. The other days we will spend unstructured. We will most likely go to Istiklal Street, The Grand Bazaar, and browse around Kadikoy. Please let me know if you have ever stayed in Kadikoy and if there is a lot to do. We went there for lunch years ago and really enjoyed the area.
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Kadikoy is more like a regular, local neighborhood (with great markets and restaurants) and less "tourist central" like Sultanahmet. The downside (if you see it as a downside) is that you'll have to take a ferry each time you want to get to the European side of Istanbul to see the top sights and Istiklal St. But the ferries are dirt cheap and filled with locals. The upside of Kadikoy is you won't bet constantly hassled by touts like in the Old City.
2)Modern side of Istanbul where all the locals live. Lots of shops.
3)Taking ferry to Old City. Cheap and scenic.
We split three weeks in Istanbul: Asian Side, Galata area, and Sultanahmet. The Asian side, Kadikoy, is the more modern of the three (all though there are very very old settlements on this Asian side). So very different than the European side of Istanbul. Kadikoy has nice markets, restaurants, and parks. In Sultanahmet there is a place called the Side (SEE day) Hotel. It is a family run institution. A breakfast is served on the roof each morning providing views of the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya. The location of the Side could hardly be improved upon. If we were to return to Galata we would splurge for the Pera Palace Hotel.