The tram tracks pass through the center of Laleli area. Even if you cannot see it, you can always reach it by orienting on sound of a commuter train or by following the sign boards which are placed on every step. Have reached the tram rail? Great! Now you have two choices. First one — if you like strolling - just walk on foot and orient by the tram rail, towards Sultanahmet area and the sea, admire the views and the daily life of Laleli area while strolling. Take a look at Turkish families dinning on buses' terminal point, give a smile to fresh juices seller, admire the Column of Constantine... It will take you about 5-10 minutes to reach Sultanahmet, strolling (not more). Don't want to walk on foot? Then ride. On the tram stop you will see the wicket and tokens selling machine, you have to pay your ride with a token. Choose where you want to buy tokens.
One token costs 1.75 Turkish liras. For one token you can pass the ticket barrier and ride as many stops as you want. Choose a stop which leads above (Sultanahmet direction) – the tram direction is shown on the stop.
Token purchased, stop chosen. What next? Put the token into a slot on the ticket barrier and wait till the little display shows green index. Wait for the tram ( not more than 5-7 minutes, they drive in Istanbul very often) and get in a wagon. Caution, the doors are about to close!
If you still don't know where to go, pay attention to the map above the doors. The direction of the tram tracks is shown on this map in English and Turkish. Stops in Istanbul are named, according to sights, so choose any of them. For example, Gulhane park stop. It is a) the old Ottoman park with wild birds and exotic trees, and with view on the Bosphorus, b) the Archaeological museum (one of the largest in Europe), c) in fact, the tram stop.
But if you want to see everything and in order, then it is better to alight from on Sultanahmet stop. It is the historical center of Istanbul, Sultanahmet area. In other words, Constantinople. Near the stop (just below) — Hagia Sophia. It is one of the 4 largest temples in the world. The tickets are on sale in the box office near the entrance. The museum works every day, except Mondays. One ticket costs 20 liras. Don't rush: look over the first floor, the dents in the floor made by the feet of Norman guards, the bowl, in which princess Olga was christened, royal gates. Then go up to the second floor to admire the Byzantine wall paintings, mosaics, and the very temple from above. Having left Hagia Sophia you cross the road with the tram tracks (about 10 meters) and you are at a small ancient building.
All the most interesting is down and within. It is the underground reservoir Yerebatan, a giant underground with antique columns, with fishes splashing in the water. There is a restaurant and you can walk on special boards. The entrance to Yerebatan costs 10 liras. Leaving Yerebatan, you will be right next to the tram tracks, this time in front of Hagia Sophia. Approach it. Stand with your back to the cathedral. Do you see a giant mosque in front of you? It is the Blue mosque, built my Sultan Ahmet the First. Go towards it through the small square with stores. On the way you can have a cup of tea or Salep drink from sellers in national costumes (1-2 liras, depending on the season). Admire the temple's architecture in the Blue mosque's yard. Then go inside. Take your shoes off and put it to a bag which will be given to you. Each women will get a beautiful Turkish blue kerchief to cover her head and shoulders with it if they are naked. The entrance is free. If you see praying people inside, just wait outside till the prayer ends.
You can wash your feet here (in a special fountain) and visit WC (it is free). After visiting the Blue mosque go to Hagia Sophia. At a little paved square ( in front of the cathedral fence) turn to the right. Take a look at a marble palace which is half in the ground. It is Constantine's palace, of the founder of Constantinople. The palace is still being dug out by archaeologists, the bigger part is already seen. Take a position in which the palace will be on the right hand from you. The huge bond gates are in about 50 meters from you. Go to them and you are welcome at Topkapi palace. It is not just a palace, it is a huge complex. Pass the first gates for free and enter the park territory.
Behind the gates on your left – an ancient Christian temple of Istanbul. The church of St. Irene, founded in the 4th century. Constantine the Great was still praying here. Go round the church and take a look at the part which was under the ground (it is dug out now). Knock the door before you enter. Sometimes tourists are let to this territory, but most of the time the temple is closed because it is not renovated yet. From the church of St. Irene go to the information board and to the main entrance (about 20-30 meters). There you can buy a ticket for 20 lyiras and with this ticket you can visit all the halls of a complex – armory, kitchens, harem. Do not forget to take some pictures on the upper terrace against the background of the Bosphorus. This is the most amazing view of the strait in the whole city. Sultans lived in Topkapi palace for 300 years for a reason. Remember, the palace is closed on Tuesdays.
Leaving the palace, go back to a square, where the tickets are on sale, right in front of the second (inner) entrance. Stand with your back to the palace. Then go down and to the right. Pass about 50 meters and you will reach the Archaeological museum territory (the entrance ticket costs 10 liras). There are three halls, in which are collected more than 1 million of exhibits. Alexander the Great tomb, Pharaohs mummies, Hittite lions, ancient statues, Ottoman porcelain... Spend more time on visiting Archaeological museum, it's worth it. Leaving the museum, go downstairs – and you will reach Gulhane park (entrance is free). Just below the park gates – the stop is across the street. Get on tram there and go back to Laleli. You need Laleli Universitesi stop.
ATTENTION: Tram is working till 23:30 in Istanbul. Later — taxi or walk on foot.
On the tram stop buy a token for 1.75 liras – in token selling machine or in a wicket from seller. Put the token into a slot on ticket barrier, then wait for green index and come through. Choose a stop on which Sultanahmet direction is pointed (UP). This time you ride till the terminal point Kabatas. Pass Sultanahmet by, then you will see the sea, the Galata tower at the other end of the bridge, the tram will cross that bridge... Alight from the tram at the terminal point and cross the road. Go to the side whith is no tram tracks. Pass about 100 meters and you will reach Dolmabahce mosque. Behind it – behind a little outdoor cafe – Dolmabahce palace.
In front of the palace there are a lot of buses and tourists. Pass through the metal detector (it's free). Pass to the inner yard and then go to the main gates, where a guard of honour is standing. Don't be surprised, Dolmabahce in Istanbul is like the White House in Washington. Take a look at guard mount, it's a beautiful view. Then go to the box office located on the right from the main gates. A full ticket (the palace and harem) costs 20 liras, a simple ticket (just the palace) – 15 liras. Buy a necessary ticket. Remember, the palace is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You will get special covers for your shoes in Dolmabahce because parquet here is very expensive. Only group excursions are allowed in Dolmabahce, so wait for 5-7 people and join a big tourists group. Admire the rare pianos at the palace, they are made of rare tree species, the Ottoman empire order, thrones decorated with jewels...
Leaving Dolmabahce, go back the same road as you got here, to the subway stop Kabatas (it is just behind the mosque, near the palace). Then cross the street and go downstairs under the sign board FUNIKULER. You can get there by passing ticket barrier, the entrance is fee-paying (get a token in the box office). Wait for a wagon about 5 minutes and during 90 seconds you and other passengers will be lifted to Taksim hill. Alight from the wagon and leave this mini subway, following the sign boards. Now you are in the center Square of Istanbul – Taksim Square! A small monument is in front of you (it is the Independence monument).
Now look to the left. Do you see the beginning of the street full of people? It is the pedestrian Istiklal Avenue. Go there! Istiklal is the main street of the European part of Istanbul (as Baghdad street of Eastern part). There is everything there! Restaurants, bars, cafes, souvenirs stores, brand stores, shopping malls, theaters...You can stroll through the street till its end and you will see some old embassies and consulates, the St. Anthony church (the largest Catholic temple in Istanbul) and some incredible old buildings.
Istiklal ends near the Galata tower. But don't rush to get inside, make some steps back and admire the Pera Palace hotel, where famous writer Agatha Christie used to stay. Then go back to Galata ( it will be always in sight). Buy a ticket for 11 liras and lift up on 61 meter on a high speed lift. There is a cafe up there with big windows and observation point. It is tight, has a circular shape (as a ring around the tower). View of the city is amazing! Leaving Galata – go to the left from the entrance, to the tram tracks. Pass the pedestrian underpass here and enter the stop by taking the ticket. Then ride to Laleli Universitesi stop.
Let's define what do you want. Do you need vintage textiles? Then go to a shopping mall. Souvenirs, gold or handmade? Of course choose market! Sweets, exotics such as marine sponges, seasonings? Choose Egyptian market!
Let's start from covered market (Grand Bazaar). It is located in your area. Go by tram tracks in Sultanahmet direction for 10 minutes till you reach Beyazit tram stop. You won't be confused if it is the right stop, because this stop is the terminal point of many buses. On the left behind the stop— the market entrance.
ATTENTION! Istanbul is a safe city but pocket-picking is possible as everywhere. So be careful with your wallet or bag.
Grand Bazaar is really huge, so do not try to remember its streets (there are 50 streets). Just buy a little guide book (near the entrance). After that — enjoy your shopping.
Leaving the market you will see an old mosque. We offer to visit it and relax in quiet and coolness. Then leave the mosque and go to the tram tracks (it is seen). Got tired? Go back to your hotel. Still have strength? Go by tram tracks upwards, to Sultanahmet direction, in fact, you already are in Sultanahmet area. Moving along this road, you will reach the seaside. If you ride by the tram, alight from it on Eminonu stop.
Then move to the pedestrian underpass to the right and you will reach Yeni Cami mosque. Go round it (or better visit the mosque) and you will see a long building made of bricks. You've reached the Egyptian market, it is also called the Seasoning market. It is the best place to buy sweets, Turkish spices, smoked food, bath accessories (sea sponges, sponges made of algae, etc.), tea and coffee. Leaving Egyptian market, go to the mosque and for 1 lira buy a dish with millet from a blind old man (just put the money on the table and take the saucer). Feed pidgins and take some pictures: this place of Istanbul is famous for its pidgins, as St. Peter Square in Venice. Then get back to the tram stop through pedestrian underpass (turn to the right in the underpass) and get in the tram. Go to Laleli.
If you're still not tired, then turn to the left (not to the right) in underpass. Do you see the tram stop? Approach it. Buy a token, put it into a slot, wait for green index on ticker barrier and enter the tram stop. Go to Kabatas direction. Get in the first subway wagon. Go to a terminal point, alight from it through the LEFT door and then downstairs to pedestrian underpass. Pass through ticket barrier here (you don't have to pay, you still are leaving the tram stop). Turn to the left. Here's another ticket barrier. Now, put the token into it (the box office is near) — pass through the ticket barrier and reach the FUNIKULYR stop.
Wait for a wagon, then get in it and ride one stop with comfort. Alight from the wagon, turn to the RIGHT, and pass through ticket barrier without paying. You left FUNIKULYR stop. After passing ticket barrier go straight, do not turn anywhere, near moving staircase, straight to another ticket barrier. It is the entrance of Istanbul covered subway.
Buy a token in the box office (wicket is near) and go to the subway. Orient by sign boards there. Your stop is MECDIYEKOY. It is the second stop from the place where you are standing now. You can get to CEVAHIR shopping mall on that stop without leaving the subway (the special entrance to subway is near the mall). Go back after shopping. Leave through the special exit of supermarket which leads straight to the subway. You're back to MECDIYEKOY stop.
Repeat your road but in the opposite direction. You have to get to the subway which leads to Taksim direction, leave the subway, pass first ticket barriers and on your left you will see the entrance to FUNIKULYR stop. Ride on funicular, then alight from it, pass through ticket barriers and on your left, right on the cross pass through ticket barriers to the entrance to Kabatas tram stop. Get in the tram here and ride to Laleli Universitesi stop.
ATTENTION! Do not forget, each time you enter the tram, funicular or subway stop, you have to pay for your ride with a token, when you pass through a ticket barrier. When you leave a stop, you don't pay for anything.