Sadly ignored by many tourists, the Asian side of Istanbul in fact contains a large number of attractions that are well worth your time. Here, we give you a run-down of some of our favorite spots to see, in no particular order. But it's important to note that getting there is half the fun, and taking a ferry and seeing Istanbul from the Bosphorus is an essential Istanbul experience, so hop on an easily accessible ferry and start seeing Istanbul from a new vantage point.
Beylerbeyi Palace: This former summer residence of the Sultans is smaller and less elaborate than other Bosphorus palaces like Dolmabahçe and Çırağan. Just north of the Bosphorus Bridge in a neighborhood of the same name, the palace was designed in the 1860s by Ottoman architect Sarkis Balyan (the brother of Nikoğos Balyan) in the French neo-Baroque style, but retains the traditional Ottoman division into the selamlık (men’s quarters) and harem (women’s and family quarters). The palace is best reached by bus or dolmuş from the Üsküdar ferry landing (or by less frequent direct ferries), and is also accessible from the Boğaziçi Köprüsü Metrobus stop. Abdullahağa Caddesi, Beylerbeyi, Üsküdar; T: (0216) 321 93 20
Bayramoğlu Döner serves the most renowned Turkish dish, in its best version: thinly cut döner, sandwiched in between two lavaş (thin flat bread) pieces to preserve heat, along with the classic appetizer and side of chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. With its interior reminiscent of a dining hall, Bayramoğlu Döner makes a carefree visit to Beykoz a gastronomical experience that is not to be missed. Rüzgarlıbahçe G-69 Sok. No.2, Kavacık; T: (0216) 413 00 45
Kadıköy Market: Similar to Beyoğlu’s Balık Pazarı (fish market), but with fewer tourists and touts, the Kadıköy Market is a foodie’s delight. Its main food-shopping street, Güneşlibahçe Sokak, features a fish market; a number of excellent şarküteris; shops specializing in dried fruits, tea and coffee; bakeries and baklava stores; and further on, cafes, bars, and fish restaurants. Çiya Sofrası and Çiya Kebap I&II, culinary powerhouses, are also found here. The market is easily reached by walking from the Kadıköy ferry terminal and dolmuş stop.
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque: Not to be confused with the identically-named mosque in Edirnekapı, this large structure is also known as the İskele Camii (Mosque of the Pier) due to its location by the Üsküdar ferry terminal. Designed by Mimar Sinan and commissioned by Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Süleyman the Magnificent, the mosque – whose twin minarets are an instantly recognizable part of the Üsküdar skyline – was completed in 1548. The freestanding fountain in front of the mosque – which serves as a traffic island – was built by Sultan Ahmet III in 1726. Get off at the Üsküdar ferry terminal and it’s impossible to miss the mosque; it can also be reached by bus or dolmuş from Kadıköy. Paşalimanı Caddesi, Üsküdar
Moda: Little record shops, ateliers, cafés, theaters and bookstores abide in this bohéme corner of Istanbul. In Moda, you will see students standing in front of the comic book shops to take a glance on the last releases, and devoted collectors wandering around the numerous antique shops to track down their next purchase. Experimental and sophisticated, Moda couldn’t help but be a magnet for ateliers and exhibition spaces, and therefore a magnet for the hip youngsters of the city. Take an afternoon to explore this quaint little corner of Istanbul and allow yourself to fall in love with the city all over again.
Waterside Walk: With its wide pedestrian path, the miles-long seaside promenade from Fenerbahçe to Bostancı is a very pleasant place to go for a walk on the weekend; on the way, if weather permits, you’ll see swimmers, sunbathers, joggers, rollerbladers, soccer-players, couples holding hands, and vendors of simit, tea, and cotton candy. The promenade, known as sahilyolu in Turkish, has great views of the Princes’ Islands just off the coast in the Sea of Marmara. Best reached by a Bostancı-bound dolmuş from Kadıköy; if you get off in Fenerbahçe, it’s only a few blocks’ walk to the seaside.
Yogurt in Kanlıca: Once a sleepy waterside village, the Bosphorus neighborhood of Kanlıca is famous for its creamy and tart yogurt, which is served sprinkled with powdered sugar. Step off the ferry there, and you’ll find it on the menu of most waterside cafes, of which the best known is Çınaraltı. Kanlıca can be reached by Bosphorus ferry as well as by a Beykoz-bound dolmuş from Üsküdar.
(updated on January 13, 2015)