All but ignored by many tourists, the Asian side of Istanbul in fact contains a large number of attractions that are well worth your time. The Asian side is easily accessible by public transportation; the most enjoyable way to go there is by ferry (in no particular order).
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 the Asian-side 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. Beylerbeyi Sarayı; Abdullahağa Caddesi, Beylerbeyi, Üsküdar; P: (0216) 321 93 20
Çiya Restaurant: This internationally-famous restaurant, owned by chef Musa Dağdeviren has three branches in the Kadıköy marketplace; the oldest one, Çiya Kebap, opened in 1987. First-time visitors should eat at the branch known as Çiya Sofrası, which specializes in traditional Anatolian home-cooked food, often featuring dishes and ingredients you’ve likely never heard of, with recipes from the Caucasus and the Middle East as well as Turkey. Çiya is a short walk from the Kadıköy ferry terminal or the Kadıköy dolmuş stop. Çiya Sofrası; Güneşlibahçe Sokak No. 43, Kadıköy; P: (0216) 330 31 90
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 (see previous entry) are also found here. The market is easily reached by walking from the Kadıköy ferry terminal and dolmuş stop. Kadıköy Çarşısı; Kadıköy
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. Mihrimah Sultan Camii; Paşalimanı Caddesi, Üsküdar
Shopping on Bağdat Caddesi: The Asian side’s most fashionable shopping street, Bağdat Caddesi – which stretches for miles all the way from Kızıltoprak to Bostancı – contains numerous high-end retail outlets and malls as well as plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars. Its name – Baghdad Street – dates back to the reign of Sultan Murat IV, when it was a thoroughfare for Ottoman armies on the way to Baghdad. Today the “Cadde,” as it’s popularly known, is a great place to shop, go for a stroll, and see and be seen: be sure to look your best when you go there. Most of the stores you’ll want to visit are found in the stretch between Erenköy and Suadiye. Best reached by a Bostancı-bound dolmuş from Kadıköy.
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, you’ll see swimmers, sunbathers, joggers, rollerbladers, soccer-players, couples holding hands, and vendors of simit, tea, and cotton candy. The promenade, known as the 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 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.