Planes arrive at the modern Ataturk airport (code IST), about 25km east of the city centre. There are various options for getting into Istanbul, you can take a taxi (about $10-$15), the express bus service (half-hourly, about $5 to Taksim),or a metro to Aksaray, and a tram on to Sultanahmet.
International trains from across Europe arrive at the Gar in Emionu, close to Sultanahmet. Asian trains arrive at Haydarpasha station. To get between the two, catch a ferry across the Bosophorous (see Get around).
Buses and coaches terminate at the colossal Otogar, about 10km east of the centre. Courtesy minibuses or taxis will easily get you into the centre.
Traffic in Istanbul can be manic, expect a stressful drive. It is necessary to pay a toll to cross the Bosphorous bridges.
Taxi is an easy and cheap way to get around. A taxi from Taksim to Sultahmet should cost only a few million lira. Hail any yellow taxi, all rides are metered and tipping is unnecessary.
Ferries travel between the European and Asian sides of the city. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and costs 1,000,000 lira, and gives great views of the Bosphorous.
A new tram service serves Sultanahmet and the suburbs South of the Golden Horn. Tickets can be bought on the platform.
Haghia Sofia, Sultanahmet Square (by tram: Sultanahmet), 0212 5221750. Tu-Su 9:00AM-7:30PM. Dating from the sixth century, originally a cathedral constructed for the Emperor Justinian. The huge 30m diameter dome was the largest in the world. Looted in 1204 during the fourth Crusade, became a mosque in the fifth century and minarets were added. Don't miss the excellent mosaics, including those in the gallery, reached by a stone slope to the left of the entrance. approx $12 (no concessions, cards accepted).
Topkapi Palace, Bab-i Hümayün Caddesi (by tram: Gülhane/Sultanahmet), 0212 5120480. M,W-Su 9:00AM-5:00PM. The imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for three centuries. Lavishly decorated, with four courts of increasing grandeur. In the second court in the entrance to the Harem (admission extra) and the State Treasury, housing a weaponary display. The third court has the Imperial Treasury (admission extra). The views from the Fourth Court over the Bosphorous are spectacular. approx $10 (no concessions, cards accepted, Harem and Imperial Treasury extra).
Blue Mosque, At Meydam Sokak 17, Sultanahmet (by tram: Sultanahmet), 0212 5181319. May-Oct 9:00AM-9:00PM, Nov-Apr:9:00AM-7:00PM. With its six minarets and sweeping architecture the Sultanahmet or 'Blue' Mosque impresses from the outside. Unlike Haghia Sophia, this is still a working mosque, entry is through the courtyard on the SW side. No shorts or bare shoulders (shawls are provided) and you will need to remove your footwear. Free.
The best area for nightlife is in Beyoglu, north of the Golden Horn.