I'm Ahmet Aydogan, from Istanbul CouchSurfing.
I decided to create this blog to give firsttimers to Istanbul a rough idea of what there is to see in the city... all accecible on foot or public transport... meaning it is essential to have city's public transport card Istanbulkart.
But, Please, be reminded that the blog is still incomplete as it is new and Istanbul is a diverse giant to cover easily ;)
A quick reminder of the money scene here as for you to have an idea about the prices given in the blog...
The exchange rate as of 26th Dec, 2013: 1 USD = 2.10 TRY / 1 EUR= 2.90 TRY / Currency Converter.
So, here we go...
There is no social difference between the two sides of Istanbul. The words 'European' and 'Asian' or 'Anatolian' only refer to the geographical facts as the city is devided into two between the easternmost point of the Continent of Europe and the westernmost point of the Continet of Asia (Asia Minor).
Generally speaking, the Historic Peninsula, once the mighty Constantinople, is the historic centre... Taksim Area is the centre for 'city lights' of all sorts...
The Asian side is residential... altough there are some sights and few things to do... at the end of the day it goes to sleep not much later than midnight.
How to get into the city from Ataturk and Sabiha airports:
(ISTANBUL'S PUBLIC TRANSPORT IS A RIP-OFF IF YOU PAY IN CASH. DO GET AN 'ISTANBULKART' AS A FIRST THING AT THE AIRPORTS if you arrive during official work hours of the buses and the metro (underground)... or as soon as possible when you get in town.
Please, do also note that to be able to get the discounts everyone should have their own card.)
Apart from the taxi option Havatas Airport Shuttles are the most straight forward way getting into the city particularly during the night when the public transport is scarce.
From Ataturk to Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque area) and Taksim Square you can also take the metro (M1)... changing at ZEYTINBURNU to the tram (T1) line (KABATAS direction)... and either get off at Sultanahmet station, or just continue to the last station of the line: Kabatas... and take the funicular up to Taksim Square from there.
For the asian side, get off at KARAKOY station which is at one end of the Galata Bridge and ask for the KADIKOY-HAYDARPASA ferry which is only about 100 meters away.
From Sabiha (on the asian side) to Taksim Square the best way is the Havatas Shuttle (12 TL.)... once you are there, you can take a taxi or the funicular-and-tram combination to get to Sultanahmet.
Also from Sabiha there are three public buses running to three places of the asian side: E-9 to Bostanci (the one to get to my place); E-10 to Kadikoy centre, where you can catch ferries to the european side of the city... and the third SG-1 to Kadikoy (you can ignore this one).
Public bus fare from Sabiha is 6 TL... You can purchase an istanbulkart here, too.
Metro and Tram runs from 06:00 till Midnight... the Funicular from 06:15 till midnight.
E-9 and E-10 from Sabiha run 24 hours.
SG-1 runs from 04:00 till 01:00... again almost 24h.
The Kadikoy-Haydarpasa ferry from 06:00 till 23:00, in the summer till midnight.
How to get into the city from the main bus terminal.
Most bus companies have free shuttle services from Esenler 'Otogar' (city's main bus terminal) to Taksim Square and other central locations... and vice versa.
However, there is still the metro (M1) option available here:
To get to Sultanahmet and Taksim, for example, take trains going Ataturk Airport direction and change at Zeytinburnu station to the tram line (T1) going Kabatas direction.
For Taksim, get off at Kabatas and take the Funicular up... (each ride 3 TL).