Istiklal Avenue is Istanbul's answer to the Champs Elysees in Paris or Fifth Avenue in New York. It's home to the city's best shopping, fine dining, and beautiful architecture. Just about every major international fashion label has an outlet here. Day and night, Istiklal Avenue is always crowded. The city's best night life is located here too.
Istiklal Avenue's western terminus Taksim Square, traditionally the civic center of Istanbul. It serves as the main transfer point for the city's bus system, and has stops on Istanbul's Metro and a funicular railway. The square is also the staging ground for protests, so keep an eye out! Some of Istanbul's finest hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton and the InterContinental, are located here, as are several restaurants.
In the middle is Galatasaray Square, the hub of the fashionable Galatasaray neighborhood. It's home to Galatasaray Lisesi, one of the best schools in all of Turkey. The square is always bustling, and is in close proximity to excellent shopping and restaurants (and also Burger King).
Several important churches and mosques line Istiklal Avenue. One of the highlights is the Roman Catholic Saint Anthony of Padua Church, built between 1906 and 1912 in the Neo-Gothic style. There is an eclectic mix of architecture here. Most buildings date to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Styles represented include, Beaux-Arts, Neo-Classical, and Neo-Gothic as well as unique Turkish styles.
No trip to Istanbul is complete without a visit here. You can easily spend an entire day wandering around. The entire length of the avenue is worth exploring, so bring your best walking shoes. Istiklal Avenue is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. The Tünel, which runs underneath Istiklal Avenue, is the world's second oldest subway line (after only the London Underground).
Transport: Galatasaray, Tünel, Taksim (Tünel); Taxim (Metro); Taxim (Funicular)