1 Istiklal Caddesi To prove there's more to Istanbul than Oriental mysticism and eastern promise, take a walk along the pedestrianised 1.6km Istiklal Caddesi from Tunel to Taksim Square, in the hub of the modern European district. Here, consumerism is at its most appealing. The street is full of cafes, cinemas, funky fashion boutiques, art galleries, bookshops, kebab stalls and the latest Turkish pop blasting out of every doorway. The diversity of architectural styles is beguiling, with tiny Ottoman mosques, ornate stone balconies, stained glass-covered alleyways and majestic churches intermingled with fluorescent neon shop signs. Have a rummage for heavily discounted clothes at the shopping mall Is Merkezi, or try out an accordion or oud (a Middle Eastern lute) in the traditional music shops in Tunel. A window seat in the second or third floor of a cafe makes an ideal vantage point, if only to gaze at the historic red tram that shuttles up and down the street, with children hanging off the end for a free ride. 2 Galata Bridge This bridge over the Golden Horn, an arm of the Bosphorus, is the centre of the centuries-old shipping industry with passenger boats leaving regularly to travel up the waterway or to the Asian side of the city. Galata Bridge is best experienced in the late afternoon, when fishermen stand patiently with their lines dipping into the murky waters and the chaos of the nearby bus station and bazaars is drowned out by the calls to prayer from surrounding mosques. The lower level of the bridge has a row of newly restored cafes, rebuilt after a devastating fire, making it one of the best spots in Istanbul for a refreshing drink while watching the ferries sail beneath. Near Yeni Camii (New Mosque) is Eminonu, a sprawling market area spanning the bus station, subways and streets around Misir Carsisi (Egyptian Bazaar), where you can buy tacky but hugely entertaining gifts. 3 Suleymaniye Mosque Few tourists make the effort to visit Suleymaniye Mosque in the Beyazit area, despite it being one of Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan's finest creations, with its striking 53-metre-high dome and pencil-slim minarets in each corner. Built in the 1550s, the site also contains a caravanserai (inn for caravans), a fountain and the tombs of Sinan and sultans Suleyman II and Ahmet II, all set around a tranquil courtyard. One of the few truly peaceful spots in the city, the mosque's interior is cool, dark and hushed, with shafts of light coming through the colourful stained glass windows which were produced by the splendidly named Ibrahim the Drunkard. Depart the spiritual and return to earthly matters with a fine cup of tea in one of the outdoor teahouses behind the mosque. (Both men and women should cover arms and legs - shawls are provided. Non-Muslims are not permitted during prayer times.) 4 Bosphorus Sit back on a boat along the Bosphorus, linking the Marmara and Black Seas and also dividing Europe and Asia. Throughout history the strait has been a significant route. Legend has it that Jason and the Argonauts passed through in their search for the Golden Fleece, although these days traffic normally comprises tankers, fishing boats and passenger ferries. Leaving from Eminonu, ferries journey north towards the Black Sea, passing banks of anglers, leafy suburbs and affluent wooden summer houses, forts and palaces. Look out for the Dolmabahce Palace, the beautiful mosque at Ortakoy, the impressive fortress at Rumeli and the small town of Sariyer, where you can enjoy a dinner of fresh fish and raki (the potent local brew) along the waterfront. Most boats depart from Eminonu piers - check with the tourist office for times ( www.istanbulguide.net ). Turkish Maritime Lines' sightseeing trips (about HK$47) leave three times a day and last about five hours, stopping for 90 minutes in Anadolu Kavagi before returning ( www.tdi.com.tr/eng/denizyollari.shtml ). There are also numerous private Bosphorus tour companies offering shorter cruises. 5 Meyhanes The best way to appreciate local food, wine and music is in a traditional meyhane, a dark, cavern-like restaurant where diners usually pay a fixed price for a set meal and unlimited drink. A typical Turkish meal starts with mezzes - a selection of hot and cold starters usually including dolma (stuffed peppers or vine leaves), cacik (yoghurt with garlic), patlican salatasi (roasted aubergine puree) and beyaz peynir (white cheese). Save room for the main course - generally chicken and rice - and fresh fruit to finish. The entire meal is washed down with wine, beer or raki. Raki is the best accompaniment for food, although the uninitiated may feel the effects the next day. Musicians playing traditional instruments wander around tables and for a few notes shoved inside their shirts, will give you their best rendition of raucous folk ditties. The best meyhanes are around Beyoglu, especially on Nevizade Sokak, Kallavi Sokak and the streets off Asmalimescit Sokak. 6 Ottoman townhouses To relive the ambience of a bygone era, stay in one of the recently restored wooden houses now operating as guesthouses. Many are found in the old city of Sultanahmet, near the historical hub of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. The first to be restored, opening in 1997, was Yesil Ev on Kabasakal Sokak, an Ottoman mansion comprising 19 antique-filled rooms, including the Pasha Room Suite with its own private Turkish bath (tel: [90 212] 517 6786/5; www.hotelyesilev.com ). The Ayasofya Pansiyonlari, a row of restored townhouses on Sogukcesme Sokak, is more simply furnished but also boasts authentic Ottoman decor, with views of the Hagia Sophia (tel: [90 212] 513 3660; www.ayasofya-pansiyonlari.com ). 7 Yildiz Park Every city needs its green spaces and Yildiz is a welcome relief with woodland and landscaped gardens rising above the area of Besiktas. Built in the 17th century near the Ciragan Palace (now a five-star hotel), by Sultan Abdul Hamit, the park is popular with courting couples and picnicking families. Those seeking refreshment can head for one of the attractive 19th-century pavilions, originally part of the palace whose guests included Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. The pavilions operate as restaurants and cafes. The park area also contains the Yildiz Palace Museum, Imperial Porcelain Factory and City Museum. 8 Dolapdere Market Although never included in tourist brochures, this crowded market in the lively Dolapdere gypsy area offers a great insight into local life and produce. Operating every Sunday from early morning, it is packed by midday with local shoppers who come for some of the cheapest and best selection of local fruit, vegetables, cheeses and olives. All essential household goods are available, from plastic pegs to net curtains, from teapots to long fleecy bloomers. Hold on to your valuables and join the throng. 9 Besiktas at Inonu Stadium Don a black-and-white scarf or baseball hat and become a Kara Kartal (Black Eagle) for the evening. Football-mad Istanbul boasts three of the top teams in Turkey (third in the 2002 World Cup, so they are no pushovers), and although fans have gained a dodgy reputation, domestic matches are usually good-natured affairs and visitors are welcome. Besiktas beat local rivals Galatasaray to win the Turkish Superleague this year, and their ground - Inonu Stadium near Taksim Square - is in a breathtaking setting with a perfect view of the Bosphorus. The season runs from August to late May with most matches played on weekend evenings, and tickets are relatively easy to buy. The adjacent club shop sells all the official merchandising, while the small museum open on match days displays trophies and memorabilia, so you can swot up and buy the kit before joining fans on the terraces. 10 Asmalimescit Nestled in the heart of Beyoglu, the narrow street of Asmalimescit Sokak has long been a stomping ground for Istanbul's bohemian crowd, where writers, musicians and artists including Salvador Dali have gathered to discuss life and drink. The sleazy watering holes have since been replaced by cafes and bars, where trendy Istanbul locals drink coffee, play backgammon and listen to music. You'll also spy the nargiles - water pipes filled with tobacco, traditionally puffed by old men and now the smoke of choice for a younger generation.