Among the listed places I would ignore or at least caution you about Istiklal Caddesi and Taksim area, due to frequent demonstrations lately. If you are going to stay few more days in Istanbul we can add to this Top Ten list the following places :
Arkeoloji Muzesi (Archaeological Museum) in Gülhane Park close to Topkapi Museum. This museum is often overlooked by tourists due to the popularity of Topkapi Museum.While Topkapi covers only the Ottomans, the Archeological Museum has items from at least 8 civilizations and is comparable to the British Museum ın London. Also the Gülhane Park is a secluded green oasis in the busy part of the historical peninsula with a magnificent view of the Leanders Tower and the Asian side of Istanbul.
Türk Islam Eserleri Müzesi(Turkish Islamic Art Museum)
Close to Blue Mosque, old carpets, calligraphy etc.
Mozaik Müzesl (Mosaics Museum)
In the vicinity of Blue Mosque, beautiful mosaic samples from Byzantium’s Grand Palace ruins.
Kariye Camii (Chora Church)
In the historical Peninsula, famous for it’s interior of the building, covered with fine mosaics and frescoes.
ŞEHZADE MOSQUE SÜLEYMANİYE MOSQUE
Two of Master Architect Sinan’s 16. Century masterpieces. Both in the historical penınsula and very close to each other.
Golden Horn Ferry Boat Trip
Most Istanbulites have taken the Bosphorus boat trip but are not knowledgeable about this one. The ferry dock is by Eminönü side of the Galata Bridge by the fish& bread boat restaurants. Walk behind the bus stations and car lots all the way to the water of Golden Horn. There you will see the ferry dock. Every hour a small ferry boat departs to Eyüp(Third most sacred place of Islam). The boat trip takes 30 minutes and the ferry makes frequent stops on both shores of Golden Horn. In Eyüp you can visit the famous Eyüp mosque and also take the lift up the hill of Pierre Loti for a breathtaking view of Istanbul while sipping Turkish Tea !
By the way the doc for Bosphorus Boat Trip is also by the Eminönü side of the Galata Bridge right across the Valide Mosque. Ignore the sales people who approach you for boat trips. Look for these signs only: and
A district on the European side of Bosphorus by the Boğaziçi Atatürk Köprüsü (Bosphorus Bridge) A popular area with restaurants, cafes and tea houses, antique stores, gift shops, galleries. Also boats from here depart to Kiz Kulesi (Leander’s Tower )
The best way to visit museums is to buy a “Müze Kart” Museum Pass which is good for 72 hours in most museums including Topkapi. Hagia Sofia etc.
Istanbullite.com does not specialize in fine dining. Rather than fine dining restaurants we like adventurous dining experiences and explore street food. On rare occasions we go to upscale restaurants by the Bosphorus, usually with fellow istanbulian friends who know the price structure and fresh fish prices. You can check our following link for some street food but also for few restaurant recommendations:
I personally like two Turkish chains: SIMIT SARAYI for endless breakfast and lunch choices with fine pastries, sandwiches, fresh fruit juices etc. And SULTAN AHMET KÖFTECISI for the famous Turkish hamburger or meatballs.
Also for very reasonably priced good food (no alcohol) in historical settings and scenic view, I will recommend the following facilities all run by the IBB (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality):
For touristic restaurants (with Alcohol ) I will recommend the KUMKAPI area(in the historical Peninsula).Fish restaurants (like Oktoberfest; tables on the streets) with Roman music and street musicians.
Çiçek Pasaji on Istiklal Caddesi in the Pera District.
For sports Bars Beşiktas District’s Çarşı Area by the Bosphorus before Beşiktaş games.
For a general idea about some Turkish food and how a Turkish -American mixes and matches two cuisines see: