How can you pack 3 million people in the same street? This is what happens every day and during the wekend in this huge shopping street of Istanbul. With its shops, bookstores, art galleries, theatres, libraries, cafés, pubs, nightclubs, historic pastry shops, restaurants and coffee shops with 360 degree views of Istanbul, this avenue is a must for your stay in Istanbul.
If you hate crowds this place might not be for you, but Istanbul's residents are very quiet and polite and this huge crowd is neither oppressive nor annoying and mostly cheerful and lively.
This one kilometer long avenue joins Taksim Square to Karaköy and so links the modern city to the historic city. Down the avenue in the neighbourhood of Tünel you can discover the second oldest underground station in the world (Tünel, created in 1875).
This street is not just a shopping street, it is also surrounded by many important buildings, mosques, synagogues, churches (Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, ...) and academic institutions from different European countries as well as embassies and consulates. It is sometimes compared to the Champs - Elysées but it is probably more varied with many little side galleries and shopping streets. Its name « Istiklal « means "Independence" in Turkish and commemorates the victory in the Turkish War of Independence.
Take the small red tramway and immerse yourself in the Istanbul of that era. If you prefer to walk, stay on the sidewalk and avoid walking in the middle, the tram is never far away.
How to get there : Pedestrian street. The easiest way is to go through Taksim Square, or from Karaköy (stop Karaköy, blue line), up towards the Galata Tower, continue through the shopping streets in the neighbourhood of Tünel until you get to Istiklal Caddesi.