• Feel the pulse of modern Istanbul and ride the “nostalgic tram” through history
  • Roll past landmarks, cutting-edge gallery displays and eye-catching architecture
  • Explore a six-story art space, a cozy photo café and a Turkish delight emporium

Nearly three million people parade up and down pedestrian İstiklal Caddesi every Saturday and Sunday. Day or night, this is the place to feel the pulse of modern Istanbul, with its sneaker stores, fast-food joints, and avant-garde galleries. But you can also get a sense of the city’s history by hopping aboard the “nostalgic tram” that rattles along the 1.6km from Tünel to Taksim Square, pinging its bell to part the crowds. (The schedule is erratic, but the tram departs roughly every 15 minutes throughout the day.) Squeeze into the wood-paneled carriage at Tünel and watch old and new landmarks slowly roll by. The window displays at Arter, a cutting-edge gallery, are always eye-catching. SALT Beyoğlu, a six-story cultural and research institution with a secret rooftop garden, hosts exhibitions, screenings, and has an excellent English-language bookstore, Robinson Crusoe, hidden on the fourth floor. Opposite the Galatasaray Lycee, cozy Kafe Ara is named after Magnum photographer Ara Güler, whose iconic black-and-white pictures of Istanbul adorn the walls. (You might spot the grizzly photographer himself, sipping fresh mint lemonade at his favorite table.) Alight at Taksim and backtrack a couple of blocks to Haci Bekir, a Turkish delight emporium that’s been in business since 1777. The kaymak lokum made with clotted cream is irresistible.

Head to Tünel Square to catch the tram. Climb aboard and you’ll ride past Arter, Salt and Haci Bekir which are all on İstiklal Caddesi. Kafe Ara is just off the main road, on Tosbağa Sokak.

ARTER: İstiklal Caddesi No: 211; +90-(0)212-708-5800; arter.org.tr/W3/

SALT Galata: Arap Cami Mah. Bankalar Caddesi No:11 +90 212 334 22 00

KAFE ARA: Tomtom Mahallesi, Tosbağa Sokak No:2; +90-(0)212-245-4105; kafeara.com

HACI BEKIR: 83/6 İstiklal Caddesi; +90-(0)212-245-1375; hacibekir.co