If you go
THE BEST WAY TO ISTANBUL, TURKEY
From LAX, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa and United offer connecting service (change of plane) to Istanbul. Restricted round-trip fares range from $877 to $1,251, including taxes and fees.
To call the numbers below from the U.S. dial 011 (the international dialing code), 90 (country code for Turkey) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
First-time visitors will probably want to stay on Istanbul's European side in the lively Beyoglu area. Two neighborhoods there to consider are Cihangir and Galata. Turkish friends told me that Galata was up and coming and that much of the city is walkable from there, so I chose two apartment hotels in Galata, both small and recently renovated.
Serdar-ı Ekrem 59, 59 Serdar-ı Ekrem Sokak, Galata, Beyoglu; 212-243-3575, http://www.serdar-iekrem59.com. Small five-story building on a quiet street. Each flat has a separate bedroom with a queen-size bed, hardwood floors, kitchenette, flat-screen TV, telephone, Wi-Fi and air conditioning. The flat felt just like home and was very comfortable. There's someone on hand to answer questions, make restaurant reservations and give directions. Rooms from about $153 a night (three-night minimum).
Baylosuites, 24 Galata Kulesi Sokak, Beyoglu; 212-245-9860, http://www.baylosuites.com. Another great choice run by a mother-daughter team who renovated a 19th century building into four serviced residential apartments. Baylosuites is Turkey's first historical building renovation project with a LEED certificate. The restoration is beautifully done with full modern kitchens and stone bathrooms. There's also a rooftop terrace for guests to enjoy. Downstairs is an art gallery run by the owners where you can get advice and directions so you're not entirely on your own. All the comforts — flat-screen TV, plush robes, Turkish towels, comfortable bedding, even an iPhone dock. Nonsmoking. Rooms from $173.
TO LEARN MORE
Blogs: http://www.IstanbulFood.com, http://www.IstanbulEats.com, http://www.parlafood.com/my-istanbul
Apps: Katie Parla's Istanbul: Just released in May. Rome-based food writer Katie Parla has a secret passion: Istanbul. A freelance writer and sommelier, she takes off for the city several times a year and has collected all her favorite restaurants, including the elegant and the hole-in-the-wall ones, plus whatever else catches her fancy. New entries added frequently. Good maps. Accurate information. For iPhone and iPad, $2.99.
Culinary Backstreets: Istanbul, an Eater's Guide to the City: The folks behind the popular blog IstanbulEats.com have collected their best finds in this app focusing on Turkish regional cuisines in Istanbul. Most are off the beaten track and include restaurants, food carts, bakeries, sweet shops and more. For iPhone and iPad, $4.99. Its two founders, Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer, have also published a book, "Istanbul Eats: Exploring the Culinary Backstreets," $20.
Knopf Map Guide: Istanbul. Each neighborhood had its own map that folds out from the book. $9.95.