Istanbul is where Europe and Asia kiss demurely across the Hellespont and the resulting cultural trifle is richer and more satisfying than a bucket of Turkish Delight. Here's what the locals say...
Tourists swarm over the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia like, well, ants on a baklava. Do see them, but then take a short taxi ride west to the Fener and Balat districts and let your head stop spinning while you stroll around the old streets - with beautiful 16th and 17th century buildings - and the Jewish quarter. There's also the Byzantine Church of St Saviour in Chora that could give Hagia Sophia a close run in any 'who's the prettiest church?' contest.
If you get it wrong in Istanbul you can end up in a bar that looks like your granny's kitchen, watching a Turkish third division football match on a tiny TV through a curtain of cigar smoke. Serious Istanbul party folk are found in the Beyoglu district. Looking for crazy locals dancing to Turkish music? Try the Türkü Bar or if you fancy attempting some serious late night moves, head to Babylon. If you want to feel the breeze on your face rather than the sweat on your back, try Yeni Melek, a big open area in Beyoglu.
There's an unproven theory that 33 per cent of Istanbul is made of food and if you want to see how much meze a local man can consume choose any of the many 'meyhane' (traditional Turkish wine houses-cum-restaurants) that litter the city. Find the noisiest and you'll probably avoid the white-socks-with-sandals city break crew. Some of the best are in Nevizade Sokak.
The shops: Lots of generic high street shops these days but it's a long way from London to Istanbul and the Grand Bazaar is worth the hassle of kids trying to sell you 'Chanel' eau de tap water.
The place to stay: Most cheap hotels in Istanbul are south of the Golden Horn - try the Hotel Agan, for example. If you are looking for Istanbul luxury hotels, rest your mind, body and soul at the Barceló Eresin Topkapi.
The spa: After a visit to any of the city's hamams you'll feel great and a bit like you fell asleep in the tumble dryer. If you want to literally hang with the locals try Büyük Hamam in Potinciler Sokak.
The place for people watching: Try rush hour by the Galata Bridge where most of Turkey seems to be on the move.
The view: Take a boat across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of Istanbul, stand on the stern and look back as the mound of Sultanahmet rises from the sea. It'll make your Istanbul city break all the more magical.
The trip: Get on a ferry to the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. There are beautiful wooden houses and no cars. The treacle-slow pace of life still bubbles along nicely here.
The coffee: Being in the Grand Bazaar can feel like you've been through the washing machine with the contents of your gran's attic. For an injection of coffee, stop off at Divan on Cevahir Bedesten.
The gallery: Istanbul has a lot of great old stuff, so when you've had your fill try Galeri X-Ist to see what modern Turkish artists are up to.
Why not try? A Bosphorous cruise and Istanbul's Egyptian bazaar private tour