THE BEST WAY

From LAX, Turkish Airlines provides non-stop service to Istanbul. Lufthansa, KLM and Air France all provide connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares, including taxes and fees, begin at $1,216.

TELEPHONES

To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 90 (the country code for Turkey), 212 (the area code) and the local number.

WHERE TO STAY

Pera Tulip, 103 Mesrutiyet Caddesi Tepebasi, Beyoglu; 243-85-00, http://www.peratulip.com. Doubles start at $119 a night with breakfast.

Vezir Hotel, 13 Akbiyik Caddesi Bayramfirin Sokak, Sultanahmet; 516-88-60, http://www.vezirhotel.com. Doubles start at $100 a night with breakfast.

WHERE TO EAT

Golden Horn fish boats, end of Galata Bridge. Fresh grilled fish fillet sandwiches served at outdoor waterfront seating area, about $5.

Lokantas, or home-style restaurants, abound all over the city (except in the heart of the Sultanahmet, where you'll find mostly touristy restaurants). Cooks stand behind steam tables featuring troughs of eggplant, spicy okra, spinach and garlic, lentil soup, rice, couscous and combinations with lamb, chicken, fish or beef. Lunch or dinner runs about $8-$10.

WHERE TO GO

Cagaloglu Hamami, Yerebatan Caddesi, Cagaloglu 34110; 522-24-24, http://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr. Lots of spa services are offered at this 300-year-old bathhouse. A classic Turkish steam bath and scrubbing costs about $66 per person. Open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily for men and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. for women.

Mevlevi Sema Ceremony (whirling dervishes dance ceremony), Sirkeci Train Station, Kennedy Caddesi near Galata Bridge. 7:30-8:30 p.m. (go early to get a good seat) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tickets cost $22.

TO LEARN MORE

Turkish Culture & Tourism Office, 5055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 850, Los Angeles; (323) 937-8066, http://www.goturkey.com.