In recent years, bars and clubs in Istanbul have brought themselves in line with a more ‘European’ model. Despite such an overhaul, however, the city’s nightlife has still managed to retain a character that’s as distinctive as its ancient markets and bazaars.
The best way to start an evening is over a ‘narghile’ (hookah pipe). There are various places on Yaniceriler Caddesi and, especially during the summer, they make an excellent place to watch as the city gets going again after the heat of the day.
From there, Akbiyik Caddesi is one of the livelier streets of the Old Town of Sultanahmet. Down between the Blue Mosque and the walls of Topkapi Palace, there are a number of bars where an international travelers’ set congregates from the early evening.
Although the streets surrounding the basilica of Yerebatan Saray can also get quite lively, most of the best nightlife in Istanbul is to be found elsewhere. As the evening gets going, much of the action is transferred to the other side of the Golden Horn in Beyoglu.
It’s here, spreading out from Taksim Square at the heart of Beyoglu, that the city really begins to buzz. Although the area is also hugely popular with young people during the day for to its fashionable stores and cafés, it’s after dark that it comes into its own.
Istiklal Caddesi has a number of small, studiously hip clubs and live music venues that are full to bursting most nights. Running just off Istiklal Caddesi is Imam Adnan Sokak, where several more quality bars are clustered together.
Not far away, the area of Nisantasi has an altogether smarter scene and a couple of the city’s swankier places. Abdi Ipekci Caddesi boasts a couple of excellent restaurants that turn into bars later on and cater for a slightly more mature crowd.
Whether it’s gazing out across the Bosphorus as the sun sets red and gold on its waters, or watching it rise again outside one of the clubs of Beyoglu, Istanbul has a range of nightlife that manages to surprise and delight in equal measures.