Istanbul is more than just a city of former empires; at night, with its rooftop bars, modern restaurants, state-of-the-art event venues, and bustling old pubs, it is the new cool. The neighbourhoods of the city, whether it be a hidden cocktail bar or a stage presenting the best indie bands, exude their distinct nightlife charm on both sides of the straits. You must have a reason to apply for a Turkish visa online now. Visit our website and apply for an e-visa to Turkey.
Istanbul is famous for a variety of things. The domes of Sultanahmet’s historic buildings, lavish Ottoman palaces, and the city’s seagulls circling above the ships gliding along the Bosphorus might be the first things that come to mind. However, the urban and cultural dynamism that emerges after sunset is still largely a neighbourhood secret, frequently accessible only to those who look for it. Move down to street level, where live music, performing arts, craft cocktails, and even bar liveliness take the main stage from rooftop bars that enjoy magnificent sunsets. On both sides of the strait, Istanbul’s nightlife is as diverse as its never-ending maze of winding backstreets.
The Beyoglu neighbourhood was Istanbul’s most European area during its peak in the 19th century, with a mix of classical buildings and a flood of Levantine citizens. Beyoglu still emanates modern characteristics today in all of its manifestations, from cuisine to art and design. The recently revived Atatürk Cultural Center has ample capacity to accommodate operas, theatre plays, concerts, art exhibitions, and workshops for children and adults, and its lights gleam with a powerful conviction at night.
The tasting menus of young star chefs are redefining Turkish cuisine in fine dining restaurants situated down the former Istiklal Avenue (formerly Grande Rue de Péra) and down the hidden side lanes. Elevators reach the rooftop bars, where unlimited views of Istanbul and the flavour of expertly crafted cocktails provide a unique sense of freedom. Hidden artisan cocktail bars with a 1920s vibe, jazz bars with local and international acts, and concert venues like Salon KSV, where independent musicians from Turkey and beyond excite both old and new fans, are all to be found inside the lovely maze of cobbled backstreets. Babylon in Bomontiada, formerly a mainstay of Beyoglu for top-notch concerts, is another draw for well-known artists that make Istanbul an essential stop on their global tours. The Zorlu Performing Arts Center, a multi-venue building with one of Europe’s largest mainstages and a jazz bar to end the night in style, is another fantastic destination for music lovers.
Upscale neighbourhoods like Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, and Bebek enjoy their nighttime vitality away from the city centre and along the Bosphorus. Famous nightclubs keep playing music well into the night, and after dinner, well-known restaurants change into bars that welcome regional DJs. Istanbul comes to life at night, with taxis overflowing with young Istanbulites going to wine bars to meet up with friends for an early sip and snack. At the same time, they plan their next move into the night, lighted by the varying lights of the city’s iconic bridges; this sometimes continues until the sun rises again to usher in a new day.
The bohemian neighbourhood of Kadiköy, on the other side of the Bosphorus, has its unique nightlife. Built in 1927 and appears to have been transported directly from Paris, the nostalgically luxurious Süreyya Opera House features a programme of classical music and operas in contrast to an interior where red velvet reigns. Crowds of people gather on Kadife Sokak, the district’s very own bar street, to unwind at one of the many pubs and bars, chatting for hours or just until a local indie band or DJ begins their set. Naturally, a tribute to Istanbul’s nightlife wouldn’t be complete without recognizing the tradition of the city’s meyhane (tavern) culture. Istanbul residents have been clinking excellent raki (an anise-flavoured spirit) glasses, eating meze, and chatting for hours about their existential joys and woes for centuries. While the city is full of traditional and modern meyhanes, the old Kumkapi neighbourhood offers a livelier experience with street musicians. Locals enjoy singing and dancing to live fasil music at these taverns, forgetting their problems in the charm of yet another Istanbul night.