Taksim might be the most well-known district in Istanbul. You can find anything you want to do in Taksim: watch a film in the nostalgic theater, climb up to Galata Tower and watch the city, get drunk and wander between streets, dance like hell, have a sophisticated meal, see an art gallery, attend to a workshop and so on. If we focus specifically to the nightlife Taksim is a whirlwind of colors. It is not wrong to say that the options depending on the food type, music kind, price range and so on are overwhelming in Taksim. You can find various kinds of entertainment from gay clubs, to Türkü (Turkish Folk Music) Bars, from electro clubs to Meyhane’s. The night starts early in Taksim, but ends very late too. Before going home drinkişkembe çorbası (tripe soup) that would help your hangover as a part of a ritual of going out in Taksim.
Kadıköy district, located on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, is recently getting very popular. Even though Kadıköy is considered as the Taksim of Asia it offers a unique atmosphere starting from your ferry ride with a magnificent view of the Haydarpaşa Train Station and continuing in the bar street filled with antique wooden mansions that nowadays houses trendy bars, restaurants and cafes. It is also cleaner, cozier and more silent than Taksim. A point you should keep in mind about Kadıköy is that most of the bars are closed after 1 am. contrary to Taksim. Just some minutes walk from ferry there are also traditional Turkish taverns that serve seafood and Turkish Raki. You can either pick one of the unique bars of Kadıköy like; Buddha, Karga, Arka Oda, Hera or Trip and have an ice cold beer, you may choose to go to a tavern, take sips from your Raki or get your beer from a market and sit in the seashores, watch some ferries go by.
Bosphorus Bridge on the background of the night coast under the bright moon. Istanbul, Turkey. Night landscape.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Karaköy has been recently the most popular and most rapidly changing district of Istanbul. If we are supposed to call one of these districts “Hipster” that is definitely Karaköy. Almost every day there is a new bar, restaurant or a club opening. Not only bars and restaurants are new here, most of the old smithies, fabrics and ateliers are now art galleries, vintage stores and designer shops. Most of the bars serve delicious and sophisticated food until 10pm. And turn into a dance floor with good music afterwards. Sometimes the party gets carried to the street because of its crowd. There are also specific places only serve as night clubs like Gaspar and Fosil. Karaköy district is more expensive than the other districts in this list with one exception: Ortaköy. The Meyhane’s by the seashore are also very famous to eat Meze or seafood and drink Raki. Try and explore Karaköy, it will probably be different than what we explained until the moment you get there.
Ortaköy’s nightlife is more homogeneous compared to the other districts. It is a long coastline filled with fancy, luxurious and beautiful night clubs. Almost all of them have a view of the breathtaking Bosphorus Bridge, one leg in Asia, one leg in Europe. Some of the clubs in Ortaköy for example Reina are so significant and touristic that world-wide known celebrities, government officers, presidents have dined and had fun in. It surely is a privilege to enjoy your drink and dance watching the skyline of Istanbul, its historic and brilliant buildings and the Marmara Sea. If you go to the center of Ortaköy, right next to the shore and the mosque you will also find not-so expensive bars and clubs too. You can also sit on the shore and grab a beer from a market, watch the sea and the boats on it.
The first thing you would notice in Beşiktaş is its authentic Turkish neighborhood atmosphere. It is a neighborhood hasn’t felt the touch of gentrification so much (yet). Day time you will see people shopping from the arcades, young people practicing on their skateboards on a warm summer day and people from all ages drinking tea in the tea-sellers on the street. At night the streets around the fish market gets crowded, joyous and drunk. The ones that are so close to the fish market are all surrounded by taverns that serve seafood and Raki. Other places are mostly visited by the young people. The prices are average, not expensive. But the exception about Beşiktaş is the places located on Akaretler Street. There you can find fancy and luxurious bars, lounges and clubs. When the weather is nice a lot of people also prefer to sit on the seashore and drink their beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Bagdat Street is the most famous street of Anatolian side by overshadowing Kadıköy’s bar street. It is more famous for shopping than nightlife. In addition to be the center of shopping it also has one of the three bar streets of Istanbul. There are bars and clubs that are a little bit more expensive than the average. It is for sure you will see the most expensive and unique cars that you never saw anywhere before passing by from the Street. It is an 9 mile long street, parallel to the Sea of Marmara, which is very popular among the youth to go there, shop, sip a cafe, drink a cocktail.
Bonus: Caddebostan Coastline
All you need to do here is to bring your sheet to sit on, food and drinks. There you can lay on the grass, smell the sea and have joyous chats with friends. Grass is somewhat clean, you would be surrounded by people who are having fun and feel the atmosphere of an open air festival in the center of the city.