Istanbul at night is lively, lively, lively!
Although the city is filled with reminders from its glorious past, it does not fail to look into the future. The people’s penchant for a night out filled with fun has given the city a distinct vibe. Given this, one is hard-put to explain why Istanbul never got the reputation for having a dynamic nightlife. Well, if you think Istanbul is just about mosques and monuments, history spread out all over the city, you are only half right! Istanbul can offer excellent nightlife tours, with its many avenues for entertainment. Choose between the modern and pulsating lights at the clubs, to a bohemian lifestyle at some districts and to a chic and elite scene at the opera. There simply are many choices for you that it would be such a waste to hole up in your hotel room at night.
Get out and have some fun!
A good place to start would be the Beyoglu district, which has more than 900 bars and clubs. We’re sure that there is at least one to suit your fancy. Most of the local haunts are places where you can let your hair down, cozy and a great way to meet new friends. Lounging at one of the bars is also, believe it or not, a great chance to catch up on your reading.
Beyoglu is a favorite hangout, not just of tourists, but of office workers (looking for a place to relax after a hard days’ work), some aspiring singers and rock stars, students and businessmen. You have a choice between backstreet cafes and bars to trendy clubs that serve excellent food. Some bars even have pool tables.
Taksim, on the other hand, is a district where you can find a heavy concentration of hotels, which have their own lounges and bars. One of these bars is the one found in the historic Pera Palace Hotel. Here, you can pore over 1920s memorabilia as you wait for a table. For a more up market place, you can go to the Armani Café.
Now, if you want a more sedate nightlife scene, Sultanahmet can provide that for you. As this has more up market bars and water pipe cafes, some of which close at an early hour of 10:00 p.m.
Mind you, Istanbul is not just about discotheques and places to grab a drink. For sports lovers, there are sports bars (most of which showcase the performances of the local leagues). For those looking for a more sedate place to drink, there are British pubs that dot the city. For those who want to dance the night away, there are some open air clubs that serve up fun in creative ways. You can also try a tour along the Bosphorus at night, when the city is all decked out with dazzling lights. Music lovers should not fret, as well. As there are clubs and lounges that provide live music from a wide variety of genres – pop music, rock and roll and jazz music are the more popular genres. For those looking for a bit of culture, there is the Ataturk Cultural Center, where you can catch a performance of the State Theater Company, Opera, Symphony Orchestra and Ballet. If you come at the right time, there are folk music and dance performances all around the city. The list goes on – hookah bars (water pipe cafes), tea gardens, the opera, art galleries, the cinema, roof-top lounges, the choices are virtually endless!
That said, here are some words of warning to avoid scams that are becoming popular in a tourist-laden city such as Istanbul. Beware if, when entering a bar, you seem suddenly with a lot of friends, surrounded by women. Before you know it, their drinks are on you, even without your permission. You will just be surprised that your bill is a grossly exaggerated amount. To avoid this, try to stick with your friends. Also avoid establishments that look seedy, even from the outside. Better yet, try the hotel bars. In addition, it’s best to have your street-smarts on alert mode. Look out for your wallet. Another scam would involve a group of men accosting you, arguing with you. The next thing you know, your wallet is gone.
Another word to the wise, taxis at tourist-laden areas are likely to charge you an arm and a leg for the ride. We recommend that you ask the waiter, hotel concierge or someone helpful to call a taxi for you. And when walking back to your hotel, be sure to stay in well lit areas and to walk with someone.