Nightlife in Istanbul is exciting and varied with a plentiful choice for all tastes. The city straddles the Bosphorus connecting two continents. The diversity and contrasts of its night time activities and the entertainment available reflects this geographical spread.
Istanbul has establishments that offer both western and oriental entertainment and both are hugely popular. It is not uncommon to see lines of people stretching from the doorways of venues and going around the block – all just trying to get in. Many of these venues are world famous and frequently attract celebrities from around the globe.
One of the factors that make night time entertainment great in Istanbul is accessibility. This is a very large city and getting around (and across the Bosphorus Straits) can be just that bit challenging – especially at night. However, there are many venues, which are spread out across several entertainment centres around the city.
For instance there is the Kadiköy district, on the Asian side with many pubs, restaurants and clubs on Iskele and Kadife Streets. The European side has several well known districts such as ?i?li, Be?ikta?, Ulus, Taksim and Beyo?lu that are packed with pubs, bars, restaurants and venues featuring live music.
Most of the places combine eating, drinking, dance floors and live shows. However, you need to check first because many night clubs offer only dancing and a bar but no food. Another thing you should be prepared for is the dress code. A surprising number and variety of places will insist on a jacket and leather shoes – no jeans, sneakers or flip-flops please!
However you wish to spend your evening, one thing is sure – the venue you choose will have plenty of “attitude” and atmosphere. You will find every style of interior design from plastic, post-modern, harem-like and traditional English pubs to elegant neo-baroque. All try to hype up the picturesque view(s) of the Bosphorus or their location on its banks. Then there are the very popular river cruises on the Bosphorus that also feature live entertainment.
Finding your cuisine for the night will never be a problem. Seafood, Cretan, Middle Eastern, Turkish kebabs, pasta or classic French and Italian eating places are abundant.
Istanbul night spots have trendy “in” places that serve only cocktails, which are frequented by rising banker types. Music of all genres can be heard blasting out of entrance doors. Take your pick – jazz, reggae, world music, electronic, Latin, Turkish, Arabic, indie, rock (Turkish and Western), funk, soul or pop. Many have world famous DJs and live bands performing regularly.
Of course – as a visitor you cannot miss out on the belly dancers. And Istanbul has plenty of bars, restaurants and dance places that feature belly dancing as a part of the fare. The Turkish style of belly dancing is very lively, vigorous and often gymnastic. Its energy differs from its more contained and conservative Egyptian cousin. Most belly dancers in Turkey are of Romani ancestry and that has had a strong influence on the Turkish style.
A very popular part of Istanbul’s night scene is the bright, brassy, outrageously gay and transsexual scene. Be prepared to be shocked and dazzled.
It is no exaggeration to say that Istanbul’s nightlife rivals any other city in Europe or in the world for that matter. There is no shortage of the glitzy or shady. You are bound to find something to satiate your taste for new experiences.