In the last few years, the nightlife in Istanbul has really developed and grown vibrant, with something to appeal to everyone. There are small bars, cafes, and cozy little restaurants to relax and while away the evening. You can enjoy fine dining in style on a rooftop overlooking the twinkling waters of the Bosporus or go dancing in an underground club. There are exhibitions, festivals, and other special events throughout the year, plus great live music with dancing until dawn – the choice is yours! Check out our Istanbul nightlife guide and start dreaming up your own adventures today.
Best Spots To Explore
If you’re looking for some great nightlife, there are great spots on both sides of the water in Istanbul! The best areas on the European side are in Tasim, Istiklal Street, Asmlimescit, Nevizade Street, and the Galata neighborhood, although you can wander the whole city and still find something that’s sure to catch your eye. There are numerous quaint cafes, bustling bars and decadent restaurants strung along the coastline too. In the Asian area across the Bosporus Straits, the top night spots can be found in the Kadikoy market zone, Iskele Street, Bahasiya Street, Kadife Street, and the Kadikoy district.
Traditional Live Entertainment
Live entertainment is integral to any good night out in Istanbul, from musical performances to belly-dancing displays. This style of entertainment is very popular with visitors to the city, and there are a wide variety of venues offering acts that are sure to catch your attention. One of the top places is Cahide Müzikhol, which is located close to Taksim Square. The evening begins with dinner with delicious traditional Turkish dishes, like kufte and meze . Shortly afterwards, the entertainment begins with a glittering performance by some belly dancers before a popular Turkish singer or group takes to the stage. Later in the evening the dancing begins and continues till late.
There are an increasing number of nightclubs in the city, playing music of every genre. The clubs do not open till late and consequently most of them remain open until at least four in the morning. Sortie One is one of the top nightclubs and is situated in Kurucesme, with six restaurants and three bars. Sortie One has stunning views over the Bosporus that make it extra special. 360 Istanbul has a great location on a rooftop in Isitklal Street and, obviously, offers spectacular 360º views over the city. As well as being one of the top nightclubs, it is well known for its excellent restaurant and bar, making it the perfect choice for a whole evening of fun. Ruby in Ortaköy is a club with real atmosphere. Situated overlooking the water, the water sparkling with the lights from the club is truly spectacular. For something really different, take a ferry out to the Suada Club: they have a swimming pool on the water between Europe and Asia. The club has dancing long into the night with amazing views of the Bosporus Bridge. Perhaps the greatest night club of all is the one that attracts the stars. Reina is chic and known for its large parties that attract, amongst others, Kylie Minogue, Bon Jovi, and Daniel Craig – definitely a place to see and be seen.
Jazz Up Your Night
There are some great jazz clubs in Istanbul featuring live artists. Nardis Jazz is close to the Galata Tower and features live jazz every day starting at 9:30 pm on weekdays and 10:30 at weekends. The Maestro Jazz Club is in the basement of the Palazzo Donizetti Hotel (named after the famous Italian opera composer). This is a really great place for good jazz as it features up-and-coming jazz performers as well as seasoned musicians. The Istanbul Jazz Festival is a globally renowned event, and it’s worth trying to overlap your visit with this jaw-dropping extravaganza.
See The Famous Whirling Dervishes
A physical meditation that stretches back over eight hundred years, sema, or the whirling dervish, is part dance, part trance, part worship, and part performance. Many visitors to Istanbul are keen to see a Whirling Dervish performance, and there is plenty of demand, so it is worth booking well in advance. The Whirling Dervishes are dressed in long, fully circular coats that slowly bloom open as they spin. The performances are a form of ritual worship, and an initiation ritual for some Sufi sects to this day.
If You Feel Like Some Romance…
It can be fun just to take an evening stroll along the waterfront and maybe take in a drink and some meze dishes at one of the small pubs that dot the walkways. A walk over the Galata bridge, which spans the Golden Horn waters is also very special and it is fun to just stop at a street vendors’ stall to buy a tasty snack under the starlit sky. If you fancy dining in true style, the restaurant in the Galata Tower on the tiny island is lovely and romantic too. We hope our Istanbul nightlife guide has helped you on your journey.