Are you ready to hit the town? Istanbul is a bewildering mix of East and West, and when the sun goes down the melting pot becomes even more fascinating. From the sights and sounds of an evening bazaar to the bizarre experience of nighttime fishing, there’s always plenty to do, all through the night. Come with us on our nocturnal journey of discovery.
1) Take the ferry
With the minarets of the Suleymaniye Mosque and the vast dome of the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul has a truly iconic skyline. And one of the best places to see it is from the deck of a ferry. You can take a special Bosphorus evening cruise or just sit on one of the regular to-and-fro ferries. Don’t worry about getting off, just let the sights glide past you. Make sure to take the official Seheri Hatlari ferry line to get the best value for your money and time.
2) Go trendsetting in Ortakoy
Locals call Ortakoy the ‘Village in the city’ and it’s where Istanbul’s young and trendy crowd gather. Nestled in the shadow of the Bosphorus bridge, Ortakoy has lots of nightclubs and bars to hang out in. Don’t worry if you don’t think you look the part. Just sit back and people watch. Why not grab something to eat while you're here – the area is famous for its waffles, and for baked potatoes too.
3) Dine at Lokanta Maya
From meze to kebabs, from baklava to kunefe, Istanbul offers any hungry traveller a mouth-watering spread of tastes and cuisines. One of our favourite places to dine is Lokanta Maya, where the food is top-notch but the prices are extremely reasonable. Once you’ve eaten your fill, why not stroll down to the waterfront towards Sultanahmet or wander up the hill towards the nightlife of Beyoglu?
Kemankes Cd. No: 35. Tel: +90 (212) 252 6884.
4) Cross the bridge
The 2-tier Galata Bridge spans the Golden Horn, a naturally protected harbour, and is a great place to stroll during the daytime. Once evening falls it becomes a whole other world, as the fishermen line the sides trying to catch the elusive mackerel. See if you can spot anyone lucky enough to catch one. And if you start getting cold then wander over to the Sultanahmet side to warm yourself up with apple tea, Turkish coffee and some baklava at Hafix Mustafa 1864.
5) Get a 360-degree view
If you like your nightlife matched with the high life, head on over to 360 Istanbul in Beyoglu. This trendy bar offers 360-degree views over Istanbul, and the cocktails are well worth making the trip for. Istiklal Street Misir Apt. No: 163 / 8 Beyoglu. Tel: +90 (212) 251 10 42-43.
6) Dance till the early hours
There’s no need to rush. Istanbul clubs are open late, so you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy a meal before hitting the nightlife. One place that’s popular with the locals is Babylon, with a great variety of music and beats.
Sehbender Sk. No: 3. Tel: +90 (212) 292 7368.
7) Get some blues in your soul
Remember we said that Istanbul was a melting pot of cultures? Well here’s another one to add to the mix. If you’d like to listen to some blues while you’re in town, visit KumSaati for some lively music and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Order a drink, sit back and soak up the jazz and blues.
Kore Sehitleri Caddesi Mithat Unlu Sok. 1-3. Tel: +90 (212) 337 0237.
8) Take the tram
You’re bound to come across Istiklai Caddesi, one of Istanbul’s main shopping streets. One way to see the street at nighttime is to take the Taksim-Tunel Nostalgia Tramway. You can look out on the lights and sights and sounds of the bustling nightlife from the comfort of your tram seat. And simply hop off when you fancy some shopping. The backstreets off the main drag are worth exploring if you’re looking for a place to eat too.