11 Best Spots for Nightlife in Istanbul That Are Worth Checking Out

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The colorful reputation of Istanbul’s nightlife can print several guidebooks and still have more to uncover.

The inspiring historical sights give way to more modern entertainments at night.

Clubs, bars, and late-night partying – you name it.

And if you don’t want to be one of the ‘crazy, wild youth’, there are always dinner shows and relaxing cruises.

Diversity is the theme of nightlife in Istanbul; you just need to know where to look!

1. Nardis Jazz Club

If you love music, you’re going to love Nardis Jazz Club.

Top-tier lighting and sound system boost superb music to even greater heights; you’ll easily forget the crowd of people around you.

Featuring local talents, international artists, and bands (jazz aficionados may recognize Wynton Marsalis and Ibrahim Ferrer) on a rotational basis, the tunes are always fresh.

Make sure to book in advance because seats are limited!

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2. Bosphorus Dinner Cruise

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise nl
Bosphorus Night Cruise

What kind of nightlife in Istanbul are you having if you don’t sign up for a Bosphorus dinner cruise?

Don’t lock yourself onto either continent when you can experience both and spare yourself the walk.

The famous Bosphorus night cruise is a leisurely 3.5-hour tour, circling around Maiden’s Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, 1.5km of Bosphorus Bridge, and other famous landmarks.

Including a sumptuous 3-course Turkish dinner, the crème of the whole experience is unlimited drinks, belly dancing, and dynamic Dervish performances.

3. Istiklal Street

Istiklal street at nighttime istanbul
Istiklal street at nighttime

An early evening activity rather than late at night, this famous pedestrian street is a slightly more wholesome approach to Istanbul nightlife.

Music stores, boutiques, live music pubs, and art galleries keep crowds occupied indoors; while eateries with outdoor seating ensure a chatter-filled night.

Grab traditional desserts at Saray Muhallebicisi or gawk at the glass ceilings of the historic Flower Passage and Europe Passage.

Of course, keep safety in mind as well! Avoid dark corners especially if you’re traveling alone.

4. Galata Bridge

galata bridge cafe and restaurants at nighttime
cafes & restaurants on galata bridge

It’s easy to just walk across Galata Bridge in the day and miss out on the whole lower deck.

But when it comes to nightlife in Istanbul – you’ll want to stop here.

Street vendors and eateries line up in an array of bright lights to serve some of the best cuisines at budget prices.

Outdoor seating means pretty views (without being roasted by the sun) and a nice breeze to keep you comfy.

5. Whirling Dervishes Show

Whirling Dervishes istanbul
Whirling Dervishes dance performance

Rather than an art form, whirling dervishes is a ceremony where devotees combine prayer, worship, and dance to create this mythical journey to God.

It’s not just an unusual attraction for tourists; it’s deeply rooted in Islamic culture and religion.

To appreciate this cultural ceremony, book a show at Galata Mevlevi Lode & Museum or at Hodjapasha Culture Center (most popular choice).

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6. Taksim Square

At the center of nighttime hustle and bustle is Taksim Square.

You might have to squint through the crowds to spot your friends but the friendly chatter and tipsy laughter of this public locale are welcoming.

Consider this a revolving door – every direction offers something different.

From luxurious dinners out at nearby hotels to nighttime shopping hauls, rowdy club experiences and budget roadside hangouts, it’s a starter pack to nightlife in Istanbul.

7. Pub Crawl Istanbul

people dancing at pub sp
people at pub

Istanbul has a surprising population of Irish pubs in their guzzling, craft beer glory.

But don’t forget the traditional taverns, meyhanes, which you can worm your way through.

Luckily, Istanbul has a solution to the “where should we go?” dilemma.

Every Wednesday through Saturday night, Pub Crawl Istanbul preps a party bus for you to discover underground locations.

Drink your way from Galata Tower to Taksim with free beer, free shots, and free entries!

It’s definitely an Istanbul nightlife highlight for the ambitious.

8. Nightclubs

people dancing at nightclub sp
people dancing at nightclub

The nightclub scene in Istanbul has gained a fairly infamous reputation.

It’s the definition of painting the town red.

While it’s impossible to list every single good club out there, know that there’s a huge range in music choice, ambiance, space, and pricing.

Alexandra offers live concerts right up against the dance floor, while Dada Salon is about creative expression.

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9. Suada Club

EDM parties aside, Suada Club is something you’ve never seen before – who would have thought of putting a mobile swimming pool between two continents?

Just off Bosphorus Bridge is a landing strip that combines a club with a swimming pool.

Only accessible via boat, it’s an exclusive experience that lets you celebrate night views on water, in water.

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10. Beyoglu

Beyoglu district in istanbul
Beyoglu district in istanbul

The ultra-hip neighborhood of Beyoglu is made for young travelers.

Bars, bars, rooftop bars and even more bars – you can mingle from dusk to dawn!

Away from the crowds of the main streets, Beyoglu hides plenty of ambiance-filled stops.

Mellow music and wines await at Leb-i-Deriya; cocktails are served among potted plants in Limonlu Bahçe’s 19th-century courtyard.

There’s even a sophisticated but laid-back passageway called KV where cozy tables are packed together.

Your bar-hopping experience is as rowdy or tasteful as you make it.

11. Balik Pazari (Fish Market)

istanbul fish market
istanbul fish market

You know what’s an overlooked nightlife attraction in Istanbul?

Fish markets.

The real question is – how can you resist the aroma of grilling fish and the sprawling spread of fresh seafood?

Forgo the slinky clubs for a night of non-stop eating instead.

The Besiktas edition features fishermen showing off daily catches with quality restaurants like Mavi Balik and Eftalya Balik nearby.

The Kadiköy edition wins in terms of variety, selling organic honey and Turkish dishes alongside fresh produce.

Another diverse market is the Beyoglu Fish Bazaar, after which you can hit up a rooftop bar to cap off the evening.

Just remember to book in advance if you’re watching a show.

Cultural performances tend to attract big groups of tourists, with tickets selling out 2-3 days ahead.

Same goes for dinner at famous restaurants – call ahead if you can!