Istanbul’s bars and clubs are concentrated around Istiklal Cad., so if you’re staying in Sultanahmet, you should prepare yourself for a good amount of commuting. Sultanahmet does have a few bars, but these are generally looked down upon by the locals—that’s why we list a handful of nargile cafes instead. Another center of nighttime activity is Muallim Naci Cad., the road running up from Ortaköy. Here you’ll find Kurucesme, the city’s most prestigious clubs. Note that during summer, many music venues (such as the famous Babylon) close down and move to their summer locations. The English-language Time Out Magazine lists current performances, as well as a comprehensive list of GLBT-friendly bars and clubs. If you want to drink rakı, the anise-flavored Turkish national drink, the best place to do so is at a traditional meyhane. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the night-time scams: if a local speaking perfect English approaches you on the street and invites you for a beer after three lines of uninteresting conversation, he’s probably planning a scam (which usually involves a traveler, an exorbitant bill, and a dose of coercion).

Istanbul Nightlife was last modified: June 23rd, 2015 by Will Holub-Moorman