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Nightlife in Istanbul

Nightlife in Istanbul

Once the sun has gone down, Istanbul comes alive and offers one of the best night life scenes in Europe with pubs, bars and nightclubs in every style imaginable. There is music to suit all tastes ranging from jazz, heavy rock to disco and dance, even traditional Turkish!

If you are looking for a quiet wine bar, lively Turkish tavern, roof terrace bar or a loud heaving nightclub, there is something here for everyone.

The clubs along the Bosphorus are very popular in the summer months where you can dance and enjoy the spectacular views at the same time and the live music venues here offer a variety of entertainment.   Istanbul is a major destination for the younger generation of clubbers with the best of the bars and clubs to be found in Taksim , Beyoglu , Ortakoy and Kadikoy .

Istanbul Bars

Although Istanbul is considered a Muslim city there is no shortage of establishments serving alcohol, especially away from the more Islamic areas of Fatih and Eyup . They range from the cheap and sleazy, to the very expensive chic. The traditional nightlife of Istanbul is fast declining and the taverns and drinking clubs of old are quickly being replaced with singing and dancing cabarets that are specifically aimed at the many visiting tourists and can be seriously overpriced.
There are still a few meyhanes (taverns) around but the cafe bar society and modern nightclubs are overtaking everything. The touristy bars on the Sultanahmet are run of mill whilst Beyoglu, a better option, is lively and buzzing and the venues here remain open till the early hours.

There are lots of bars leading off İstiklal Street from the Taksim Square end and many new places springing up in Ortakoy and Kadikoy . Most establishments open during the day serving food, coffee etc., changing as the evening progresses into a night venue and if live music is being played expect to pay a cover charge between 10pm and 2am.

Istanbul Nightclubs and Live Music

The dance clubs in Istanbul are on par with any you will find in the major European
cities and a night out will cost you the same as you would pay in London or New York. The club DJs bang out the most up to date music and the live music venues play jazz, rock, blues, R&B, reggae and salsa from the back streets of Beyoglu. Many international bands play at annual festivals and there is always something on offer in the city.

Entrance Fee and Opening Hours

Most clubs charge an entry fee which range anywhere from 10 to 50 Turkish Lira, open at 9pm and close from 2am to 4am.

Cabaret and Turkish Music

Although the cabarets can be a very expensive experience, as you are charged an excessive entrance fee and then overcharged for everything you eat and drink, it is a great night out and good way to experience belly dancing and traditional Turkish and folk music.
The best way to enjoy it is to book in with the more established venues and avoid the touts. The cabarets usually have daily performances with dinner served at 7.45pm and shows running from 8.30pm until midnight.

For a less expensive alternative and more authentic traditional Turkish music experience, head for a bar-restaurant where you will hear the gypsy style music of the lute, violin, drum and clarinet and where you will be expected to join in the dancing! There are many places around Beyoglu and most of the fish restaurants in Kumkapi have live traditional music in the evenings.  

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