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Istanbul nightlife

Visitors to Istanbul are often surprised to find that despite its largely Islamic population, there is no dearth of alcohol and good times to be had in the city. The city bears its European teeth when it comes to nightlife, with most club venues not kicking off until around midnight and going on well into the wee hours on weekends. Summer is the best time for night owls, with fantastic open-air clubs and dance terraces by the Bosphorus. Indeed, a lot of Istanbul's restaurants double as nightlife venues, with places such as 360 Istanbul, NuTeras, and Zarifi pushing aside the tables after 11 p.m. on weekends, dimming the lights, and pumping up the music.

Techno beats aside, young Turks are also big fans of live music, hence the popularity of small gig venues such as Babylon and Ghetto, as well as the frequent sets performed in various meyhanes (taverns) around the city.

There's even a small but surprisingly vibrant gay scene here, centered around Bar Bahçe in Beyoğlu (7 Sogancı Sokak, off Sıraselviler Caddesi; 90-212-245-1718; www.barbahce.com) and XLarge, a large glitzy venue with a drag show (12 Meşrutiyet Caddessi, Kallavi Sokak; 90-508-788-7372).

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Babylon, Tünel-Asmalımescit

This ever-popular venue is owned by music and events company Pozitif, which also has a hand in the Doublemoon label, home to many of Turkey's leading names in...more

Editors' Pick
Badehane, Tünel

As chichi venues and cutting-edge bars proliferate around Istanbul like popcorn, bohemian Badehane remains a haven of laid-back café life—the...more

Editors' Pick
Ghetto, Beyoğlu

A former bakery set in a split-level historic building with 33-foot ceilings adorned with frescoes, Ghetto is a self-proclaimed music lounge (except without...more

Editors' Pick
The Hall, Beyoğlu

The Hall opened in 2007 in the center of Beyoğlu in a former shoe factory that later became studios for the famous Yeşilçam film industry. Now an...more

Editors' Pick
Indigo, Beyoğlu

A fail-safe weekend destination for serious clubbers and fans of electronic, house, techno, and pop. The split-level space (the back side of the building that...more

Editors' Pick
Nardis Jazz Club, Galata

Every bit the real-deal jazz joint, with a dark, musky interior of exposed brick and a small stage that sees a variety of mostly local jazz acts. Vocalists,...more

Editors' Pick
Reina, Ortaköy

This summer club extraordinaire inspires a more ambivalent reaction among Istanbullus than any other venue you could name. The outdoor complex sits on the edge...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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