Istanbul has been called the city that never sleeps, and I think that makes Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) the street that never does.
At night, a different type of crowd flocks to this part of town. You bump shoulders with the young party-goers, the young at heart looking to have a good time, the hipster foodies making their way to check out a bold new restaurant or bar that recently opened it’s doors, the tourists taking pictures of everything and everyone (especially themselves, right in the middle of the street, throwing the flow of traffic totally off), and of course the large groups of men who eye everyone and everything around them. These are not the men who are going to catcall or snatch your purse and run away, oh no. These men are the plain-clothed police officers making sure order is maintained on this street.
One of the many things I love about this city is that it knows how to party. There’s a place for every budget and interest. If you are in search for some tradition around Taksim square, then Nevizade Sokak (Nevizade Street) is the place to go. The narrow brick street has several restaurants or meyhanes, offering Turkish food and live music. The waiters stand outside on the already crowded stretch, urging you to come in to their eatery. As you walk past the restaurants your senses will be overwhelmed by the tables covered in crisp white linens decorated with plates of mouthwatering meze (cold starters), platters of fish and grilled meats, and glasses of wine and Raki (a national anise flavored alcoholic drink). Most of the menus offer pretty much the same kind of food and they are all equally delicious, so you can’t go wrong. Past these restaurants are numerous bars with crowds spilling out on to the street. Weather permitting, I definitely suggest finding a place to sit outside, having a drink or two or three, and taking part in people-watching, which is one of the national pastimes here.
For all those who enjoy drinking and dancing, this city is the place to be. With countless clubs in the Beyoğlu area and many more opening regularly, here are some places you will love to dance at until your legs are sore. Like many places in Taksim, Kasette is an unassuming bar, on a dead end street, with a nightly crowd dancing to the DJ’s house beats. It has a good selection of drinks, which are reasonably priced. Although the bar is a bit small, the waiters do make their way through the crowds so you’re not left dry for too long.
Another crowd pleaser, with R&B and hip-hop thumping out of the speakers and more than enough room on the dance floor to show off some of your best moves, is Riddim. The terrace has a great view of the Bosphorus, which you can enjoy while you puff away at your cigarette and check out the other partiers. The entrance fee does get you a drink, but nothing too fancy. Prices at Riddim are standard for clubs and the drinks are good enough to keep you partying until dawn.
If you prefer dancing to current hits with a more pop vibe, then head on over to Tektekçi. This shot bar is renowned for it’s extensive menu of cocktail shots. Although some can be a little too sweet, they do offer Whisky, Vodka and Raki shots for those looking for a quick buzz. All in all, the place has a great upbeat vibe, drawing crowds that spend the night drinking, dancing and enjoying life in this beautiful city.