Istanbul Like A Local: A Native’s Guide To The City’s Nightlife
Istanbul native Merve Şimşek is a 25-year-old teacher, who studied English Linguistics at Hacettepe University. She likes travelling, exploring different cultures, taking pictures and the cinema. Here, she takes us on a nightlife tour of her city.
Choosing An Area…
For a fun night around Istanbul, choose between one of two areas to be in.
Beyoğlu has been a staple on the nightlife scene for years now. With legendary bars and clubs, it’s always been the place where Istanbul parties.
In contrast, Bomontiada is relaxed and brand-new on the city’s nightlife circuit but has instantly become a hot favourite. You can spend the whole day and night in this former brewery that’s now turned into an entertainment destination.
If You’re Going To Beyoğlu…
Start your evening out by visiting MiniMüzikhol, which is perfect for a quick drink and dance. Since it is ‘mini’, you may not get to dance with a big crowd – which is perfect for those looking for an intimate space. Don’t go there expecting a traditional club scene, though; apart from DJ performances, there are also live bands playing from time to time.
Have your dinner at another Beyoğlu favourite, KiKi. In the daytime, this cafe, bar, and club is a cosy space with delicious food and refreshing cocktails (the Sultan Shot is an award-winner). Come evening, and the place transforms into a club with dim lighting and local DJs spinning a variety of tunes.
KiKi hosts various events and is full of trendy hipsters. If you’re looking for a club where you can dance, drink and enjoy live DJ performances, this one is for you.
After a round (or five) of partying in KiKi, make your way to Peyote Club, which is one of the best places to go to if you want to listen to some of Turkey’s up-and-coming bands. You can experience Istanbul’s underground music scene here.
The ground floor is usually where house and techno tunes are played, while live music is played on the second floor, but only from Wednesday to Saturday. The club also has a terrace area, where you can have a drink and enjoy the music.
If You’re Going To Bomontiada…
Bomontiada, a brewery-turned-entertainment-centre, is an all-in-one choice for someone who wants to have fun. It is a huge, restored old beer factory, where you can find a reason to visit every hour of the day.
Bomontiada literally has everything – restaurants, bars, shops, an art gallery, and a concert hall. One of the city’s oldest concert venues, Babylon, has now moved here. If you want a fun night (and day) out in town, you don’t need to go anywhere outside of Bomontiada.
Start your evening with sampling the pide (a local flatbread with a variety of stuffings), along with other traditional Turkish food, at cafe Kiva Bomonti. Go here for breakfast, dinner or anything in-between. You’ll find authentic Anatolian flavours and dishes, such as pehli-rice, fish roe, circassian chicken, and celery with olive oil – guaranteed hits to suit every palate.
The other option to go to for dinner is Kilimanjaro, a restaurant that’s also in the Bomontiada complex, and serves some delicious food and drinks. Designed by renowned architecture firm Autoban, it has a huge bar and dimply lit tables. Choose from a variety of dishes using fresh, natural and seasonal produce, and wash it down with one of their very popular cocktails.
If you like homemade beer, then Popülist Bomontiada is a good place to stop by at. With 12 beers on tap that change on a weekly basis, you might find anything from a hoppy IPA to a sweet-spicy honey pepper ale, and a Cabernet-coloured wheat beer with hints of berry at this brewery-turned-bar.
End your night in eponymous Babylon. This concert venue recently moved to Bomontiada, and has people flocking to it at all times of the year. (Book tickets in advance, though, as it is generally sold out.
There are lots of open-air concerts in the yard for free in the summer. Ask your hotel or do a quick Google search to find out where they are and which ones would be of interest to you.
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