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The Best Bars in Istanbul

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A night out in Istanbul is rife with possibilities. For a traditional Turkish experience, linger at a teahouse or an atmospheric nargile bar; for a more contemporary take, follow the cool kids to lively cocktail spots in Nisantasi or Karakoy. There are wine bars for sampling local vintages, rooftops for savoring a view of the Bosphorus, and streets known for their outdoor cafes and roving musicians.
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Teşvikiye, Hacı Emin Efendi Sk. No:28, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
A mostly local crowd spills out onto the sidewalk from this hole-in-the-wall hangout in Nisantasi. They’re here for the effortlessly cool and collegial vibe; the funk and soul tunes; and signature cocktails like Serendipity (chili, passion fruit,...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, Yeni Çarşı Cd. No:44, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
This tiny hybrid wine shop–cum–wine bar has impressed many local vino lovers with its intimate ambience, tasty mezes, and friendly service from general manager Suleyman Er and his team. It has imported and local wines available to...
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Merkez Mahallesi, Birahane Sk. 1/D, 34381 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
Turkey isn’t known for its beer, with most menus dominated by the serviceable yet flavorless Efes. The craft beer movement has been gratefully welcomed (especially by expats), and a few breweries have popped up in Istanbul in recent years....
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Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kara Ali Kaptan Sok. No:7, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The blocks of Karikoy from the Galata Bridge going east to Istanbul Modern have emerged as one of the hottest areas in the city in recent years. In this transitioning neighborhood, there are still plenty of local barbershops and offices and shops...
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Nejat Eczacıbaşı Binası, Evliya Çelebi Mahallesi, Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5 Şişhane, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Istanbul's premier music promoters have another trick up their sleeve: a top-floor wine-and-dine hangout overlooking the Golden Horn. The Istanbul Foundation for Arts and Cultures (IKSV) serves a mix of rock, jazz, super-trendy cocktails and...
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Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, Şehbender Sok. No:3, Ivy Masjid Quarter, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
In the neighborhood of Asmalımescit near Tünel, you’ll find Babylon, a popular club with a capacity for 450 people and pumping sounds. The club's state-of-the-art lighting and sound system, mixed with its rustic Byzantine-style backdrop, makes it...
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Emniyetevleri Mah. Eski Büyükdere Cad., Emniyetevleri Mahallesi, Yamaç Sk. No: 7, 34415 Kağıthane/İstanbul, Turkey
In Istanbul, the most authentic place to smoke nargile (also known as hookah and shisha) is Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi. The 300-year-old Medrese evolved from a religious school and dervish lodge during the Ottoman times to bazaar stores in the...
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Caferağa Mh Moda Cd. &, Caferağa Mahallesi, Damacı Sk. No:4, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
When the crush of 14 million people (and what seems like an infinite number of rude taxi drivers) gets to you, Istanbul has a cure for what ails you: a peaceful ferry ride across the Bosphorus and a seat in the leafy garden at Viktor Levi wine...
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Bereketzade Mah, Büyükhendek Cad No:5, 34420 Kuledibi/Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Turkey, one of the few countries in the world to be self-sustainable in food production, grows more than 600 grape varieties and is an emerging leader in producing good quality wines. It's no wonder that wine bars specializing in Turkish wines are...
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It may be the ex-expat in me, but I get excited when I hear about Asian restaurants in Istanbul. I was so hungry for some variety (not to mention ginger, soy sauce, and chili oil) back then that I wish Banyan had been around. It's an upscale Thai...
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Coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night, this cozy venue is fast becoming the hipsters’ haunt in urban-chic Cihangir. Serkan İpekli, a Turkish barista champion, and Yağmur Engin teamed up to brew, mix, and shake classic and innovative beverages...
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Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, Cankurtaran Mh., 34110 Sultanahmet-Eminönü/Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
From the top of the Four Seasons in Sultanahmet, you can admire some of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions: the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Bosphorus. A'YA Rooftop Lounge is open in summer, serving up cocktails, meze, and, on select...
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Süleymaniye Mahallesi, Necatibey Cd. No:8, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
This good-looking cocktail bar serves up drinks with homemade syrups and herbal infusions (lavender, bergamot) to an equally stylish crowd. DJs spin on weekends, and heat lamps keep the outdoor fun going well past summer.
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Hüseyinağa Mahallesi, Nevizade Sk., 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
For a Saturday night out, many locals will head to Beyoğlu’s liveliest street, Nevizade, lined with meyhanes (taverns) and bars where mezes (starters) and seafood are peddled openly and the rakı (aniseed liquor) and Efes beer flow freely....
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Kuloğlu Mahallesi, Cihangir Mahallesi, Firuzağa Cami Sk. No:4, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Çağatay Gülabioğlu’s micro roastery and specialty coffee shop, KronotRop, is located in one of Istanbul’s most hippest neighborhoods. The outlet was a revolutionary initiative in Turkey’s gourmet culinary world, and as such, it set the scene for...
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Suyabatmaz Mahallesi Eski, Suyabatmaz Mahallesi, Buğday Pazarı Sk. No:8, 27400 Şahinbey/Gaziantep, Turkey
Known for its strong coffee, Turkey offers an array of coffee houses old and new to pass the time and gain an energy boost. Tahmis Kahvesi has been in existence since 1635, though the original building was damaged by mulitple fires. The current...
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Hüseyinağa Mahallesi, İstiklal Cd. No:26, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Irish bars tend to be a gathering place for local expat communities, and in Istanbul, that role is played by James Joyce—just off Nevizade Street in Beyoğlu. This bar has the typical attributes of a hospitable Irish establishment with its hearty...
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Teşvikiye, Vali Konağı Cd. No:40, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
If you’re keen to experience the medieval practice of "kahve falı" or "fal" (fortune telling with Turkish coffee) then make an appointment at Symbol Café in Nişantaşı with Tunc, one of the few English-speaking coffee readers in the city. Once...
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No 54, Sultanahmet Mh., İstiklal Cd. No:50, 34435 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
A popular summertime refrain in Istanbul is: “Shall we meet at Mama Shelter?” When you arrive at the venue, high above the streets of bohemian Beyoglu, you can see why it’s popular with Istanbul’s sophisticated set. This vibrant, yet relaxed,...
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Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:53, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The Grand Hotel de Londres (also known as Buyuk Londra) has been open for more than 100 years, and while its interior is immaculately kept, there’s something about it that is charmingly stuck in the past. You can imagine Ernest...