Taksim Square in Istanbul: (Guide to Nightlife & Attractions)
Do you want to visit Taksim Square?
Or just learn something about the place?
Then you are in the right place!
Taksim Square – “The Square of Division” – used to be the place where water pipes arrived in old Constantinople.
At the same time, Taksim Square was and is still one of the most important transport hubs in Istanbul.
But that is not the reason why Taksim Square is famous. It only shows up after sunset.
Taksim Square is the centre of Istanbul nightlife! And the meeting point of young Istanbul.
This is due to bars, boutiques, restaurants, concert halls and many other nightlife options.
Taksim Square as seen from Istanbul
Taksim Square is in every travel guide. That alone is one reason why he is visited.
Outside of Turkey, Taksim Square gained notoriety due to the Taksim / Gezipark protests. At that time, part of Istanbul’s youth turned against the Turkish government. That was a few years ago.
But what is there to know about Taksim Square that not all travel guides say?
And how do the residents of Istanbul see Taksim Square?
See Taksim Square in Istanbul: what to see and do
Taksim Square is a sight in itself.
It is one of the liveliest places in Istanbul. Streets from north, south, east and west meet at the square.
Bus lines arrive from the Asian side of Istanbul.
The metro stops at Taksim station every few minutes.
The north end of Istiklal Caddesi shopping street brings additional crowds to the square.
In short: Taksim Square is alive. And that all the time. No matter what time.
What to see in Taksim Square
You don’t visit Taksim Square for its architecture. There are more interesting places in Istanbul for that.
Taksim Square is all about the possible activities in the area.
1. During the day: Shopping in Istiklal Caddesi
This includes the Istiklal Caddesi shopping street during the day. It starts just south of Taksim Square.
Istiklal Caddesi is the most important shopping street in Istanbul. The street is a combination of shopping, sightseeing and good food.
The most interesting places along the street include small boutiques in back streets and sights from old Istanbul. This includes, for example, an old monastery of the Mevlana Dervish Order. Today it can be visited as a museum.
2. Explore the restaurants and cafes in Beyoglu
It’s a day and night activity.
My tips are:
The Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage) on Istiklal Caddesi is featured in all travel guides. There are restaurants in the passage. They offer classic Istanbul food and international dishes. The quality of the food is good. The prices are based on tourists.
Cezayir Sokagi (French Street) is a steep cul-de-sac near Galatasaray High School. It has been designed entirely in the style of Paris. It is intended to remember the influence of France on the Ottoman Empire. The street is very popular because of its small restaurants and cafes.
Cafe Kronotrop is a mix of good flat white cafe and brownies in Istanbul.
Visit the Galata Tower at the south end of Istiklal Caddesi. The view from the restaurant on the top of the tower is unique.
The Fifth Floor (Besinci Kat or 5 Kat) is considered one of the most beautiful bar-restaurants in the world. The view of the Bosporus is great from the restaurant. The prices are limited. The food is a bit more expensive than in a middle-class restaurant in Germany.
Visit the small boutiques and art galleries on the side streets of Istiklal Caddesi.
3. Sightseeing near Taksim Square
Take the red nostalgic tram from Taksim Square to Istiklal Caddesi. It is one of the landmarks and symbols of Istanbul.
Visit the Mevlana Dervish House on Istiklal Caddesi. It is an old Islamic monastery.
Enjoy the view from the Galata Tower at the south end of Istiklal Caddesi. The tower is also one of the most famous sights in Istanbul.
Spend an afternoon at the Pera Art Museum. The Istanbul Jewish Museum is also interesting.
Attend an event at the Ataturk Cultural Centre in Taksim Square. Theatres, operas and art performances take place there regularly.
The focal point of Taksim Square is the Monument of the Republic. It shows the Turkish state founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk together with his companions. The monument commemorates the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
The Dolmabahce Sultan’s Palace can be reached in five minutes by funicular from Taksim Square.
During the day, stroll through the Gezi Park. In the evening he’s not so sure.
The nightlife in Taksim Square and Beyoglu
The ideas about nightlife in Istanbul are sometimes a little strange.
That’s why I write the following sentence:
You can do everything in Istanbul that is possible in Berlin-Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. (And maybe more).
The seven most important tips for Istanbul’s nightlife:
Alcohol is relatively expensive. A beer costs € 4. This is due to the high taxes on alcoholic beverages.
Beer, wine and raki are most popular.
Most bars play a mix of arabesque, oriental and international music.
Don’t let the look of the houses put you off. Colourful clubs with wonderful roof terraces are often hidden in the old houses.
The bar and clubs get full from 10pm.
The bars and clubs are open until the early hours of the morning!
Be sure to let the later part through to the “street vendors of the bars and clubs”)
There are bars and clubs on every side street of Istiklal Caddesi. In total there are hundreds of nightlife options spread across Beyoglu. It’s hard to keep track of it. New locations are constantly opening up and old ones are closing.
The Nevizade is one of the liveliest streets in Beyoglu. It is a side street off Istiklal Caddesi. Beer and wine are drunk in the bars and restaurants. The 40% raki aniseed schnapps is of course not missing.
The Asmali Mescit Caddesi is a meeting place for students and artists.
The Kücük Beyoglu in Yesilcam Sokak 14A is a small alley with four bars. They are very popular among students.
There are good restaurants in Cezayir Sokagi and Cicek Pasaji. They can also be used to celebrate in the evening.
The Tarlabasi Bulvari runs parallel to Istiklal Caddesi in the north. The street marks the southern end of the migrant and Kurdish district of Tarlabasi. There are also some gay bars and clubs along the street.
The street vendors in the bars: (You need to know that!)
There are flyer distributors everywhere in Germany’s party districts. They lure us into the clubs with offers or free drinks.
The flyer distributor then receives a commission in the evening for all redeemed tickets.
It’s different in Istanbul.
Club sellers often receive a commission for customers they bring with them. That would be okay so far.
Unfortunately, they rarely reveal themselves as salespeople.
The problem is that, as a traveller, you will be deducted with 95% certainty in such a case.
In such a case, the drinks will definitely cost more.
If you are unlucky, you will also pay the bill for your new companion!
The warning is in every Istanbul travel guide!
Any hotel concierge will tell you that.
And I am writing it here.
Even so, a few of you are not going to take that into account. I can only say: “I warned you”.
In Istanbul this is quite simply the same as a rip-off in the Reeperbahn, in St. Pauli-Hamburg.
The solution: Don’t let yourself be spoken to on the street and don’t go with new friends. That’s not unfriendly. The locals in Istanbul do it no differently.
The Taksim Square in the past
Taksim Square (Taksim Meydani) is the highest point in the Beyoglu district.
For this reason, an aqueduct, built in 1723, arrived at the site from the Belgrade Forest 23 km away.
At that time, Taksim Square already had an important role as a “distributor”. This is where the name Taksim Meydani (division square) comes from.
Today Taksim Square is one of the most important transportation hubs in Istanbul.
This is due to the roads leading away in all directions and the public transport.
On the site of Taksim Gezipark there was a barracks of the Janissary elite troops of the Ottoman Empire.
The barracks was damaged by Macedonian troops in 1909. Many of them came to Istanbul at the time in the course of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The empty barracks were finally sold in 1940 and demolished in 1950.
The Gezipark with the surrounding shops and hotels is located here today.
The area around Taksim Square has been changing very much for a decade.
The old buildings and shops are being replaced by international chains.
In the past ten years alone, 50,000 guest beds have been built in the Beyoglu district.
How to get to Taksim Square
Taksim Square can be reached very quickly by public transport. The Istanbulkart is your most important companion for this. This is a rechargeable discount card for all public transport.
Metro line 2 (M2): Taksim station
Nostalgia tram: Take the nostalgia tram from Tünel Platz via Istiklal Caddesi to Taksim Square.
Funicular funicular F1: Go from Kabatas station – T1 tram stop, various buses and ferries – to Taksim
Tips on taking a taxi in Istanbul.
If you have any questions about Istanbul: most of them will be answered in my Istanbul travel guide.
Do you have a question about Taksim Square?
Or can you recommend a bar, club or restaurant?