Gay Life in Istanbul

Gay Life in Istanbul

General Information
 
Overwhelming majority of the gay bars & clubs in Istanbul are catering after midnight. Although they open their doors by 22:00-23:00 o’clock, the action does not start before midnight. Without exception, the music is loud in all of these after-midnight clubs; playing a mixture of Turkish pop, western pop, techno and underground music in turns. There are no dark rooms in any of them for action, but usually kissing, hugging etc. is well tolerated.
 
Saturday nights are busiest nights everywhere. Friday nights are also busy if not as much. Tuesday and Wednesday nights would be busier in comparison to the other mid-week nights, but this also depends on special events organized in each venue. Mondays would be the least busy night of the week when some trendy gay-clubs would be closed completely. The gay bars and clubs would also be busier in winter than summer season. Local people living in Istanbul go on summer holidays to resorts in Southern Turkey. Consequently, Istanbul’s gay night life becomes more quiet especially in July and August when some venues may close their doors for a few weeks for renovation and restoration.
 
Most gay bars/clubs in Istanbul require entrance fee on Saturday nights and sometimes on Friday nights, but you can get one “local drink” with your ticket. Actually, the gay bars are not very cheap in Istanbul. So, do not think that they are overcharging you because you are a tourist. The price of one drink ranges approximately between 5-8 Euros for local drinks, 10-15 Euros for “imported drinks” (such as Whiskey, Malibu, Safari, cocktails etc.)

The bars would accept Euros or Dollars for payment but they apply lower currency rates. Do not take this personal again, because they do the same to Turkish clients as well, if they try. Some venues would accept payments with credit cards, but not all. So, have some Turkish liras on you when you go out, to make it easier.

Typically, there are several security guys waiting at the door of each gay bar/club. They look like mafia types, but do not be scared. They are there to stop some unsolicited visitors, definitely not gay tourists. You will be well respected in any gay venue, not only because you have money but because -if not all- majority of the Turkish people have a kind of appreciation for western people/culture. Security guys (often called body-guards) also take care of the cloakrooms and would insist you to leave your bags, jackets and coats in winter season, for which you will have to pay usually when you leave. Of course, they will give you a number for the cloakroom.

Chianti Cafe Bar Intro Video
You will see the almost all gay bars and clubs are located in Taksim/Beyoglu. Do not get confused with Taksim and Beyoglu districts, when you see the venue addresses. The official municipality is called Beyoglu (historical Pera district) Taksim is just the central neighborhood of Beyoglu, at the northern end of the town and Istiklal Caddesi (very famous pedestrian avenue). The area starting from Taksim Square all the way down to the Golden Horn (narrow estuary/bay locally named Halic “read=Hullich”) on the southern-end are all within Beyoglu municipality borders. That is, if the address contains Taksim, the place should be closer to the north of Beyoglu.

Useful tips for finding the addresses:

Cad. = Caddesi (read: Jad-de-see) = Main street/avenue
Sok. = Sokak= Side street or small lane/alley.
Ilkyaz Apt. = Ilkyaz Apartment, name of the building, if there is one.
Kat: 3 = On the 3rd Floor
No:23/4 = Here 23 Refers to the number of the building on that street. It follows as 2,4,6… , on one side, 1,3,5… on the other side of the street. 4 refers to the number of the flat/apartment/floor
Click here for Update Gay Map of Istanbul
 


Gay Bars and Clubs in Istanbul.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi, Balo Sokak No: 31. (2nd floor) Beyoglu, Istanbul.
A homely cafe-pub open from 4 pm till 2 am, but expected to be busier in the early evenings and around midnight. Highly recommended especially for those who avoid to wait for after midnight bars and clubs that plays loud techno/underground music , and do not want to stay up until late morning. The prices are much cheaper in Chiante than most after midnight clubs. Live Turkish music performance starting around 10 pm on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays are very entertaining.
For more details please see official website  and join Chianti’s Facebook group

Visitor comments about this venue“By far, the best place that I have been in Istanbul so far. The beer is a bit pricey (8TL), but the service was good and, on a Sunday afternoon, it was a wonderful place to chat with the few tourists and English-speakers that were there. Plus, there is a tiny terrace for those of us who smoke. I would love to revisit this place when it was crowded. A good mix of ages and types and NO hustlers, which was a relief.” (Posted by Way from USA on 22/03/2010

“Great place, nice atmosphere, decoration, great stuff. Only the volume of the music should be a little minus.” (Posted by Manu from Portugal on May 19 2010)

X-Large  23:00-05:00 

Show time  in Club X Large
Address: Mesrutiyet Caddesi, Kallavi Sokak, No: 12 Beyoglu, Istanbul.
Open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Although the official address indicates Mesrutiyet Caddesi (street), it is easier to go to the club from Istiklal Caddesi which is parallel to that street. Kallavi Sokak is a narrow lane connecting to Istiklal on your right after Galatasaray neighborhood, somewhere opposing St. Antoine Church. Opened in May 2009, X LARGE has become very popular weekend club where you can find the atmosphere of the big European gay clubs, even better than some. The venue itself is like a small ball room; very spacious and authentic for a gay club, where once there used to be a movie theater (Elhamra) one of the oldest of cinemas opened in Istanbul. Admission fee is required and higher than most other gay clubs in Istanbul but it is worth well for most people who want to be in a place offering very professional shows & great music in an upper scale environment.

Visitor comments about this venue
“went to X Large Club on Saturday night. nice crowd. the show was amazing, especially the hot hot male dancers on stage. worth the cover charge” (Posted by Rayan from Napal June 26 2011)

“I went to X large twice in the week, it was empty on Wednesday night till almost 2 a.m when I left, on Saturday night when I went there I paid a hefty entrance of 30 lira, but the place was filled with straight people, I could not see any gay people around, I don’t know why this club is even considered gay. there were drag shows on stage but that was all to it. I tried Tekyon on Friday night & it had all the local gay guys.” (Posted by Aaron from India on 07/02/2011)

“I think Club XL with his extraordinary architecture ( that was an old cinema), and Other Side with his spectacular Taksim view terrace are advisable best two Gay and Lesbian Bars in Istanbul. Tekyon is also biggest and most famous bar. After the others bars mostly gay people often prefer to go Tekyon about 3am” (Posted by Gianni from Italy on 20/09/2010)

“I paid a visit to this place on Aug.15 and it was nice. The mix of people there are very nice and real gay. They mostly go there to enjoy dancing and the shows the dancers put on. On the other hand, a very important point was the level of noise of the music, it was very ok and unlike other clubs where they are ear deafening, though it was exhilirating. The only thing i had against the place was the quality of drinks. It was not up to the western standard, drinks were of cheap quality. But the overall impression was fine and i recommend this place.” (Posted by Azzouz from USA on 20/08/2009)

Tekyon Club  (22:30-05:00)
Address: Siraselviler Caddesi (street) No: 63/1 Taksim/Beyoglu. Istanbul.
Already very popular gay club of Istanbul has moved to a new and much bigger place on Siraselviler on May 26th 2009 and has become the talk of the town where everybody is rushing to see. The prices are average The venue is very big for the capacity of gay nightlife in Istanbul and consequently it is getting less crowded especially during the week-in days but it is almost always very very busy on Friday and Saturday nights, including its big back-garden which is a chance for smokers.  It was once popular venue especially for local bears, but attracts a completely mixed crowd now. The waiters are very feminine and friendly in this bar, probably to entertain their loyal clients. Male belly dancer and simple drag shows performed by the bar staff can be fun to see, usually on Tuesday nights after 01:00 am, and there are various show on weekend nights including a go-go show (sometimes even a bear version of it). Tekyon is very flexible with cover charges and cloakroom rituals compared to other gay clubs in Taksim.Visitor comments about this venue
“We were there on a Friday & Saturday night in early September, 2011 and had a great time both nights. No cover charge. Drinks were reasonably priced. The place got full both nights around 1. The music was mostly pop and Turkish pop unfortunately with only one or two house tracks. Big dance floor. Large outdoor terrace/smoking area. Fun people – including many tourists from Italy and the Middle East. All ages, shapes and sizes of men but definitely a lot of facial hair. Friday night, there was a bear dance show – a large local hairy guy who had a lot of fun on the stage. Saturday night there was a gay belly dance show for about 15 minutes. Definitely fun. Safe. I would go back in a heartbeat.” (Posted by Matsumura on September 10th 2011)

“I’ve been in Istanbul in September 2011, and had to visit some venues advertises in some guide websites. For me the best clean place was definitely the club Tekyon, because the staff is very friendly starting by it’s manager. They really care about you when you are foreigner. The cheeky bar, is also convenient for the after nights time, but you will find out mostly escort boys and not from the best quality. Tekyon is definitely the best place with a very good Dj and a mix of different kind of peoples” (Posted by Marc from France on September 23rd  2011)


Cub Ekoo  ( 23:00-05:00)
Address: Tarlabasi Bulvari (avenue), No 32  Beyoglu, Istanbul.
Do not miss this place if you want to see something more local, a relaxed atmosphere with less attitudes. Mix ages and various types of gay men, queers, rent-boys, few transvestites, and bears are regular attendants. 
Rent-boys are easy to notice and it is recommended to be selective with the guys you meet as anywhere. Music is a mixture of Western dance hits and Turkish pop music selections.  Ekoo bar has moved to a more central location in March 2011, very close to Taksim square. It is now across from the flower shops at Taksim square on Tarlabasi avenue, just a few meter below senior Prive club (now also called No Name) or next to Carlton Hotel. Click here for location map 
Durak Bar  (19:00 – 02:00)
Address: 
Murat Pasa Sokak, No 9, Aksaray, Istanbul 
Durak bar (formerly called Pasam) is located in Aksaray district, about 5 kilometer away from Taksim. It is a meeting place for middle class bear and older/mature gay men. More busy in late evenings., until 01:00/02:00 am. It will be busy until 4 am on Saturday nights.  Only live traditional/classical music is performed at peak time. (no Turkish/Western pop). It took the place of of senior Degirmen pub which was closed in early 2008, this one more deliberately targeting to bear and bear lovers with almost same exotic atmosphere of Degirmen pub.

Click Here for more information and other bear-friendly venues in Istanbul.

Visitor comments about this venue“I went to the Durak Pub Sunday night at 10PM for a beer. Nice crowd. The waiter brought a small dish of peanuts, which I didn’t want and pushed down the table for the other patrons. I ordered a second beer, the waiter brought more peanuts and I ate a few. When I went to pay the bill, in addition to the 2 beers, there was an additional 12TL (US$7) for peanuts.” (Posted by Paul from Belgium on November 13, 2011)

“This place is a bit out of the way from the other gay venues round Taksim square area but pretty easy to get to with a tram station (Yusufpasa) at the end of the street. If you can suss out the dolmus taxis you can get back to Taksim Square for about 3 lira or a taxi for about 12/13 lira dependant on the traffic. What you get is a traditional looking bar and at the weekends full of “men” as oppossed to the Beygolu venues that are more popular with younger guys. No techno music played but what i would describe as Turkish standards sung live by very good singers/M.C. Very friendly and welcoming waiter staff and whilst the language was a problem for us speaking no Turkish the guys who spoke English were very welcoming (hello O ) the beer is much cheaper too, bonus!. Well worth the effort to go before finishing off your night out in the more traditional gay venues over the Golden Horn. ” (Posted by Gibson from UK on June 14th, 2011)
“All the bars in Istanbul/Beyoglu are only for young and very young peoples. in some places the beer is extremely expensive so nobody is in. “Tekyön” is mixed but only interesting on weekends and late in evening. the “Otherside” is sympathetic but do not want peoples which are not good dressed (no sportswear) in Aksaray opened a new place, new name is “canli türkü bar” is similar like “Durak” (old name Pasam) and both stupid furnished. you sit on couches around tables -cruising is impossible- everybody is sad about lost the old “Degirmen” but nobody learns why it was so successful in past.” (Posted by Hebb from Germany on 21 May 2011)

“Very easy to find, as one of the previous writers so helpfully pointed out. I would recommend taking a dolmuş back to Taksim, as it is much less expensive (only 1.75TL). Unfortunately, the night that I went there, there was a pretty dramatic fight in the smoking lounge, which somehow ended up in somebody being sprayed with mace, which effectively cleared out the bar and had everybody coughing and sputtering. I can’t honestly see how you would ever meet anyone at this bar, as the live music is very loud and all of the patrons are sat at restaurant-like tables. It was not at all what I expected, which was disappointing, as it had sounded like a dream come true. Relatively crowded on a Sunday night. Prompt service.” (Posted by Way from USA on 22/03/2010.)


“I went on a Monday night had a few beers and talked to the guy who worked the door. I speak a little Turkish so I am not totally ignorant of how things work at some of the bars. Wednesday night I went back. I had a few beers. Door man also sat, had a few drinks and ate some food. Of course when the bill came everything that the door man ate and drank was on my bill” (Posted by Michael from US on 11/03/2010)

“December 2009: we went to Istanbul for Christmas this year as we enjoyed the city so much earlier this year. A friend had recommended Paşam and we saw from this site it had closed. Nevertheless as Durak it is a wonderful evening out: we went three nights out of five! Quiet on Thursday, packed on Saturday and comfortably busy on Sunday. Great staff, good value beer and excellent music and singers. And hot men! If you’re staying in Beyoglu, it’s really easy to get to on the tram from Karaköy to Yusufpaşa station: it’s a one minute walk to the bar. And a taxi back to Tünel/Asmalimescit costs about 7TL; bit more to Taksim. Highly recommended if you don’t want another techno dance club experience – and you want to meet interesting Turkish men (not boys). ” (Posted by Nemo from UK on December 29 2009)
Club 17  -  23:00-05:00
Address: Istiklal Caddesi, Zambak Sokak  No:17, Istanbul
Meeting point of mainly cheap young hustlers & amateur escort boys and some gay men who would be interested in them. There are also several drag queens and transvestites in the place most of the time. They play loud techno music from their lousy music system but it is a busy place usually full of these hustlers. Beware of the boys you pick up from here. As long as you are aware of these facts, it may be fun to go there to observe the underground gay-culture of the city, though.

Club Cheeky 
 -  24:00-06:00
Address: Kucuk Bayram Sokak No:1/A Beyoglu / Istanbul.
This is a small morning-club open on Fridays and Saturdays and not busy before 03:00 am, intending to catering people after other clubs closes down.  Although there are no shows, they also ask for an entrance fee (apprx 12 Euro) and are very arrogant about it.  You can see a mixture of gays, rent-boys and even transvestites. It is located on a back-street (Bayram Sokak), which is actually notorious with transgender prostitution. It is recommended to be careful with pick-pockets in the vicinity late after midnight. Its small darkroom is the main reason of its popularity, although it is not as liberal as its western counterparts. Dark rooms are not very common in gay clubs in Istanbul, because these kind of venues are regarded as public venues and are subject to police and municipality controls now and then.


Penthouse The Club  (22:00 – 05:00)
Address: Istiklal Cad. Zambak Sokak  No:2 Kat:5 Taksim, Istanbul
Go Go Boy vs Dj Vanilla Sky @ Penthouse
Senior Otherside Club has changed administration and the name in January 2012, but almost everything else stays the same. It is a after-midnight club especially busy on Friday and Saturday nights. It is located on 5th floor and has a terrace, which is an advantage for the club because smoking is forbidden in bars and clubs in Turkey since mid 2009. On certain nights, you can see Go Go boy, Drag Queen, Rakkas (male belly dancer) shows. The shows are good and very professional but the prices are also over average (local drinks are around 17 Lira). Entrance fee is required on Friday and Saturday nights. New venue of the club has  hosted live music performances of several nation-wide famous pop singers of Turkey.
Love Club - 23:30 – 05:00 (Friday-Saturday)Address: Cumhuriyet Caddesi no: 349 Harbiye Istanbul. Google Map Web: http://www.lovedp.net/ 
This night club is located in Harbiye district, on the main avenue about 15-20 minutes walking distance to Taksim Square.  It is better to take a texi after midnight because some parts of the avenue leading to the club may not always be so safe. An honest taxi ride should cost round 5 lira (2-3 Euros). It is not as popular as it used to be and you will also see many straight men and women in this club. It is open on Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday is the most busy night and there are some good shows usually. They are very rigid about the admission fee on Saturday nights. The tickets are around 10-15 Euro but you will get 1 drink with it, which is a typical price and practice in similar clubs.  If it is the first time you are going there it is hard to notice the venue at first sight. The entrance is on a very narrow street, down the steps from the main avenue. It is just round the corner of a linens shop called English Home, which is easier to notice with a big obtrusive sign-board. If you take taxi from Taksim tell the driver that you will get off at “Askeri Muze” /Military museum in Harbiye. The club is across the main street with respect to Askeri Muze building.
Comments about this venue: “Your site’s review of Love Dance Point is totally wrong. The venue is located on one of the biggest avenues of Istanbul and it is not dangerous at all. It is totally gay and packed at weekends. Your review looks as if it is not popular and not gay at all. Totally misdirecting!
(posted by Hakan from Turkey on Jan 06, 2012)

TIME (Club Magma)  (23:30-05:00)
Address: Istiklal Caddesi, Sadri Alisik Sokak No:15, Beyoglu/Istanbul.
It is located on the basement floor near Istiklal Caddesi on a side-street (Sadri Alisik) the same before you reach to well-known Aquarius Sauna The street is opposite from the small mosque (Aga Camii). Previously called Magma which was a mixed venue was not very successful as a gay club, until it was undertaken by people who also own the only gay internet radio and the largest gay portal in Turkish (GaBiLe) in December 2011. This cooperation lasted only a few months and the club turn back to its usual after the people from GABILE left.

Prive/No Name (23:00-04:00)
Address: Tarlabasi Caddesi No: 28 Taksim, Istanbul.
Prive is the oldest of the present gay bars in Istanbul. The club was united by a trans club (No-Name) owned by the same people in October 2010, and it is rather a gay-friendly trans club now. It is across the street from flower shops at Taksim square, almost next to Ekoo Club.




Click here to see gay / gay-friendly cafe-shops & other day time venues in Istanbul



The venues which no longer exist
Following venues has been closed-down completely for various reasons. We are listing them just to let people know because they are still being listed on many other internet websites and gay guide books, including Spartacus. Please note that our website is edited by local people living in Istanbul and updated frequently with the latest information about the gay venues in Istanbul which you can not find anywhere else.

Other Side- Changed name as Penthouse Club

Deja Vu - Closed down in mid 2010
Inside Cafe Lounge – Closed down in mid 2010
Barbahce – Closed down in early 2010
Queen Bar – Closed down in late 2009
Rouge Bar – Closed done in early 2011

Following gay venues has been closed-down (or they have totally changed their gay concepts) at least 2 years ago some of which may still be listed on several international gay website:

Shake-in Cafe-Bar, Club Barisik, Degirmen Pub, Ajda Club, Secret Club, Exit Club, Purple Club, Gabile Club, Hot Point (TT’S) Cafe, B Club,  Bubble, Pincur’s Cafe, Tantana Bar, Altenatif Club, Oz Club, Club 99, Hans Bar,  Telve, Club 14 (Ceylan’s), Machine, Club 12, Kutu Bar, Yesil Bizans.

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