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.
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