Bars in Taksim – Nightlife For Females and Foreigners

I am not a night-time person any more. I like to wake up early and go to bed early. My partying days are well and truly behind me.

However when visiting one of the greatest cities of the world i.e. Istanbul – I decided to try the night-life. The bustling Istiklal Avenue is one area staying busy until the early hours of the morning so that is where I headed, along with two female friends.

Stay Away From Pavyons

Another friend warned me to stay away from any establishment called a Pavyon. This is where scantily dressed women take all your money by charging over the odds for a beer and plate of peanuts, while wiggling their bottom in your face.

They quite possibly offer extra services as well! (Read this funny story if you want to know more)

Warning – the normal bars in Taksim are very good and I was out of action for the whole of the next day, so do not go partying if you plan on sight seeing the day after!

Two Bars in Taksim That I Recommend

Note – Both of these bars are on the section of Istiklal Avenue that is close to Taksim square. Istiklal Avenue is 3km long so do not search for these bars at the Karakoy ending otherwise; you will end up very thirsty!  

Sefahathane – Atlas Pasaj

As soon as I walked into this bohemian bar, I instantly felt like it was my type of place. Located inside Atlas Pasaji, which is just off Istiklal Avenue, it is the perfect place to start the evening.

Sefahathane Taksim

Drinks are reasonably priced and the ambience is easy going. It is perfect for friends, couples or singles.

Bar Decor

Bar Decor

The owner is Selim and with his staff, they do a wonderful job of making you feel welcome.

Staff member of Sefahathane

Staff member of Sefahathane

Apparently, when the early hours of the morning arrive, it gets very crowded proving its popularity.

Sefahathane bar

Even though, everything about this trendy bar was perfect, what really made my visit special was the choice of music. Foreign music from the 80’s and 90’s made me remember my teenage years when I could party non-stop. If only I had a time machine!

Drinks at Sefahathane

Crab Bar – Istiklal Avenue

The name of this bar surprised me. Crab bar makes me think of Aegean cuisine, Mediterranean nights on the beach or sexual diseases!

Getting over my giggles about the name, it is certainly not a bar to relax on summer nights. It consists of four floors that are jammed pack from wall to wall.

Crowd at Crab bar

If you can get over the lack of personal space, the live Turkish band is definitely worth hearing. Apparently, the singer sounds better, the drunker he gets!

Live singer

He was certainly knocking them back on that night and along with his band produced catchy tunes accompanied by a great voice. He seems to have quite a following.

Crab Bar

I did not spot any other foreigners in the bar but felt totally at ease. There are no frills but the atmosphere is enough to make a great night.

What else did I notice about Taksim nightlife?

Around all the coastal resorts of Turkey, if you go into the bars at night-time, females are bound to get hassle. Some nightclubs are your typical cattle market with leering men, gathering around females as if they are a piece of meat on the supermarket shelf.

You would think that in Istanbul, the hassle would be ten times worse but while in the bars I mentioned above,  I felt very comfortable both as a foreigner and as a female. The only hassle we received was from a waiter in a restaurant under Galata Bridge during the day time!

Band at Crab bar

Readers Question – Can you recommend any bars in Taksim or Istanbul? Do you like the night-life scene of Istanbul?

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Natalie

Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an eccentric,Internet addict with a passion for history. I really shouldn't travel because I can not read maps and always lose my way! But hey, that never stops me and it is part of the fun! Leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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Comments

  1. says

    On my first trip to Istanbul my co-conspirator had a hilarious experience in a pavyon while I was tucked up in bed with a good book. He literally ran from the place with the bouncers chasing down the street. Scary stuff, especially as he’s gay!
    Jack Scott wrote about..A Perfect Holiday Read

    • says

      Had to laugh Jack – The thought of your gay friend in a pavyon is funny. I take it, he went in out of curiosity or was not aware what it was?

  2. says

    Natalie Sayin, you are lush! Thanks for the tips, the Crab is in my pocket book for no better reason than this ditty from my childhood – ‘When you use this lavvy don’t stand on the seat, the crabs in here can jump six feet!’ Power to your lifting gear!
    Alan wrote about..Rose of Damascus

  3. Jemmie says

    Hi, Natalie. Nice article. My hardcore clubbing and nightlife days are pretty much over but I still like to go out on the town once in a while. I have been to the Sefahathane Bar a few times. Every time I went in there, there were few people in there but I still had a good time. I haven’t been to the Crab Bar.

    My favorite place for Istanbul nightlife is the Babylon Club.

  4. Ayse says

    Hi Natalie,
    A very nice article. As you may know Selim is the new owner of Sefahathane. He is used to be a regular, this winter he took over. He is great fun, and a very nice guy -happily married by the way!
    Hope you come back to Ka? again!

  5. Selim says

    Dear Natalie,
    I personally wanted to thank you for beautiful comments about Sefahathane. As we are working on “hassle free” concept, its really nice to hear such evidences:))
    Sefahathane welcomes all friends around the world.

    Regards,

  6. phil + Di marina gateway says

    cant wait to try Istanbul you make the night life and the day life sound so good

  7. Jane says

    Such a great guide, thanks for sharing it, it is really useful for me because we are going to have our vacation in Istanbul. Although I won’t think we’re going to party all-night long, I really would like to sit in a cocktail bar to drink something delicious in the hot mediterranean night.
    Jane wrote about..Natural ways to deal with stress

  8. says

    I’ve made the mistake of judging a Country or its Culture based on a few experiences at not-so great clubs but I think its important to remember the context of where you’re at.

    Each city has corners which cater to the various scenes, certain clubs and genres of music attract different vibes. When you’re at home you know the reputations of the places you go to. I think a lot of people sometimes generalise a Country’s nightlife based on the one club they went to simply because it was full.

    I only experienced a few nightspots in Istanbul. Would like to check these places out if I ever get to return.

    It was good of you to include the reality of women being hassled sometimes also.
    LozinTransit wrote about..Spotted: The ‘Fat Boy Slim’ Double Decker bus in Lisboa, Portugal

    • says

      Too true – you can not generalise a country’s culture on one club or night-time establishment, especially when you are in a city. It is just about trying to find the clubs that suit your tastes. Like you say we know at home, but on holiday we have to find out and sometimes that can be even more exciting
      Natalie wrote about..The Ghost Village Of Kayakoy

  9. SauRavi says

    Hello Natalie. This is saurav from india, I must say that this blog is an invaluable source of information for first time travellers like me. A friend of mine and myself will be heading to Istanbul on the 19th of October. We are also heading to bodrum and marmaris on the 21st and will be there for a couple of days. Do you suggest these places for a visit as our primary intention is to go to popular tourist destinations and enjoy the nightlife. Is oct end a good time or will it be a deserted place for travellers like us, especially when we are travelling on weekdays there.

  10. Amy says

    I am so happy to have found your website, it’s really amazing for someone like me. I am british female, 23, with several turkish friends. I am planning to visit Istanbul in November. I will be travelling alone but meeting a Turkish male friend whilst I am there, however he has to work and so I wish to spend some time sight seeing alone. Do you think this is safe and wise? I have some friends from home telling me I am crazy but no one has actually ever been. Is there any places to avoid when alone, etc?
    Thanks so much!

    • says

      I think it is a great idea that you want to sight see and not be stuck in a hotel room waiting for your friend. I often break off from my friends when I am in Istanbul and we will meet up at the end of the day. Just do the same you would do in your home town to stay safe. Ie don’t get in cars with strange men etc. At night time, if I want to drink alcohol and am on my own, I will stay in the hotel. I also make sure I always have the address of the hotel, in case I get lost and need to get a taxi. Get yourself a map and you will be fine

  11. Don Lobacz says

    Just to let you know, my wife and I were in Istanbul in July, and Sefhathane looked liked it had closed its doors permanently when we went to check it out.

  12. Zia Khan says

    Natalie u have shared very helful information with us.thanks for this.i had also a very horrible experience with this pavyon.i get inside the club, a beautiful lady came and joined me after some time a bottle came of some sweet juice or like cocktail I ask I don’t order this the bar man told its for all customer who came here mean it is must so I thought it would be some 10 to 15 lira.when I wind up and the bill came it shocked me they charged the boftle for 600 lira.i was about to fight but in a new city new place u can do nothing but to pay.so I pay them.and I want to know is babylon is the safe place to go and can u give me some more info about babylon club.reply soon plz.

    • Nat says

      I am sorry for your experience Zia. It is not nice you had to go through this. For Babylon, check Trip Advisor for updated reviews. If there is anything bad about it, it will be on there

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