Ultimate Gay Guide of Istanbul - Since 2002

Istanbul Gay Guide

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Welcome to Istanbul

Being the only city in the world built on two continents, Istanbul stands on the shores of the uniquely beautiful Bosporus where the waters of the Black Sea combine with those of The Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. Istanbul is a province designed to be the capital and it has been the capital of three empires which used to dominate the world. No wonder, Istanbul is in the top 10 list of the most visited cities in the world, welcoming over 10 million tourists every year from all around the world. Today Istanbul is the capital of unique and special gay culture of Turkey. Let yourself embrace the colorful atmosphere and enjoy the inclusive spirit of this cosmopolitan city!

Gay Life and LGBT Activities

The gay scene in Istanbul is vibrant and diverse. LGBTQ events and activities have gained visibility since the late 1980s. Over the past few decades, the number of gay venues has grown significantly. The Taksim neighborhood in Beyoglu, on the European side of Istanbul, serves as the epicenter for most major gay establishments. Taksim is not only the hub for gay nightlife but also a central district for overall entertainment. Around Taksim, you’ll find an array of gay bars, nightclubs, and gay-friendly saunas and Turkish baths. Additionally, there are exclusive clubs catering to transvestites, transsexuals, and their admirers. Istanbul also boasts several officially recognized LGBT solidarity groups.

List: Click here for more detailed information about LGBT life in Turkey

Law and regulations

Turkey is a constitutionally secular country and there is not any law against homosexuality since it was founded in 1923. The age of consent is 18, which also applies as the age limit to be able to enter bars and clubs serving alcoholic drinks.

Gay Nightlife in Istanbul

Istanbul Gay Bar
Majority of the gay bars and clubs are located in and around Taksim and Beyoglu. Taksim is the central district of Beyoglu Municipality. Most bars and clubs are scattered on the smaller streets along the famous pedestrian avenue, Istiklal street which starts from Taksim Square.

Istanbul’s gay nightlife becomes more prominent around and after midnight. While most gay nightclubs don’t get crowded until 1:00 a.m, there are a number of gay bars that are open and lively even before midnight as well. In Istanbul, gay bars and clubs experience their peak activity on Saturday nights, much like other European cities. Fridays would also be quite busy, though not to the same extent. Tuesday and Wednesday nights tend to be livelier compared to other midweek evenings, but this can vary based on special events hosted at each venue. Mondays are the least popular night of the week, often with trendy gay nightclubs remaining closed.

During the winter season, gay bars and clubs see more traffic compared to the summer months when many locals leave the city for their summer vacations. Consequently, Istanbul’s gay nightlife becomes quieter, particularly in July and August. Some venues may temporarily close their doors during this time for renovations and restoration. It’s worth noting that most gay bars and clubs do not have dark rooms, and while sexual intimacy is generally not permitted, kissing and hugging are typically well-received

Prices at Gay Bars

Contrary to expectations, gay bars in Istanbul are not inexpensive, unlike other everyday items. This is primarily due to high taxes and the relatively lower drinking habits of Turkish people, as well as the smaller capacity of clientele in gay bars compared to regular ones. Thus, the prices of drinks in gay bars would be some % 50 more than the regular bars in the vicinity. Therefore, don’t automatically assume that you’re being overcharged just because you’re a tourist, which is not a very common incident in gay venues. The price of a single drink typically falls within the range of $4 to $7 for local beverages and $10 to $15 for imported drinks (such as Whiskey) and most cocktails. These prices are originally charged in Turkish liras, naturally. While some venues accept cash payments in Euros and US Dollars, they often apply unfavorable exchange rates. Most places also accept credit cards, although not all do. It’s advisable to carry some Turkish lira in cash when you visit gay bars and clubs.

Safety and Warnings

According to statistics, Istanbul is listed among the safest metropolises in the world. However, like any other major city, there are inherent risks associated with nightlife and being gay. While ordinary Turkish people are often hospitable and friendly, not everyone you meet will fit this description. In the bustling nightlife and tourist districts of Istanbul, expect to encounter a diverse range of personalities. While exploring the vibrant scene, exercise caution and be aware of potential dangers.

List: Cruising Places - Whether you’re in Istanbul or any other city, it’s advisable to be cautious in cruising areas. Keep your wits about you and stay safe.

List: Tourist-Hustlers - In Taksim and Sultanahmet districts, watch out for overly friendly individuals who might be tourist-hustlers. They mainly try to take tourists to some very expensive, infamous night clubs. Their stories may sound convincing, but it’s best to maintain a healthy skepticism.

List: Taxi Drivers - Some taxi drivers may take advantage of tourists by overcharging. Bargain in advance if necessary. Remember that regular taxi fares in Istanbul are much more affordable than in most European cities, so this should not be a reason to panic, even though it is not a pleasant experience.

List: Assert Your Rights - Familiarize yourself with local laws. If you encounter any criminal issues, don’t hesitate to seek help from the police. Being gay should never discourage you from standing up for your rights. Be persistant and snob if necessary.

Ultimately, Istanbul is a cosmopolitan metropolis where you’ll find all kinds of people. Feel at home, but also stay vigilant. If you can afford, hire a guide from the local travel agency which operates private gay nightlife tours in Istanbul for almost two decades.

Remember, your safety matters, and being informed can enhance your experience in this vibrant city. Cruising:

Attention: Attention!
Constantly updated by the local Pink Guides representatives living in the major Turkish cities, Turkeygay.Net, serves as the most dependable resource you can find providing information on LGBT venues and gay-friendly events in Turkey. However, it’s important to acknowledge that there might be occasional discrepancies in the provided information, as we may not have captured all recent changes. Please use the details provided with this in mind. Additionally, please be aware that many of the venues listed on the website lack official owner approval and they all are not gay or gay-friendly places necessarily.

Reviews: Please let us know via our forum page if you would like us to add or remove any venues.

ListClick here for up-to-date Gay Map of Istanbul & Turkey.
ListClick here for private tours to discover Istanbul's gay night life.
ListClick here for detailed information about public transportation in Istanbul.