Nightlife in Turkey

You may not be expecting a great deal of nightlife in Turkey because it is such an overwhelmingly Muslim country, but there are plenty of night clubs in Turkey to be found. Istanbul nightlife is particularly active, as well as that in the seaside resorts. There are also a number of international events and festivals that provide entertainment in the larger cities throughout the year. There’s even an international blues festival with performers like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, who perform in the middle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and the traditional bazaars of other cities.

The Istanbul nightlife is particularly vibrant, with many restaurants and clubs, discos, and other music venues. If you’ve booked vacations with tours included, it’s quite likely that you will attend one traditional dinner and night out on the town. This might be at the Galata Kulesi Tower, one of the clubs in Turkey with fabulous views of the city and harbor, and traditional belly dancing. The Istanbul nightlife is varied, including traditional male dominated birahanes serving strong Turkish coffee, local raki, and snacks. Foreign women will be welcome, but would be best advised to attend only with a group or with a male friend. You will find a more equal mix of men and women at the traditional mayhanes, which have a better selection of food and are a great place for political and cultural exchange conversation. You will find the best of these in the Cicek Pasaj district near the waterfront and fish markets.

The picturesque waterfront of Izmir has undergone excellent redevelopment, and there are about twenty restaurants, pubs, cafés, and nightclubs lining the Pasaport Quay and Kordon Boyu waterfront park (where you can catch ferries to the Aegean islands of Greece). Most of these clubs in Turkey have terraces facing the sheltered harbor and its seaside promenade where there is often live music in the evenings. The city also has a respected State Opera and Ballet Company, as well as a symphony orchestra. Check the schedules for these, because these are worthwhile events to attend.

South of Izmir is the seaside resort of Antalya, with its beautiful beaches and upscale resorts. There is a lot of nightlife in Turkey all along the beaches north and south of this city and in the city center itself. The Gizli Bahce Secret Garden is both an elegant dining place as well as a place for music and mingling every evening from Tuesday through Sunday. Like many spots in the country, this establishment has a Turkish folk night with traditional Turkish buffet, folk music, and dancing. The Highlander Club (named for the popular television series by the owner who spotted Christopher Lambert at the marina) offers an oddly elegant Scottish pub interior complete with dartboards and plush leather sofas, and has live music on weekend evenings.

Discos and night clubs in Turkey are in greater profusion now than ever. In fact, the nightlife in Turkey is some of the best in Europe. Istanbul and the coastal resorts are full of Europeans who often come just for a weekend of drinking, dancing, partying, and to enjoy the prices that are more attractive than in the rest of Europe. Many of the clubs stay open until two or four in the morning, and the scene is quite similar to that in Amsterdam. Also like Amsterdam, there is a lively red light district that operates legally under control of the government.

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