Having now lived in Istanbul for several months, I find myself confused by all the reviews referencing Taksim as an unsafe or dangerous place. While there might be shady areas not far from the Square, Taksim is crowded at all hours and often has a heavy police presence - I would, however, stay away from Gezi Park at night, providing it opens again to the public any time soon. I'm a man and have experienced some minor harassment there on several occasions, but what I get usually doesn't stretch far beyond drunk Turkish guys asking if I'd like to try having "gay sex" with them.
Tarlabaşı is both a neighborhood and a large street that connects to Taksim Square, and is most certainly the sort of place you're best off not visiting at night, unless you're looking for a special sort of Istanbul experience. I've been there at all hours without encountering any trouble, but it is a shifty place with lots of prostitution and drug-dealing. Honestly, though, you've not to be concerned while visiting during the daytime. There's a nice open-air market on Sundays, I believe, that might prove a fun visit if you cook your own food or are into organic produce. Just be careful, exercise common sense, and try to avoid getting lost among all the winding streets! Go uphill if you get turned around.
Tarlabaşı Bulvarı itself will have traffic and folks on the sidewalk almost any time you'd find yourself there. But once it starts getting late, transsexual prostitutes start hitting the corner, sometimes accompanied by their pimps. They can be bothersome and an eyesore but aren't dangerous.
I'm not as familiar with the Old City as I am with Beyoğlu - I can say that the area up from the Spice Market and near the Grand Bazaar gets very spooky at night. Istanbul overall isn't a dangerous place, especially when compared with others in Europe. Enjoy your visit, mind your valuables, and you're bound to have a good time.
Contrary to what another reviewer wrote, please do NOT avoid nightclubs here in Beyoğlu and around Taksim if you want to have a good time. There are plenty of scam joints and boring bars, all of which can be avoided by using Google and figuring out which venues fit your budget and personal tastes. Many Turks are quite hospitable, but again, exercise caution and use good judgment when befriending strangers. The shoebrush scam still does happen along Istiklal Caddesi (and in other parts of Turkey, too), and there's a slight chance somebody might try luring a lone male into an underground bar, where they'll be received by pretty girls, immediately-served drinks and a monstrous bill. This happened to an acquaintance of mine, who was intimidated into paying several hundred Euros but who was let go after a hassle when it became clear he didn't have much cash or any credit cards on him.
You're in the most danger of getting scammed or ripped-off in tourist areas, as is the case anywhere else in the world. Don't go into a store with a tour guide - I've known people whose job it was to target wealthy foreigners, bring them into tacky shops, and then collaborate with their owners in ripping off tourists in exchange for a hefty commission.
Istanbul is great and I've never had any serious problems with anyone in this city. If there's something you think you want to do or see, go ahead and don't let some of the other reviews scare you into your hotel room after dark.
Everywhere you walk in Istanbul, the roads and sidewalks are being ripped up. Walking through Istanbul has never been relaxing given the mentality that puts a car before a human, but the situation has gotten even worse. If you wear sandals, not only are your feet filthy after 30 minutes, you're in danger of cutting your toes. Falling over concrete debris is common.
Surely Istanbul is a must-see city. Especially the European side of the city is very beautiful and filled with interesting historic places. But there are some places that must be avoided.
Generally, I suggest you not to think about a nightlife in Istanbul. Because the night clubs are either too expensive(like the ones in Taksim or Reina Club) or are located in dangerous areas.
Especially the night clubs in Aksaray must be avoided. Aksaray is the center of sex clubs in Istanbul and is located in an area which is very unsafe during night. For your own sake avoid going to these area.
Try to find some British or American pub and have a nice healthy night drinking until the morning. Enjoy other interesting things in the city like its nature and historic places. Remember to visit Hagia Sofia and Sultan Ahmet and areas around them(personally I suggest you go to Istanbul Archeology Museum) and enjoy your journey there.
If you are insisting on having sex in Turkey, go to southern cities like Antalya and Bodrum which are filled with nice and kind people who are way much better than Istanbul people
PLEASE WARNING TO FOREIGN WOMEN VISITING ISTANBUL !!!
(sorry for bad translation, I will appreciate if somebody correct it and translate to other languages)
Western tourist women who will visit Istanbul should be careful when going to the restaurants area near Divanyolu street. This place is full of pimps and bon vivants who are always trying to seduce mature women to get information, e.g. where does she come from, what hotel and room will she stay at, how much people travel in her group, how long will she stay in Istanbul and much more. After that, they get into the hotel room in collusion with hotel employees to rob women belongings or try to get additional information (address, credit cards, name of her husband and so on).
Any foreign woman in Turkey should be suspicious when a stranger go out with her with much familiarity or touch her hair or skin (included neck, back, arms or legs), because in Islamic countries this is never considered correct unless the woman is seen as a prostitute or an "desperate-for-sex-mature-woman", in which case the pimp will try to exploit this to his own benefit, often drugging, raping, robbing or blackmailing to her husband and local authorities and stealing her belongings. If a woman agrees to be touched by a stranger, he will think it's a sure sign that she is desperate for sex and even she could pay him for it. These pimps often act in collusion with employees of bars and hotels in Sultanahmet and sit at the tables of foreign mature women who they think are desperate looking for sex in order to cheat them.
The pimp will try to start a conversation with a foreign woman telling her he is divorced, he is a "BBB" (Big Business Boss) or perhaps the restaurant owner. Please understand modus operandi of pimps: Pimp will say he has a nice apartment not far from the restaurant, he likes to cook (perhaps for her) and he will be flirting with the foreign woman using subtle words and bawdy double meaning words. If the women continues the conversation they will think have got an easy victim. If you are really just looking for sex it would be better to try other alternatives because what these people want from you is just your money, and believe me, they could be very dangerous.
A foreigner woman visiting Turkey shouldn't never show her neck, neckline, belly button, back or legs if she doesn't want to be seen as a prostitute or a woman desperately looking for sex. Otherwise she could be victim of pimps who will take advantage of her. It's always recommended to travel with a man, do not accept drinks or any possible drug from strangers, don't start conversations with unknown men and never to give any information about you or your fellow travelers (including name, surname, room, hotel, phone, address, family, people who travel with her, departure dates and so on).
If you are planning to travel to Istanbul please be very careful with the restaurants in Alemdar, Türbedar, Boyaci Ahmet, Biçki Yurdu and Divanyolu streets because the police are receiving increasing reports of foreign women who have been seduced, raped, robbed and blackmailed in these places. Four months ago two foreign women (two different cases) were killed after been seduced in restaurants near Türdebar and Biçki Yurdu. They were taken to other places and raped, blackmailed and robbed. In other cases women were forced into prostitution after being drugged.
If you take these precautions and take care of pickpockets, for sure you will enjoy very much your trip to Istanbul and find it a very interesting city. Similar precautions are very convenient when you travel everywhere, not just Turkey. Turkish people is really nice and helpful, but you know, bad people are everywhere (sometimes they are foreigners) and you need to be careful because in Turkey it's not expected that women have the same behaviour than women in America or Western Europe. For your own safety, try to adapt your behavior to the customs of the country you are visiting.
If you are a British citizen and have been victim of rape or blackmail in Turkey please contact British Embassy in Ankara and follow their advices, here:
Here you will find more resources:
Taksim is the centre of modern and nightly life in Istanbul, and, to be honest, an ugly square.
Futhermore, it is bigger than it seems, very irregular, with a garden squeezed in the middle, and it may become tricky at night. It happened to me, coming back to the hotel by the "wrong" side, finding a close way, with two alternatives: crossing the empty dark garden, or turn all the way back.
This was my decision, and then I noticed how tired I was...
Downtown Istanbul still has many smaller streets with old buildings in hilly areas. You can imagine the nightmare the construction workers have getting their materials over in the middle of the busy day-to-day life.
So, don't be surprised to see beams passing by, carried by construction workers, or to stumble into a sandy street where the pavement is under construction.
My father always said that when people go to other countries they get stupid and stop thinking. You hear of stories of people being led by total strangers into a bar down an alley, etc. Then getting stiffed for a huge bar bill for 2 drinks. Ive read amounts between $400-$3000!!!! Would you ever do that in your home country??? Lets say you are a New Yorker in NYC and some guy bumps into you on the street and starts up a conversation, then wants to bring you to a back corner bar, etc? Would you do it? Hell no! So why would you do something like this in a foreign country? Smarten up people!
When traveling, be on alert.
- Do not follow the advice of strangers or follow them anywhere!
- Before you leave, plan out your trip, know the area, customs and every little thing possible
- Keep a low profile - don't stick out like a sore thumb
- If something is too good to be true - IT IS!!!!
- Think like a wolf - not a sheep
Sorry if I will be repetitive..other persons posted the same.
The area of Istiklal caddesi at night can look so warmful , funny , democratic , westernalized but lots of traps for tourists exist.
Avoid any contact with unknown men and women here...
They appear all of a sudden asking:
_Do you need some help?
-Where are you from?
They want to lead you to a night club or cafe and make you pay a very very expensive bill! If it happEns to you , react immediately , shout ,shout shout bad words in your language say: POLICE , POLICE ,POLICE! AND TRY TO SCAPE AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!
Near Taksim square and nice hotels, such as the Hilton. Almost in broad day light around 6:30 pm on Sept 14th, 2007. I was walking near the hotels around Taksim square and was approached by a young guy, who asked if I wanted to go to a coffee bar. I thought why not, it was a nice looking place across the street from a major Hilton hotel. I was jet-lagged, and said I was from USA, and would just get a cup of coffee and go.
2 young women, one attractive named Seina age 22 came in so I bought her and her friend each a drink. they just walked in from outside. I declined any offer to do anything sexual, I am happily married, and not a cheater. I knew they were just hitting on me because they were working prostitutes from Rumania in Istanbul for 2 weeks. Siena worked at a computer terminal in Rumania. I then asked for a bar bill, barkeeper gave me a bill for 680 Turkish lira for the coffee drinks and the four drinks for the two girls. That is 120 for coffee, and the rest 560 lira for four drinks.
The young guy that came with me, said he would pay one-half. I could see that this was a set up, and I was going to run, but suddenly my way was was blocked from leaving. Since I am new to the country, and had my passport, cell phone, camera, and yes some hidden usdollars, I didn't want to get robbed, so I agreed to 340 turkish lira, about 267 us dollars. However, I first tried to put it on my credit card which I would have later cancelled the charge, but the barkeeper wouldn't allow it. This unsavory character then followed me to an ATM, where I withdrew 340 turkish lira. The original guy who accompained me was told to go back to the bar, in English even though he was turkish, and pay the other 340 lira... so I am not 100% sure if he was in on it. It was better for me to pay my way out of this, as I was lost, staying at a different hotel 3 miles away, and the barkeeper was threatening.
I learned alot about what a sucker I could be in trusting someone who was going to accompany to a public place for a cup of coffee.
I love istanbul and hesitate to say bad things about it (being turkish) but I want to warn travellers of 2 particularly bad areas : AKSARAY and TARLABASI... Aksaray is fine during the day but do not go there after dark. Tarlabasi, you should avoid all together/ These areas can be dangerous even in groups! Sometimes tourists can get ganged up on by 4-5 people.
NEVER carry your wallet in your back pocket.
Carry major money/CC and passport in a thin bag under your shirt (not exposed)
Let them take it.. better than getting hurt
If you feel threatened, jump in a cap or if attacked, scream.
Most likely you will have a great time, with no problems, but I speak from my learnings and experiences here. Travel safely
Turkey ıs stıll a backward country lackıng much ın way of dıscıplıne ın every way. Whıle ın Istanbul be very careful of the Turkısh /belly dancing clubs on Cumhuriyet Caddesi nearTaksım square. They are essentıally tourist traps to physıcally rob clients. Police have admıtted knowıng about such places and complaınts agınst them however ıt ıs not surprısıng to see the club owners sıttıng and offerıng drınks and cıgs to cops ın polıce statıons when you go to complaın agaınt them. They lure you to watch dances, they wıll offer drınks at 10 & 20 lıra when you go ın. Next thıng you know ıs that you are sıttıng next to gırls, who appear from nowhere, who you don,t know and never ınvıted. Wıth the gırls come the unordered drınks whıch they gulp down even before you can ask the waıter what ıs goıng on. Then comes the exhorbıtant bıll of 100s of lıra for the drınks on your table; they wıll physıcally frısk you and pull out all the money you have to pay for the trıck.
im writing here so peaple get to know at least a littel before they consider turkey as a destination to spend thier holiday , because its not .
i will point samples of what to expect when u reach turkey :
# expect a kind of bad attitude of taxi drivers since the time u will arrive to istanbul airport , and whenever u take a taxi , thier way of dealing is bad and they will try to take more than the meeter.
# i stayed in a hotel in taxim area , which it was very luxury area , but unfortunatly u always have to expect mens who come from no where trying to invite u for resturant , be carfull , u might end up in a jungel .
# be carful also , if u are walking alone at night they might come to u offering to u girls , also be carfull.
# be ready if u want to purchace anything , the price will be more than dubbel.
if u have a problem and u think that u will get a police help , no , u wont get any help , the police will stand automaticly with thier own citizen .
as far as u go to the east side of turkey u will find peaple attitude is better than the west and also east side peaple are very friendly .
turkey is nice country as its nature , but unfortunatly they still need very long time to know what is the right way to deal with tourists.
after my experience , i will advice u to consider the fareast asia more , like thailand and malaysia.
I don't find good people in Istanbul. The rich are too powerful and the poor only try stealing from you. From taxi rip offs to food. Can't believe they would threat their main source of income (tourist) in such manner. Please go on vacation to relax and see new things and not to be on alert all the time.
I was charge $5000.00 US after I spent a few hours at a strip bar in the Tiksim area. Luckly I threaten to call the police but too bad I had paid some already.
Went to a resturant and paid $20.00 for a simple street meal. Paid $50.00 for a taxi ride from Reina night club to Antik hotel. Above all, when I landed I ask an airport employee for the tram station and he directed me to a vip shuttle service that wanted $60 euro for a drop to my hotel.
Before you get totally absorbed by the city's romanticized (and rightly so) beauty, be mindful that this is a city of 12 million. As such, it is not immune from the ills that plague big cities. The neighborhood across Taksim is infamous for pickpockets and petty crimes. I have been warned not to make the mistake of venturing into this neighborhood be it daytime or nighttime.
I got a bit of a scare during a taxi ride when the driver decided to cross this neighborhood to avoid traffic jams. I thought he was in cahoots with the gangs there, but was relieved when he started locking the doors and windows. He was also kind enough to orient me with the dangers that lurk within this neighborhood. Unfortunately, I couldn't recall the name of the place, but it's right across Taksim. The place is notorious for gangs involved in petty crimes and drugs, who love to prey on unsuspecting (and naive) tourists.
(The neighborhood is called Tarlabasi according to VTer Ibnibatuta. Thanks for the info).
I been for a walk today by the Bosporous,the day was quite warm.
As I walked I noticed many couples walking around hand in hand,not for me thanks ,hands gets sweaty on a hot day like this and it is very uncomfortable.
I noticed also they were trying hard to impress each other,well I did not feel like impressing others myself and having to take the most lovely to an expensive restaurants afterwards.
Oh no I rather walk alone,you too should do same on a hot day.