unsafe areas, Istanbul
Be EXTREMELY carefull if you decide to go at night to the Taksim Square area. Don't carry your cameras if they are sophisticated and try to avoid to use your cellular phone there, to avoid the risk of to be pickpocketed.
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.
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...
Like other metropolitan cities, there are some relatively unsecure places in Istanbul. Like Istaklal Caddesi/ Beyoglu after (2-3 a.m. until 7 a.m.) Try to do not look like tourist if you must be there!
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
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.
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.
I am staying at marmara hotel, Just connecting to taksim square, on the opposite side of the doner places, there is a street which starts with a place called "simit saray" and basically ends with a couple of hotels. It is not just this street, but all small streets around taksim square.
You will be stopped by all people in front of their restaurants/bars offering you 100% guarantee if you don't like the food you will not pay.
You will end up overpaying, double or triple because these places are empty and will try to cover their expenses by scamming you as much as possible.
Don't believe their prices, use common sense they look very dodgy and begging you to come in, just ignore them.
Also: There are scam bars/strip clubs in this area, but they also offer you to come in. I would say, do not enter any place where you are offered to come in.
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.
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.
As a Turk living in Istanbul, I found most of the posts here hillarious. Are there people trying to rip you off selling false products in Istanbul? Yes. Are there drug dealers in certain areas? Yes. But tell me one city that does not have similar problems?
I ve been to Barcelona a couple of years ago. On the most famous street called La Ramblas, there were pakistanis or indians offering me drugs. Most of the cafes / restaurants on La Ramblas, wouldnt let you sit for a cup of coffee or a drink (you gota order a meal). And most of the restaurants were too expensive and the most annoying part was the food didnt taste that good.
So should I say Barcelona isnt a safe place and restaurants suck?
Of course not.
You just have to plan your trip beforehand. Not just get out of your hotel and eat at the first restaurant that you come across at Taksim. There are some good clubs, and good restaurants. (But you gota find these). As in any major city, restaurants / clubs at or close to touristic attractions suck big time!
Hint 1: Worst case, ask your hotel for a recommendation! Thats what I did at Barcelona and had the best paella!
Hint 2: Plan it beforehand! For instance, if I were a tourist planning to visit Istanbul, I would visit the Asian side more often (and no dont rent a car; if you do, dont drive during rush hours) during the day.
Hint 3: Cab drivers arent all well behaved. Some may try to rip you off by turning on the cab/taxi meter before you get in. Also; to ensure, he doesnt just takes you around, use GPS of your phone to show him, you know your way around the city. But beware, Istanbul has soooo much traffic. Drivers may have to drive around, or enter a street not on the way just to bypass traffic.
The Taksim square will be the scene of huge demonstrations at the First of May.
Better to avoid the square for sightseeing that day.