The 411 on Istanbul's Hipster Scene

The 411 on Istanbul's Hipster Scene

These Istanbul hot spots cater to travelers who crave the authentically alternative By: Meagan Drillinger
<p>Hipsters who look for a mix of the authentic and culturally chic will enjoy Istanbul’s pedestrian road Istiklal Caddesi. // © 2015 Creative Commons...

Hipsters who look for a mix of the authentic and culturally chic will enjoy Istanbul’s pedestrian road Istiklal Caddesi. // © 2015 Creative Commons user guillenperez

Feature image (above): Today, the neighborhood of Karakoy is home to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in the city. // © 2015 Creative Commons user generaly


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Want ideas of more classic travel to Istanbul? Here's our go-to list of what to see in Istanbul.

Like any major metropolis around the world, Istanbul has its fair share of DSLR camera-toting, craft beer and cold brew coffee-drinking, reclaimed furniture-loving travelers — aka hipsters. These sightseers love the balance of local-meets-latest: a mix of authentic and culturally chic. For clients who identify similarly, here are the hottest spots for them to explore in Istanbul.

Tourists in Istanbul will certainly roam down Istiklal Caddesi, a pedestrian road full of bars, restaurants and music venues. On one of the backstreets sits Arsen Lupen, a cheap local spot with live music and an outdoor space. Visitors to this area should also check out The Hall Istanbul, a multipurpose venue that showcases music, film, art and design. A hipster touch: The venue is set in a 140-year-old former church.

For a casual bar/all-night dance-party combo, clients should visit Pera Publico in Asmalimescit/Tunel. This multifloor space is packed with locals and tourists into the wee hours. Each floor has a different vibe, from pop to house music. During the warmer months, the entryway is packed with people sipping drinks and socializing. 

Last call in this neighborhood should be had at Parantez Bistro, where locals usually end the night with a final beer. 

One of the hottest neighborhoods to know in Istanbul is Karakoy. Predominantly a commercial area in the Beyoglu district, right on the Golden Horn, this neighborhood is quickly rising as the epitome of a hipster haven. Karakoy’s revitalization unofficially begin in 2004 with the debut of Istanbul Modern museum, which opened in a converted customs warehouse. The 86,000-square-foot space brought with it a wave of bohemian artists and art lovers. Today, the neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in the city. 

A local favorite in Karakoy is Unter, a cafe and bar that serves Turkish, Italian and American fare and is open until the early hours of the morning. Late at night, Unter turns into a hot spot for DJs and night owls. For more late nights, visit Fosil, a speakeasy-style spot accessed by walking down a black corridor and taking an elevator to the third floor. Guests are greeted with a view of the Bosphorus and an expansive bar. Food is also served for lunch and dinner. 

Other restaurants to consider in Karakoy are Lokanta Maya, which is decked out with a wall of walnuts tucked behind chicken wire. The dishes here are casual and made from local, seasonal and mainly organic ingredients. Karabatak is a great spot for a coffee break and is equipped with free Wi-Fi access, so travelers can share all their Instagrammable moments. 

For late-night partying, visit the Cihangir neighborhood, where the most popular club is Kiki. Here, the party doesn’t start until around 2 a.m. Another hot spot for night owls in this area is MiniMuzikhol, which won’t reach its full party potential until 4 a.m. Both venues specialize in techno, house, funk and disco music.  

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