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View Full Version : Istanbul for New years Eve, what to do? Advice needed.


Just Do It
Dec 17th, 2012, 09:46 AM
Hey guys, I've tried to inform myself on tripadviser but that site became too commercial, especially for Istanbul so I decided to ask for an advice here, hopefully some Istanbul residents will help me out.
I will spend several nights in Istanbul, including New Years Eve, I was wondering what is the best place to spend the night? I am trying to avoid big clubs, hotel dinners, Bosphorus cruises and stuff like that, I'd like to go to some square or street party where I can actually socialize with locals, is there a place like that with a big outdoors party?
I have in mind what to visit over a day but wouldn't mind if you would suggest some attractions that are a must visit. Also, what is the best way to get around the city, especially at night, do buses and trains go all night? I will stay in Sultanahmet part of the city.

Cheers

Sam L
Dec 17th, 2012, 10:22 AM
Lucky you. I've never been there but would love to go next time I'm in Europe. Have fun.

kwilliams
Dec 17th, 2012, 11:01 AM
I've been twice and my bf is living there at the moment. In the back of my mind, I think he may have said (or been told) that NYE is a bit of a non-event there but I'm not sure and even so there's bound to be some kind of party going on.

I think Taksim is the main party place. We went out in Kadikoy (on the Asian side) a little bit and the nightlife was okay but not great. Uskudar (on the Asian side) is quite a conservative area. The Sultanahmet area is really beautiful but quite touristy, there'd be some fairly chill bars there but nothing too exciting, I think.

The Metrobus runs quite late, until 2 or 3am, I think and it has its own lane so there's rarely any traffic. The later into the night it gets though, the more crowded the buses can become, especially if they decide to cut services at all. My bf has been in one or two situations where crowds of people were charging onto the road to stop buses that were out of service. He said it was really crazy.

Anyway, sights-wise, there's the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern. Topkapi Palace is really big and I didn't find it all that interesting. I didn't go to the Harem part of it though. The Archaeological Museum is quite good. Gulhane Park. The views from Galata Tower are great. Dolmabahce Palace is really beautiful too, no photography allowed though. You should see the chandelier in the ballroom!! Kanyon Mall in Levent is quite interesting, architecturally. The largest mall in Europe is also in Levent.

There are obviously a slew of other mosques. I've been to a lot of them on the golden horn. I like to see them all but some people would say they start to look the same after a while. The Mausoleum on the right-hand side of the Hagia Sophia is free.

The Kis Kulesi/Maiden's Tower is walking distance from Uskudar. I've never been to Princes' Islands.

It's a great city, enjoy it!

Here's my album. It might give you some ideas.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/sets/72157627347727142/

Sammo
Dec 17th, 2012, 01:21 PM
I'm jealous :sobbing:

Just Do It
Dec 17th, 2012, 04:35 PM
Lucky you. I've never been there but would love to go next time I'm in Europe. Have fun.

I'm jealous :sobbing:

Thanks guys.

I've been twice and my bf is living there at the moment. In the back of my mind, I think he may have said (or been told) that NYE is a bit of a non-event there but I'm not sure and even so there's bound to be some kind of party going on.

I think Taksim is the main party place. We went out in Kadikoy (on the Asian side) a little bit and the nightlife was okay but not great. Uskudar (on the Asian side) is quite a conservative area. The Sultanahmet area is really beautiful but quite touristy, there'd be some fairly chill bars there but nothing too exciting, I think.

The Metrobus runs quite late, until 2 or 3am, I think and it has its own lane so there's rarely any traffic. The later into the night it gets though, the more crowded the buses can become, especially if they decide to cut services at all. My bf has been in one or two situations where crowds of people were charging onto the road to stop buses that were out of service. He said it was really crazy.

Anyway, sights-wise, there's the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern. Topkapi Palace is really big and I didn't find it all that interesting. I didn't go to the Harem part of it though. The Archaeological Museum is quite good. Gulhane Park. The views from Galata Tower are great. Dolmabahce Palace is really beautiful too, no photography allowed though. You should see the chandelier in the ballroom!! Kanyon Mall in Levent is quite interesting, architecturally. The largest mall in Europe is also in Levent.

There are obviously a slew of other mosques. I've been to a lot of them on the golden horn. I like to see them all but some people would say they start to look the same after a while. The Mausoleum on the right-hand side of the Hagia Sophia is free.

The Kis Kulesi/Maiden's Tower is walking distance from Uskudar. I've never been to Princes' Islands.

It's a great city, enjoy it!

Here's my album. It might give you some ideas.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/sets/72157627347727142/

Thanks for the help, I still hope NYE is a big thing in Istanbul though :awww:

Frozenn
Dec 17th, 2012, 04:41 PM
Nişantaşı (Abdi İpekçi Street) is the nicest place for the street party on NYE. Kadıköy and Ortaköy are the other options. I suggest you to avoid the one held on Taksim. It's too crowded and Taksim Square have been under construction since the beginning of November.

All decent places to eat or drink will be full for NYE so if you're planning to have dinner outside the hotel, it's better to book in advance. You can have a dinner in a restaurant around Nişantaşı and then join the street party.

Using metrobus/metro or tramway is a good way to avoid crazy traffic in Istanbul. Metrobus runs 24 hours a day but i guess metro and tramway run from 06:00 till 00:00 or 00:30. Here is the rail network map if you need.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Istanbul_Rapid_Transit_Map_with_Metrob%C3%BCs_%28s chematic%29.png

Just Do It
Dec 17th, 2012, 05:09 PM
Nişantaşı (Abdi İpekçi Street) is the nicest place for the street party on NYE. Kadıköy and Ortaköy are the other options. I suggest you to avoid the one held on Taksim. It's too crowded and Taksim Square have been under construction since the beginning of November.

All decent places to eat or drink will be full for NYE so if you're planning to have dinner outside the hotel, it's better to book in advance. You can have a dinner in a restaurant around Nişantaşı and then join the street party.

Using metrobus/metro or tramway is a good way to avoid crazy traffic in Istanbul. Metrobus runs 24 hours a day but i guess metro and tramway run from 06:00 till 00:00 or 00:30. Here is the rail network map if you need.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Istanbul_Rapid_Transit_Map_with_Metrob%C3%BCs_%28s chematic%29.png

I googled Nisantasi and got a video of a a NYE party at some square, looks great, thanks for the info and metro map will be useful.

kwilliams
Dec 17th, 2012, 07:02 PM
You can also find the ferry times online if you intend to cross the Bosphorous (I didn't the first time I went to Istanbul!)

Glad you found your party :)

Talula
Dec 18th, 2012, 09:22 AM
I've been twice and my bf is living there at the moment. In the back of my mind, I think he may have said (or been told) that NYE is a bit of a non-event there but I'm not sure and even so there's bound to be some kind of party going on.

I think Taksim is the main party place. We went out in Kadikoy (on the Asian side) a little bit and the nightlife was okay but not great. Uskudar (on the Asian side) is quite a conservative area. The Sultanahmet area is really beautiful but quite touristy, there'd be some fairly chill bars there but nothing too exciting, I think.

The Metrobus runs quite late, until 2 or 3am, I think and it has its own lane so there's rarely any traffic. The later into the night it gets though, the more crowded the buses can become, especially if they decide to cut services at all. My bf has been in one or two situations where crowds of people were charging onto the road to stop buses that were out of service. He said it was really crazy.

Anyway, sights-wise, there's the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern. Topkapi Palace is really big and I didn't find it all that interesting. I didn't go to the Harem part of it though. The Archaeological Museum is quite good. Gulhane Park. The views from Galata Tower are great. Dolmabahce Palace is really beautiful too, no photography allowed though. You should see the chandelier in the ballroom!! Kanyon Mall in Levent is quite interesting, architecturally. The largest mall in Europe is also in Levent.

There are obviously a slew of other mosques. I've been to a lot of them on the golden horn. I like to see them all but some people would say they start to look the same after a while. The Mausoleum on the right-hand side of the Hagia Sophia is free.

The Kis Kulesi/Maiden's Tower is walking distance from Uskudar. I've never been to Princes' Islands.

It's a great city, enjoy it!

Here's my album. It might give you some ideas.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/sets/72157627347727142/


Hi. That's helpful as I plan to go to Istanbul in February. I plan to go for 3 nights - 2 full days. Do you think that will be enough to see the main sights? Thank you!

Sam L
Dec 18th, 2012, 09:26 AM
I've been twice and my bf is living there at the moment. In the back of my mind, I think he may have said (or been told) that NYE is a bit of a non-event there but I'm not sure and even so there's bound to be some kind of party going on.

I think Taksim is the main party place. We went out in Kadikoy (on the Asian side) a little bit and the nightlife was okay but not great. Uskudar (on the Asian side) is quite a conservative area. The Sultanahmet area is really beautiful but quite touristy, there'd be some fairly chill bars there but nothing too exciting, I think.

The Metrobus runs quite late, until 2 or 3am, I think and it has its own lane so there's rarely any traffic. The later into the night it gets though, the more crowded the buses can become, especially if they decide to cut services at all. My bf has been in one or two situations where crowds of people were charging onto the road to stop buses that were out of service. He said it was really crazy.

Anyway, sights-wise, there's the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern. Topkapi Palace is really big and I didn't find it all that interesting. I didn't go to the Harem part of it though. The Archaeological Museum is quite good. Gulhane Park. The views from Galata Tower are great. Dolmabahce Palace is really beautiful too, no photography allowed though. You should see the chandelier in the ballroom!! Kanyon Mall in Levent is quite interesting, architecturally. The largest mall in Europe is also in Levent.

There are obviously a slew of other mosques. I've been to a lot of them on the golden horn. I like to see them all but some people would say they start to look the same after a while. The Mausoleum on the right-hand side of the Hagia Sophia is free.

The Kis Kulesi/Maiden's Tower is walking distance from Uskudar. I've never been to Princes' Islands.

It's a great city, enjoy it!

Here's my album. It might give you some ideas.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/sets/72157627347727142/

Did you or can you visit the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople?

kwilliams
Dec 18th, 2012, 05:42 PM
Sam L, I didn't and I'm not sure where he is based. I really don't know at all.

Talula, that's a good amount of time to see the main sights, especially the ones clustered around Sultanahmet. I would recommend saying there to maximise your sightseeing!

I'd recommend getting started early. I just happened to be restless one night and got up quite early the next morning. I visited the Blue Mosque before the throngs of tourists had arrived. There were just a group of Koreans and a few people there for prayer. The first time I visited Istanbul actually, I went to the Blue Mosque about four or five times - at different times of the day. When I was there in October, I visited on a Sunday and there was a queue to get in (unless you were entering to pray) and it was packed inside. Much less enjoyable. Get started early.

I actually happened to be the first tourist to get into that Hagia Sophia that morning and even though I only had the place to myself (not counting a couple of security guards and one cat!) for a few moments, it was really, really amazing:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7010/6404522825_406a4c1e9f_n.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6404522825/)
First In (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6404522825/) by keithmaguire 김채윤 (http://www.flickr.com/people/keithmaguire/), on Flickr

Anyway, you can see these two sights and the Hippodrome in no time. I would recommend the palace mosaic museum (unless you're into mosaics!) Topkapi Palace, the archaeological museum and Gulhane Park are just behind the Hagia Sophia and you can easily go from one to the other. As I said, think twice about Topkapi. Do some research and see if it's for you.

The Basilica Cistern is amazing and doesn't take long to see. It's just across the road from the entrance to the Hagia:

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6081/6076447133_3bde8339ac_n.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6076447133/)
The Basilica Cistern (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6076447133/) by keithmaguire 김채윤 (http://www.flickr.com/people/keithmaguire/), on Flickr

The Grand Bazaar and Istanbul University are only two stops west of Sultanahmet. The University isn't a must but it's not a bad idea if you're in the Grand Bazaar and wish to go to the Suleyamine (spelling!?) Mosque which is behind the university. There's also another major mosque near the east entrance of the bazaar which is quite nice. Can't remember the name of it but you could see it in Skyfall when they were running along the rough tops!

From the Suleyamine Mosque, Eminonu is walking distance. In Eminonu, you have the spice bazaar and the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) you can also take the tram back to Sultanahmet from here or walk across the Galata Bridge and up the hill to Galata Tower.

These, for me, would be the best sights in Istanbul and you could do all this in one full day, depending on how quickly you move and how long you stop for lunch etc. (this would definitely not include Topkapi though and you probably wouldn't have time for the Archaeological Museum either) You can visit the Blue Mosque quite late in the evening though, up to 9pm, I think. So, you could try to get to the things with shorter opening hours first.

Taksim isn't a nice square in my opinion but I hear they're doing it up. The MOMA is supposed to be quite good but they don't allow photography so I didn't go. The Ortakoy Mosque was still undergoing renovations while I was there in October (as it was in August 2011 - still haven't seen it!) You can see the Bosphorous Bridge from Dolmabahce Palace and as I mentioned it's really quite impressive. It's built to rival the greatest palaces in Europe and it does in terms of its interior in my opinion - no photography inside though (I've been to Versailles, Schonbrunn, Palacio Real and a couple of other palaces in Europe)

There's not a lot on the Asian side (you need to prearrange your visit to the Florence Nightingale museum, if you'd be interested in that - because it's located in the army barracks...which are a bit of a walk from the ferry) The Kiz Kulesi is nice but you can see it really well on some of the ferry crossings (esp from Besiktas to Kadikoy, I think but also pretty well from Eminonu to Kadikoy) Don't go out of your way though.

Eminonu is walking distance from Sultanahmet so if the tram's crowded, consider walking (it's pretty much a straight shot from the shopping street SE of the Yeni Cami - a straight shot to Gulhane Park anyway)

Try the durum kebabs, turkish delight and the ice cream if it's not too cold (it's not that great but the texture is interesting!) You might also want to try the kokorec!!

kwilliams
Dec 18th, 2012, 05:45 PM
Oh and pretty much anything found in the bazaars or the shops on the street between Gulhane Park and Eminonu (the street that the train station is on and that the tram goes along) can be found cheaper not too much further afield!

I can't remember the exact prices but I think I'm right in saying you shouldn't pay anything over 9 or 10 lira for a box/kilo of T. delight!

Just Do It
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:30 PM
I will read your post later since I have no time now, but how early do you have to be in Hagia Sophia in order to be a first visitor? :lol:

Talula
Dec 20th, 2012, 08:27 AM
Sam L, I didn't and I'm not sure where he is based. I really don't know at all.

Talula, that's a good amount of time to see the main sights, especially the ones clustered around Sultanahmet. I would recommend saying there to maximise your sightseeing!

I'd recommend getting started early. I just happened to be restless one night and got up quite early the next morning. I visited the Blue Mosque before the throngs of tourists had arrived. There were just a group of Koreans and a few people there for prayer. The first time I visited Istanbul actually, I went to the Blue Mosque about four or five times - at different times of the day. When I was there in October, I visited on a Sunday and there was a queue to get in (unless you were entering to pray) and it was packed inside. Much less enjoyable. Get started early.

I actually happened to be the first tourist to get into that Hagia Sophia that morning and even though I only had the place to myself (not counting a couple of security guards and one cat!) for a few moments, it was really, really amazing:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7010/6404522825_406a4c1e9f_n.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6404522825/)
First In (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6404522825/) by keithmaguire 김채윤 (http://www.flickr.com/people/keithmaguire/), on Flickr

Anyway, you can see these two sights and the Hippodrome in no time. I would recommend the palace mosaic museum (unless you're into mosaics!) Topkapi Palace, the archaeological museum and Gulhane Park are just behind the Hagia Sophia and you can easily go from one to the other. As I said, think twice about Topkapi. Do some research and see if it's for you.

The Basilica Cistern is amazing and doesn't take long to see. It's just across the road from the entrance to the Hagia:

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6081/6076447133_3bde8339ac_n.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6076447133/)
The Basilica Cistern (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmaguire/6076447133/) by keithmaguire 김채윤 (http://www.flickr.com/people/keithmaguire/), on Flickr

The Grand Bazaar and Istanbul University are only two stops west of Sultanahmet. The University isn't a must but it's not a bad idea if you're in the Grand Bazaar and wish to go to the Suleyamine (spelling!?) Mosque which is behind the university. There's also another major mosque near the east entrance of the bazaar which is quite nice. Can't remember the name of it but you could see it in Skyfall when they were running along the rough tops!

From the Suleyamine Mosque, Eminonu is walking distance. In Eminonu, you have the spice bazaar and the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) you can also take the tram back to Sultanahmet from here or walk across the Galata Bridge and up the hill to Galata Tower.

These, for me, would be the best sights in Istanbul and you could do all this in one full day, depending on how quickly you move and how long you stop for lunch etc. (this would definitely not include Topkapi though and you probably wouldn't have time for the Archaeological Museum either) You can visit the Blue Mosque quite late in the evening though, up to 9pm, I think. So, you could try to get to the things with shorter opening hours first.

Taksim isn't a nice square in my opinion but I hear they're doing it up. The MOMA is supposed to be quite good but they don't allow photography so I didn't go. The Ortakoy Mosque was still undergoing renovations while I was there in October (as it was in August 2011 - still haven't seen it!) You can see the Bosphorous Bridge from Dolmabahce Palace and as I mentioned it's really quite impressive. It's built to rival the greatest palaces in Europe and it does in terms of its interior in my opinion - no photography inside though (I've been to Versailles, Schonbrunn, Palacio Real and a couple of other palaces in Europe)

There's not a lot on the Asian side (you need to prearrange your visit to the Florence Nightingale museum, if you'd be interested in that - because it's located in the army barracks...which are a bit of a walk from the ferry) The Kiz Kulesi is nice but you can see it really well on some of the ferry crossings (esp from Besiktas to Kadikoy, I think but also pretty well from Eminonu to Kadikoy) Don't go out of your way though.

Eminonu is walking distance from Sultanahmet so if the tram's crowded, consider walking (it's pretty much a straight shot from the shopping street SE of the Yeni Cami - a straight shot to Gulhane Park anyway)

Try the durum kebabs, turkish delight and the ice cream if it's not too cold (it's not that great but the texture is interesting!) You might also want to try the kokorec!!

Thank you very much. This is fantastic! I have printed this out and I don't need to buy a guide book now! Much appreciated. Once again, thank you. All the best!

kwilliams
Dec 20th, 2012, 06:37 PM
I will read your post later since I have no time now, but how early do you have to be in Hagia Sophia in order to be a first visitor? :lol:

If I remember correctly, I think it opens at 9 and I think I started queuing shortly before 8:40. There were just a handful of people there. I wasn't actually first in line but I was 5th or 6th and I was getting a single ticket so I got mine a little quicker than the group ahead of me. I was eager to get inside so I walked by the people who were taking their time in the small garden area. It really is a breathtakingly cavernous space. I didn't go back on my second visit to Istanbul but I'll probably be going again in the spring so I'll go back then.

Thank you very much. This is fantastic! I have printed this out and I don't need to buy a guide book now! Much appreciated. Once again, thank you. All the best!

You're welcome. I hope the info is useful and I hope you have a great time in Istanbul. It's a great city. I can't remember the tagline exactly but it's called the city of the world's desires or something like that. It has so much to offer historically and culturally!

shap_half
Dec 24th, 2012, 04:34 PM
You can always count on Keith to be in all of these travel threads with links to his Flickr. :p

Anyway, I love Istanbul, and I've never been there during New Year, but I hope you'll take some time to explore Cihangir, which was lovely. A bit more residential and local. Great place to grab a coffee and people watch.

I will now be posting my very own travel thread.

kwilliams
Dec 24th, 2012, 06:48 PM
No!!! I'm so obvious and predictable! :lol:

Weirdly, I didn't put any links in your thread just a few moments ago. I must be distracted because I have to get ready for the Christmas Eve rounds soon!!