Sip and swing in Istanbul´s Old Quarter: best gigs and nightlife

Set astride the Bosphorus, Istanbul is said to mark the border between Europe and Asia. With a diverse student population, a vibrant expat community and exciting local traditions, the city's unusual nightlife can't be beat.

Cosmopolitan Istanbul is a city that doesn't seem to sleep - the thriving clubs and bars come alive once the sun sets and don't seem to close until daybreak. Whether you're looking to relive your student days or just enjoy a sophisticated night out, there's something for everyone in Turkey's city of intrigue. 

Smooth sounds: Nardis Jazz Club

Enjoy music from talented new names and local legends at Istanbul's most popular jazz venue, just fifteen minutes from our Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Asia. With its exposed brick walls and cosy tables a little too close to the stage, Nardis has the international jazz club vibe down to a tee. Make your night uniquely Turkish by sampling the favourite local tipple, raki, an anise-flavoured liqueur that's usually taken as an aperitif. 

Eclectic mix, electric vibe: Babylon

Now an Istanbul institution, Babylon is a small but perfectly formed music venue where you'll find live performances across a range of genres. Check the listings before you arrive, or just turn up if you're feeling open-minded. Babylon is best known for its incredible sound system, so you're guaranteed a great set. In this international city, it's one of the rare places to boast a genuinely local vibe - a true hidden gem.

Top for tourists: Ritim Bar

A relaxed bar by day, Ritim transforms into a four-storey club at night. It's the sort of place you might have loved during your student days, so don't be surprised to find the Erasmus set dancing the night away to the sounds of Balkan techno on the lower levels. Head to the open-air dance floor at the top of the building, where it's all about cheesy Euro pop and audience requests, and sway under the stars as you drink in the nostalgia. 

Dancing with the stars: Reina

Join Istanbul's movers and shakers for cocktails at this two-storey collection of bijou bars and restaurants. It's a mammoth venue, but the various venues feel cosy and surprisingly unique. There's a perennial waiting list, so be sure to reserve a table on the rooftop terrace well in advance - it's the only part of Reina where you're guaranteed that the shimmering views across the Bosphorus won't be upstaged by the well-dressed international glitterati.

Bohemian rhapsody: Araf Cafe & Bar

Pretend you're a regular at popular Araf Cafe & Bar, where the eclectic, upbeat crowd includes locals and expats. The club's DJs definitely know how to please a crowd, spinning everything from Turkish dance and folk music to '90s hip hop. Even with regular live music sets, it's a laid back spot during the week - but make sure to arrive before midnight on Friday or Saturday nights, when it gets particularly crowded here.

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