Why You Should Visit the Istiklal Street? Taksim Square Advice

Istiklal Avenue, or Istiklal Street, is Turkey’s biggest, longest, most well-known, and liveliest pedestrian avenue. It starts from the biggest city square in Istanbul, the Taksim Square, and ends near the Tünel funicular entrance. “Istiklal” which means “independence” in Turkish, comes from the Statue of Independence. The statue is dedicated to the Independence War of Turks led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, located in the center of Taksim Square. The Istiklal Avenue stretches approximately 1.7 km, has hundreds of venues on both sides and is closed to traffic. So what does Istiklal Avenue offer? Why should you visit Istiklal Avenue? 

1-Shopping in Istiklal Street

istiklal street

Istiklal Avenue is known to be a great place for shopping. Many international and local brands have huge outlets and stores on this street. Some known brands on Istiklal Avenue are Mango, Zara, Adidas, Bershka, Swatch, Sephora, Sketchers… There are also plenty of good quality local clothing brand stores like Mavi, Koton, Kiğılı, Boyner, LC Waikiki, and so on. 


Istiklal Avenue isn’t just some shopping street; it is a historical avenue full of old churches, like St. Antuan Catholic Church, St. Mary Draperis Catholic Church, Aya Triada Greek Orthodox Church, and many other smaller churches. Istiklal Avenue and its backstreets are also home to the oldest embassies that opened in Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire era. Some examples are Italian, Dutch, British, Russian, and Swedish embassies. Istiklal Avenue and its backstreets also have some historic restaurants such as Rejans Restaurant (a century-old Russian restaurant where Atatürk used to dine), Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi (another century-old restaurant that specializes in rakı and meze, where Atatürk used to dine). In one of the parallel streets to Istiklal Avenue, you can even find Turkey’s oldest luxury hotel, the Pera Palace. Famous writer Agatha Christi wrote her iconic novel “Murder on the Orient Express” here. Moreover, many other historical figures, such as Ernest Hemmingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Tito, Franz Ferdinand, and Queen Elizabeth stayed in Pera Palace. On the backstreets of Istiklal Avenue, you can also find historical passages full of shops and restaurants. Most famous passage is Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage) with its seafood restaurants. Avrupa Pasajı (European Passage) or Suriye Pasajı (Syrian Passage) are also interesting places to see.

3-Food & Fine Dining in Istiklal Street

istiklal street

Istiklal Avenue offers hundreds of options, from simple street food to fine dining with a 360 rooftop view. You can also find restaurants offering world cuisine either on Istiklal Avenue or in its backstreets. For example, you can find Chinese, Russian, Syrian, Indian, Thai, and Italian restaurants. Here on Istiklal Avenue, you will find delicious food not only from Turkey but from all around the world. 

Related: Best Places to Eat in Istiklal Avenue & Taksim Area

4-Culture & Art in Istiklal Street

Istiklal Avenue and its backstreets are also home to countless art galleries, libraries, modern and historical art museums, exhibitions, bookstores, cinemas, and theaters… There is just so much to do in Istiklal & Taksim. 

Some of the most visited museums and art galleries are as follows: 

Madame Tussauds 

Pera Museum

Museum of Illusions

Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum

Arter – Sanat İçin Alan


Yapı Kredi Kazım Taşkent Art Gallery

Akbank Art Gallery 

5-Nightlife in Istiklal Street

istiklal street

One of the main reasons why many locals go to Taksim or Istiklal Avenue is the nightlife. You won’t see any bars or clubs on Istiklal Avenue or around Taksim Square. Still, you will easily find dozens of bars once you start exploring the backstreets and parallel streets. Some high class, some dive bars, night clubs, some playing Turkish, some playing electronic music. You will discover bars with live music, games, themed bars, wine houses, rooftop bars, shisha bars, and much more. 

There are also bar streets/areas around Istiklal Avenue, such as “Nevizade” or “Asmalı Mescit“. You can also find a variety of quality bars and cafes on the “Meşrutiyet Caddesi“. Many other pubs and clubs are scattered around the backstreets of Istiklal Avenue. 

Here’s a list of Pubs, Bars and Clubs to visit in Istiklal Avenue, Taksim and Galata Area. 

Walking tours designed to discover the neighborhood, including its backstreets, historical churches and sites, and trendy venues, are also available. Click here to book a walking tour on Istiklal Avenue and Galata, with an entry ticket to the Galata Tower. 


How Do I Go to the Istiklal Avenue/Taksim Square

Top 10 Istiklal Avenue Tips

Best Pubs, Bars & Clubs in Istiklal Avenue 

Best Restaurants in Taksim / Istiklal Avenue