new year in istanbul

11 Best Things to Do in New Year in Istanbul 2024

New Year is around the corner and New Year in Istanbul is HUGE! There are so many things you can do on that night that it can be overwhelming. We put together 11 things you should do on New Year in Istanbul! These include not only the things you should do to entertain yourself but also things you should do to avoid spending a horrible evening.

1. Reserve/Book a Place in Advance (SUPER IMPORTANT)

new year in istanbul

This is BY FAR the most important advice we can give you. Istanbul is a mega city of 16 million residents. Add tourists and other visitors, the number goes up to 20 million on any given day. In such a massive and chaotic city, New Year’s Eve is one of THE busiest days of the entire year. Everywhere will be packed on Istanbul New Year’s Eve. There will be New Year’s celebrations virtually everywhere you can imagine. The streets of Istanbul will be packed with people, there will be a party all over the city. On a day like this, you can’t just show up and expect to find a place to sit. You have to book/reserve in advance. All nice restaurants, dinner cruises, and live performances will all be fully booked. We advise you to plan your New Year in Istanbul at least 2-3 weeks in advance and book accordingly.

2. Don’t Rely on Taxi (Also very important)

new year in istanbul

Taxi is a chronic problem in Istanbul. There are never enough taxis, even on regular days. Weekends? Good luck. New Year in Istanbul? Oh, good luck with that! Even if you are willing to pay 3 times the price, you won’t be able to find a cab after your party for at least a solid hour of waving in the cold. “Oh, then I’ll just book Uber” you’re probably thinking. Don’t. You’ll be disappointed. Let me tell you what you should do instead:

– Spend the New Year’s Eve Party somewhere not too far from where you stay. This way you can walk back to your hotel/Airbnb.

– Spend the New Year’s Day somewhere close to a 24/7 public transportation. This way you can sit comfortably on an empty bus/tram past midnight while everyone is out in the cold waving for a taxi for 1 hour.

– If you can afford, rent a car with a driver (or drive yourself if you won’t drink). However, you will most likely still get stuck in the New Year traffic. At least you’ll be sitting in a warm car.

– Spend the New Year’s eve party at a nice restaurant that has a pick up/drop off service.

3. Dress Well, but Also Make Sure You Can Carry Your Own Stuff

Unless you’re going somewhere fancy, there is a high chance that you might have to carry your stuff with you the whole night. Dress well, the end of December is cold in Istanbul. It might even snow. Average temperature is around 5-10 °C (40-50 °F) that time of year. Typically, it’s not the coldest time of the year, but it does get chilly. However, and I can’t stress this enough – you might end up carrying your jacket in your hands all night. The places you might go to might be completely packed. The cloakroom might be full. If you’re going out clubbing, remember these words, because it might happen. I know because it happened to me once, and oh, it wasn’t funny. Dress well but do not overdress. I wouldn’t recommend relying on cloakrooms in New Year in Istanbul.

4. Watch the Fireworks with Istanbul Bosphorus View

new year in istanbul

One of the best things you can see on that day is the fireworks. New Year in Istanbul comes with spectacular fireworks. If you’re close to the Bosphorus shores, you’ll see the fireworks. Going on a Bosphorus cruise that night is also an option. Many people book dinner cruises for New Year in Istanbul. Watching the Istanbul Bosphorus view while watching the spectacular fireworks is an unforgettable experience. The dinner cruises typically last three hours or more, but there are many different options. Dinner cruises on the Bosphorus strait also typically provide hotel pick-up and drop-off services. Watching the fireworks on the Bosphorus shores, while enjoying a nice boat trip might be a great idea. It’s the full package. The best views of Istanbul in Istanbul’s New Year can be seen from the Bosphorus shores. Check out these dinner cruises on the Bosphorus strait for New Year in Istanbul!

5. Eat Good Food, Go Fine Dining

new year in istanbul

One of the best things you can do on New Year in Istanbul is to treat yourself. You have arrived in Istanbul, Turkey: a gastronomical heaven. Land of one of the richest and tastiest cuisines in the world. A megacity with tens of thousands of restaurants, including Michelin star-rated ones. Why not treat yourself to an exceptional meal? You’d be surprised to learn that you can have a full course with unlimited drinks on New Year’s Eve dinner for as cheap as 100$/€. Treat yourself to a special dinner on that special night. New Year in Istanbul offers endless fine-dining options. There are currently 7 Michelin-star restaurants in Istanbul, including one that has 2 stars. Plus, 70 other Michelin-recommended restaurants (18 of them have Bib Gourmand). But ok, you don’t want to pay that much money because you think it’ll cost hundreds of dollars (it won’t). There are still many great restaurants that have Istanbul Bosphorus view, an excellent dinner menu, and exquisite ambiance. Here are some places where you can have a great time without spending a fortune on New Year in Istanbul:

Duble Meze Karaköy – if you love meze, check this place out—great ambiance, service, and dinner menu.

Kiva Galataport – located right on the Galaport with a wide open, unhindered view of Istanbul Bosphorus view

Eleos Restaurant – this rooftop restaurant offers a more elevated view of the city. The most rated amongst others on this list.

Mesai Karaköy – Great location, very easy to get to with tram line T1. They usually play 90s Turkish pop and have a rich dinner menu.

Park Fora Restaurant – deep inside the Bosphorus strait. Located between the two bridges, Park Fora has an exceptional view.

Mavi Balık – means “blue fish” in Turkish, main focus on seafood, located close to Park Fora with a similar view.

6. Going Out Partying

new year in istanbul

Istanbul has hundreds – if not thousands – of bars, nightclubs, cafes, and restaurants to explore. Live music in the bars, live performances in clubs, fancy restaurants, the list is endless. If you like live music, a good place to explore would be the Istiklal Street. Istiklal Street is the longest pedestrian avenue in Istanbul which starts from Taksim Square. Taksim Square is usually considered the unofficial city center of Istanbul. On Istiklal Street and around Taksim Square there are a lot of bars, cafes, clubs, and restaurants. Check out our full guide to Taksim Square and Istiklal Street: 31 Best Things to do in Taksim Square Istanbul [2024] You can also check out our post on best nightclubs in Istanbul: 19 Best Clubs in Istanbul – Ultimate Party Guide 2024

7. Street Parties

Even though it does get cold around New Year in Istanbul, street parties still happen. Now street parties happen spontaneously in Istanbul, so I don’t want to give you any hope. However, if you’re into street partying and meeting local strangers, you might want to read on. When I was a student, I used to go street partying a lot too 🙂 But now that I’m less interested in street parties I don’t do that anymore. However, if you’re young and adventurous, why not? The best places to go street partying are located around Istiklal Street, Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Galata and Karaköy.

Istiklal Street; Taksim: On and around Istiklal Street, but especially near the bar streets, you’ll find many people partying on the street with booze bottles in their hands. The best streets to check would be Istiklal Caddesi, Nevizade Sokak, Balo Sokak, Asmalı Mescit Caddesi, and Sofyalı Sokak.

Galata: Many people gather and sit and drink on the stairs near the Galata Tower and its surrounding streets like Galata Kulesi Sokak.

Beşiktaş: The market center of Beşiktaş called “Beşiktaş Çarşı” is a very lively place with dozens of bars, pub streets and restaurants. Beşiktaş however is the name of the entire district spanning from here to the Bosphorus Bridge and beyond. The Bosphorus shores are worth a check out as well as Ortaköy.

Kadıköy: If you stay on the Asian side of Istanbul, Kadıköy might be where you want to spend your New Year’s party. Some great places to check out the street parties would be Kadife Sokak, Osmancık Sokak, and Ziya Bey Sokak.

Karaköy: Check out Mumhane Caddesi, Hoca Tahsin Sokak, and the inner streets. Karaköy might be a great option to explore as you’re more likely to stay at a hotel/Airbnb closer to Karaköy.

new year in istanbul

Many visitors stay in hotels or Airbnbs close to the Old City. The “Old City” is what we call the Fatih district, where most must-see sites are. However, there isn’t much going on in Fatih itself on New Year’s Eve. Most locals will prefer hanging out in other places that I mentioned above. So chances are you’ll stay somewhere where the party won’t be. If that is the case, Karaköy might be the closest option to you on New Year in Istanbul. Since taxi will be problematic you might want to do a little research before deciding. Deciding where to party on New Year in Istanbul.

8. Beware of Crowdedness; Arrive Earlier

Expect over-crowdedness on New Year’s Eve. Even on a regular day, Istanbul is a very busy city. Central weekend places are packed every week, so imagine New Year celebrations. It will be insanely packed, everywhere you go there’ll be hoards of people. Being mentally prepared for that is essential to enjoying New Year’s Eve. New Year in Istanbul means waiting half an hour to get a drink at the bar. New Year in Istanbul means one full hour to get a cab to go back to your hotel. New Year in Istanbul means no place to put your clothes in the cloakroom. If you want to enjoy the New Year in Istanbul, consider doing these things:

– Celebrate somewhere not too far from your hotel/Airbnb and make a return plan

– Wherever you’re going, reserve in advance. If you can’t, go 4-5 hours before midnight.

– Calculate the time you need to get somewhere. Now multiply by 1,5 or even 2. That’s how long it’ll take you to get there in Istanbul.

– There might be a long queue to enter a club/bar on New Year. Even if you book a place, they might be checking everyone. I talk from experience. Don’t assume you’ll immediately sit and get served as soon as you arrive. That whole process might take 30-45 minutes as well.

new year in istanbul

9. Seize the Day Time of the New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a regular working day in Istanbul unless it’s a weekend. However, in a city that does not rest, weekends are also packed with action. On New Year’s Eve, you can still attend tours, sightseeing, or shopping. Istanbul shopping malls are some of the most decorated places when New Year approaches. You can go shopping and admire the New Year’s decorations in the shopping malls. Check out the article on 11 Best Shopping Malls in Istanbul.

new year in istanbul

Turkish people typically don’t celebrate Christmas but do celebrate New Year. Interestingly, the New Year decorations are just like the Christmas decorations. Read our article on this topic as well: How Festive is Christmas in Istanbul? Another thing to note is that even though New Year’s Eve is a normal day, the 1st is not. The 1st of January is a holiday for almost everyone in the country. So expect a lot of closed venues on the 1st and plan accordingly.

10. Go to a Turkish bath to relax before New Year’s party

new year in istanbul

On the day of New Year’s Eve, go to hammam. Hammam, aka “Turkish bath” is an extremely relaxing, deep cleaning spa experience. Traditional Turkish hammams date back to the Ottoman times. Istanbul is full of great hammams that have been providing their services for hundreds of years. Wouldn’t it be nice to be washed, scrubbed, and massaged before the party? Most people describe the Turkish bath experience as “being reborn”. Feeling reborn with a traditional Turkish bath before entering a New Year could be a great idea! Check out our article on this topic: Is Turkish bath worth doing?

11. Other Things to Note

– Be Safe on New Year in Istanbul: Istanbul is generally a safe city, however, we cannot vouch for all 16 million people. There might be some opportunists on New Year’s Eve lurking around tourists. I don’t want to scare you, but I just to warn you to party safely. Just don’t overdrink don’t leave your valuables on the table when you go to the bathroom and be a little cautious overall.

– Carry Cash but Not Too Much: You might need some Turkish lira cash when getting a taxi at 2 am past midnight. Or maybe another scenario when you might need it. However, you don’t need to carry too much as the card is acceptable in most places. 50-100$ worth of cash with you in Turkish liras should do the trick.

– Follow the Etiquette: plenty of Turkish locals drink alcohol but you’ll rarely see anyone drunk. Even during New Year celebrations. Public display of intoxication isn’t perceived as “funny” or “cute” in Turkey. Try not to put yourself in that position.

new year in istanbul

Too Long, Didn’t Read Summary

– Expect traffic, overcrowdedness, and chaos. Book, reserve, plan, and act accordingly.

– Don’t rely on a taxi, plan your return

– Don’t overdress or underdress, put some thought into what you wear on NYE depending on the place you go and weather conditions

– Check out the fireworks on the Bosphorus Strait

– Eat good food, you’re in culinary heaven

– Relax with a Turkish bath before entering a New Year

The city is lively during the day of the eve, but not on the 1st. Plan accordingly

– Beware of the cultural etiquette and carry some cash in case