Taksim and Istiklal Street — TOP things What to Do and See!
Istiklal Street is a must for all tourists in Istanbul. The name means “Independence Avenue” and is a long and colorful pedestrian street and grand boulevard that cuts through Beyoglu and located by Taksim Square. It is brimming with excitement and full off shops, restaurants, cafes, street shows.
Taksim means “division” or distribution”, and it was the focal point where the main water lines from the north of the city were collected to be branched off to other parts of it.
- 1 What to do and see in Istiklal Street and Taksim Square?
- 2 Visit the Hagia Triada Church and Madame Tussauds
- 3 Take a walk through Cihangir and Çukurcuma
- 4 Try street food and local beverages
- 5 Take a peek at the Fish Market
- 6 Go for a ride
- 7 Try Best Coffee in Beyoğlu
- 8 Shop for souvenirs
- 9 Experience the beauty of street art
- 10 Enjoy the cultural center
- 11 Soak in a hamam
- 12 Go out at nighttime too!
What to do and see in Istiklal Street and Taksim Square?
There are several things to explore in Taksim Square and Istiklal Street – the lively ambience and undeterred enthusiasm of people puts you in a merry mood for sure! You can get very close to Galata Tower if you walk till the end of Istiklal Street.
You can have a walking tour and explore small old streest of Beyoğlu district. Here you can seat in a small cafe and drink a cup of turkish coffee or take a look at antique shops.
By reaching the end of Istiklal street you can get to Karaköy area by walk (about 10-15 minutes) and have a nice time there. Because Karakoy is very popular place for all kind of cafes and restaurants and here the walls of the streets are covered with graffiti.
Visit the Hagia Triada Church and Madame Tussauds
Situated at the entrance of Istiklal Street, on the left, this church is a prominent landmark due to its dome and twin bell towers. It dates well back to 1880, and is a newly restored Greek Church of Holy Trinity.
Located in a 2,000 square meters venue of the Grand Pera building in Istiklal Avenue, Madame Tussauds is a sprawling wax museum and entertainment center. It is a famous museum chain for life-size wax replicas of celebrities, historical figures, and cultural heroes in the field of arts, sports, and politics. It is a great place to visit with family.
Take a walk through Cihangir and Çukurcuma
Downwards from the Siraselviler Street along Taksim Square, you come across the famous neighborhoods of Cihangir (to the left) and Cukurcuma (to the right). The former is a lovely neighborhood famous for its energetic Firuzaga Coffee House – it is always full during day and night.
Cukurcuma is a charming and authentic neighborhood located along the way down from the Siraselviler Street. It is also a very interesting place famous for its antique shops, restored lovely houses, art galleries and cafes.
Try street food and local beverages
Roaming around Taksim Square and Istiklal Street can be exhaustingon an empty stomach, so don’t forget to sample the traditional culinary delights offered by restaurants, fast food chains, and local stands. Favorites include islak, which is hamburger made with a special tomato sauce and herbs and doner, a sandwich with beef or chicken. You can try a lighter snack like street corn with butter and salt too.
There are several veggie and vegan options too. Don’t forget to drink a glass of ayran – a chilled beverage made of yoghurt. And of course, you must satiate your sweet tooth with a wide selection of different kinds of sweets. Popular ones include the world famous Turkish delight that is goes best with coffee, and dondurma, an ice cream that is thick and almost chewy. The Nevizade Street, French Street, Flower Passage and Asmalimescit have some of the finest dining spots in Taksim.
Take a peek at the Fish Market
If you are a fish lover looking for a unique culinary experience, don’t forget to visit Balik Pazari or Fish Market. It is situated right beside the Flower Passage, and there are a plethora of stands selling mouthwatering foods like midye dolma or rice-stuffed mussels , midye tava or mussels fried in sizzling oil, kokorec or seasoned intestines from mutton or lamb that are skewered and grilled, etc.
If you walk down to Karakoy, try famous street food — balık ekmek, which means «fish in bread». It’s very delicious!
Go for a ride
Did you know this area is a vital hub for public transportation and serves as the main transfer point for the municipal bus system and the central station of the Istanbul Metro network? The heritage tram line starts here, so you can hop on, go to the very end to Tünel Square, and then take a leisurely stroll back.
At the end of Istiklal street there is a historical funicular station — line F1 — which can get you down to Kabataş.
Try Best Coffee in Beyoğlu
This small coffeshop opened in 1967 and since that tima it’s still famous for great coffee quality — the great aroma and taste. Why Mandabatmaz? It means, that the coffee foam is so dense and thick that even «manda» (which on turkish means bull) will not drown.
The first coffee store was opened in 2014 and today the chain include 73 stores in Turkey and abroad.
EsspressoLab is a place for real coffee and esspresso fans — the quality of drink is really very good.
Tea Or Coffee
It’s a small place in Cihangir district, not far from Istiklal street. The stuff is friendly and will help you to choose a drink with alternative milk. Coffee beans is good so you will enjoy your drink.
Located in the Cihangir area it’s a cozq and nice place where you can feel comfortable. Here you can find a selections of hot coffees and cold brews with really good taste. Take a drink and have a good time!
Shop for souvenirs
The streets of Beyoglu, Istiklal avenue and Taksim are the ideal places in the city of Istanbul, when it comes to buying souvenirs for people back home. There are shops of every kind selling diverse items like clothing, jewelry, books, handicrafts, and so on.
But don’t buy the first thing which you saw in the shop of Istiklal street — if you take a walk through small streets near Galata Tower, you can find a lot of interesting stuff with good prices.
Experience the beauty of street art
Street art has its own raw and gritty appeal, as you will discover while walking around Taksim in the evening. Hum to the amazing melodies belted out by talented street musicians and explore the side streets to check out the local graffiti. You are bound to be amazed by the creativity!
Enjoy the cultural center
Atatürk Kültür Merkezi is a multi-purpose cultural center and opera house. It is a gorgeous example of Turkish architecture dating back to the 1960s. Till date, it has hosted numerous theater performances, the Turkish State Opera and Ballet, concerts by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Modern Folk Music Ensemble, and Classical Turkish Music Choir, as well as the summer festival of Arts and Culture. This building is best seen at night – it looks stunning as the entire structure is illuminated.
Soak in a hamam
Located along the alley running down across the Flower Passage, the Galatasaray Hammam (Turkish Bath) was built by Sultan Beyazit the 2nd in 1481. The traditional bath culture of the Ottoman Empire is a coveted experience. You can soak in the inviting waters with fragrant oils and soaps, and spend a relaxing time here.
The public hammam is still an important part of the Turkish culture. It’s a place where you can relax, clean your body and soul, and have new expirience.
Go out at nighttime too!
Taksim has several bars and pubs providing a variety of entertainment. Nevizade is a popular street and night time entertainment area that is situated at the back of the Flower Passage, in the middle of Istiklal Street, where visitors may enjoy the lively atmosphere of its narrow streets with eateries, cafes, fish restaurants, meyhanes, dining places and more.
There is no dearth of hotels in Taksim, by the Taksim Square, near the Tarlabasi Boulevard. They will fit into your budget and are within quick reach of the renowned spots in the city. Getting to Taksim is easy too – it is conveniently accessible from the airport. Once you check in to a hotel and get settled in, you are all set for an unbelievable experience for a lifetime.