When it comes to Istiklal Street (Istiklal Avenue), it is a must for all travelers in Istanbul. Istiklal Street which means “Independence Avenue” is a 1,5 km. long colorful pedestrian street and grand boulevard cutting through Beyoglu and full of all kind of shops, restaurants, cafes, street shows and it is located by the Taksim Square. The nostalgic tram runs through the length of the Istiklal Street. Istiklal Street is also one of the best places to see in Istanbul.
Located in the Taksim neighborhood of the Beyoglu district, Istiklal Avenue, once known as Grande Rue de Pera, is one of the most popular streets in Istanbul and without a doubt, is one of the most popular meeting points, a center for leisure activities and beautiful streets in Istanbul. Istiklal means “Independence” in Turkish.
Things to Do & See
Istiklal Street is the busiest street in Istanbul. And, every single day and night, in both summer and winter, on any hour of the day you can always see a flood of both locals and tourists here. It is situated within the district of Beyoglu, formerly called Pera, which is the center of arts and culture. Istiklal Street runs all the way from the Taksim Square, northern end, and ends at the Tunel Square, southern end, which leads to Galipdede Street and than to famous Galata Mevlevihanesi (Dervish Lodge) with its historic gate and if you go further downhill, to famous Galata Tower. On the half way, there is a break on the Galatarasay square.
Istiklal Street is lined with 19th century former palaces, mansions and embassies which are now home to high street brands. It is just as busy at night with numerous great shops, bars, cafes, discos, clubs and restaurants. It’s said that up to a million people walk up or down through Istiklal Street every single day.
Church of the Holy Trinity (Hagia Triada)
The Hagia Triada Church is located at the entrance of the Istiklal Street, on the left, and can be seen by everyone with its dome and twin bell towers. Dating back to 1880, it is a newly restored Greek Church of Holy Trinity.
The French Consulate building is a beautiful one situated just at the beginning of the Istiklal Street, on the left. It is also a cultural center offering French lessons, events and festivals throughout the year. There is also a Armenian Catholic Surp Voskeperan Church located behind the consulate.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
A wax museum and entertainment center situated in a 2,000 square meters venue of the Grand Pera building in Istiklal Avenue. Madame Tussauds is a museum chain for life-size wax replicas of famous celebrities and historic icons as well as historical and cultural heroes from the history of Turkey, along with current celebrities from the arts, sport and politics. A fun place especially for families with kids. Read more about Madame Tussauds Istanbul Wax Museum
Flower Passage (Cicek Pasaji)
Dating back to 1870, and once the White Russian refugees from the Bolshevik Revolution used to sell flowers here, the historical Flower Passage (Cicek Pasaji), is a popular arcade that the visitors may enjoy the lively atmosphere of its lively restaurants famous for the dinners of mezes, raki and gypsy musicians.
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.
Situated right beside the Flower Passage, the Fish Market (Balik Pazari) is a historical market area and a place that you may have an impressive culinary experience. There are variety of stands selling delicious street food like midye dolma (rice-stuffed mussels), midye tava (mussels fried in sizzling oil), kokorec (seasoned intestines from mutton or lamb that are skewered and grilled) and more. And if you go further into the market, you may find variety of shops selling vegetables, fruits, caviar, fish and more.
Historical Galatasaray Hamam (Turkish Bath)
Located along the alley running down across the Flower Passage, the Galatasaray Hammam (Turkish Bath) was built by Sultan Beyazit the 2nd in 1481. Operating for centuries, it is a great place to experience the 500 years traditional bath culture of the Ottoman Empire.
Located at the backstreets around Galatasaray Square, in the middle of Istiklal Street, the French Street is a lovely street made in French style. Previously known as Algeria Street, visitors may enjoy the taste of France and French influence at the lovely narrow alleys, pavements, beautifully restored terraced buildings, boutiques and galleries, patisseries, wine houses, cafes and restaurants specializing in French cuisine and wines.
St. Antoine of Padua Church
The St. Antony of Padua Church, also called as St Antoine’s Cathedral, is an Italian neo-Gothic style church that was built between 1906 and 1911, by the Italian architect Giulio Mongeri. is one of the biggest churches in Istanbul and also has the largest Catholic community. A must see church in Istanbul. Read more about St. Antoine Church
Asmalimescit is a popular street and night time entertainment area that is situated between Tepebasi and Istiklal Street. Visitors may enjoy the lively atmosphere of its narrow streets with cafes, dining places, open air art performances and more. The area is the another great nightlife center in Istanbul. The area may keep the visitors entertained till the morning hours.
Pera Museum is a private museum that was founded by the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation on 2005. The museum is located at the Tepebasi neighborhood across from the right down end of the Istiklal street, in an impressive historical building that was originally conceived as the Bristol Hotel. Permanent collections of Orientalist Paintings, Anatolian Weights and Measures, and Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics are exhibited at the Pera Museum as well as various other exhibitions, publications, audio-visual events, educational activities. Read more about Pera Museum
How to Best Explore Istiklal Street and Beyoglu district?
You’ll see below that there are loads of places, venues and sights along the Istiklal Street and beyond Beyoglu district that should be explored. You may visit and explore all those sights by yourself by walking, but as you realize that there are so much to explore in the Beyoglu district, we highly recommend you to take sightseeing and city walking tours made by the agents. You can explore the Beyoglu district and Istiklal Street in a very easy and comfortable way by daily tours.
It is also a very good option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making all the arrangements including the tickets, waiting at the queue and 2-ways transportation by your own and feel like you may have troubles with them. And we recommend the two world brands GetYourGuide or Viator tours, made by the best reputed and registered tour agents in Istanbul and offer comfortable, safe and the cheapest tours with 2-ways transportation from your hotel or meeting point, professional guides, insurance and easy cancellation. You may find the top selling guided Istiklal Street and Beyoglu tours below.