Gay, bear, hairy and Turk !
Turkish bears form a remarkable community in Istanbul's gay life, although there are not so many bear-exclusive gay venues. Istanbul's bears are interacting with each other in several bars, clubs and via internet. There has been several very successful international bear parties in Istanbul in the last years, supported by international bear community. Turkish bears are easy going people and have less problems with the society which can traditionally absorb straight-acting males more easily. Bears from all around the world are invited to discover Istanbul's exotic bear life. Although the Turkish counterpart of the word bear (ayi) has been used to define rude and rowdy people (sometimes in a humorous way) bearness as a style has already been a part of the Turkish culture, even before it became a trend in international gay life. Turkish bears are very natural and also have advantages ethnically.
Bear Bars and Clubs in Istanbul
Address: Siraselviler Street, No: 63/1 Taksim, Beyoglu. Istanbul.
Tekyon had a considerable bear scene several years ago. It later became one of the most popular gay clubs of Istanbul, and the bears became less visible. You can still see some bears in the club, especially on busy Saturday nights. They even offer a bear go-go show sometimes and the manager and some of the bar-tenders are senior people in bear life of the city. It has moved to a new and much bigger place on Siraselviler street in May 2009 and has become the talk of the town. The waiters are very feminine and friendly in this night club, probably to entertain their loyal clients. Male belly dancer, go-go boys and simple drag shows performed by the bar staff can be fun to see, usually on Tuesday nights after 01:00 am. It is very crowded on Saturdays, including it's big garden on the back yard, good for people who need a smoking break. It is easy to get to the club, as the street (Siraselviler) is starting from Taksim square. If you walk
from Taksim Square for a few minutes, you will see its sign-board on the left-hand side. Tekyon is very flexible with cover charges and cloakroom rituals compared to other gay clubs in Taksim; which may be one
of the reasons it got more and more popular in the course of time.
Durak Pub (20:00-02:00)
Address: Muratpasa Sokak, No: 9 Yusufpasa, Aksaray, Istanbul
Opened as Pasam Birahanesi, re-named as Durak (bus stop), the venue is the meeting place of naturally-born-bears. It has a totally local and exotic atmosphere, including traditional live Turkish music performance available almost everyday. The venue has a completely different atmosphere than all other gay bars and clubs located in Taksim. First of all beer is much cheaper, which is something an average bear would expect. It starts early in the evening and gets busy before midnight. It is overwhelmingly frequented by local bears, mature and straight acting gay men with a few exceptions as could be anywhere. It is not a dancing venue and the clients are served at the tables. It attracts rather middle class people, but there may be people from all social classes. Most people would know each other here, but any new-comer will be welcomed, if you've got that bear feeling. Feel at home, because there are no rituals. If you are coming from Sultanahmet take the tramcar to Aksaray direction and get off at the next station right after Aksaray, which is Yusufpasa. The smaller street (Muratpasa) is right next to the tramcar station. The entrance door is on the left hand side on that street. If you are coming from Taksim direction take an Aksaray dolmus (a kind of shared-taxi) which goes up to Yusufpasa. Dolmus cabs to Aksaray depart from the small street right next to flower shops at Taksim square and are cheap. Aksaray district is only about 5 km away from Taksim and it has rather a vulgar night life. So, if you stay after midnight you are recommended not to walk around too much, and take a taxi quickly.
PS: Despite it's dirty night life Aksaray is also a conservative district and for that reason Durak bar is usually closed during Ramadan period for about 30 days every year.
"This bar is a very unusual place. Mostly older guys or younger guys who like older, masculine guys. The traditional music is nice. It made me so upset that the waiter gave me a portion of peanuts with the beer and charged me for that afterwards about 6 or 7 TL without telling me before! Usually, you get this kind of snack for free in Turkey when you order a beverage." (Posted by Ben from Austria January 6th, 2012)"
"This place is a bit out of the way from the other gay venues round Taksim square area but pretty easy to get to with a tram station (Yusufpasa) at the end of the street. If you can suss out the dolmus taxis you can get back to Taksim Square for about 3 lira or a taxi for about 12/13 lira dependant on the traffic. What you get is a traditional looking bar and at the weekends full of "men" as opposed to the Beygolu venues that are more popular with younger guys. No techno music played but what I would describe as Turkish standards sung live by very good singers/M.C. Very friendly and welcoming waiter staff and whilst the language was a problem for us speaking no Turkish the guys who spoke English were very welcoming (hello O ) the beer is much cheaper too, bonus!. Well worth the effort to go before finishing off your night out in the more traditional gay venues over the Golden Horn. " (Posted by Gibson from UK on June 14th, 2011)
Club Cheeky - 01:00-07:00
Address: Tarlabasi Bulvari No: 32 Taksim, Istanbul.
Cheeky Club is not intended to welcome only bear people and it is a total mixture, but being the only morning gay club (busy after some 3 a.m) you can see many bear and mature gay guys in this club. The entrance fee is a little over average (apprx 15 Euro) and are very strict about it. You can see a mixture of gays, some bears and even few rent-boys and transvestites. It is located on very close to Taksim Square, next to Cartoon Hotel. It had a small darkroom in the previous venue which was is the main reason of its popularity. The terrace floor of the new venue (once Ekoo Club) is expected to function like that.
Simit Sarayi Taksim
Address: Tarlabası Bulvari No: 6 Taksim, Istanbul.
This is not a gay venue. There are always several venues around Taksim square which functions as meeting places for gay men in day time ear early evenings, usually before going to gay bars/clubs. This is one of them. It is a a branch of Turkish-owned tea house chain. There are many gays hanging around on the upper floor, mostly straight acting men and bears. Beware of some hustlers who also comes to this place..
IstanBear Club - Closed Down in 2011
Bearphorus - Closed Down in Late 2010.
Other Bars and Clubs
Naturally, there may be bears in any other gay bars in Istanbul. Click here for full list of gay bars and clubs.
Bear Friendly Baths in Istanbul
(Turkish baths) are the most popular venues among bears
and mature gay men living in Istanbul. The following
Turkish bath are the one where it is most likely to meet
other Turkish gay bears as well as gay tourists.
Firuzagha Hamam. (10:00-23:00)
Address: Cukurcuma Cd. No: 6 Cukurcuma, Beyoglu
Web: Turkishbathguide.com/ firuzaga.htm
A small historical bath house in Beyoglu can be the one most popular one for gays and most recommended if you want to see the local ambiance. It is located at the end of the same street where (now-closed) Cukurcuma Hamam was. Cukurcuma street is actually famous with the antique shops all around it.
Davutpasa Hamam. (10:00-23:00)
Address: A. Nafiz Gurman Str. No:21 Samatya, Istanbul
Web: Turkishbathguide.com/ davutpasa.htm
Although it is not very centrally located it became popular since 2013 due to its liberal atmosphere and it would definitely be among the suggested bath houses to meet Turkish bears & admirer as well as straight acting and mature gay men. It is about 20 minutes walking distance to Yenikapi Metro station, which is easy to reach from Taksim area with M2 metro line. When you get out walk ahead leaving the sea-side on your left until the end of the vast park area around the Metro station. Find the Kucuk Langa street on the right hand side, at the corner of this park area, which connects to Abdurrahman Nafiz Gurman after some 10 minutes walking. Look on your left toward the end of this street to see the wooden hamam building. If you are staying in Sultanahmet district you can take a short taxi ride or walk there after coming to Aksaray by T1 tramcar line, in some 30 minutes. Following IETT Public buses 71AT departing from Taksim and BN1 and BN2 buses departing from Eminonu also passes from nearby Davutpasa-Langa bus stop: When you get off there you need to find a way cross the old railway road behind you.
Yeshildirek Sifa Hamam (10:00-20:00)
Address: Tershane Cad. No:124, Azapkapı, Beyoglu, Istanbul
Web: Turkishbathguide.com/ yesildirek.htm
A mixture of various types, ages of people visit here. It is right below the eastern leg of Ataturk bridge (also known as Unkapani Koprusu). This is the second kopru (bridge) after Galata Bridge over Halic (Golden Horn) The bath house is on the Taksim/Beyoglu side of Ataturk bridge, its entrance facing the Golden Horn. You can take a short taxi or walk some 15 minutes from Karakoy, along the Golden Horn. If you come from Taksim by a public bus, you need to get off at Sishane bus-stop (after Omer Hayyam), cross the street and walk shortly down to the sea side.
Address: Altipatlar Sokak, No: 14. Cukurcuma / Beyoglu / Istanbul
Web: Turkishbathguide.com/ cihangir.htm
The entrance fee is 45 TL as of February 2016, which makes it the most expensive among other crusing bath houseas and saunas. It is also the most liberal, the most neclected and the least friendly compared to its alternatives. Since the gay crusing venues are usually not very well maintained and friendly in general, you can stll try this place once. It is not a traditional Turkish bath. Basically it has a sauna, some kind of a dark room, showers and a cafe-lounge area
Click here for other cruising bath houses in Istanbul, with location maps and visitor reviews
Click here for other (non-gay) saunas and historical Turkish baths in Istanbul.
Bear Cruising in Istanbul
Regular gay cruising areas are also recommended (or not
particularly recommend for safety reasons) to bear
people as well. Just like in other big cities around the
world cruising areas, especially parks are where gay
people should be very careful and selective with the
people they meet. These places are discovered by some
bad guys and pick-pockets who are always around for
robbing gay men rather than having sex with them.
Especially be careful if the person you meet tries to
take you to isolated places for sex. In such cases make
sure there are no people following you (this is a common
trick to rob gay men in cruising areas). We recommend
you not to carry your valuable things on you when you go
to cruising places, just in case.
Please also read this page for general safety warnings.
Bear cruising areas in Istanbul
The park is behind the Mc Donald's, near Taksim Square. The part of the park closer to the sea-side is more cruisy especially in the evenings. There are civil and uniformed policemen in the park in recent years. Although they will be tolerating tourists to some dgree, they can give you a hard time if you get caught having sex outside. Do not go with people to lower and isolated parts of the park for safety reasons. Beware of rent-boys and thieves around, but do not be scared to walk around in the central area. Afternoons and early evening and Sundays can be recommended to meet other bears.
Fatih park is near Aksaray. It is across from the administrative building of Istanbul Municipality (Istanbul Belediyesi). If you are coming from Taksim, you need to stop at Sarachane bus-stop (at the underpass), shortly before you come to Aksaray. This is where it is more likely to see local bears, but at the same time it is the most risky cruising place. We recommend you not to stay long after it gets dark. Sunday afternoons can be recommended particularly. (see on Google Map)
Kadikoy is the major residential district on the Asian part of Istanbul. The coastal area, the parks near Kadikoy-Besiktas Iskelesi (the older ferry pier in Kadikoy), the breakwater (the one with light house) are well-known gay cruising areas, where it is like to see bear men. These places usually get cruisy in the evening. There is no obvious gay atmosphere at day time. In summer time the breakwater can be more busy during the day, especially on weekends, when you can see people sitting on the breakwater's wall, lying on the rocks, fishing or drinking beer. You can get to Kadikoy from Eminonu, Kabatas and Karakoy ports by ferryboats, journey lasting about 20-30 minutes. Click here for ferryboat schedules
Click here for a complete list of gay cruising spots in Istanbul.
Bear Beaches in Istanbul
As already mentioned on the webpage dedicated to gay beaches, there are no obvious gay beach areas in Istanbul. If you are a swimming-bear no matter what, please click here for full list of of recommended beaches in Istanbul, among which the isolated beaches in Prince's Islands are still more recommendable to bear people on holiday.
Bear Dating & Internet Resources.
Turkish Gays Yahoo Group
This is a group for meeting Turkish gay men and sharing info. The group is not particularly for bears, but there are many bears among its members exceeding 5000 people in total
Bears of Turkey
Turkish bear group, providing information about bear movement and bear life in Turkey. It also has a bear guide, but it is really out of date. There are places which has been closed long ago. Ayilar is plural of Ayi, which means bear in Turkish.
Average Rates: Single/Double 30-70 Euro depending on
room type & season
Very centrally located and gay-friendly apart hotel near Taksim has a variety of well designed suite rooms. 24 hour reception, breakfast and airport transfers, discounts for Istanbulgay.Com available ! .
Direct Reservation >>
Average Rates: Single/Double 50-90 Euro depending on
room type & season
Noble Galata is a very gay and lesbian friendly guest house near Taksim, Istanbul. The guest house is conveniently located in historical Pera (Beyoglu) district at walking distance from Taksim Square and the main gay bars and clubs as well as touristic, cultural, shopping and entertainment sites.
Direct Reservation >>
Bear Events & Discussion Forum
We will be
posting important bear events in Istanbul under this
section. You can also participate by starting a
discussion, asking questions or by writing replies to
other commentators' posts..
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