Gay Cruising in Istanbul

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As in other big cities, cruising areas and especially parks are where gay people should be very careful and selective with the people they may meet. These places are usually 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 other people following you. This is a common trick to rob gay men in cruising areas. These guys do not walk together. Once one of them convinces his victim, the others would follow them from a distance.  They may pretend to be police or sometimes be very direct. We recommend you not to carry your valuable things on you when you go to cruising places, just in case.

Please read this page for general safety warnings.


Gay Cruising Areas in Istanbul
 

Taksim Park

Taksim Park gets cruisy after dark. Be selective with the people you meet here

It is the park at the upper part of Taksim Mc Donald's, near Taksim Square. The part of the park closer to the sea-side is more cruisy especially in the evenings. It is busier on Sundays during the day and on Saturday evenings. Actually, it is not recommended to foreign visitors and new-comers for safety reasons.

Visitor feedbacks:
"I have been first taken in the park below Taksim Square near Ritz Carlton Hotel by an attractive man who approached me in Taksim Square and then when we were in the park I've been attacked by him and other 2 men hiding among bushes and stolen my money, mobile, watch, credit cards and driving license. My identity card was destroyed. Terrible experience." (Posted by Carlo from Italy on 08/09/2009

"Guys be very careful or just don't cruise there. I've been attacked just in the same way Carlo said : bring me in another "gay park" and one other guy held my hands while the first took me wallet and phone (but not my expensive jacket ...). If someone is too direct he must have bad intentions as they re very discrete." (Posted on 09/11/2009)

Taksim Square  
People sitting on the fences around the monument at the very center of the square may be interested in meeting gay people, but remember it is also a gathering place for some pick pockets as well as female, transvestite and even male prostitutes.

Feedbacks:
"I was there and looking to the Monument and somebody finger me and we enjoyed the night together." (Posted by Graham/UK on 09/07/2009)

"Once I found one really great guy- we went to another park- dark place, and he wanted money from me- when I didn't give it to him, he attacked me " (Posted by Paul on 01 November 2009)

Istiklal Caddesi

Istiklal Avenue, Beyoglu

Two-kilometer long pedestrian street starting from Taksim Square, winding slightly to the left in Galatasaray district and ending in Tunel  (the quarter named after the entrance of mini historical metro). This street is always busy with people which also connects Taksim square to the most of the gay venues located on back-streets around it, and you can see many gay and related people along the way. Of course, it is not a place to go for cruising especially. While you walk along the Istiklal, you can use eye-contact if you keep your gaydars open. But make sure the person you meet is not involved in scam-bar business. If someone is too direct and friendly all of a sudden, and this conversation seems to be ending in visiting a bar or club he recommends, get rid of him immediately.   

Sultanahmet Park  
Sultanahmet, also known as the old city by tourists is the most famous tourism district of Istanbul, housing the world-wide historical remnants such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii).  The parks in Sultanahmet are comparatively safer, but there is no such a very visible gay scene. The small park behind the Sultanahmet tramcar station and the corner of the park behind the light show seats of Blue mosque (the upper part of Arasta Bazaar's entrance) can be more suitable for cruising in the evenings. There is no cruising atmosphere at day time in any of the parks in Sultanahmet.
 

Sarayburnu

Sarayburnu (Seraglio Point) is coastal area behind Topkapi Palace with respect to Sultanahmet. It is a waterfront by the coastal road, covered with big rocks  and concrete waterfront. There is no visible gay scene here also. There are single people or groups of guys drinking and young ghetto boys swimming and lying on the rocks in summer time. Some local gay men hang out here frequently in Summer. If your hotel is in Sultanahmet, you can try this place for a couple of hours in early evenings, at least to get a little sun tan. Do not stay long after dark. When you come from Sultanahmet walk into Gulhane Park's main gate from the tramcar street, and get out from the gate at the other end of the park. You will be right there.

Kadikoy Park
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. 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.
For ferryboat schedules see: IDO Ferryboats
 

Ortakoy Coast.

 You can see the bridge connecting Europe and Asia behind Ortakoy Mosque.

Once a small fishing town, Ortakoy has become popular in recent years with bars, restaurants and cafe-shops creating a summer-town atmosphere within the city. It is closer to major Besiktas district along the Bosporus Straight. The coastal area around the Ortakoy Mosque is very busy and there's a vibrant night life in summer time, especially busy during the day on Sundays. 10-15 minute ride away from Taksim with a taxi but it may take much longer during rush hours. You can also use public buses which follows the coastal route from Eminonu, Karakoy and Taksim heading to Sariyer, Bebek districts. Do not expect an obvious gay scene here also, but if you have extra time you can visit Ortakoy just for fun at least for an afternoon.

Fatih Park  
The park at Sarachane quarter of Fatih district, offially named as Fatih Anit Park. It is rather closer to Aksaray, in the surroundings of administrative building of Istanbul Municipality (Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi). (see on Google map)   Actually there are many  parks on both side of the street. The cruising is focused at the park around the ruins of Roman church's (Polyeuktos).  This is the most risky cruising place. Be careful with people you meet here and make sure not to carry your valuable things with you, because there are always some pick-pockets around. If you are coming from Taksim, you need to stop at Sarachane bus-stop (at the underpass), right before Aksaray and walk up the steps. Click here for photo stream of Fatih Park and its vicinity by Pink Turkey Facebook group.

 

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Cruising Cinemas & Blue Movies


There are no gay exclusive cinemas/movie theaters in Istanbul, some heterosexual porno/erotic movie cinemas are frequently visited by gay men. Because of Turkey's bisexual culture it's possible to have at least some limited action in most of such places. In several of these venues, gays used to be welcomed. We say "used to be" because most of these cinemas have been closed down for various reasons since 2007.

General information about (now mostly closed) cinemas.
Although not very frequent, beware of pick pockets when you get in close-contact with anyone. Typically these venues are dark and depressive (which might be exciting for some people) and not very clean. There are regulars of each cinema easily recognizable from their relaxed attitudes and try not to get in conflict with them, and "have some respect" if you do not want no fight. Otherwise the tourists are very welcomed by Turkish people. The main focus of the cinema-lovers are to seduce "straight" guys who happen to go in by chance (!), when they are at the peak of their horny mood, but versatile gay men are also always around.

In addition to the entrance fee, you are expected to pay extra tip to the staff inside when you enter - something like 1 Lira- for the sake of showing your seat even if they don't do it at all sometimes. Also you pay another 1 lira for using the WC inside the cinemas. This is a ritual for almost all cinemas in Turkey, and please do not be funny and make a fuss about it assuming they are are ripping you off just because you are a tourist. You will see all locals pay this. It is heard very rarely that they may ask you to pay more than regular price on entrance. To avoid this check the price which is stated clearly on a sign-board somewhere at cashier's desk. The fee is paid on entree as you can guess.

Here are the cinemas most of which are closed but we still prefer to list them which may still be listed on some guide books. At least you will not be surprised if you try to find them, no matter.

Ruya Sinemasi (Closed down in 2009)
Istiklal Caddesi No:128, Taksim-Beyoglu, Istanbul
This is a regular movie theater now, re-named  Yeni Ruya Sinemasi (New Ruya Cinema)

Gunes Sinemasi (Closed down in 2008)
Cakiraga Mahallesi, Kurkcubasi Kulhani Sokak, No:5, Aksaray, Istanbul

Aydin Sinemasi (Closed down in 2008)
Millet Caddesi, Findikzade, Aksaray, Istanbul.

Dilbazlar Sinemasi (12:00-21:00)
Hasnun Galip Sokak  Istiklal Cad, Beyoglu. On the first left side street from Sadri Alisik Street.
Its name has been changed as Hisar Sinemasi now. Still open as an erotic blue movie but everything is under control. It was not the popular one anyway and there is nothing so exciting here. But since there is nowhere else left, the cinema-lovers can still try. You need to be discrete. The staff is strict. If you are a nostalgic (!) person, ancient erotic movies are being screened.

Visitor feedbacks about gay cinemas in Istanbul:
"Appears to be that all cinemas showing blue-movies in Istanbul and listed on your website have been closed down by the authorities. Any info on this issue?" Message Date: 19/01/2009

"all blue cinemas in Istanbul is closed....that's it" Message Date: 27/01/2009

"They are closed. I dont know the reason but it seems that in Istanbul the authorities they don't like gays in such places. Just put out from your guide this cinemas cause they don't exist anymore... " Message Date: 08/04/2009

"All cinemas been closed in Istanbul I was there last week mid June 2009 however there is two still open in the outskirts the city" Message Date: 14/06/2009

"I learned that only the small one (Dilbazlar) is still open, this happened in April this year. Any other place to go? Thank you and best wishes" Message Date: October 06, 2009


 

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Cruising Venues in Istanbul


 


There are several straight venues around Taksim square which function as meeting places for gay men in the evenings, usually before going to night clubs. They are mostly self-service cafe-restaurants and the managers/staff are not very gay-friendly in real meaning. Probably because of their location, especially some gay-men living in the neighborhood would always be around. There will also be many rent boys and bad hustlers in and around these venues and it is recommended to be selective with the people you may encounter. 

These venues are located around Taksim Square or along the Istiklal street and easy to find. The major ones are Taksim Mc Donald'sHaci Baba (both next to Taksim Ms Donald's) Taksim Burger King's (facing Taksim square at the entrance of Istiklal) and less visibly Simit Sarayi (across the street from Mc Donald's), Star Bucks, Gloria Jeans (along the Istiklal)

For more details about these venues see gay coffee bars page...


 

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