As in other big cities, gay cruising areas; especially cruising parks are where gay people should be more careful and selective with the people they run into. 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.
Also called Taksim Gezi Park, it is the well-known park 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 very much recommended to foreign visitors and new-comers for safety reasons.
"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)
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.
"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)
Muratpasa Park, Aksaray
Muratpasa Park is a cruising and gathering spot for bears and other gay men. Unlike other cruising parks this is a busy park with straight people normally with many cafe houses in the vicinity, but mostly straight acting, bear gay man are also always around, usually sitting on benches around the pool. Action is not possible naturally.
Some 2 kilometers 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 bump into many gay, bi and bi-curious people along the way. Of course, it is not a place to go for cruising on purpose. 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, 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 (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 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 piers by ferryboats, journey lasting about 20-30 minutes. Unless you are only into outdoor cruising, this is not the place worth spending time for tourists who visit the city for a few days. You can try once if you stay long enough in Istanbul, after seeing all he rest. It may also be a good excuse the visit the Asian side Istanbul. .
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.
The park at Sarachane quarter of Fatih district, officially named as Fatih Anit Park . It is rather closer to Aksaray, in the surroundings of administrative building of Istanbul Municipality (Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi). Actually there are many parks on both side of the street. The cruising is focused at the parks 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. It lost its popularity since 2016 after the municipality moved out the benches and put a lot of lights in the vicinity
Check out our Istanbul Gay Map for exact locations of gay cruising spots in Istanbul
cruising places are not as busy as they used to be
since internet and cell phones became widespread;
especially after gay mobile applications were launched.
The most popular dating app in Turkey is
Hornet among Turkish LGBTQ people since Grindr was
banned for not filtering pornographic content. Nowadays, almost every
Turkish gay men, as well as many transgender people, rent-boys and
bisexual men are there on Hornet. A less popular mobile dating application
especially among Turkish gay bears is
Growlr as expectedly. There is also a Turkish mobile application launched by
Gabile which was already a very well-known dating website
before mobile applications existed. Please note that
majority of Turkish people do not speak English well. In Gabile major language is Turkish, whereas it is more
likely to find English speaking Turkish gay men or other
gay tourists visiting Istanbul on Hornet and Growlr. Naturally, you should be a little careful if you date
someone via gay dating applications, just like
anywhere else in the world. You can also come across
many rent-boys on these dating applications.
no gay exclusive cinemas/movie theaters in Istanbul:
There were some heterosexual porno/erotic movie cinemas
frequented by gay men which were all closed down one
after the other. This was mostly because internet and
smart phone era has affected gay cruising venues and
outdoor cruising areas negatively.
In case you may still see them in some out-dated online / printed gay guides we would like to list the name of these cinemas where gay men used to go. Following venues are closed for sure.
Ruya Sinemasi (Closed down in 2009)
Istiklal Caddesi No:128, Taksim-Beyoglu, Istanbul
Gunes Sinemasi (Closed down in 2008)
Kurkcubasi Kulhani Sokak, No:5, Aksaray, Istanbul
Aydin Sinemasi (Closed down in 2008)
Millet Caddesi, Findikzade, Aksaray, Istanbul.
Dilbazlar Sinemasi (Closed down in early 2014)
Hasnun Galip Sokak Istiklal Cad, Beyoglu, Istanbul
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