Istiklal Street (İstiklal Caddesi) is the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Istanbul’s European Beyoglu district and an essential cultural center. Stretching from Taksim Square to Tunel Square, the bustling street is lined with late–Ottoman-era buildings built in a variety of architectural styles, ranging from neoclassical to art deco.
Known as Grand Avenue during Ottoman times, the boulevard was renamed Istiklal (Independence) after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Today a historical tram runs the length of the street, shuttling passengers from one retail strip to the next. Istiklal and the alleys that branch off of it are bursting with art galleries, stores, restaurants, cafés, and nightclubs.
Private and small-group walking tours of Istanbul explore the cultural and culinary sides of Istiklal Street. Tours often also stop at Taksim Square, the Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi), the Istanbul Modern museum, Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi), contemporary galleries, and more.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Istiklal is a must-visit for architecture buffs, shopaholics, and all first-time visitors to Beyoglu.
- The historical tram line is the only form of transportation on Istiklal Street.
- Istiklal Street and the surrounding area is a nightlife and dining mecca in Istanbul.
- The flat street can be doable for wheelchair users, though some of its businesses may not be accessible.
Taksim Square and Tunel Square, at either end of Istiklal Street, are both major transportation hubs and make it easy to reach the avenue. Both squares are connected to the main tram line by funiculars, and to the metro. Buses stop at Taksim Square, where taxis are abundant.When to Get There
Istiklal Street is less crowded and more calm in the morning. By afternoon, the street is filled with people and energy, and come evening the pedestrian boulevard can be packed. If you want to skip the crowds, visit in the morning—but if you want to be in the middle of Istanbul’s action, afternoon and evening are the best times to arrive.Art Around Istiklal
Istiklal Street is a center for Istanbul’s art scene, and many prestigious museums and galleries are located in the neighborhood. The Pera Museum is a short walk from the avenue, and the Istanbul Modern’s temporary space is nearby. Galleries such as Akbank Sanat, Arter, and SALT Beyoglu are located right on Istiklal Street.