If you are planning a trip to Istanbul in the wintertime, the end of the year would be the perfect time to visit since you would be able to enjoy all of its Christmas and New Year festivities. Known for being a party city with a vibrant social scene, Istanbul is nothing short of a treat around New Year’s, what with the many events, live shows, happening parties, festive feasts, and so much more that is organised here. Don’t forget to make your reservations for the night well in advance, as every place tends to get fully booked quite quickly. So if you don’t know what you can do in the city on 31 December, keep on reading!
1. Witness the Spectacular Fireworks at the Bosphorus
The magnificent fireworks along the Bosphorus are without a doubt a sight to behold! Find yourself a spot anywhere along the Bosphorus around midnight and wait for the sky to be lit with a myriad of lights, all a result of modern pyrotechnics. While being on a bridge, on the water or on high ground would provide you with the best views, the fireworks are hard to miss no matter where you are in the city; you can watch them from the waterfront, a rooftop, a hill etc.
2. Hop on the NYE Cruise around the Bosphorus
The NYE cruise around the Bosphorus in Istanbul is one of the most popular and fantastic ways of ringing in the New Year. Not only would you be treated to marvellous views of the fireworks at midnight from the deck but you can also party on the cruise, enjoy unlimited food and drinks including a toast at midnight, and watch live performances of belly dancers and Turkish folk dancers. The cruise lasts for about 4 to 6 hours and about 30 minutes before midnight, party favours are handed to the guests.
3. Party into the New Year at Ruby
Ruby is a posh restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus and its iconic bridge that also turns into a lively club on New Year’s Eve. Although an expensive affair, the NYE party here is absolutely worth it since you get free drinks between 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM, delicious food and a DJ who plays music till the sun comes up! Their terrace area is the ideal place to be at around midnight as you would also be met with the sight of the spectacular fireworks at midnight.
Looking for something different to do on New Year’s Eve? Head over to the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus hotel where Dubb Indian hosts a fun Bollywood style NYE party. Offering splendid views of the lit-up Bosphorus, the restaurant is known for serving delectable Indian dishes, a variety of drinks and for organising entertaining dance performances. If you still till midnight, you can look out the window and watch the incredible fireworks show!
Address: Harbiye, Cumhuriyet Cd. No:50, 34367 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
5. Feast at Sunset Bar & Grill
An upscale restaurant and bar that overlooks the Bosphorus, the Sunset Bar & Grill is where you should go to if you don’t want too much excitement on New Year’s Eve. They offer you a sophisticated experience with their delicious food, wine and some live performances.
Address: Kuruçeşme Mahallesi Ulus Park, Yol Sokağı No:2, 34345 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
6. Join the Crowds at Taksim Square for an Electrifying Party
Street parties are very popular on New Year’s Eve and Taksim Square happens to be the site of one of the most happening ones. There is live music playing here all throughout the night that makes it the perfect place for dancing. You can also get some food and drinks with you if you plan on staying long. However, keep in mind that it tends to get quite chaotic and crowded here since the party is attended by a large number of people; keep an eye on your belongings as there might be pickpocketers around too.
7. Hire a Private Yacht for the Night
If you wish for a more private affair with only your close ones and don’t mind splurging a little, you can also book a private yacht for New Year’s Eve instead on going a cruise. Your captain can take you around the water as per your desire and you would be able to decide on the food and drinks. What’s best about this is that you don’t have to fight with others to find the right spot on the deck to dance or to watch the fireworks at midnight!
8. Dress up for the Gala at the Four Seasons
The Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus guarantees you an unforgettable New Year’s Eve at its Aqua Restaurant and Bosphorus Ballroom. If you’re planning on going to the restaurant, you would be treated to an appetising six-course meal and drinks, a live violin show, live music, DJ performances as well as a dance show. The ballroom too offers a five-course menu with beverages, a live DJ and music show, dance performances and undeniably gorgeous views of the Bosphorus that will be lit up with fireworks at midnight! Both events begin at 8:00 PM. Moreover, you can also come back the next day for a New Year’s brunch!
9. Make your Way over to Maiden’s Tower for a Magical Night
Although likely to be a little crowded, Maiden’s Tower is a very popular spot to ring in the New Year. It is easily accessible via a boat or ferry but you must try to get here as early as possible as it easily get packed. You would be served lots of delicious food, a variety of drinks and would get to dance to upbeat music! Make sure to stay till midnight when the fireworks go off over the Bosphorus and light up the sky. If you aren’t able to make it to the tower, you can also find a spot near the waterfront and enjoy the views of its dancing lights!
10. Attend the NYE Concert at Babylon Bomonti
Bomontiada, a beer factory turned into a cultural centre, is home to a number of bars, restaurants, art galleries and concert venues including Babylon which hosts a concert on New Year’s Eve. This live music venue turns into party central on this night; various bands and DJs perform here so it is the perfect opportunity to dance the night away! Moreover, you can also get yourself some drinks and snacks to munch on during the party.
Address: Merkez, Silahşör Caddesi & Birahane Sokak Tarihi Bomonti Bira Fabrikası No:1, 34384 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
11. Go to Pera Palace Hotel for a Historic yet Unforgettable NYE
Pera Palace Hotel has been hosting New Year’s Eve programs for over 120 years in its Grand Pera Ballroom. The room is decorated to give you the impression of being in the 1920s and 1930s and makes for an elegant affair. Live DJs and bands play music throughout the night and there are various dance performances for you to enjoy such as jazz, salsa, Latin etc. There is also an elaborate meal for you to devour along with drinks. You can also choose to stay the night at the hotel since it offers exclusive New Year’s packages too.
The ideal place to spend New Year’s Eve for those who just want to have some drinks and food with friends and family, Taps Bebek is a sea facing bar that is known for its craft beers. They also have a special NYE menu which features different kinds of cocktails. It is well decorated for the occasion and also hosts live DJs who entertain you throughout the night. The program starts around 10:30 PM and ends around 3:00 AM but make sure to book a table in advance.
Address: Bebek Cevdet Paşa Caddesi, Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No 119, 34342 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
13. Spend the Night Dancing at Dorock XL
Located within the Kadikoy neighbourhood of Istanbul, Dorock XL is the place to be at on New Year’s Eve. The club invites a number of DJs and rock bands to entertain you into the new year with happening music. It is the perfect opportunity for you to dance with friends, family and locals and to enjoy a bunch of delicious drinks and snacks!
Your New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be all about partying and drinking; you can also opt for a more laid back yet memorable night out. If you are visiting Istanbul with your significant other, you can opt for a romantic NYE dinner with them and visit a rooftop restaurant like 360 Istanbul which overlooks the water. Feast on some yummy Turkish or continental food, drink some champagne, enjoy the live music that plays at the restaurant and marvel at the midnight fireworks over the Bosphorus. Make sure to book well in advance so you get a table on the terrace with the best views.
15. Don’t miss the New Years Ball at the Presidential Hotel
The Presidential Hotel or Radisson Hotel President Beyazit Istanbul is known for organising a wonderful New Years Ball every year in the Marmara Ball Room which is the perfect choice if you wish for something a little classy. The night includes a number of delectable appetisers, seafood crepes, baked turkey with chestnut and rice, rotte graze, sorbet and more as well as unlimited drinks including coffee and tea. And as you relish the food, you also get to enjoy the live orchestra and belly dance performances. Make sure to go down to the dance floor to bust a move to the DJ’s tunes!
Address: Beyazıt, Tiyatro Cd. No: 25, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Whether you are travelling alone or with family and friends, there is plenty for you to do in Istanbul around New Year’s, especially on its eve. The city hosts a variety of exciting programs and spectacles that are sure to make the year end memorable for you. So go ahead and book your tickets and get ready for an incredible experience!