Insider Guide

W Hotels x them. Istanbul

This ancient city plays gatekeeper between Europe and the Middle East,
with a queer culture as vibrant as its history.

W Hotels x them. Istanbul

Insider Guide W Hotels x them. Istanbul

The Essential Guide to Queer Istanbul

W Hotels and them. have joined forces to create a guide to Istanbul’s unique and fearless queer culture, which is too often left untold. We’ve highlighted the best of Istanbul’s local and tourist hotspots.

The Istanbul LGBTQ+ community has had its fair share of ups and downs, but the community continues to remain visible through their contributions to music, art, nightlife, and culture. Although the Pride parade has been banned for a handful of years, LGBTQ+ activists and allies hold tight to their businesses and safe spaces.

When in Istanbul, You Must

Know Before You Go


Celebrate Pride Istanbul

Look out for Pride parties from January to June. All proceeds go to Istanbul Pride Week which is held the last week of June.

Take a Bite of Simit

What bagels are to New Yorkers, simit is to the Turks. Grab one of these delicious sesame bread treats first thing in the morning for best freshness.

Awaken Your Future

Download the Faladdin App and enjoy the 16th-century tradition of coffee ground fortune telling. Snap a pic of your leftover coffee and let Faladdin unlock the mystery.

Neighborhoods to Explore

1. Kadıköy

Ferry over to the Asian side of Istanbul to explore its lively cafes, restaurants, bars, and large-scale murals scattered around the neighborhood.

2. Cihangir

Its narrow streets are lined with antique shops and cafes, home to some of Turkey’s most famous actors and intellectuals. Cihangir is a bohemian contrast to the madness of Taksim and Istiklal.

3. Karaköy

Settled on the mouth of the Golden Horn, Karaköy is where traditional bakeries live alongside trendy galleries—a true collection of old and new Istanbul.

4. Balat

Many important synagogues and churches stand here, where Balat’s colorful past is on display. It's a photographer’s heaven.

W Istanbul
Vişnezade Mahallesi, Akaretler, Süleyman Seba Cd. No 22, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey

Ultimate Access

Arada Cafe

Arada Cafe

Hacımimi mahallesi Lüleci Hendek Caddesi 23A

A lazy breakfast is the most important meal of the day in Turkey. This special twist of traditional Turkish dishes with Lebanese favorites has turned this cozy spot into a neighborhood favorite.


them. / Insider

Double dip on the tahin pekmez (tahini mixed with grape molasses). This sweet sesame spread is truly addictive.

Akın Balık

Akın Balık

Arap Cami Mahallesi, Fermeneciler Cd. Gümrük Han 40/A

At night at this seaside restaurant is not to be missed. In Turkey, a meyhane restaurant specializes in raki, which is a clear anise-flavored liquor usually had with plenty of seafood appetizers known as mezes.


them. / Insider

Listen closely and you may hear a few songs by one of Turkey’s first gay icon, Zeki Müren.

Love Dance Point

Love Dance Point

Ergenekon Mh., Cumhuriyet Caddesi/Hastane Sk No:349

Dance with locals and tourists alike at this popular LGBTQ club featuring classic Turkish pop beats, club hits, and international sounds alongside drag dancers and go-go boys.


them. / Insider

Make your way after midnight and don’t forget your complimentary drink which comes with the entrance cover. Look out for Istanbul’s drag performer Cake Mosque who’s bedazzled looks and sexy moves will keep you shaking.


Galata Tower

Bereketzade Mahallesi, Galata Kulesi Sok, 34421

Built in 500 AD, Galata Tower helped protect Constantinople from invaders. Once conquered by the Turks, Galata was used as a watchtower to spot city fires. Now visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view of modern day Istanbul.


them. / Insider

They say if you make it to the top with a lover, you might find yourself married in a few years.

Packing List


1. Something light

A nice button up for those breezy nights will help keep those evening chills at bay.

2. Coin purse

Turkish Lira coins will leave your pockets jingling. A coin bag will help you organize your change, and it’s a way to keep your money discreet while haggling.

3. Istanbulkart

These handy plastic cards can be refilled and give you access to all city trains and buses. Purchase at any kiosk or your nearest metro station.

4. Portable battery

Between all the cute cats and beautiful city views, you’ll be snapping pictures left and right. Carry along a power bank and keep it a hundred.