Turkey is alive no matter the time of day or night. Locals love nothing more than sharing a drink or two with some friends. Whether it's tea on the boil, a hearty meal with friends or a family gathering, there’s always late night life no matter where you go. If you’re looking for more than just a culinary feast, there's art, music and festivals galore to fill your evenings and more.
Cay (Turkish Tea) and Tavla (Backgammon)
In most cities, you’ll notice teahouses filled to the brim no matter the time of day. At most tea houses, you’ll find patrons sat at small tables, rattling and rolling the backgammon dice. Tavla is everywhere in Turkey, across all rungs and strata of society this beloved game is played.
Take a seat, drink some tea and enjoy a game or two amongst yourselves or challenge a local - let’s see who wins?!
For something more substantial, why not enjoy an evening at a traditional tavern? A meyhane is best enjoyed with a group of people (so you can sample as many dishes as possible).
Meyhane nights usually start with melon and cheese and then meze trays are brought around to the table. Meze are small dishes, sometimes called Turkish tapas that are for the table to share. Meze are typically yoghurt or olive oil based and may feature vegetables, meat, fish or cheese. Hot meze, salads and main courses are typically ordered and shared with the table.
Depending on where you are in Turkey, there may be some regional delicacies on offer. Our best advice is to dive in and enjoy!
Ocakbaşı restaurants often feature a central grill with hot coals to cook skewers of meat and vegetables over or tables with a grill in the center for you to sit around. There is nothing more delicious than the smell of an ocakbaşı. It hits you as soon as you walk in - you’ll see!
Ocakbasi restaurants are usually indoor and centred around a grill. The “Usta” or Grill Master will cook your selected meats to perfection before presenting them to your table. A smaller array of meze are typically available and meat is served with rice, home style fries, grilled vegetables and salads.
Turks love music, whether they’re dancing, singing along to traditional music in meyhanes and bars or watching local bands perform, there’s always music around.
You’ll find many bars and late night cafes have a musical accompaniment often singing traditional Turkish folk songs or well-known songs about love and life. These might feature traditional Turkish instruments.
Bars and cafes in many towns will feature local bands with covers of your favourite rock and pop songs or their own material. No matter what your taste, there’s something for everyone!