Things To Do In Taksim, Istanbul

Hot air ballooning, Turkey
Hot air ballooning, Turkey | Unsplash | Mar Cerdeira | Unsplash | Mar Cerdeira
Maria Menegaki

Meaning ‘division’ or ‘distribution,’ Taksim used to be the point where the main water lines from the north of the city were collected to be branched off to other parts of it. This square is a common meeting point for locals filled with restaurants, shops, and hotels, where you will truly experience modern Istanbul. Before you start wandering around, read our guide of the best things to do.

Monument Of The Republic

Starting from the center of Taksim square, take a look at the monument of the Republic, crafted by the famous Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica. It commemorates the fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, following the Turkish War of Independence and features revolutionary leaders such as Atatürk and İsmet İnönü.

Take A Ride

The area is an important hub for public transportation, serving as the main transfer point for the municipal bus system and the central station of the Istanbul Metro network. Also, the heritage tram line starts here. Although you can get off at different points along the route, going to the very end, the Tünel Square, and walking back is always a nice idea. If you enjoy shopping, consider a visit to the nearby Istiklal Street, the long, elegant, pedestrian, shopping street.

Join A Protest

Taksim Gezi Park is a small, green park, mostly known as the starting point or destination of demonstrations and political protests. It was in 2013 that people gathered to express their opposition to the demolition of the park for the construction of a shopping mall. The police brutality that followed gave birth to the Occupy Taksim movement. Gezi Park has also been the host place for mass meetings on Labor Day, as well as the annual LGBT Pride parade. Be careful that you don’t put yourself in danger and join a demonstration to defend human rights.

Cultural Center

Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, or simply AKM, is a multi-purpose cultural center and opera house with an uncertain future due to the government’s redevelopment plans. An important example of Turkish architecture from the 1960s, it has hosted theater performances, the Turkish State Opera and Ballet, concerts by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Modern Folk Music Ensemble, and Classical Turkish Music Choir, as well as the summer festival of Arts and Culture. Visit the legendary building at night to enjoy the illuminated breathtaking view.

Buy Some Souvenirs

Apart from the Grand Bazaar, Taksim is one of the best places in the entire city to buy some souvenirs. You can find shops of every kind, including clothing, books, jewelry, and handmade crafts. Just be sure to spend more than one day here if you don’t want to exhaust yourself.

Try Some Food

After a tour in Taksim square, take a break to enjoy a meal at one of the numerous eating spots that surround it, ranging from restaurants, pubs and international fast food chains to stands selling traditional culinary goodies. For a complete Turkish experience, you need to taste the local favorite street foods,like islak (hamburger prepared with a special tomato sauce with herbs) and döner (a sandwich with either beef or chicken). If you prefer something lighter, get a delicious street corn with butter and salt.

Drink Ayran

Accompany your meal with a glass of ayran, a cold yogurt beverage, especially popular during summer and certainly one of those drinks you either love or hate. Give it a try and make your own decision.

Enjoy A Sweet Delight

No one can resist an afternoon coffee with a Turkish delight. Overloaded with them, Taksim offers the best shops for sweets. Make sure to taste a selection of different kinds and take some home for your family and friends. In case you need something more refreshing, taste dondurma, an ice cream that is thick and almost chewy. You will be surprised by the near juggling show you will be offered upon purchasing your cone.

Street Art

A stroll around Taksim in the evening will convince you of its majesty. Spend some time enjoying the lovely melodies that talented street musicians offer you and explore the side streets to give your own critiques on the local graffiti. Art can be found everywhere after all.


This is the best place to find cheap bars and clubs for every kind of entertainment. After a busy day, you deserve a drink or two. Taksim will be without a doubt a pleasant surprise, no matter how high your expectations for nightlife are. Just find a spot that suits your tastes and have fun.

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