The Best Places to Watch Football in Istanbul

The selection of beers at an Irish pub
The selection of beers at an Irish pub | © Fabrizio Sciami / Flickr
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

The best place to watch football in Istanbul is, of course, live in one of the many stadiums. However, if you’d rather pop into a bar with friends (without paying the often exorbitant prices for tickets) then head to these great sports bars.

1. Touchdown

Bar, Pub, American

© Mark Ittleman / Flickr

You’ll feel like you’ve walked right into a sports bar in America – even though you’re actually in the middle of the upscale Nişantaşı neighbourhood in Istanbul. Touchdown shows all of the major games (American football included) and is a favourite for after work happy hours where beer is just as popular as cocktails.

2. Venge

Bar, Restaurant, Turkish

If you’re looking for a more upscale atmosphere while you watch the game, then make a reservation at Venge, a very popular kebab and grilled meat restaurant. With its modern decor and large garden, Venge is usually a spot for business lunches with excellent kebab varieties as well as meze. However, when a big game is on, the widescreen TV is also on and everyone enjoys the game with plenty of beers and food.

3. U2 Istanbul Irish Pub

Bar, Pub, Irish

© Tinou Bao / Flickr

One of the most popular sports bars in Istanbul, U2 Istanbul Irish Pub may be small but it is loved by its patrons who flock here to enjoy a pint of Guinness while watching the game. Whether you want to watch rugby or football, U2 will have you covered, and you can choose from more than 50 beer varieties, including Brooklyn Brown Ale and Schneider Weisse Original, which are usually hard to find in Istanbul.

4. James Joyce Irish Pub

Bar, Pub, Irish

Travellers to Istanbul, as well as the local expat community, love this Irish pub located in Istanbul’s central neighbourhood of Beyoğlu. With an atmosphere that has all the attributes of a classic Irish pub (including wooden booths, bar stools and many international beer varieties), the bar not only hosts live music but also telecasts all the important international sporting events on very large screens.

5. Maçkolik Complex

Bar, Cafe, Turkish

© l3o_ / Flickr

If you want to mingle with the Turkish locals who are watching matches between the major Turkish sports clubs, such as Beşiktaş, Galatasaray or Fenerbahçe, then this is definitely the place to go. A large complex where different games are shown at the same time on various screens, the Maçkolik Complex is a bit of a football heaven. Every year, the complex becomes especially important when the football tournament is on and the space is quickly filled with football fans.

6. Havelka

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Turkish

One of the most popular hang out spots for locals of the Caddebostan neighbourhood (on the Asian side) is also one of the best places to watch live football. Havelka is known for airing football games on each one of its five floors and every floor has its own large screen as well as comfy couches where you can sit around for hours watching one game after the other.

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