Although it did not originate in Turkey, the long-lasting Middle Eastern tradition of narghile (argilah in Arabic) was perfected here, during the Ottoman Empire. In Istanbul, the old capital of the Ottoman Empire, traditional narghile culture is kept alive through many amazing shisha bars. There are old classics with a nostalgic feel and there are trendy, modern interpretations of the traditional shisha bar. They are also perfect places for mingling with the locals, but many tourists also crowd them, especially during summer. Narghile is naturally a tobacco-product and its health effects are notoriously bad. Therefore, we do not condone its use and advise you to smoke at your own risk, or better, quit if you can. That being said, any narghile aficionado would agree that the places below are well deserving of their fame. Some are even worth checking out simply for the atmosphere or the beauty of their locations.
Located in the Old City and easily reachable on the tramline between Çemberlitaş and Beyazıt/Grand Bazaar stations, this is the most authentic of all shisha bars. This 300-year old madrassah is where both locals and tourists go to find peace and tranquility in a mystical setting. There are 4 independent establishments within the compound, with Erenler Café being the most popular one. However the nakhla apple flavored shisha at Anadolu Nargile is said to be the best there is. The name of the madrassah comes from that of a Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, who took office during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III and even became a groom of the Ottoman Dynasty. His fortune changed for the worse during the Ottoman-Russian conflict in 1709 and was later exiled and executed. It is very easy to mingle with the locals here, due to the diwan style seating in the garden. Who knows, some of the local regulars here may even tell you old stories about the place and the neighborhood. Thankfully, no matter how much the city has changed over recent years due to the growing demand for Istanbul property for sale, there are still places like this that stand the test of time with their rich history.
Another Sultanahmet favorite, this place also offers good food alongside its famous narghile. Their prices are also quite reasonable. A non-pretentious, hole-in-the-wall location, Duran is a cozy and warm place. Between your trips around the Old City, be sure to relax at this hidden gem with an oriental charm. Try the Antep katmer (sweet flat bread) with pistachios, if you have a sweet tooth.
This stylishly designed location in the posh Bosphorus neighborhood of Bebek prides itself on its Moroccan-influenced atmosphere. Once inside, you’ll feel like you are in a mystical fairy tale. Their private rooms are designed for ultimate comfort, while their service staff is fast and attentive. Their consistent narghile quality and the innovative fruit-narghile combinations definitely leave an impression on all visitors. Their prices are in the range of similar Bebek locations and certainly not cheap. Bebek is the most prime location to buy Istanbul property and home to the biggest concentration of luxury Istanbul apartments. This makes almost all establishments in the area slightly more expensive than similar ones in other parts of the city. But a Bebek experience is usually worth the extra buck and this place doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
This popular and trendy place has a modern design, comfortable atmosphere and a spectacular Bosphorus view. It is also a non-alcohol restaurant that boasts a green and beautiful garden. Their narghile mixtures are also quite famous. Kuruçeşme being another elite Bosphorus neighborhood, their prices are above average. The area is within walking distance of Ortaköy and extremely popular among those looking for Istanbul real estate.