Relocation itself is a challenging process. While you have many concerns about housing, education, language barriers and so, you may also wonder how you’re going to fit into a certain culture and social environment. In this article we want to tell you how your and your kids’ social life would be like as an expat family in Istanbul after relocation.

Social Activities

Istanbul is a multi-layered and a multi-cultural city. It is huge and it is home to approximately 15 million people. The reason expats feel comfortable in Istanbul is that they can find any kind of activity from international concerts to Broadway musicals, from sports tournaments to art festivals. You can easily watch your home country’s soccer or basketball team in Istanbul! :)

These activities are mainly held in districts such as Taksim, Beşiktaş, Levent, Karaköy and Kadıköy. Such spots are kind of the hubs of Istanbul and they can be reached via bus, tram, metro, metrobüs or ferry. Taxi fares are also quite reasonable in Istanbul; so you can just take a taxi without any hesitation.

Most tickets are sold on websites called Biletix or My Bilet. The site also has an English version; so you can easily buy your tickets without going to a kiosk. Even if you go to a kiosk, you can easily communicate in English. Similarly, the hosts and the attendants of the events usually know English pretty well.

When it comes to the security, the events in Istanbul are as safe as any event in Europe or US. You can just take the general precautions and enjoy the event from beginning to the end! We highly recommend you to buy your ticket beforehand and not to carry too much money or valuable stuff with you.

When you attend to an event, you will see that there are many tourists and expats out there. Expats and tourist are especially interested in international music festivals or concerts. Apart from such events, expats in Istanbul generally socialize in areas such as Nişantaşı, Cihangir, Ortaköy, Bebek, Kadıköy, Bostancı, and Çengelköy, Beylerbeyi. These districts have so many beautiful and friendly cafes that they all be in your to-do list in a short time!

Istanbul is also home to many high-level nightclubs. As a single expat or as a couple, you can eat, drink and dance seeing the beautiful Bosphorus or historical peninsula view!

Here are some recommendations made by our expat customers:

  • Karaköy Lokantası & Bej Lokantası – easy to reach
  • Ferah Feza – with a beautiful views
  • 360 – Bosphorus view, shows and meals
  • Leb’i Derya – Bosphorus view
  • Anemon Hotel Roof – The historical peninsula view
  • Latera Restaurant – beautiful view
  • Nicole – gourmet meals
  • Ara Cafe – a famous photographer’s cafe
  • Kız Kulesi – a historic tower in the middle of Bosphorus
  • Forneria – quite popular in Karaköy
  • Unter – cosy atmosphere
  • Karabatak – for those who don’t prefer alcoholic venues
  • Karakoy’s classical venues: Liman Lokantası, Akın Balık, Tarihi Karaköy Balıkçısı, Namlı Gurme, Güllüoğlu Baklava
  • Nublu and Zelda Zonk – beautiful view and atmosphere, quite popular with celebrities

Social Interaction

Every city has low-profile and high-profile districts. They are divided mainly by socio-economic status or cultural reasons. We recommend all our expat customers high profile districts such as Etiler, Ulus, Ortaköy, Levent, Nişantaşı, Cihangir, Maslak, Göktürk, Zekeriyaköy. In these districts, you will find locals or expats similar to your status and world vision.

In terms of meeting new people, you don’t need to hesitate more than in your home country in Istanbul as an expat. It is important to know that Turkish people are quite welcoming and friendly. We recommend you not to doubt everyone you meet but to be on the safe side in the beginning. As you know, there are ill-intentioned people everywhere around the world.

There are also many online platforms that you can check before relocating in Istanbul. Such platforms are generally formed on Facebook and they are quite helpful to get a glimpse of the new culture you’re about to meet! Here are some online platforms that expats share information and recommendation:

Although not a social platform, you may also want to note The Guide Istanbul,  which lists the most popular venues/ events in Istanbul. It is quite informative and the articles are English.

Social Life of Kids

Although most of the activities are for adults, there are still some other activities that expats can enjoy as a family. There two major aquariums in Istanbul, both on the Europe side. They are one of the biggest aquariums of Europe and you can easily socialize with expat or local families out there.

Apart from aquariums, there are many parks and gardens, which help you to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the beautiful weather of Istanbul. You also learn about the civilizations once dwelled in Istanbul while visiting one of the hundreds of museums in Istanbul.

Moreover, there is a big theme park a little outside the city called Vialand. You can also see minor theme parks in many districts. In almost every mall, there are special game areas for the kids where they can enjoy many different games individually or with their peers.

If you want your kids to socialize expat kids, you can send them to international kindergartens after relocating in Istanbul. While you kids get to know new kids, you can spare some time for yourself or your hobbies! :)

Here are some daytime activities for you to enjoy as a family:

  • Vialand
  • Turkuazoo Aquarium
  • Istanbul Aquarium
  • Miniaturk Museum
  • Istanbul Dolphinarium
  • Istanbul Aviation Museum
  • Belgrade Forest – Belgrad Orman
  • Gulhane Park
  • Ulus Park
  • Fenerbahce Park
  • Yildiz Park
  • Istanbul Toy Museum
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Istanbul Archeology Museum