Thinking of packing up for a trip to Turkey, yet you can’t decide when is the best time to visit Istanbul? This article is exactly what you need. We guarantee you will make your decision by the time you finish reading it.
First off, let’s be honest! There is no “best” time to visit Istanbul. It all depends on you as an individual, your preferences and your expectations. With that being said, there are some periods of time where tourism is at its peak season like the summer season.
Visit Istanbul in Summer (June/July/August)
Cons: In Turkey, summer starts around late May or beginning of June. Summertime is when the schools go on holiday and residents leave Istanbul to spend time at their summer houses. This is great as the city opens up some space for its visitors. However, Istanbul is a pretty popular location among tourists, therefore during the summer, it attracts millions of visitors. On top of the humid Istanbul heat, waiting in lines to get into attractions along with thousands of other travelers alike might upset you.
Speaking of the heat, summer in Istanbul can get extremely hot, especially for those coming from cooler countries. You might feel like the humidity is killing you slowly, but we can assure you, that’s not the case. Insider tip: Find a tall, big tree and get under its shade. There is no place other than a big trees shade to catch the breeze and cool off.
Pros: Visiting Istanbul in summer has pros as well. This is the time the city is at its liveliest stage. You can find many festivals, events, concerts and art exhibitions. Pera Museum has some of the finest art exhibits throughout the summer.
Taking a Bosphorus cruise with the light breeze kissing your cheeks is the best thing you can do in Istanbul in the summertime.
Tips: If you are planning to visit Istanbul in Summer, make sure you pack up very light clothes such as shorts, summer dresses, and sandals. Get yourself a strong sunscreen, a summer hat and a pair of high-quality sunglasses to protect yourself from the negative effects of sunlight. Carry a water bottle with you at all times to cool down.
And last but not least, get the Istanbul Tourist Pass to have access to the most popular attractions such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Imperial Palace, Pera Museum and many more without having to wait in lines under the heat for hours. These popular attractions can get so crowded that you might need to wait up to 2 hours at each of them. Skip the lines with the Istanbul Tourist Pass via the fast track access to attractions and enjoy every single minute of your time in Istanbul.
Visit Istanbul in Fall (September/October/November)
Cons: Fall season might get ugly fast. It is not uncommon for the Istanbul weather to start the day with a big bright sun and continue with light to medium rainfall. You might be unprepared for such ambiguous weather (unless you are British!). You need to be spontaneous and flexible enough to change your plans to visit Istanbul in the fall.
Pros: Visiting Istanbul in Fall is very romantic. With the multicolored leaves falling, the temperature declining, the city slowly adjusting to the hustle and bustle of students and white-collar workers being back to work and school, new venues opening, the city is transformed into an amazing destination where you can enjoy it to the most with your romantic partner.
Tips: If you are planning to visit Istanbul during the fall season, make sure to pack up some long sleeved sweater and cardigans along light jackets. In the fall, especially around late October to early November, it might get rainy. Carry an umbrella with you at all times and if you don’t like getting wet in the rain, go to exhibitions at museums and galleries. We recommend you to check out the Whirling Dervishes Show, which is an experience everyone should have once in a lifetime.
Visit Istanbul in Winter (December/January/February)
Cons: Cold! It is freezing cold! Unless you are coming from Canada, you might want to spend the whole time in your hotel because of the low temperature and snow. It might get slippery, especially the day after it snows. If you have difficulties walking, you might want to avoid the city at this season.
Pros: Traditional warming drinks such as Boza and Sahlep come out at this season. Top them up with some ground cinnamon and you are on your way to Turkish heaven. You can also get traditional Turkish desserts such as Ayva Tatlısı (oven baked quince in thick syrup) served with mellow cream.
Tips: Pack up wooly clothes, winter hats, and gloves. Make sure you have the Istanbul Tourist Pass this season because you will need to spend a lot of time indoors. Luckily we cover all the must-visit museums and galleries. The pass also includes private airport transfer to your hotel and hop on hop off buses that run frequently so that you won’t have to freeze while waiting for the public transportation.
Visit Istanbul in Spring (March/April/May)
Cons: Spring is one of the best times to visit Istanbul. Therefore, there is nothing that we can mention as a negative aspect in this period.
Pros: Remember we mentioned that there is no best time to visit Istanbul? There might actually be one! Spring is the time where you get the best of Istanbul with flowers blooming, city waking up from its deep winter sleep and sun is shining brightly. This is the best time to do lots of outdoor activities such as the Bosphorus boat trip and Xtrem adventures. Visiting the Princes’ Islands that have a rich history and pleasant nature should also be on top of your Istanbul travel checklist.
Tips: Pack up light long sleeve clothes and a light jacket for the evening breeze.
Special Times to Visit Istanbul
Ramadan is one of the best times to visit Istanbul, contrary to popular belief. You can find many stores, restaurants, and cafes open, they would also be willing to make discounts for you just to get some business going. It is also the time where Turkish people fast during the day and break the fast at night with long intimate dinners. Attending to one of these dinners will be an experience you cannot forget. During Ramadan, locals don’t sleep till late hours, the streets are lively and there are special Ramadan shows and street performances.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve
Christmas is not widely celebrated in Turkey, but that does not mean the spirit of the New Year is not there! Turks love the New Year! You can find many stores and shops having special discounts for the occasion. Streets are dressed up and shiny Christmas trees are located in shopping malls, squares, and even locals’ homes! It is also one of those times where the nightlife gets crazy. Bars, pubs and clubs throw New Year’s Eve parties all night long.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated with passion among locals of Istanbul. Venues offer special menus for the day. Hotels also make discounts up to 50%! You can find many live music performances that offer a romantic night. On this special day, Turks usually buy red roses and chocolates, and take their romantic partners to a fine dining restaurant with the Bosphorus view, a sight that is not easily forgotten. A romantic Bosphorus Dinner Cruise can be an incredible experience for you and your lover.
With Istanbul Tourist Pass offered by istanbul.com‘s assurance, you can get access to all these attractions at attractive prices and easily organize your Istanbul trip. Istanbul Tourist Pass gives you free access to the top 20 attractions and tours. You can also enjoy free wireless internet, free WhatsApp support and up to 65% discount.
With all these attractions to check out, you might be wondering how to manage it all and make the most out of your trip? Easy peasy! That’s where the Istanbul Tourist Pass steps in, assisting you with every detail to achieve perfection on your trip.
Istanbul Tourist Pass is much more than your average city sightseeing pass! We are your best friend and your personal guide in Istanbul who help you access over 20 top attractions and tours for free, skipping long queues via fast-track guided entry at top museums, helping you arrive your hotel with free private airport transfer, connecting you to free wifi hotspot service, giving instant travel advice via free Whatsapp support and most important of all, saving your time and your money up to 65% off of regular prices if you were to buy all of these services separately.