Best Time to Visit Istanbul

The best time to visit Istanbul is during the spring months (April-May) and autumn (September-October). During this time the weather in the city is warm, but not hot. Therefore, it is very comfortable to walk around the former Turkish capital, although few tourists are in the city. Nevertheless, during this period, there are many festivals, and prices for hotel rooms are low.

During the summer months in Istanbul is very hot, and hotel room rates go up. During this period, the flow of tourists in the city is the highest. You can come in the winter months if you want to save money, but the weather can be unlucky. At this time in the city it rains and wet snow, you have to dress warmly and carry an umbrella.

In this article, we will tell you about the weather in Istanbul by season. First, you will find out how hot it is in summer and how strong the frosts are in winter. Then, we'll tell you when Istanbul's tulips are in bloom and what to do in the metropolis when the weather is terrible.

Tourist seasons in Istanbul

High season (June-early September)

The weather is the hottest, especially unbearable, from mid-July to the end of August. During this period, the heat reaches its peak with an average air temperature of 28 degrees. And since the city is very humid in summer, the air temperature seems even higher than it is.

In July and August, it's sweltering and stuffy, and it's not very comfortable to walk around the city and take excursions. But it's a good time for swimming on the beaches around town. Also, it is nice to sit in a fish restaurant near the Bosphorus or drink Turkish coffee in a small cafe in the evening.

There are many tourists in the city in summer, especially in the old part of Istanbul, where there are incredibly many sights. So if you intend to arrive at this time, book accommodation well in advance. Keep in mind that accommodation prices during the summer months are highly inflated.

The summer months in Istanbul are a season for open-air concerts, parades and numerous festivals.

The most popular events and festivals taking place in Istanbul during the summer:

International Istanbul Music Festival. It's held in June and July at a variety of historical sites.

The festival began more than 45 years ago. Here you can hear opera and choral singing and see the ballet. In addition, orchestras from all over the world play at this landmark event for the city and folk music.

It is a very prestigious event, both for Istanbul and the whole world. After all, it is not often that you see events held in various exciting places in the city.

Istanbul International Jazz Festival. Usually takes place from June to mid-July.

At this event, you can hear a wide variety of music styles. It plays jazz and reggae, blues and rock. The festival runs for three weeks, usually in city parks with free admission.

Festival of Sacrifice. The religious holiday of Eid al-Adha Bayram - lasts for four days in June or July.

During these days, many Istanbul residents leave the city and go to the suburbs to visit relatives. The airports, train stations and bus stations are crowded with people. The atmosphere during this time is extraordinary, and the citizens are friendly.

Despite the departure of many citizens, the city is still crowded. The embankments, cafes and restaurants are packed. And prices in the city hotels and hotels in the Princes Islands on the Sea of Marmara are exceptionally high, and this is the peak tourist season, the period of weekends and vacations.

Victory Day. One of the national holidays, it is celebrated annually on August 30th.

This national holiday in Turkey commemorates the people's victory over the Greek invaders during the 1922 war. During this time, military parades are held, patriotic speeches are made, and other patriotic events are held.

Mid-season (mid-September to November)

Autumn in the former Turkish capital is usually overcast, and rains start to fall somewhere in early October. At this time, the temperatures get lower and walking around Istanbul will be more comfortable.

Istanbul is considered September one of the best months to visit the city. However, this month and early October are still quite crowded, and comfortable weather can last until mid-November.

If you are going to Istanbul for a sightseeing holiday, it is advisable to visit the city in early November. The weather in the town begins to deteriorate gradually, and it may rain. But for the excursions, these days are pretty comfortable, and if it rains, you can go to the museum. The sun often shines, and the temperature during the day can reach 20 degrees.

Autumn time in Istanbul is very convenient for those who want to see Turkey's first capital without the crowds and the queues for the main attractions.

During the autumn months, prices for Istanbul hotels go down, and airfares to the local airport also become cheaper. Especially noticeable change in prices becomes in October, after the start of the rainy season. At this time there are different festivals.

Events and festivals in autumn:

Republic Day. One of the national holidays is celebrated on October 29th. This day honours the formation of the independent republic of Turkey in 1923. There are parades, fireworks and other festivities.

Akbank Jazz Festival. It's held in October. The festival features Turkish performers and musicians from other countries, mainly playing jazz music. The event lasts ten days, during which time in the most colourful places of the city are many concerts, jam sessions and masterclasses.

Istanbul International Biennale. Held in October-November on odd-numbered years, several avant-garde art exhibitions are held in exciting locations such as the Basilica Cistern, St. Irene's Cathedral, etc. A grand art festival, here you will see avant-garde painting and film. In addition, there are workshops and guided tours. All events are free.

Ataturk Memorial Day. Held on November 10th, events are held throughout the country. On this day in Turkey, the founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal, is remembered. In addition, a variety of events are held, such as performances by artists, concerts, and exhibitions.

Middle Season (April-May)

In spring, Istanbul has warm, mild weather but no heat yet. However, the closer summer gets, the less likely it will rain, and the wind is not as cold as during the winter months.

It's not summer yet, but vendors are already selling ripe fruit - figs, green plums, strawberries.

It is enjoyable to walk in the parks and gardens, the tulips are blooming, and the city people walk in a good mood.

In the springtime, it is good to walk around the city with excursions. In the spring, many bars and restaurants with terraces open, parades and festivals take place. Istanbul comes alive.

Prices for accommodation and airline tickets are still low. But they go up during the May holidays, during which time the number of tourists increases.

Spring festivals and events:

Easter. Celebrated in April, events are held at the Church of Ayia-Yorgi in the Prince's Islands.

Istanbul International Film Festival. Held in March and April, it runs in various cinemas. For two weeks you can enjoy the Turkish cinema. Usually, the films are shown with English subtitles. In addition, films from all over the world are shown. The festival is trendy among film buffs, and you can talk to famous actors.

Istanbul Tulip Festival. Held in April. This month, more than 11 million flowers of about 100 species are planted in parks and squares in the city.

Istanbul with tulips looks very photogenic. Tulips can be planted in the first half of April and at the end of the month (if it was too cold for flowers earlier). So you can't go wrong if you come to town April 20-30.

It would help if you remembered that April 23rd is a public holiday, and many Turks come to Istanbul to admire the tulips. Unfortunately, there are few available rooms in hotels, traffic jams on the roads, and long lines in the stores during this period.

National Sovereignty Day and Children's Day. Celebrated on April 23rd. On this day in 1920, the first Turkish Parliament began its work. Now a public holiday, parades are held, patriotic songs are sung, children perform, and wreaths are laid at the monuments to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk.

Ataturk Day, Youth and Sports. A national holiday celebrated on May 19th. There are many sports events, marches, and they are dedicated to the state holiday of independence. In addition, this day marks the birthday of Ataturk, the founder of today's Turkey.

Open Doors Festival. Held in the second half of May. You can see from the inside some of the significant architectural landmarks of the city. For example, you can see the Ortakoy Mosque or the Egyptian House.

Low Season (December-March)

Winter in Istanbul is usually not frosty, and the temperature is not very low. It rains. But there are cold spells, and it can snow. During the coldest period, in January and February, the average temperature can be 8 degrees.

Rains in cold seasons are common, so if you visit Istanbul in winter, grab an umbrella and a warm coat. At this time of year in the city can be foggy and even snowy. But, on the other hand, it can be quite remarkable, especially near the sea, where the wind blows strongly.

Locals rarely encounter ice; if the water on the sidewalks is frozen, it becomes difficult to move around the city. Pedestrians slip on the ice and fall, and the ice is not sprinkled with reagents. Fortunately, after a couple of days, it can all melt.

Also, there is no central heating in Istanbul. Everyone heats their homes as best they can, and many save money on heat. Some hotels are also not heated.

Events and Festivals in Winter:

Istanbul International Short Film Festival. Held in mid-December. It runs for a week, and you can watch about 200 films made in Turkey and around the world.

Istanbul International Gastronomy Festival. Held at the end of December. It is the largest gastronomic event in the country for food lovers. For three days, chefs from many countries gather and present their art. In addition, there are various culinary competitions.

Catholic Christmas (December 25th). Most Turks do not celebrate this holiday. But individual townspeople do store and go to parties on this day. In addition, locals usually celebrate New Year's Eve with food and gifts.

New Year's Eve (December 31st). The holiday is celebrated in most parts of the city, and young people especially like to celebrate it. Families usually gather around the table with delicious food, giving each other gifts. After the feast, people go to the city squares and watch the fireworks.

Istanbul International Dance Festival. It starts at the end of March. During these days, numerous dance groups from around the world perform in the city. In addition, there are masterclasses in 40 styles, ranging from cha-cha-cha to belly dancing.

Istanbul Weather by Months

January. Along with February, it is one of the coldest months of the year. There may be a few days of snow, but it does not prevent your vacation. Snow may fall in one part of the city and not in another. The average temperature during the day is +8°C. At night it drops to +3-4 °C. January has a lot of precipitation, it ranks second in number among the months of the year, right behind December. It can rain for 14 days, and the sunsets early, until 5 pm.

February. During this time, the weather in the city is cool and humid, and it can be very windy in fashion. Sometimes there are fogs in the mornings that interfere with the passage of planes and ferries. Snow may lie on the streets for several days. Temperatures during this period are about the same as in January. Sunny days are very short, less than 4 hours. It is better to visit attractions indoors (museums, galleries, mosques).

March. Locals call this month a "winter''. The weather in March often changes. The average daytime temperature rises to +11°C, and it rains for an average of 13 days. The heaviest snowfall that has occurred in Istanbul occurred in March 1987.

April. The average temperature rises to +16°C during the day, dropping to +12°C in the evening. Precipitation is much less than in the winter months. Tourists are less than in summer, and prices for hotel reservations are much lower than in summer. This is probably the best month to visit the city, especially during the tulip festival. The days get much longer, with the sun setting at about 8 pm by the end of April.

May. Daytime average temperatures reach +20°C, and nights are cooler at +12°C. There are brief showers and severe temperature variations. Nevertheless, May is vital to visit the city, soon summer and everything is growing and blooming.

June. In the first month of summer, the average temperature rises to +26°C during the day and falls to +17°C at night. Some days in Istanbul can be much hotter. It rains on average six days in June. The hot season for tourists begins, but not yet as many people as in July or August. 

July. This month in the metropolis are the hottest days - the average daytime temperature rises to +28°C, at night +17°C. The daytime temperature is often +35°C, and even higher, the humidity is high, and it is hard to breathe. There are a lot of people on the streets. Precipitation is deficient. To escape the stuffy weather you can visit a cafe on the coast.

August. Daytime and nighttime temperatures are about the same as in July. The weather is arid, and it rains only five days a month. In August there are more tourists in Istanbul than in other seasons. 

September. At the beginning of the month, the average temperature decreases slightly - +25°C during the day and +17°C at night (at the level of June). Still, by the end of September, it becomes noticeably slower. On some days, it may rain, but the city is much less crowded, especially towards the end of September. Therefore, this month is very convenient for a visit to Istanbul.

October. The average daytime temperature is around 19°C, and at night it is about 12°C. The weather in October is still charming to walk around and enjoy the city's beautiful scenery. In October, it is still pleasant to walk around the city, although it is getting cooler. The weather is often rainy. October has had the most rainfall in Istanbul since January. It mostly rains at the end of the month.

November. This is the last month until April when some days can be warm and pleasant for a walk. Mostly such lovely days are in the first half of November. November is rainy, with about 13 days of rain in the month. Temperatures are about +14°C during the day and cool to +9°C after sunset. By the end of November, the sunshine time during the day is significantly reduced to 5 hours.

December. Winter comes into its own, and the daytime air heats to an average of +10°C. At night it gets colder, up to +3-4°C. The sun is in the sky for only three hours and then fades below the horizon. It gets dark long before 5 pm. December is the wettest month of the year, with strong winds that chill you to the bone. On some days, there can be snowfall. In the mornings, some fogs can interfere with navigation.

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