When To Visit Istanbul for a City Trip or Holiday?

Image of the Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii in Istanbul, Turkey

by Erlend Geerts

in Practical Information

My favorite times to visit Istanbul are in spring and fall. During those months, the climate is ideal. Does this mean that you shouldn’t plan an Istanbul city trip or holiday during summer or winter? Of course not! Istanbul is nice throughout the year, but every season has its pros and cons. Let me give you an overview, so you can pick the season that best suits your needs or expectations.

Spring

While the astrological spring starts on March 21, in Istanbul spring generally starts somewhere mid-April. The weather becomes warm during the day and pleasantly cool at night, while rain showers are getting rare. You can expect average high temperatures between 17C (62F) and 26C (79F) degrees.

Another advantage of visiting Istanbul during spring is that you can witness the awakening of the city and Mother Nature. The city becomes more vivid (with the reopening of the terraces) and colorful (with the blossoms of the flowers in general, and the famous tulips in particular).

Summer

Summer, from mid-July to mid-September, is hot and often humid. Average daily highs are around 28C (80F), with especially in August peaks over 30C (82F).

While most Istanbulites escape the summer heat and head for the islands or the coasts, the summer months see a huge influx of tourists. Expect longer queues and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun (and air-conditioners). The biggest advantage this season has to offer is the ideal Bosphorus cruise conditions.

Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul covered with snow.

Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul covered with snow.

Fall (Autumn)

Fall or autumn lasts until the end of October, sometimes even mid-November. Temperatures are most of the time back to human levels (23C or 70F), but be prepared for surprises! One day can be hot and dry, while the next can be much cooler (15C or 60F) with short but intense rain showers.

All in all, together with spring it’s my favorite season to visit Istanbul.

Winter

Generally speaking winters are cold, with average day temperatures between 6C (43F) and 9C (52). Snow showers are rare, but it rains frequently.

“So, what are the advantages then?” I can hear you think. Well, you can experience the year-end celebrations and decorations, enjoy reduced hotel prices and visit all the tourist attractions much more relaxed.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Danil October 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Merci pour voter site!

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Je vous empris.

Reply

kauthar November 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Hi Dear ,
Im Planning to travel to Istanbul on 03December for sure its winter can I be able to go the Princess island during winter?and bhosphurus too?
Thanking you
Kauthar

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Erlend Geerts November 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

Hi Kauthar,

Sure, the experience won’t be the same as in summer, but even in winter these are very nice activities to do.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Mona December 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

Hi Erlend, I’m planning on being in Istanbul March 7-14. What’s the weather going to be like around that time? I’d never been to Istanbul and I’m very excited about my first visit, but want to be sure I have the right clothes for the climate :) Thank you so much.

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Erlend Geerts December 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Hi Mona,

March and April are difficult to predict. In March you’ll definitely still have showers. The first spring sun will try to warm Istanbul up too but don’t expect shirt-like weather. Certainly nights will still be (very) cold.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Erlend Geerts December 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Hi Mona,

If I would get a dime for every time people ask me to predict the weather at a certain period, I’d be rich by now. March is very unpredictable. It can be freezing cold with showers, or pleasantly warm (during the day) with sunshine.

I wish I knew.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Suraksha December 21, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I am planning a trip in mid-late Feb. to Istanbul would it be suitable for the Bosphorus cruise, the bazaars and the tourist attractions?

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Erlend Geerts December 23, 2013 at 10:09 am

Hi Suraksha,

Sure, you won’t be sunbathing on deck during the cruise, but both the short and long ones are running during winter.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Theresa March 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

hi
Great website! I am thinking of going to istanbul but my vacation is going to be in mid october to the end of october. Will this be a good time to go for someone interested in street photography and taking landscape photos?

thanks

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

Hi Theresa,

That’s like asking me to predict the weather six months upfront. I wish I could. Istanbul weather is very unpredictable. I’ll give you an example: this year we had snow in December, a few years ago I ate lunch in a T-shirt on my balcony in December.

Bottom line, if you stay 10 days, you would be very unlucky not to find a few days with good sunlight.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Wendy June 21, 2014 at 10:03 am

we are plannning to visit istanbul on 1st of nov. is it snow time by then?

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Erlend Geerts June 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Hi Wendy,

Normally no snow then.

Reply

Liz Waggener July 18, 2014 at 8:21 am

We will arrive in Instanbul the afternoon of
Thursday 3 October 2014. We have heard that due to a religious holiday the Grand Bazaar will be closed 4,5,6,7,of October. Is this true and if so, will we be able visit the Bazaar Friday afternoon?

Reply

Erlend Geerts July 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Hi Liz,

Shops in the Grand Bazaar will start closing Friday afternoon. So visit the bazaar in the morning if you can.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

krish July 26, 2014 at 4:19 pm

hi

wanna visit Istanbul soon…
Just wondering when is the time where i can get pomegranate juice…

krish

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S. T. November 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Hi Erlend I am planning to travel to Turkey on the first of January will it be cold by then ? And I am going for shopping for my wedding and I hope that the sale begins by this time , would you advise me the best time in January to shop so I benefit the maximum sale. Thank you.

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Hi Salma,

Yes, it should be cold (and maybe even snowy) in January, and sales should have started by then.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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