When to go to Istanbul? Here is the answer!
Istanbul is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With a history of nearly 2700 years, Istanbul carries Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman heritage. One of the most frequently asked questions by those who want to visit the city is when is the best time to visit Istanbul.
The best time to visit Istanbul is a very subjective matter. As an insider, we have to say that there is no definitive answer to this question. However, the information in this article will help you decide which season is the best time to visit Istanbul.
Of course, the most decisive factors will be the weather and the activities in Istanbul. In spring and summer, the weather is good and there are many festivals in the city. On the other hand, it should be added that the city is very crowded when the weather is good. Of course, hotels and flight tickets are more expensive on these dates.
The best months to visit Istanbul
- April-May: Temperatures are nice, the city starts to bloom and it is sunny but not as hot as in summer
- September-October: Mild weather, less rainfall than in November, romantic autumn landscapes, comfortable to walk around in light jackets
When to avoid going to Istanbul
- January/February: Temperatures close to 0 degrees Celsius, higher risk of precipitation and snow, but cheaper flights available
- July/August: Humid weather, temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius and sometimes higher, city overcrowded
- November/December: Low temperatures around 0 to 5 degrees Celsius, peak rainfall, expensive flights during the holiday season
The best time to visit Istanbul by the season
Istanbul is a city worth visiting all year round, although some seasons and months are more popular than others. The city has something special to offer from season to season and every time of the year is special. It is also worth noting that you can enjoy each season to the fullest. Summer is hot, spring is mild but sunny, autumn is mild and a little sunny, and in winter you can even see snow in some years. You have to choose which season you want to enjoy the city in. Are you having a hard time deciding? We have explained to you season by season what is the best time to visit Istanbul.
Visiting Istanbul in Spring
If you visit Istanbul in the spring, you will encounter an atmosphere that inspires travelers. In spring, redbuds bloom in Istanbul and all the hills turn purple. Purple, which was a noble color in Roman and Byzantine times, adds beauty to the city that cannot be seen in any other season. In this way, you can take great photos when you go on a Bosphorus tour.
Istanbul also organizes the Tulip Festival for a month in late March and early April. In this way, various concerts and events take place. Tulips have been one of the symbols of Istanbul since the 1600s. The gardens of all museums and parks will be colorful for a month thanks to the tulips.
What is the weather like in Istanbul in the spring?
Winters are very cold in Istanbul. Although the spring months like March and April slowly start to warm up, it is still a bit cold. Therefore, it is recommended to wear a light jacket. Also, some days in March, April, and May are rainy. Therefore, do not forget to take your raincoat with you when packing your suitcase.
Although March is still quite warm compared to January and February, it does not quite spring yet. If you want to enjoy the spring weather, late April and May are more suitable for your trip.
After the beginning of May, the temperature in Istanbul will rise above 20 degrees Celsius and you can wear a t-shirt. However, the sweltering heat of June and July has not yet started. Therefore, May is one of the best times to visit Istanbul in spring.
Should You Visit Istanbul in Spring?
If you want to explore Istanbul when the weather is mild and the flowers are blooming, then yes, spring is the best time to visit Istanbul. But be prepared to encounter crowds, as many people will choose to come to Istanbul during this season.
Visiting Istanbul in Summer
June is the best month to visit Istanbul in the summer. Because there is no heat and high humidity that makes walking tours are difficult. In July and August, humidity is high. It is difficult to stay indoors without air conditioning and the sun outside is uncomfortable.
Many people living in Istanbul have summer houses on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. When the July-August heat starts, they go on vacation to Assos, Ayvalık, Bodrum, Fethiye, and Marmaris.
Since the tourism season that starts in the spring will continue, hotel prices will be equally expensive. However, due to the hot weather, you cannot spend as much quality time as in spring and fall. For this reason, the hottest months of July and August are not ideal times to visit Istanbul.
Should You Visit Istanbul in Summer?
Summer is still the high season in Istanbul for foreign tourists. Locals escape the heat of the city and head to the coastal areas to enjoy the summer. While summer days can be hot and over 30 degrees, June is the best month to visit Istanbul in summer. July and August can be too humid and hot to enjoy walking around the city.
Visiting Istanbul in the Fall
Along with spring, the most popular tourist season in Istanbul is autumn. After the end of August, tourists will return to Istanbul as the temperature drops. It will remain crowded until the winter cold starts at the end of November.
Fall is a good time to visit Istanbul. The weather is good for walking, just like in spring, and there is a lot of activity in the city. Many international fairs, concerts, and festivals take place in Istanbul in the fall. In September and October, the weather is perfect for tourism activities. From the beginning of November, the weather starts to get colder. However, it does not get too cold until December.
In September, residents return to the city from their summer homes. The opening of schools creates excitement among the locals and shopping activity increases in the city. As well as being the best time to go to Istanbul for shopping, fall is also the time with the most alternatives.
Should you visit Istanbul in the fall?
If you find autumn nostalgic and romantic, then yes, fall is the best time to visit Istanbul. Like spring, fall is Istanbul’s tourist season and the perfect time to visit the city. The 3-month period from the beginning of September to the end of November is the golden season of Istanbul tourism. Fall is the right time for cultural tours and shopping in Istanbul.
Visiting Istanbul in Winter
During the winter months, the air temperature in Istanbul varies between 1 and 12 degrees. However, some winters are mild. Snow falls in Istanbul at most a couple of times a year and does not stay on the ground for more than a few days.
Winter is the right time to visit Istanbul for some types of tourists. For example, if you do not like crowds and do not want to wait in line at museum entrances, winter is the best time for you to visit Istanbul.
Hotels and restaurants in Istanbul welcome you with open arms as they cannot do much in winter. Hotel prices are at their lowest and they are all open in winter.
Should You Visit Istanbul in Winter?
Despite the cold weather, there is not much wrong with visiting Istanbul in winter. Temperatures can be close to 0 degrees Celsius from December to February and in some years it also snows. The city is lively all year round and all tourist attractions are open. If you don’t mind the cold, you can fly in winter, but you won’t enjoy it as much as in summer as you will be outside most of the time.
The weather in Istanbul: month by month
Although Istanbul is lively all year round, some months are more pleasant than others to visit Istanbul. Istanbul can be quite beautiful in winter, but snow and rain are not uncommon in winter months. If you don’t like rain, cold, and snow when traveling, we advise you to not visit Istanbul from November to February. The weather in March and April is more predictable and the temperatures are more pleasant.
In May, temperatures are still mild, but as summer approaches, the weather in May is one of the most pleasant for a city trip. June, July, and August can be very warm and the high season is on. In September and October, temperatures are more pleasant again and the city has fewer tourists. To summarize, we can say that Istanbul is not as bearable in both hot summer and cold winter as it is in spring and autumn. The weather in spring and late summer is still sunny but not too warm – perfect for exploring a vibrant city like Istanbul.
Maximum temperature in Istanbul
Minimum temperature in Istanbul
Rainfall in Istanbul
Sunshine hours in Istanbul
Frequently asked questions about the best time to visit Istanbul
The best time for a trip to Istanbul are the spring months from mid-March to the end of May or late summer/autumn from September to early November. At these times there are fewer tourists in the city and the weather is pleasant enough to explore the beauties of the metropolis without restrictions.
Istanbul is a beautiful and lively city regardless of the season and month. Many tourists wait for the spring/summer season for travelling to Istanbul. Therefore February is a good time to visit Istanbul if you want to avoid the crowd. In 2022 slightly over 950.000 tourists visited Istanbul, 500.000 less than in May or June 2022. But please keep in mind that February is one of the coldest months in Istanbul and bring proper winter clothing with you. There are many things you can do in February like visiting museums and mosques, having good food in the best restaurants, going to a Turkish Hamam, and much more!
June can be a wonderful time to visit Istanbul, depending on your preferences. Due to the busy tourist season in June, you should anticipate crowds at famous tourist destinations as well as more expensive accommodation and tour prices. The average temperature in June ranges from 20 to 27 degrees Celsius (68 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit), which may not be optimal for certain travelers who prefer cooler climates. However, June might be a fantastic time to visit Istanbul if you like summertime activities and don’t mind the crowds. During this season, the city has a lively atmosphere and hosts a number of outdoor festivals and events, including the Istanbul Music Festival and the Istanbul Jazz Festival.
Due to the summer season and school breaks, July might be a popular time to visit Istanbul, but it can also be very hot and congested with tourists. It is uncomfortable to visit the city during the day when the temperature might reach 30°C (86°F) or higher. Due to strong demand, July is also one of the most costly months to visit Istanbul. There are still many things to see and do in Istanbul in July, though, if you have prepared ahead and don’t mind the heat and congestion. It’s vital to make sure you stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen and a hat, among other measures.
In December temperatures vary between 5 and 15 degrees °C with rain and snowfall being more likely to come up throughout the month. Keeping the weather conditions in mind, if you bring weatherproof clothing and enjoy exploring a new city also in the colder month, December is a good month to travel to Istanbul. Istanbul is a metropole that never sleeps and is busy 365 days a year. There is also much to explore indoors, like museums, mosques, restaurants, cafes, and shopping malls. Istanbul can also get very cozy during the holiday season and also New Year’s is celebrated hugely. We just don’t recommend any big trips to the Prince’s Islands with the ferry. It will be windy and much colder on the sea and also the islands are not as lively as in warmer months.
Best Time to Visit Istanbul if You Want to Escape the Crowds
As with other popular tourist destinations, the high season is not the right time for those who dislike crowds and are looking for a budget vacation. So what is the best time to visit Istanbul if you want to have a quieter vacation?
Istanbul itself is a very crowded city, without domestic and global tourists. It is Turkey’s economic center and the city with the most job and university opportunities. There are about 16 million people registered in Istanbul, but rumor has it that the population is assumed to be up to 20 million, including people who live in Istanbul but are not officially registered. So even in the low season, Istanbul can be more crowded than many other cities. But that’s what we love about Istanbul, it’s always alive and the city never sleeps.
If you want to avoid crowds, the best times to visit Istanbul are the winter months from November to February. Also, as these months are the coldest, locals are mostly indoors. The average temperature in November is 12 degrees Celsius, while in January and February the temperature drops to an average of 6 degrees Celsius.
Conclusion: When is the Best Time to Visit Istanbul?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the best time to visit Istanbul is up to you. In spring, the flowers and beautiful weather will help you maintain a good mood. In the fall the weather is a bit gloomy but very romantic. Spring and fall are also the best times to take a Bosphorus tour, visit museums, go to the Islands and many other activities. Here are top 9 activities for your Istanbul trip!
The least favorable times to visit Istanbul are summer and winter. However, in summer you can cool off by going to the beaches near Istanbul. In winter, you can spend more time indoors. We recommend visiting Istanbul between April-May and September-October. Also, check out the best places to stay in Istanbul!