Istanbul is a beautiful city and one of the major tourist centers, which makes it overcrowded and a bit difficult to navigate and enjoy the environment, during tourist season. Depending on what you want to get out from your trip or your reason for visiting Istanbul, we have the perfect tips for you and the holidays in Istanbul, so you’d know the best time to visit Istanbul.
Insider Tip: There is truly no bad time to visit Istanbul – it’s a city that has something for everyone, year-round. You can come during high season and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city or low season when there are fewer crowds but still plenty to do. Shop until you drop in the Grand Bazaar, explore ancient history at the Hagia Sophia, or just wander around taking in all the sights and sounds of this vibrant city. So what are you waiting for? Come visit Istanbul today!
Istanbul Throughout the Year
Istanbul is a year-round destination with plenty to do depending on your preference for traveling. With plenty of activities, shopping opportunities, historical sites, and various weather conditions, these are the different times of year to travel. No matter when you decide to visit, Istanbul is sure to delight!
Whether you’re there to explore the mosques and history, or to take advantage of the incredible shopping and nightlife, Istanbul is sure to have something for your unique travel style. But when is the best time to visit? Here are some tips about when to travel.
Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.
High Season | June – August
June to early September. This time the crowd tends to be overwhelming especially at the older parts of the city with narrow streets. This summer period is the best time to visit when the heat and humidity are at their peak, and you enjoy the perfect Turkish meals.
If you are looking to experience all that Istanbul has to offer, then the high season of June-September is the best time to go. The weather will be hot with clear skies and little rain making it ideal to explore the tourist attractions on foot or go swimming at one of the infamous beaches.
You can also enjoy the sparkling lights and exceptional sights of the city from atop all of the great open rooftop restaurants, cafes, and bars during this time! However, this is when many people take their summer vacations so the city is sure to be packed with tourists and hotel prices will be higher. Weekends can also be quite busy, so it’s best to plan your trip accordingly. However, there will be more festivals, open-air concerts, and events taking place during this time as well.
Shoulder Season | April – May & September – October
Mid-September to the end of November, April and May. This is the most ideal time to visit Istanbul especially during the tulip festival in April. The cool and pleasant weather continues from April till around mid – November.
If you are looking for a more relaxed experience with fewer crowds, then shoulder season in April-May or September-October-November is a great option. The weather in Istanbul is pleasant, great for drinking Turkish tea or coffee. Popular tourist sites may still have moderate-sized groups during this time, but the crowds will be manageable.
Especially if you are planning to travel to Southern Turkey and visit the beautiful beaches, September and October is ideal for those who want perfect swimming weather, but less children or families because most schools are back in session. Hotel and resort prices are also lower during shoulder season making it ideal for exploring more. During this time, you can still find some outdoor events and festivals in the city.
Low Season | December – March
December to march. During this period, you should expect substantial discounts in hotel rates and also reduced crowds, but the weather tends to be very cold, especially if you are near the water. The hotels are the busiest during the Christmas and new year.
If you are looking for great prices, almost no crowds, and you don’t mind cold weather, then the low season is the perfect time to travel to Istanbul! Due to the limited number of tourists during this time, travelers can find exceptional deals on hotels, private guides, and shopkeepers are usually more willing to offer deeper discounts for items.
The weather in Istanbul during this time can be cold, and a good winter jacket, boots, and hat are recommended. While it mostly rains, snow is sometimes possible.
However, if you plan to explore Turkey, the snow capped monuments in Cappadocia are an exceptional site to see during this time and there are winter sport activities in other areas. It is ideal for travelers who like relaxed vacations and enjoy the peaceful time in the city, without any major events.
Some Istanbul holidays, events and festivals
New Year’s Day:
This is common everywhere but in Istanbul it is a period of quiet reflection where many locals stay home. It is a public holiday, but most of the tourist sights are open.
The sonar Istanbul:
if you are a music lover, then you would probably want to visit Istanbul in March when the international chain of music festival that showcases the best DJs for 2 days is on. There’s so much music to love and lots to learn.
Tour Booking Advice
Akbank short film festival:
if you are a movie addict then you definitely want to visit Istanbul when this short film festival is on. You get to see movies in a different and new light and temporarily become a movie critic.
this is a traditional event that celebrates the first day of spring with the ancient tradition and gypsy music.
Commemoration of Ataturk, youth and sports day:
this is a public holiday but for sports lovers, it is the best time to visit Istanbul. There are a lot of sports parade and events that celebrates a special day that is connected to their Independence Day.
Istanbul shopping festival
this is 40 days of discounts that you will shop till you drop. There are also concerts and other attractions that will attract the buyers but if you want a vacation where you can shop till you drop, this is the best time to visit Istanbul.
Istanbul coffee festival:
this is the best time for coffee lovers to be in Istanbul. It offers four days of coffee selling of international brands and workshops for barista. You will see all your favorite brands of coffee and find out new ones.
Istanbul art fair:
The Best time for artists to visit. There are a lot of paintings at the different art galleries around town.
Istanbul Intercontinental marathon:
this is a time you would not want to miss, this is the only marathon in the world that is run across 2 continents. The Asian shore to the European side.
The Weather in Istanbul
When it comes to having moderate temperatures and room rates, March to May, and September to November are considered to be the best time to visit Istanbul.
During June through August, it is the swell time but the city goes into the peak of inflated prices, and also it is the beginning of the hot weather. The best times for sightseeing and honeymoon is during the summer months.
December and February is the coldest and the wettest months, so your umbrella should always be beside you. This is one of the best periods to visit Istanbul and one of the cheapest times too.
Spring in Istanbul is a beautiful time to visit as the rain begins to subside and the plentiful green areas begin to bloom with greenery and flowers.
While it’s not time for bringing swimsuits, it is perfect to enjoy walking and exploring the city. The locals start to get excited for summer, enjoying the pleasant weather and preparing for the hustle and bustle of the upcoming tourist season.
The best time to visit Istanbul is in the Summer! Yes, it will be hot but it cools down in the events and the people come alive with the season of outdoor concerts, local markets, and creative festivals.
Istanbul will be filled with international tourists from around the world who enjoy rooftop parties, wandering the packed street vendors, and sampling the delicious food. It is the best season to take advantage of everything Istanbul has to offer.
During this time the temperatures decrease, and Istanbul has the ideal weather for walking and exploring the city without the crowds of tourists. This is a shoulder season and perfect for those who wish to explore Istanbul like a local.
The occasional rain and cloudy weather brings much needed cooling-off to the city but you can still find occasional outdoor activities, concerts and festivals taking place during this season.
Winter is a great time to explore Istanbul if you don’t mind cold weather and love great deals while shopping! With almost no crowds, this is the perfect time to shop and visit the attractions without being overwhelmed.
While there may be some rain and occasionally snow, the city starts to get excited for the upcoming New Year holiday. Wrap up in warm sweaters, enjoy some of the delicious traditional Turkish soups, and sip on warm Turkish tea and coffee during this season. This is also the best time to eat some of the freshest fish in Turkey!
When to go Istanbul FAQs
What is the best time of year to visit Istanbul?
The best time of year to visit Istanbul depends on what you hope to experience during your trip. If you're looking for warm weather and sunny beach days, late spring through early fall are perfect for soaking up the sun! However, if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy cooler temperatures and find great shopping deals, late fall and winter are great choices.
What are the busiest times of year in Istanbul?
The busiest times of year to visit are typically mid-June through late August, as this is when many people take their summer vacations. During this time, weekends can also be quite busy and hotel prices raise significantly, so it's best to plan your trip accordingly.
What are the coldest months in Istanbul?
The coldest months in Istanbul are typically December - February, when temperatures can dip below freezing and occasional snow is likely. However, it's still possible to enjoy milder cloudy or rainy weather during these months if you dress appropriately and plan your activities accordingly.
What is the rainiest time of year in Istanbul?
Late fall and winter are usually the rainiest time in Istanbul. However, if you dress accordingly, even during these months you can be surprised with beautiful weather and still enjoy the same tourist attractions and shops that are available in the sunny seasons.
What are the best months for sightseeing in Istanbul?
The best months for sightseeing are typically the shoulder seasons of April - May, and September - October, when the weather is cooler and there are fewer crowds. However, even in the summer and winter months, there’s still plenty to see and the regular sites are still open during these times, so it’s up to you to place according to your preference.
What are the best months for shopping in Istanbul?
If you prefer shopping in cooler weather, the shoulder seasons of April - May, and September - October are the best for shopping. These are also when the new seasons are released and previous seasons go on discount. However, if you are looking for really deep discounts, winter is the best time to shop for bulk items or multiples, as shopkeepers are willing to offer more discounts due to the reduced number of tourists and lull in business.
What are the best months for nightlife in Istanbul?
This depends on what type of nightlife you prefer, as Istanbul can offer great nightlife options year-round. With summer featuring free outdoor concerts, great views from rooftop restaurants, and night cruises along the Bosphorus, it is a great time to enjoy the weather! If you prefer indoor activities, fall, spring and winter can be great for nightlife as there are plenty of exceptional indoor nightclubs and concert venues that will be less crowded and you won’t be sweating while you dance the night away!
What are the best months for festivals in Istanbul?
June through October is a great time to enjoy a variety of festivals throughout Istanbul! There are plenty of open-air concerts, jazz festivals, food and culture festivals with traditional and local vendors. Explore in the afternoons after the sun has gone down to avoid the heat, or enjoy the sparkling lights of the city in the warm evenings.