Best time to visit Istanbul

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Best time of year to visit Istanbul

Due to moderate temperatures and room rates, March to May and September to November are considered to be the best time to visit Istanbul. During this period, you won't be wrestling with crowds while rejoicing in a bicycle ride or enjoying the sunset Bosphorus cruise. June through August is the time when the city steps into a peak season known for inflated prices. Hot weather conditions is another con, but cold ayran and famous sticky ice cream know how to deal with the heat. The period between December and February is the coldest and the wettest one, so you can't go wrong packing layers and an umbrella. However, a trip during these months can be advantageous as winter is the right season to visit traditional Hammam and the cheapest time to stay in Istanbul.


Salep Drink

December–February • food

A hot drink made from milk and wild orchids' roots powder is hard to find outside of Turkey

Warm up in Traditional Hamam

November–February • activity

Want to feel like Sultan Süleyman or his beloved Hürrem? Centuries-old hamams and professional masseurs and masseuses do miracles

Whirling Dervish Sema Ceremony

all year round • event

Spinning prayers pave their way to the divine and pass on newly established spiritual treasures to spectators


December–February • food

Don't get scared if you hear a street vendor crying out "Booozaaa!"—this tradition, as well as the recipe, has survived since the Ottoman Empire!

Fish Sandwich (Balık-ekmek)

July–September | November–January • food

Mouth-watering fish sandwiches are traditionally made of mackerel, grilled, and served right on the boat

Pomegranate Fresh Juice

September–February • food

Istanbul is truly the city of pomegranate delight.

Football: Süper Lig

mid-August–mid-May • activity

It is not a good idea to cheer 'away' teams playing in Istanbul,—Turkish Süper Lig is both exciting and safe to watch


June–August | December–February • activity

Sailing in the Bosphorus means comfortable yachts, scenic minarets towering afar, and the pleasant company of gulls and dolphins

Call to Prayer between Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia

Five times a day • activity

Ezan, or call to prayer, takes on great dimensions when the chants of the Blue Mosque alternate with those of the Hagia Sophia

Barbunya (Red Mullet)

October–January • food

The attractive, reddish, crispy skin of fried Barbunya covers this incredibly palatable and delicate meat

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

all year round • activity

This gem of Byzantine architecture was once a Christian basilica, later an imperial mosque, and today is the most outstanding museum in Istanbul


Princes’ Islands

April–October • activity

Riding in a horse-drawn carriage among 19th-century mansions encased with splendid greenery makes for a peaceful weekend

Sugar Feast (Ramazan Bayramı)

June 14–17, 2018 • event

The abundance of Turkish sweets, illuminated mosques, and traditional puppet plays highlight the end of Ramadan

Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim

July 22, 2018 • event

Swimming from one continent to another—sounds challenging but it's a totally real accomplishment


May 16–June 14, 2018 • event

Sucuk, pastirma, börek, kuzu tandır, hünkar beğendi, mantı, güllaç, şerbet, ayran—the list of Ramadan dishes goes on and on

Bicycle Tours

April–October • activity

Biking routes in Istanbul vary from peaceful rides along the seashore to extreme mud-biking in the Belgrade forest


late March–early May • nature

Millions of flowers in Istanbul's valleys are proof that Turkey is the real world capital of tulips

Cold Ayran on a Hot Day

April–October • food

If you are hot and bored, Ayran will help

Traditional Turkish Puppet Shadow Theater: Karagöz & Hacivat

May 15–June 14, 2018 • event

The fights between uneducated yet witty Karagoz and literate Hacivat used to make even the very Sultan laugh

Green Plums or Erik

mid-April–May • food

Small, tart "erik" is a real passion of Istanbulites, who eat them raw and add them to soups, stews, sauces, and salads

Judas Tree in Bloom

April–May • nature

Glorified throughout history, the shy but graceful Judas trees adorn the city of Istanbul

Green Almonds

April–May • food

Spring delicacies of Istanbul prove that the human body can get used to anything—food adventurers will rejoice here.

Sunset Bosphorus Cruise

early June–mid-September • activity

This strategic waterway divides the continents and links the seas

Istanbul Marathon

November 11, 2018 • event

The world's only marathon that begins in Asia and ends in Europe offers a unique experience for adventurous runners.

National Sovereignty and Children’s Day

April 23 • event

For one day a year, kids are allowed to sit in parliament and rule the Turkish Republic

Grape Season and Turkish Wine Tasting

August–October • food

Istanbul offers all the pearls of the Turkish millennial wine industry, including world-known sorts and local exclusives.

Victory Day or Zafer Bayramı

August 30 • event

To celebrate the end of the War of Independence, the Turks hold extravagent parades across the city streets

Cumhuriyet Bayramı or Republic Day

October 28–October 29 • event

The community rejoices, celebrating the birthday of their country through parades and torchlight processions.

İstanbul Film Festival

April 07–17, 2018 • event

It began in 1982 as a Film Week, the following year it grew wider to Istanbul Filmdays, and 1989 brought it world-wide recognition and its modern title

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day

May 19 • event

The holiday celebrates the beginning of the Turkish Republic and its future, embodied by the country's lively energetic youth