Best time to visit Turkey

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Best time of year to visit Turkey

For some travelers, the best time to visit Turkey is early summer in May–June when you can enjoy a beach vacation with smaller tourist crowds, or go trekking. This time usually is about Ramadan celebrations, so you can learn more about Muslim traditions. July and August might be too hot and too crowded. September is also great as it’s still warm enough for a seaside and cool enough for exploring the cities. Others prefer early winter, namely December—no heat, fewer tourists, and great traditional hamams. This season is also good for watching whirling dervishes at the Mevlana Festival and attending the camel wrestling events with famous camel sausages on sale.

16 THINGS TO DO IN TURKEY (DECEMBER 10 - DECEMBER 19)

Whirling Dervishes at Mevlana Festival

Whirling Dervishes at Mevlana Festival

early December–December 17 • event

Though ecstatic whirling ceremonies might be experienced in many cities of Turkey, the rite's birthplace city of Konya is unmissable one

Warm up in Traditional Hamam

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

Salep Drink

Salep Drink

December–February • food

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

Boza

Boza

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!

Pomegranate Fresh Juice

Pomegranate Fresh Juice

September–February • food

Istanbul is truly the city of pomegranate delight.

Camel Wrestling

Camel Wrestling

late December–late March | 2nd or 3rd Sunday of January (Selçuk) • event

Two boys fighting for a girl—that old scenario works in animal world too,—it's enough to parade a cow in front of two bulls and recently calm camels are already determined enemies

Football: Süper Lig

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

Sailing

Sailing

June–August | December–February • activity

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

Wild Strawberries (Koca Yemiş)

Wild Strawberries (Koca Yemiş)

November–December • food

Unlike usual strawberry, this rare type grows only in the mountains, on a strawberry tree

Wolves and Other Wild Animals

Wolves and Other Wild Animals

December–February • nature

Wild animals could still be observed at some of Cappadoccia's valleys

Camel Sausages

Camel Sausages

late November–March • food

Camel wrestling festivals cannot do without the stalls lavished with Turkish "deve sucuk"—actually, this snack is mostly eaten during the camel wrestling season

Skiing Season

Skiing Season

December–April | late January–early March (heliskiing) • activity

Turkey is not one of world's top skiing destination, yet it has a dozen of decent resorts and even heli-skiing available

Ayva (Quince) Season

Ayva (Quince) Season

October–December • food

A fruit that is believed to have originated in Anatolia comes in lots of varieties and boasts a wide use in Turkish cuisine

Persimmon Season

Persimmon Season

November–February • food

In Turkey, it's hurma or "cennet hurması" meaning "paradise fruit"—perhaps, we have confused the true forbidden fruit?

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

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

Balıklı Göl (Abraham Pool)

Balıklı Göl (Abraham Pool)

mid-September–April • activity

A sacred pool of fish with a biblical history

34 THINGS TO DO OUT OF SELECTED DATE RANGE

Cappadocia Ultra Trail

Cappadocia Ultra Trail

October 20–21, 2018 • event

Join for the three different races organized in a UNESCO heritage site of Cappadocia!

Cycling

Cycling

April–November • activity

Discover Cappadocia's lush valleys while cycling on two wheels

Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim

Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim

July 21, 2019 • event

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

Spring Flowers in Goreme

Spring Flowers in Goreme

April–June • nature

Visit town of Goreme in spring to see the multitude of colours and feel the amazing flower scents

Sugar Feast (Ramazan Bayramı)

Sugar Feast (Ramazan Bayramı)

June 01–03, 2019 • event

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

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey

Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey

October 09–14, 2018 • event

Thousands arrive in Turkey especially to witness professional competition and the rest of the world follow the race on popular sport channels

Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling

Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling

June 24–30, 2019 • event

The world's longest-running sport besides the Olympics was initiated by Ottoman warriors who once started a wrestle in a camp just out of boredom but took it too seriously to give in and fought to death

Turkish Sticky Ice Cream (Dondurma)

Turkish Sticky Ice Cream (Dondurma)

May–September • food

A Turkish ice-cream man is a kind of a troll—you'll be involved in a lasting trick show until he finally hands you the treat

Traditional Turkish Puppet Shadow Theater: Karagöz & Hacivat

Traditional Turkish Puppet Shadow Theater: Karagöz & Hacivat

May 05–June 04, 2019 • event

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

Kurban Bayramı or Feast of the Sacrifice

Kurban Bayramı or Feast of the Sacrifice

August 11–14, 2019 • event

Tables will bend under the weight of meat dishes during the four festive days

Cold Ayran on a Hot Day

Cold Ayran on a Hot Day

April–October • food

If you are hot and bored, Ayran will help

Raisins

Raisins

October • food

Try delicious sun-dried raisins—a true specialty of Cappadocia

Green Plums or Erik

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

Aşure or Noah’s Pudding

Aşure or Noah’s Pudding

September 10, 2019 • food

On the tenth day of Muharram, every Turkish household is preoccupied with cooking Aşure,—imitating the dish the very Noah once cooked in his ark at the Mount of Ararat

Dried Apricots

Dried Apricots

June–August • food

Turkey is known to be one of the biggest exporters of dried fruit. Cappadocia is one of the largest regions that produce sun-dried apricots in a unique​ way

Grape Harvest

Grape Harvest

mid-August–late October • food

Cappadocia is known as one of the oldest and the best wine centers in Turkey

Green Almonds

Green Almonds

April–May • food

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

Pamukkale (Hierapolis) Thermal Pools

Pamukkale (Hierapolis) Thermal Pools

April–mid-June • nature

Charming and relaxing. Cotton castle welcomes everyone to enjoy bathing in its stunning pools

Beach Season (Aegean & Mediterranean Coasts)

Beach Season (Aegean & Mediterranean Coasts)

May–October • activity

In Turkey's southern coastline summer arrives earlier than in its northern counterpart and leaves later as well, so you have a plenty of time to enjoy the extended beach season

Paragliding

Paragliding

April–October • activity

Turkey's beautiful landscapes are even better when viewed from above

Trekking & Hiking

Trekking & Hiking

April–June | October • activity

From the Black Sea coast up and across Taurus mountains, then down through to Anatolian plateau and again up to Kaçkar range, and down to the Mediterranean coast—Turkey is a great area for hiking

Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

June 01–September 15, 2019 • event

A unique occasion to enjoy world's best classic repertoire in likewise best-preserved ancient amphitheatre

Cornelian Cherry (Kizilcik)

Cornelian Cherry (Kizilcik)

August–September • food

Locals name this fake cherry "kizilcik" or more mystically "Şeytan aldatan ağaci"—the tree that deceived Satan

Kiteboarding

Kiteboarding

mid-April–mid-October • activity

Pure waters and perfect winds make Turkish beaches a great kiting destination

Fresh Figs

Fresh Figs

May–September • food

Local produce must be enough to feed half of the world if not less, as Turkey is renowned as the world's largest producer of figs

Beach Season (Black Sea)

Beach Season (Black Sea)

June–August • activity

Common chill and rain are replaced with semi-tropical heat during summer months making for a perfect beach holiday

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

April–May • nature

If you travel around Turkey in spring, prepare for lots of forced stops, flowered landscapes are too adorable not to take a few snapshots

Cumhuriyet Bayramı or Republic Day

Cumhuriyet Bayramı or Republic Day

October 28–October 29 • event

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

Grape Season and Turkish Wine Tasting

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.

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

April–November • activity

Turkey lies on a migration route of many birds making their journey between Europe and Africa. Amazing birds complete unique Cappadocian​ landscape with their colour and beauty

Ramadan (Ramazan)

Ramadan (Ramazan)

May 05–June 04, 2019 • activity

Ramadan drummers traditionally wake the neighbourhood up at dawn for an early meal, and the next meal is to happen only after sunset

National Sovereignty and Children’s Day

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

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day

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

Victory Day or Zafer Bayramı

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