Under the influence of the continental climate and Black Sea climate, summers in Istanbul are hot and dry, and winters are generally cold and snowy. In summer, temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius, while in winter they can drop to minus values. But this does not take long. Therefore, we can say that the best times to go to Istanbul are the spring and autumn months.
However, Istanbul is a great city in every season including summer and winter. Do not forget to see beautiful historical buildings, to walk around the colorful streets, to taste delicious food and to breathe the cool air of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the unique city where the East and the West meet!
When to Visit Istanbul?
Istanbul, where all of the 4 seasons are more beautiful than the other, can be reached any time of the year, but the most preferred seasons to visit the city by the tourists are spring and summer. In Istanbul, rainfall may occasionally appear in spring but it is mostly sunny and warm.
Activities are held throughout the year in Istanbul and there is always demand for the city. Due to this, Istanbul ticket prices do not vary much.
Since you can visit Istanbul any time, here I’ve compiled several activities that you can do in each different season.
Visiting Istanbul in Spring
What can you do in Istanbul in the spring? How can you make the most of the spring in Istanbul? Don’t worry, I’ve written the best ways to enjoy the spring in Istanbul!
- Enjoy the sun, the sea, the seagulls, the awakened nature!
Here’s a reason to smile: It is the season of sitting out on the ferry, and throwing bagels to the seagulls! The pleasure of this city cannot be discovered without a ferry, a seagull and a bagel. You go out, look at the sun, smile, watch the seagulls that many poets from Orhan Veli to Can Yucel, from Nazim Hikmet to Atilla Ilhan write poems for their sake. Wake up from cold winter to sunny spring watching Istanbul.
- Visit Istanbul’s parks and greens.
In the spring Istanbul wears her greens, so you should accompany her. In every corner of Istanbul, there are beautiful parks, small and large groves, and now it is their best times of the year. You can sit in a small park in your neighborhood, right next to your home, and enjoy your neighborhood in the spring. To enjoy the beautiful wooded areas of Istanbul, you can visit the beautiful, precious greens such as Yildiz Grove, Emirgan Grove, Fenerbahce Park, Ataturk Arboretum, Belgrad Forest, Gulhane Park, Fethi Pasa Grove, Mihrabad Grove, and Bebek Park.
- Visit all districts!
When the sun comes out and the spring flowers bloom, you can not fit into your hotel in this beautiful city. Go to enjoy fish in Samatya, to taste yogurt in Kanlıca and to have tea in Moda. Spend a day in the Historic Peninsula, travel around the places you love to visit or visit the streets of Istanbul.
- Keep up with nature, wake up, do sports!
Spring is when nature awakens. So, adapt to nature, wake up, revive. Walk, run, sport. Consider the many open spaces in Istanbul where you can enjoy sports, especially in spring. You can enjoy sports in the parks, beaches, forests, groves and enjoy this magnificent season.
- Attend Istanbul’s Tulip Festival.
During April, the Tulip Festival in Istanbul turns every corner into a paradise garden. Istanbul looks great with beautiful colors of tulips, arrangements, designs. This festival is available only for one month, so do not miss this beauty.
- Teach your kids the magic of spring!
As much as you, your children also deserve to enjoy the spring in Istanbul. Experience the spring with your children in Istanbul, teach them the flowers, the trees, the seasons, the awakening of nature, and celebrate the spring together in Istanbul.
- Discover the beauties around Istanbul!
In particular, value your weekends in beautiful places around Istanbul like Ağva, Şile, Sapanca, Uçmakdere, Polonezköy, Riva. Natural beauties, extreme sports, camps, new experiences, delicious breakfasts! There are many things to do around Istanbul in the spring!
- Make the trip to the islands, open the bike season.
Do not forget to make visits to the islands in spring! Complete the island cruise with a ferry ride on the cobblestone, cobblestone island streets.
- Start the afternoon tea.
It is time to enjoy a cup of tea in the balconies, in gardens, in coffeehouses, and in parks. Drink your tea while watching the spring of Istanbul, enjoy this beautiful city.
- Follow festivals, theaters, and concerts.
Istanbul is one of the most important cultural art capitals in the world; Moreover, many festivals, events, concerts, and culture and art life come alive in the spring. You may not get out enough during the winter, but listen to the call of spring! Join the revitalized culture art life of Istanbul as nature.
Visiting Istanbul in Summer
In Istanbul where every moment is beautiful and breathtaking, you can spend a pleasant time with activities in summer. With its deep-rooted history and the details that drag and drop people, you can discover Istanbul, which makes people of all ages fall in love with herself, with the dancing of the sun and the slight breeze of the Bosphorus. Here’s what can be done in Istanbul in the summer.
- Bosphorus Tour
It is not enough to conquer Istanbul from the land. Because this city needs to be evaluated as panoramic. Listen to this call, which is usually addressed to foreign tourists and reaches our ear as “Bosphorus, Bosphorus, Bosphorus!”. Right in the middle of the Bosphorus, discover the magnificent landscapes and the energy of Istanbul. If you wish, join the boat tours organized by private boats and enjoy Istanbul with music.
- Make a Sunny Trip to The History
This summer, do something more than to visit the Hagia Sophia and visit all of the historical sites of Istanbul. Because you are in a very valuable city where the historical mystery reached nirvana. Visit the Hagia Sophia and its next-door neighbor, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, along with the Basilica Cistern and the Topkapı Palace which are a little further. If you say that this is not enough, you can explore all the historical mystery of the city in detail with Istanbul guided tours. Walls, mosques, Fener, Balat, Beyoğlu and all the places where you actually take a step. Istanbul is a thick but not boring history book, so you must read it!
- A Short Holiday in the Prince’s Islands
One of the most natural beauties that Istanbul has is the Prince’s Islands! An impeccable summer route. Great beaches, lush forests, narrow streets with a bit of nostalgia. The largest of these islands is Büyükada. You can also make a decision between Heybeliada, Kınalıada, and Burgazada, and have a perfect day away from the city. There are no cars on these islands. That’s why the phaetons are the most fun options to accompany you during the island discovery.
- Outdoor Concerts & Festivals
Istanbul is known for its full of efficiency in summer. The open-air concerts of this city are also famous along with the music festivals organized. Do not miss the series of concerts and the festivals where you can listen to music as well as spread over the lush green areas in your tent with friends which are organized every summer at the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open Air Theater.
- Walking in the Belgrad Forest
When it comes to nature, it’s time to discover the unspoiled tranquility of Belgrad Forest, which forms a large part of Istanbul’s green areas! The forest was named after the village where the Belgrads had settled, with the return of Suleiman the Magnificent from Serbia. When it was found that the inhabitants of the village polluted the water resources, the forest was taken under the protection of the sultan. Belgrad Forest, which is so valuable even when everywhere is green, is today the breathing space for Istanbulites. On the hot summer days, you can stop by the Belgrad Forest and walk on the 6 km long walking track, go cycling, or have a nice picnic with snacks.
- Night Party Overlooking the Bosphorus
For dancing, the festivals and concerts that I have just suggested can be an option. But I have a different suggestion to those who just want to dance like crazy. Dancing until the morning in the magnificent landscape of Istanbul! You can spend a night dancing at the world-famous splendid clubs on Ortaköy and Bebek. This night will be an unforgettable Istanbul experience.
Visiting Istanbul in Autumn
Autumn shows itself in nature with its unique toned colors. It is really enjoyable to visit the parks and gardens these days. If you are going to do a program for the events that will be held in Istanbul in October and November before winter, please take a look at these suggestions. Not only those who live in Istanbul, but who want to travel to Istanbul for a few days can benefit from this program.
- Atatürk Arboretum
Atatürk Arboretum located on the way to Sarıyer Bahçeköy is a wonderful place where you can see a variety of plant feasts. In my opinion, you can take the most beautiful landscapes in autumn here. This is the place where you can see the beautiful shades of red, yellow, green plants and trees.
- Florya-Yeşilköy line (Atatürk House Aviation Museum Aquarium)
October and November are important months for our Republican history. October 29 is the establishment year of our Republic, and in November, we lost the Great Leader Atatürk. So if you want to make a special trip that you will commemorate him as well, plan a visit to the Florya-Yeşilköy line. Florya Ataturk Mansion is a place where Atatürk’s belongings are kept in its original state.
You can also visit the Aviation Museum in Yesilkoy after visiting this lodge where Ataturk spent his last days. If you want to eat or have a drink, you can go to Yeşilköy beach or the Aquarium Shopping Center in Florya. If you have time, you can also visit Europe’s largest thematic aquarium. Close to Atatürk Airport, this region is a good choice for those coming to Istanbul for a short time.
- Tuzla Marina
I wanted to make suggestions for those who want to visit the Anatolian side of Istanbul. Tuzla Marina is a very nice place with shops and eating places. There’s also an aquarium. Maltepe City Park is also a great place for hiking, picnicking or cycling. On non-rainy and non-windy days, you can have an activity with your children or with your partner here.
- Enjoy fish in Poyrazköy overlooking the view of Yavuz Selim Bridge
The selfie-taking craze on the bridge is thankfully done. However, taking the 3rd bridge pictures is still in fashion. One of the most beautiful spots overlooking the bridge is Poyrazköy. There are also many nice fish restaurants here. In the fish season, you can spend a nice day where you can also make a mini Beykoz tour and reach all the colors of autumn until you arrive at Poyrazköy.
- Gulhane Park
In the fall, Gülhane Park also has beautiful colors. In addition to this ancient historical texture of the city, a scenic journey that includes the shades of green and red is waiting for you. Take a walk in Gülhane Park and have a cup of tea and then go to Sultanahmet Square where you can enjoy many historical places such as Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern.
- Book Fair and Open Air Theater
If you want to do cultural art activities, you’re lucky. Between 12-20 November there will be Istanbul Book Fair in Beylikdüzü TÜYAP. In this fair, there are many beautiful events from signature days to interviews. We also recommend you to watch a concert at Harbiye Open-Air Theater which is said to be demolished soon and is one of the classics of Istanbul.
- Walk in Yıldız Park
One of the most beautiful walk paths in the autumn is Yıldız Park. You can take a nice walk in the park and have breakfast in the mansions or have some tea and coffee. You can even walk down the park, to Ortaköy where you can browse some art crafts.
- Catch Fish in Kuleli
The coastal area in front of Kuleli Military High School was filled with a beautiful place, especially for those who would like to go fishing. Enjoy fishing and the spectacular view of the Bosphorus.
Visiting Istanbul in Winter
Thanks to the activities that can be done in Istanbul in the winter months, you can easily visit even when the weather is very cold and you can make the most of your free time. You will find activities suitable for yourself in this section which is filled with museums, natural beauties, and food recommendations.
- Visit the Museums!
Since Istanbul is an extremely historical city, there are also many museums. Among the activities to be held in Istanbul, the museums come at first. First I will talk about the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, which was established in 2001. Sakıp Sabancı Museum, one of the most luxurious museums in Istanbul, has a wonderful collection of classical works. The museum, which is located in the Atlı Köşk in Emirgan, exhibits the works of great artists such as Rodin, Picasso, and Anish Kapoor.
The Istanbul Modern opened in 2004, is known as the first museum of contemporary art in Turkey. The museum located in Tophane is established in an old warehouse building. The museum has a great design with up-to-date works and you can find mainly pictures or photos.
The Istanbul Archeology Museum, which was founded by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1891, is one of the museums that smell history and culture. There are around 1000 works in the museum, while the majority of these are works of Ottoman architecture. You can also find works of different nations, from Asia to Africa. The museum is located in Gülhane.
The Borusan Contemporary Museum is located in Rumelihisarı. Located in a building known as Perili Köşk, the museum is one of the most modern and contemporary museums in Istanbul. But don’t forget, it only receives visitors on weekends.
Pi Artworks is one of the museums opened in 1998 within the scope of the modern age museum concept. In this museum located in Galatasaray, both Turkish and foreign artists’ works are exhibited in a modern way.
- View Istanbul from its Magnificent Hills
If you want to look at the vast view of Istanbul from a wider perspective, you should visit the famous hills of Istanbul and enjoy this wonderful view. If you start with Yoros Castle first, you can feel yourself in a seaside town with its green nature and fishing boats. Yoros Hill will be one of the best choices for those who want to feel Istanbul under their feet.
Pierre Loti hill is also known as one of the first places for new arrivals to visit the city. It is a legendary choice for the famous panorama view we see on the postcards of the Golden Horn. To get to the top of it, there are cable cars next to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque. By this way, you also have the opportunity to watch the landscape until you reach the hill. Then you can enjoy a warm drink in a café on the hill and enjoy the winter.
Çamlıca Hill, which has not become old for years and still ranks first among the places to visit in Istanbul, is one of the hills that should not be forgotten. You must see Istanbul from this hill, which is 268 meters high. From Çamlıca hill you can see both the Anatolian and European sides perfectly. You can also watch the dance of the lights from here during the night time.
- Eat Fish Overlooking the Bosphorus
Among the activities to be held in Istanbul in winter, eating fish near the Bosphorus is also at the top of the list. You can feel yourself in the middle of the sea by choosing one of the famous fish restaurants. Moreover, you can have a perfect feast because the fish will be fresh.
In winter, the Bosphorus is more pleasant than summer. The main reason for this is the fact that the Bosporus has a great view, especially in snowy weather. You should definitely taste the delicious fish of Istanbul overlooking this view.
- Discover the Historical Baths of Istanbul
Istanbul is famous for its many places and it is frequently mentioned with its baths. The Suleymaniye Bath, which was built in 1557 and especially popular with foreign tourists, was built upon the request of Suleiman the Magnificent. The bath, which was closed in 1924, was reopened in 2004 after the restoration was completed. The only problem is that they don’t have too much capacity. Therefore, you must make a reservation before you go. There is also a tea and coffee service.
The Cağaloğlu Bath is one of the historic baths built in 1741. This wonderful bath, where you can relax during the winter months, is located on Yerebatan Street. The bath, where you can find inspiration from the Ottoman architecture, was built to provide income to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. There are also many types of massages and restaurants.
Another historical bath is the Hagia Sophia Hürrem Sultan Bath, which is located very close to the Cağaloğlu Bath. This wonderful bath attracts attention with its 450 years of history. As it carries Ottoman culture and architecture, there are some treats like sherbet, tea, walnut and Turkish delight in the bath. Especially known as one of the most preferred baths for foreign tourists, you should definitely give this bath a chance and add it to your list of activities to be done in the winter.
If we continue with the Çemberlitaş Bath, this historical bath designed by Mimar Sinan is known as a cultural heritage of 430 years. There are many different services such as Indian head massage, clay mask, and aromatherapy oil massage. You can also benefit from the Bridal Bath service by booking in advance. Within the context of the Bride Bath, there is not only entertainment but also food service.
- Enjoy Istanbul’s Underground Beauties!
Since Istanbul was the capital city of many states in history, there were great historical legacies from that time. One of them is the cisterns which were built to meet the water needs of those times and have an important place for cultural tourism. There are many cisterns in Istanbul such as Basilica, Nuruosmaniye, Binbirdirek and Hippodrome.
When we look at the Basilica Cistern, which is one of the most popular among them, we can say that more than 1 million people have visited here. It is also the largest cistern. The Basilica Cistern was built on the basilica that was destroyed in a fire in 475 BC.
The second biggest cistern in Istanbul is the Binbirdirek cistern which stands out with its wonderful architecture. The cistern which was used as a workshop after the 16th century is still being operated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
The Fildamı cistern in Bakırköy, on the other hand, was built during the reign of Emperor Valens and has survived until today. Many events are organized here.
Another one, the Nuruosmaniye cistern was discovered in 2013 during the restoration of the Nuruosmaniye Mosque. This cistern with a history of 270 years has a total area of 2,042 meters with a use area of 825 square meters. The cistern consists of 12 rooms and 19 sections. In this respect, it is a complete cultural and historical heritage.