The climate of the most popular city of Turkey, Istanbul, can be explained that it has pretty cold winters, and the rainiest seasons are autumn and winter, and summer is hot and sunny. It is defined as the transitional Mediterranean.
However, what is the average temperature for every month? What is the best time of year to go to Istanbul in Turkey? What can you do in Istanbul every season? In this guide, we shared these answers with you.
The Climate of Istanbul
In Istanbul, you can encounter different types of microclimates such as the Mediterranean (Köppen climate classification Csa), humid subtropical (Cfa), and oceanic (Cfb) within its various zones.
Due to a high degree of humidity, summers are mostly hot and sunny in Istanbul. In fact, the average high temperature at the peak of the summer is around 26.7°C (80.1°F) in August.
In winter, and the temperatures drop suddenly, but the average low temperatures are between 2.8°C (37°F) and 5.6°C (42.1°F).
Spring and autumn tend to be warm and pleasant, but it is cold during the early spring and late autumn. While the lowest temperature on record is -16.1°C (3°F), the highest recorded temperature in Istanbul is 41.5°C (106.7°F).
Moreover, you cannot swim in the sea, because it is very cold in winter in Istanbul. However, it becomes warm to swim in July and August, while it is still very cool in June, about 20 °C (68 °F). Also, it’s still preferable in September, when it’s about 22 °C (72 °F). The sea temperatures are warm during the summer, and usually between 21.1°C (70°F) to 24.4°C (75.9°F).
Winter is quite cold. In fact, we can mention the average temperature in January and February is 6.5 °C (43.5 °F). Still, in winter, there are different periods in temperatures. It means you can encounter different temperatures.
While one month you experience warmer day, the other month you can meet with a few degrees above freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). Moreover, it is always possible to rain or snow and snowfalls are not so rare. We can say that it occurs more than once almost every year, but not intense.
March, the early spring, is also usually quite cold and is often still a wintery month. But in Spring, in April and May, you can observe sunny days that become more frequent, while the rains become rarer. However, it can still be cold in April, and there may be sudden changes in temperature, especially in the first half of the month.
Summer, from June to August, is hot and sunny, and also has quite a humidity that thanks to the sea to protect to be cooked the city. The average temperature in August, the warmest month, is 24.5 °C (76.5 °F). However, during the warmest months, July and August, and more rarely in June, the temperature can sometimes reach 35/37 °C (95/99 °F). The sky is mostly clear, in fact, you can observe the stars.
Autumn, from September to November, warmer than winter and often sunny in September, but as time goes, rainfalls become frequently and fewer temperatures can be observed.
Here are some average weather facts:
- If you want to experience a pleasant average temperature that falls between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F), you should visit Istanbul in May, June, and September.
- In the months of January, February, March, October, November, and December, you have a high chance to observe wet weather.
- On average, the warmest month is August.
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- December is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you are not a big fan of rain.
- July is the driest month.
The Best Time to Visit Istanbul
Especially, if you will visit Istanbul first time, you should see it at the end of spring, May, and in early summer, June, or in autumn, September to October. Also, spring has warmer temperatures in the 11.7°C (53.1°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) range and a decrease in the rainfall.
At the beginning of autumn, you can observe more comfortable temperatures in the 16.7°C (62.1°F) to 23.9°C (75°F) range but you will definitely encounter with the increase in wetness by October. Also, while June is warm, around July and August with an increase in humidity, the weather will be the hottest.
To sum up, since during summer the weather tends to be too hot for the city with average temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees Celcius. (86&95 Fahrenheit) and winter will be super cold and wet, the best time to visit Istanbul is spring (May and June) or autumn (September and October) with temperatures between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius (76 & 86 ° Fahrenheit).
The Worst Time to Visit Istanbul
Since winter is cold and wet, we don’t advice you to see Istanbul in December, January or February. We can also say that it is usually the worst time to visit Istanbul. The temperatures drop below the freezing during the winter. Maybe you can observe light sky due to snowfall, but while the fog is regular, the average snowy days are at least 13 during the year.
Winter is also known as the rainiest season. Moreover, the shortest days are included in December. Because of cloudy skies, less sunshine (merely 3 hours for a day) can be observed.
Although in the winter months, especially January and December, heavy snowfall can be faced with, most of the winter still has a better average temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius (59 ° F).
To sum up, although winter has different periods than each other (especially in temperature), the opportunity to rain or snow is always higher than in another season. Thus, if you want to see Istanbul in winter, plan your events in this case, otherwise, the worst time to visit Istanbul can be December and January.
Weather in January
If you visit Istanbul in January, probably you will observe cloudy and dark skies. Also, it is known as the coldest month of the year in Istanbul. You can see the sun in the sky for only 3 hours daily.
Weather in February
In February, you can observe snowfall, since it is possible to snow. In the coldest night, the temperatures remain in the average range of 3.3°C (37.9°F) to 8.9°C (48°F). Cloudy skies with a persistent fog over the harbor can be seen.
Weather in March
March is known as the early spring season for Turkey, so does Istanbul. Although the early days of March are similar to the cold air of winter, the temperatures rise by the end of the month. The city gradually warms up.
Weather in April
With April, get ready to this renovated city view due to spring with drier days. While the nights seldom drop below 4.4°C (39.9°F), the days warm up. You will mostly experience usually above 12.8°C (55°F).
Weather in May
At the end of spring, May is sunny and has good weather over Istanbul. If you visit Istanbul in that month, you can observe the sun for a daily 8.5 hours. The temperatures are in the 12.2°C (54°F) to 20°C (68°F) range.
Weather in June
June is the symbol of summer. With June, you can experience the warm weather. Moreover, if you want to visit Istanbul in June, you should be ready to face the drier summer days in Istanbul. Also, in June, Turkey lives the longest days of the year. The average temperatures are in the range of 16.7°C (62.1°F) to 24.4°C (75.9°F). To see the sun, you can follow it for a daily 10.5 hours.
Weather in July
In the middle of summer, July is the driest month in Istanbul that you have to encounter with the sun since it is around 355 hours during the month. The temperatures are in the 20°C (68°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) average range.
Weather in August
At the end of summer, with its average high temperature around 26.7°C (80.1°F), August is usually the hottest month in Istanbul. Thanks to the sea, it protects to Istanbul to bake in sunlight.
Weather in September
When fall comes, the heat falls with each passing day. Moreover, the clouds push over the Atlantic and bring moderate rainfall of 61mm (2.4″) in September. Less sunshine such as 8 hours a daily can be seen.
Weather in October
October mostly signs approaching wet season by mid-autumn since each passing day increases the probability of rain. You can observe mostly cloudy days and less sunshine. (6 hours a daily)
Weather in November
If you decide to visit Istanbul in November, get ready to cloudy and wet weather, since it ends the fall season in Istanbul. The rainfall is to the tune of 101.6mm (4″) in 13 days. The average temperatures fall in the cold range of 8.9°C (48°F) to 15°C (59°F).
Weather in December
Because of the around 121.9mm (4.8″) of rainfall, December is the wettest month of the year. We can also describe December as the beginning of the winter since average temperatures in the range of a chilly 5.6°C (42.1°F) to 10.6°C (51.1°F).
What to Do?
Best Time for Sightseeing:
To walk around and see some touristic destinations, spring and fall are the best times of the year. You will enjoy your trip with nice weather and comfortable temperatures average around 15°C (59 °F).
As for advice, also, since many tourists (especially with touristic tours) prefer to visit Istanbul from at the beginning of fall to early October, after October you can choose a date to see Istanbul.
However, here are two hints. After late May, crowds will reach their peak and you may not feel comfortable. Also, many people think that April can be the best time for sightseeing due to International Tulip Festival.
Thus, we can mention that autumn can be the right time with its sunsets and light rain. Even so, we can advise that the most pleasant time that you can experience Istanbul’s top sights is early in the morning, soon after opening, or late in the day whatever the season is. In winter, you can usually arrive at any time and find no queue or crowds.
In contrast, the worst time for sightseeing is summer as the opposite. Since we think that due to the higher temperature and more crowds, you may have a bad experience.
Best Time for a Bosphorus Cruise:
September may be the best time of year for a Bosphorus Cruise as the weather is typically warm, and the winter hasn’t come yet. Also, May can be the next best bet and a good time to watch for the three different species of dolphins that inhabit the Bosphorus: bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and harbor porpoises.
Here’s the hint: While the weather can occasionally cause a cancellation if it is the too rainy or snowy day.
Best Time for Shopping:
Since Istanbul hosts a wide variety of world-famous brands along with high-quality local designs, it is the best destination to shop. Also, you can find major international luxury brands.
We cannot share with you any specific dates for sales, but if you pay attention, you can realize that the first week of July known as the month of the summer bargains. To catch sales in its peak, by mid-August, you should be in Istanbul. Also, winter sales begin between mid-December and early January, with discounts of 30 to 50 percent.
Moreover, April is known as the month that unsold items can be discounted as high as 70 percent. However, if you want to shop in Grand Bazaar, we recommend that you should visit in Fall since it is the time to get that bargain. Note that summer is the worst time to shop in Grand Bazaar, since when vendors have loads of customers.
Some people say that shopping the bazaars in the morning is best for a good deal, since it is less crowded, and the price is more negotiable.
Best Time for Smaller Crowds:
Istanbul has its biggest crowds in the summer, especially for all many tourist destinations in Istanbul. However, winter hosts the lowest number of visitors, in fact, January and February can be preferable. By May, the crowds have returned. To enjoy the best of both worlds, come in late-April, while the weather is pleasantly warm.
Of course, popular touristic places are generally more crowded in the early afternoon regardless of the season that you visit, so we can advise planning to arrive early in the morning to avoid lots of tour groups or late in the afternoon.
High Season (Late May through September):
From late spring to early fall is high season in Istanbul, with June, July and August considered its peak. The weather is hot and sometimes quite humid, the highest accommodation rates can be observed, and crowds and long lines can be encountered. It may affect your trip, it has a high opportunity to taste bad experience.
On the other hand, due to good weather, it will be the best choice to enjoy an outdoor meal at a Bosphorus seafood restaurant, or Turkish coffee at a sidewalk café. It’s also the best season to swim or go to a concert and join live events. Here’s an advice: Book your hotels before months, if you visit Istanbul in May, June, July, August, September, or early October.
Shoulder Season (Mid-March through early May, October through mid-November):
If you visit Istanbul in the shoulder season, maybe you won’t avoid the crowds completely since Istanbul has lots of touristic destinations, but relax, it won’t be at their peaks. We can say that the spring and autumn weather makes the city one of the most ideal places to see during this season.
Low Season (Mid-November through mid-December, early January through mid-March):
It is obvious that winter is known as the low season in Istanbul. However, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do, you can still catch big discounts. Just don’t forget to take a raincoat, waterproof shoes, and a wind-resistant umbrella.
Who knows, when you come to Istanbul in winter, to escape cold, you can experience a hammam (Turkish bath). We are sure that you will feel warmer.
Istanbul Events in January
New Year’s Day – After the evening, you can realize fireworks and other festivities on New Year’s Eve, things are quiet on January 1 in Istanbul and throughout the country. Although many businesses close for the public holiday, you can still find plenty of tourist sites, including museums and mosques that are open on New Year’s Day.
Shopping – Winter sales start in January, and while there are no set dates, you’ll find deep discounts throughout the month on all types of times.
Istanbul Events in February
!f International Film Festival – It is known as one of Istanbul’s most important film festivals. At the festival, you can watch the best in Turkish and international films every year. Moreover, it lasts for 10 days during the second half of February. Also, it includes everything from widely publicized films to independent films that have received little exposure. We can mention that with this festival, some 70,000 annually with most films screened at the Fitaş cinema in Beyoğlu.
International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival – This festival that hosts 2,000 chefs from more than 25 countries to the city offers a new perspective on Turkish gastronomy. There are 52 different categories, to see their abilities by creating a variety of delectable dishes for both Turkish and international cuisine. If you want to join, in the middle of February, Festival be ready to host you.
Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day is not part of Turkish traditions. However, it has celebrated for many years. In Istanbul, you can find restaurants catering to couples that celebrate the day as well as heart-shaped cakes in the pastry shops, special programs in large hotels and everything from shopping malls to nightclubs decorated with red roses and hearts.
Istanbul Events in March
Nevruz – On March 21st, people celebrated Nevruz to welcome in the spring season. It has a highly symbolic meaning for the Middle East of Turkey. Moreover, it is organized a massive open-air party in many squares throughout Istanbul. Generally, it includes colorful rituals such as bonfires, folk dancing, and singing.
Handmade Istanbul Spring Market – On the last Sunday in March, the Handmade Istanbul group typically sells its handcrafted wares at St. Helena’s Chapel. Its purpose does not only to do profits go to a good cause but also helping refugees in Istanbul. Thus, the spring market is a great way to find a unique gift or souvenir to bring home, from artwork and clothing to toys, jewelry, and knitted items.
Istanbul Events in April
International Film Festival – During the first half of April, Istanbul leads International Film Festival, it provides a chance to see the best new art-house films in a place where the movie industry is booming, along with fantastic films from across the globe. Screenings are mainly held in and around the entertainment quarter of Beyoğlu at nine different venues, from venerable cinemas to cultural centers. Filmmakers and screen actors from around the world gather in the city for this world-renowned film festival.
International Istanbul Tulip Festival (Istanbul Lale Festival) – The International Istanbul Tulip Festival that is popularly held in April annually. You may not associate the tulips with Turkey, (since people think the Netherlands when someone talks about tulips) actually, the tulip began here in the Ottoman Empire.
You can realize the festival, when you see colorful blooms with several tulip gardens in the city anywhere there is open ground, (for example in Emirgan Park, one of the city’s largest public park) The festival is included lots of activities, such as live music, painting, sculpture and photo exhibitions, and glass-blowing performances.
National Sovereignty and Children’s Day – This national day is celebrated by school children with parades. It is celebrated on 23 April and groups wear national costumes to perform their short performances by traditional music. Note that as it’s an official holiday, government offices, schools and most businesses are closed.
Istanbul Events in May
Open Door Architecture Festival – In early May, you can join this festival. It starts usually closed doors to allow visitors seeing inside some of Istanbul’s architecturally and historically important buildings, like the impressive Ortakoy Mosque, set along the Bosphorus, and the remarkable Misir apartments.
International Theatre Festival – Annually in May, this theatre festival hosts leading international and domestic theatrical events. Also, you can experience workshops that are often free to attend. The genres you can find are independent and classical productions.
Hidrellez Festival – Hidrellez which means “early summer” is celebrated on 5-6 May. Moreover, the Hidrellez Festival includes street parties throughout the night. Also, it hosts Gypsy music bands, to jump over a fire and make a wish as well as writing or drawing a wish and bury it under a plant or tying it on a tree branch traditionally.
International Istanbul Puppet Festival – Maybe you haven’t seen puppet shows in the last years since it is like a forgotten art nowadays. However, they were big in Ottoman times, and this event offers the opportunity to see a fantastic marionette, puppet and shadow theater in small venues throughout Istanbul during the second week of May. If you have kids, maybe they will fall in love with them, and you can have a comfortable trip.
Istanbul Events in June
Istanbul Music Festival – This music festival held in June annually. Moreover, this time of the year can be counted as one of the best times for music lovers to be in Istanbul, since it hosts close to 600 local and international artists. The genres that you can find are classical, opera and ballet.
One Love Festival – In mid-June at Life Park Istanbul, One Love Festival happens on a weekend. You can dance with performances from moderately alternative international and watch your favorite local bands.
Istanbul Events in July
International Istanbul Jazz Festival – If you are a big fan of jazz, you should definitely join this event. It usually runs for two weeks in July each year. You can find a collection of conventional jazz as well as rock, pop, blues, reggae, world music and more. Previous performers have included Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Patti Smith, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim – You will enjoy this event if you are fall in love with swimming. The purpose of the event is to find the person who will across the channel from Asia to Europe which is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. More than 1,600 competitors are allowed to join it, and you can participate from around the world. Don’t worry, for the event, the channel is temporarily closed to shipping traffic.
Istanbul Events in August
International Istanbul Fashion Fair – The International Istanbul Fashion Fair held in late August at the CNR Expo annually. It puts together Turkish and international designers as well as importers, global brands, retailers and department chains.
International Performance Association’s Festival – In this festival, you can meet with artists from many different countries along with international art teachers and performers. Also, the festival offers both workshops and performances. Join it in mid-August.
Victory Day (Zafer Bayrami) – At the end of August, on August 30, this national public holiday that symbolizes the victory of the War of Independence held. Military parades take place in Istanbul. However, don’t forget that any businesses will be closed on this day, though most major shops and supermarkets are open.
Istanbul Events in September
International Istanbul Biennial – International Istanbul Biennial is a contemporary art exhibition. Also, it is hosted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture & Arts. If you visit this exhibition, you should be in Istanbul in early September. Moreover, it does the honors to artists from more than 45 countries, with the exhibitions displayed throughout the city.
The Sugar Feast (Seker Bayrami) – It is a three-day celebration and it is a religious holiday that punctuates the end of Ramadan. Many establishments close for three-and-a-half days. While museums, archaeological sites, and monuments are closed on the first day, they are usually open on the second and third day. Most shops and shopping malls are open, except the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.
The holiday has its own different traditions, such as children going from door to door and wishing people a happy Bayram (the term Turkish use for the holiday). For thanks, people share with them candies, chocolates, or even a small amount of money. It means you can see the crowds of children that counting their loot.
Izmir Fair International Folk Festival – In the first half of September each year, you can join this event across the strait in Izmir. Mostly, people perform the long-standing culture of local folk dance.
Istanbul Events in October
Akbank International Jazz Festival – If you love jazz, you should prefer this more traditional jazz festival that takes place during the second half of October and lasts 2 weeks. While the performers generally aren’t as well-known as those featured in the summer festival, it offers lower-priced tickets and frequently in more intimate, atmospheric venues.
Republic Day – On October 29, Turkish people celebrate the announcement of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 each year with parades, public speeches, fireworks and more.
Istanbul Events in November
Ataturk Remembrance Day –November 10 is the anniversary of the death of the father and founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In his memory, lots of activities are usually planned, such as speeches, exhibitions, and a memorial concert. Don’t afraid if you witness that life stops in Istanbul at exactly 9:05 am since the entire country comes to a halt as the population pays its respects by blaring car horns and foghorns.
International Istanbul Book Fair – This is a nine-day event that is held in mid-November. It is symbolized that the celebration of the power and impact of the writing. Also, you can meet with writers, editors, readers, and poets at the Tuyap Fair Convention & Congress Center. If you want to be signed a book, maybe you can find its writers and have his signature.
Istanbul Events in December
Rumi Festival – The Rumi Festival, also known as the Mevlana Festival, is held in early to mid-December. It is celebrated to remember the Islam poet and mystic philosopher Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. You can witness the elaborate whirling dervish performances (dances), with live sporadic performances occurring in city streets, though the biggest and best are found in the mosques.
Christmas – Although Christmas isn’t celebrated in this Muslim country, there are still find the western holiday throughout the city, including Christmas Markets reflect cultures. In recent years, the markets have started to sell more traditional items seldom seen before in Turkey, to appease foreign visitors, for example, the baklava.
IWI Christmas Festival – In late November or early December of each year, The International Women of Istanbul organizes a Christmas festival. However, it is different from other events since you can realize decorations, caroling, gifts for kids from Father Christmas, shopping, children’s entertainment, food and more.