Istanbul is a tremendous place to visit for much of the year, but let us help you decide on when is the best time to visit Istanbul. The springtime and autumn are the best choice as the temperatures are warm enough to be very pleasant, but cool enough to make sightseeing and shopping fun. If you are a sun lover, then the summer is your perfect choice, but there will be thousands of other people – including locals – who will have chosen these months too, so Istanbul and its beaches will be busy!
Springtime Visit to Istanbul
Between April and June, the daytime temperatures are beginning to get pleasantly warm and this is the perfect time of the year if you are planning a more active holiday. The countryside is at its best too– everywhere is lush and green and there are bright red poppies bursting into flower in all the parks. There are several cultural events in May/June, including the Istanbul International Theater Festival and the Istanbul International Music Festival.
At this time of year, there is an average of 11 hours of daylight and chances of rain rarely. The evenings remain cooler – averaging 14-16°C- so it is worth packing a lightweight sweater or jacket. These months are considered ‘high season’, so room rates are at their highest and itineraries require careful planning. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy a tour of Cappadocia, many of which include a ride in a hot air balloon. If you enjoy playing sports, the temperatures are ideal for tennis and golf.
Dog Days of Summer
In early June, the temperatures begin to rise, and from mid-June to early September it is hot with an average daily temperature of 28º C. There can be high humidity too, but the days are lovely and long with about 13.5 hours of sunshine. There is a very slight chance of an occasional short but sharp rainfall. The evenings are lovely and warm at 19-22º C, and if you are planning to enjoy a swim in the sea, you will be delighted to learn that the water temperature in August is 19-21º C.
Its the perfect time to visit Istanbul if you enjoy water sports, and there are plenty to choose from including yachting, canoeing, rafting, water skiing, and diving. Day cruises exploring the Bosporus and Black Sea are popular too. The Bosporus Cross Continental Swimming Race is a large annual event that takes place in late July that draws many spectators. 1,500 swimmers swim from the Asian side to the European side of Istanbul. The race covers a distance of 6.5 km and is is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, which is closed for the event. Other special summer events include the Istanbul International Jazz Festival (July 1st-16th) and the quirky Istanbul Shopping Festival on July 31st.
Lovely Autumn Escape
Early Autumn, from the middle of September until the end of October, is lovely as the days are warm, but the temperatures have dropped just enough to be really comfortable. In September they average 25º C and 19º C in October. September is definitely a popular choice with those who enjoy walking, exploring ,and a good game of golf. There are two 18 hole golf courses not far from the city – the Kemer and Klassis, and one six hole course – the Atasehir.
By October, there are more rainy days, but the good news is that most of the downpours are short and sharp and the sunshine soon returns! By October, the sea temperature is starting to drop, but for jazz lovers, there is a treat in store as the Akbank Jazz Festival takes place. Istanbul has a deep and passionate love for jazz, and the festivals always offer an interesting experience.
Winter Wonderland Trip
The weather in Istanbul during the winter months, considered November through March, is at its coolest and the daytime temperatures range between 6- 10°C. There is often rain, and snow is also a possibility. This is low season for the hotels so prices are competitive and with few other visitors around, it can be the perfect time to visit – but many of the smaller restaurants and bars that cater to visitors will have closed.
Istanbul is gaining popularity as a destination for New Year’s celebrations and a number of the hotels offer special packages. There is something magical about watching all the brilliant firework displays from a boat on the Bosporus or the rooftop terrace of a restaurant. Winter sales are also a good incentive, and offer quality goods at cut-rate prices.