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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Istanbul in 2024 (Our Take)

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Istanbul in 2024 (Our Take)

What's the best time to visit Istanbul?

The best time to visit Istanbul is during spring (mid-April to early June) or early autumn, with mild weather and fewer tourists. Spring is marked by the Tulip Festival and various cultural festivities, whereas autumn offers a rich arts scene with events such as the Istanbul Biennial and jazz festivals. These periods are ideal for exploring Istanbul’s attractions and saving money on your flight and hotel.

Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, is one of the most unique places in the world to visit. Visitors to Istanbul will be confronted with thousands of years of history, from the Byzantine legacy of the Hagia Sophia to majestic monuments of the Ottoman sultans like Topkapi Palace.

The modern city is a place where haggling at the Spice Bazaar is practically a national sport, where you can find hip neighborhoods like Kadiköy, and where great food is always just a step away.

There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, it’s impossible to truly discover the city on one visit. However, you can make the most of your trip there by timing your visit properly. Keep reading to learn more about the best times to visit.

Overall Best Time to Visit Istanbul

Woman drinking Turkish coffee while wearing a floral robe and sitting on a balcony overlooking the mosque during the best time to visit Istanbul, the summer


The best time to visit Istanbul is in spring (mid-April to early June), when the weather is beautiful and Istanbul is at its best. The early autumn is also a nice time to visit.

Spring in Istanbul takes some time to arrive (the weather is surprisingly chilly), but once it does, the weather is beautiful. Average daily high temperatures in April are around 16.6 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the UK Met Office.

May is even warmer, with average daily high temperatures of around 71 degrees. Early spring can be rainy, but showers start to slow down by mid-April. You can catch sunny weather in April, and the weather is downright glorious in May.

There’s nothing like strolling through Istanbul on a sunny day, admiring the blooms. Flowers are so characteristic of an Istanbul spring—the city even puts on an International Tulip Festival during the entire month of April.

Spring is a great season for events and festivals, which include:

Fall is another great season to visit Istanbul, with similar benefits to those found in the spring. The weather is also mild, offering a welcome respite from summer’s heat.

While September can still be quite hot, October temperatures are cooler, around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). This is great weather for walking around the city or cruising along the Bosporus.

The fall is one of the best times of year to visit Istanbul if you are interested in the city’s arts and culture scene. After a summer break, gallery openings and shows begin to pick up again. Every other September, the city hosts the Istanbul Biennial, which celebrates contemporary art.

Other great cultural events include:

Both spring and fall see consistent numbers of visitors, but not nearly as many as during the summer peak season. Savvy travelers can find good hotel deals even during this time.

Cheapest Time to Visit Istanbul

People walking along in the rain during the overall cheapest time to visit Istanbul while historical buildings can be seen from either side of the path


The cheapest time to visit Istanbul is during the winter, from December to February, when lower demand means prices of major travel expenses are lower.

During the winter, due to lower demand, the prices of accommodations tends to be a lot lower than they are during the rest of the year.

In early December, you can find top hotels offering as much as 45%–50% off of their room prices! If you spend time shopping around and are a bit flexible with your dates, you can easily find accommodations below your budget.

Getting to Istanbul is always easy thanks to the city’s three airports, including Istanbul International Airport, which is the seventh busiest airport in the world.

Since there are so many regional and international connections available, by comparing prices, you can usually find good flight deals.

The best deals are found in January and February, although good flight deals continue well into spring. Turkish Airlines, the country’s main airline, usually offers annual sales for mid-winter flights as well.

Least Busy Time to Visit Istanbul

Woman in a brown coat picking out vegetables during the least busy time to visit Istanbul, the winter

Breslavtsev Oleg/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Istanbul is during the winter, when chillier weather puts off many tourists from visiting. Many visitors are surprised to find out that Istanbul gets cold winters, even though it is located at a fairly southern latitude.

Average high temperatures in January are just 8.6 degrees Celsius (about 48 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s cold enough for the city to even get some snow days. More concerning than the chill is the rainy, gray weather.

On average, Istanbul only gets three hours of sunshine per day in January. The winter is the city’s rainiest season, with December being the month with the most rainfall out of the year (January and February don’t fall far behind).

Even on days when it isn’t raining, the city tends to be gray and covered in mist—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it adds a moody, mystical feeling to the city.

What quibbles you may have about the weather will probably go away once you realize that you are paying much less for a hotel room and get to beat the crowds at most popular sights.

This is the time of year when you have the fewest visitors, even at popular sights like the Grand Bazaar, making the whole trip feel more relaxed. Istanbul is a big metropolis, which means that it’s not one of the places that shuts down just because it’s the off-season for locals.

Even when the weather isn’t pleasant, you can visit one of the many indoor attractions, such as museums, hammams, or traditional Turkish baths, and many restaurants serving hearty meals and warm coffee, tea, or salep.

Winter is an important time for Istanbul’s small but historic Christian community. January is Christmas time for the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox communities, while February is when the revived Tatavla Carnival takes place.

If you’re looking for a more secular experience that still inspires religious-like passion, visit in December for the International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival.

Worst Time to Visit Istanbul

Boat on the water seen through some very thick fog with a brown sky during the worst time to visit Istanbul

Nejdet Duzen/Shutterstock

There is no bad time to visit Istanbul, but you may find a summertime visit unpleasant due to the high temperatures and big crowds. Summer in Istanbul can get quite hot and sticky. Average daily highs in July are about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, but many days get even hotter.

The city can get quite humid in the summer, which makes it feel even hotter. Since a lot of the city doesn’t have parks or greenery, the heat can feel even worse. The high heat can also make the smell of the trash even more intense.

Summer is also the most popular time to visit the city since schools are on break in Turkey and throughout much of the world.

Expect many local families coming on a trip, diaspora Turks returning home for a visit, and international visitors taking advantage of their time off from work. Lines at popular attractions like Hagia Sophia are longest during this time.

The good thing about visiting in the summer is that there is always plenty to do. The city and local businesses organize lots of open-air festivities like concerts and fairs. Popular annual events include the Istanbul Jazz Festival (July) and the Bosporus Cross-Continental Swim (August).

This is a great time to explore the great Bosporus that divides the river. Go on a boat cruise or river tour, explore some of the hidden islands, and get away from the crowds in the center of the city.

Istanbul by Month: Climate & Activities

Neat hand-made lamps as seen in a bazaar in Istanbul


Still unsure about the best time to visit Istanbul? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:


Istanbul’s winter temperatures range from 3 to 8°C (37-46°F). January is perfect for exploring historic sites like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, enjoying a Bosphorus cruise despite the chill, and savoring traditional Turkish tea and pastries in cozy cafés.


Continuing the cold weather, February is ideal for visiting Istanbul’s world-class museums like the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, wandering through the Grand Bazaar for unique souvenirs, and indulging in rich Turkish cuisine at local eateries.


As spring emerges, temperatures rise slightly to 4-11°C (39-52°F). This month is great for strolling through Gülhane Park, exploring the vibrant streets of Galata, and experiencing the colorful Hidirellez Spring Festival.


With temperatures ranging from 7 to 16°C (45-61°F), April is lovely for enjoying the Tulip Festival in Emirgan Park, taking a ferry ride to the Princes’ Islands, and exploring the historic district of Sultanahmet.


May sees warmer temperatures from 12 to 21°C (54-70°F). It’s a great time to visit the Dolmabahçe Palace, enjoy a rooftop meal with views of the city, and explore the lively neighborhoods of Beyoğlu and Kadıköy.


Summer arrives with temperatures between 17 to 26°C (63-79°F). June is perfect for sunbathing on the beaches of the Princes’ Islands, attending the Istanbul Music Festival, and exploring the bustling Istiklal Street.


July brings hot weather with temperatures from 20 to 29°C (68-84°F). Enjoy the Bosphorus at sunset, explore the city’s vibrant nightlife, and attend the Istanbul Jazz Festival.


August remains hot, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 29°C (68-84°F). It’s ideal for taking a Bosphorus night cruise, exploring the city’s various summer festivals, and relaxing in Istanbul’s famous Hamams.


As fall begins, temperatures range from 17 to 25°C (63-77°F). September is great for visiting the Ortaköy Mosque, enjoying the Istanbul Biennial, and strolling through the historic streets of Çukurcuma.


Temperatures in October range from 13 to 20°C (55-68°F). This month is perfect for exploring the Spice Bazaar, taking a scenic walk along the Golden Horn, and experiencing the Akbank Jazz Festival.


Fall temperatures range from 8 to 15°C (46-59°F). November is ideal for exploring the city’s culinary scene, visiting the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, and enjoying the Istanbul Film Festival.


Winter returns with temperatures ranging from 5 to 11°C (41-52°F). December is magical with festive decorations, exploring the festive markets, and enjoying the New Year’s celebrations along the Bosphorus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Kuzguncuuk Street view with a brick walking path pictured during the best time to visit Istanbul

Nejdet Duzen/Shutterstock

Here are a few of the best questions people have asked about visiting Istanbul:

Which month is best to visit Istanbul?

The best month to visit Istanbul is May, which has beautiful, warm weather and the lowest chance of rain. The crowds are also more manageable.

How many days do you need in Istanbul?

You should spend at least five days in Istanbul. The city has many attractions to see and is quite big, so you’ll need time to get around.

What is the best time of year in Turkey?

The best time of year in Turkey is spring or fall, which tends to have milder weather compared to the extremes of winter and summer.

What is the peak tourist month in Turkey?

Tourism in all of Turkey, including Istanbul, peaks in June, July, and August. Expect long lines and packed public transport.

Is Istanbul very cheap?

Due to the fall of the Turkish lira, Istanbul is affordable for many international visitors, but there are also high-end hotels and shops that cost a lot of money.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Istanbul?

Istanbul is at its best during the mild spring and fall, when the cultural calendar is packed with festivals and temperatures are not too hot or too cold. Budget travelers will prefer to travel in the winter.

So, with so much to see and do and countless amazing times to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Istanbul has to offer. Happy travels!