Best Time to Visit Istanbul

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 30/01/2024

Istanbul is a city that defies the boundaries of geography and time. It is the only city on the globe that lies on two continents, Europe and Asia, separated by the majestic Bosphorus Strait.

It was also the former capital of three massive empires of the past - Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman - and the home of countless civilisations that have left their mark on its landscape and culture.

Istanbul is a city that welcomes its visitors with its stunning scenery, diverse attractions, and vibrant atmosphere. There is no worst time to visit Istanbul as the city offers diverse attractions year-round.

But is there a best time to travel to Istanbul from India? Let's find out.

March to May: Spring in Istanbul

For good reasons, many travellers consider spring the best time to travel to Istanbul. Pleasant weather, lower crowds, and a lively cultural scene mark spring in Istanbul.

The normal temperature stays between 12°C and 20°C, with occasional showers and breezes.

The city is adorned with colourful flowers, especially tulips, which are celebrated in the annual Tulip Festival in April.

You can enjoy the beauty of nature in the city parks, such as Emirgan Park and Yıldız Park, where millions of tulips are planted in various shapes and patterns.

Places to Explore in Istanbul in Spring

**Spring is also an Istanbul tourist season to explore the historic Sultanahmet district, where you can visit the following landmarks.

Hagia Sophia: Hagia Sophia is a stunning monument that reflects Istanbul's rich history and culture. Once a church, then a mosque, and now a museum, Hagia Sophia showcases the artistic and architectural achievements of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.

The Blue Mosque, also called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a famous symbol of Istanbul. It was built in the 17th century. The mosque is famous for its six minarets and its blue-tiled interior. The mosque is still a place of worship and a tourist attraction.

Topkapi Palace served as the home and administrative hub for the Ottoman sultans for four hundred years. It is a sprawling complex of buildings, courtyards, and gardens overlooking the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The palace houses a rich collection of treasures, such as jewels, weapons, costumes, and manuscripts.

Grand Bazaar: The Grand Bazaar is among the world's oldest and grandest covered markets, with over 4,000 shops and 60 streets. It is a vibrant and colourful place where visitors can find anything from spices, carpets, ceramics, and lamps to antiques, jewellery, and leather goods.

Galata Tower: Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower that stands tall over Istanbul's Galata district. The Genoese erected it in the 14th century as a watchtower and a stronghold. Today, it is a museum and an observation deck, presenting a scenic picture of the city.

If you are a cinema fan, you can also attend the Istanbul Film Festival, which is held in April and May. The festival features a collection of local and international films, documentaries, and shorts and hosts workshops, panels, and awards ceremonies. You can watch some of the best Turkish and world cinema works and meet some filmmakers and actors.

Tips to Travel to Istanbul in Spring

Book your accommodation and tickets in advance, as spring is a popular tourist season, and prices may increase.

Pack layers of clothing, as the weather can be unpredictable and vary from day to day. You may also need a raincoat or umbrella for the occasional showers.

Enjoy the outdoor dining and concerts available in spring, and try some of the delicious Turkish cuisine and drinks, such as kebabs, baklava, and çay (tea).

June to August: Summer in Istanbul

Summer is Istanbul's peak season for tourism and the hottest and sunniest time of the year. The normal temperature varies from 20°C to 29°C, but due to humidity, it can reach up to 38°C. Summer is the best time to enjoy the sparkling Bosphorus, beach activities, and Istanbul's nightlife.

One of the top places to visit in summer is the Princes' Islands, a group of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. You can take a ferry from the city and escape the heat and the crowds. The islands are car-free, so you can explore them by bike, horse-drawn carriage, or on foot.

Places to Explore in Istanbul in Summer

Dolmabahçe Palace was the lavish residence of the Ottoman sultans in the 19th and 20th centuries. The palace is located on the European shore of the Bosphorus and boasts stunning architecture and interior design, lending Ottoman, European, and Asian styles. You can admire the opulent rooms, crystal chandeliers, paintings, and trends of the palace and learn about the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire.

Greek Orthodox monasteries: Istanbul's religious history is reflected in its many Greek Orthodox monasteries and churches. Some of the most remarkable ones are the Church of St. Mary of the Spring, which stands over a holy spring and is surrounded by a graveyard of patriarchs; the Church of St. George, which is the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the spiritual heart of Orthodox Christianity; and the Chora Church, which is renowned for its stunning Byzantine mosaics and frescoes.

Some notable festivals to enjoy in this best season to visit Istanbul are:

The International Music Festival is a cultural event organised every June and July in Istanbul. It showcases a variety of European classical music, ballet, opera, and traditional music performances by famous artists worldwide. The festival also features concerts and workshops at historical venues such as Hagia Irene Museum, Sureyya Opera House, and Rahmi Koc Museum.

The Jazz Festival takes place every July in Istanbul. It offers a selection of jazz music styles, such as classical, modern, Scandinavian, and electronic, as well as rock, pop, reggae, and funk. The festival hosts musicians from Turkey and abroad and organises activities such as Vitrin Showcase, Young Jazz+, and awards.

The Victory Day is a national holiday on August 30 in Istanbul. It commemorates the decisive victory of the Turkish army over the Greek army in the Battle of Dumlupınar in 1922, which ended the Greco-Turkish War and the Turkish War of Independence. The holiday also honours the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The holiday is celebrated with military parades, ceremonies, concerts, and fireworks.

Tips to Travel to Istanbul in Summer

Visit popular attractions early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the long lines and crowds. You can also buy tickets online or skip the Istanbul Museum Pass queues.

Remain hydrated and calm by gulping water and finding shade or air-conditioned places. You can also buy a fan or a hat from street vendors to beat the heat.

Dress justly and snugly for the weather and the culture. Light and loose clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen may be necessary. You may also need to cover your head, shoulders, and legs when visiting mosques and religious sites.

September to November: Fall in Istanbul

Fall is another ideal time to visit Istanbul, as the weather is moderate, the foliage is colourful, and the prices are reduced. The usual temperature runs from 15°C to 24°C, with occasional rain and wind.

The city is covered with shades of yellow, orange, and red, contrasting with the blue sky and the sea.

Fall is the cheapest time to visit Istanbul's lesser-known but equally impressive attractions.

Places to Explore in Istanbul in Fall

Süleymaniye Mosque was built by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and designed by the master architect Mimar Sinan in the 16th century. The mosque has a magnificent dome, four minarets, and a spacious courtyard. It also contains the tombs of Süleyman, his wife Hürrem, and other sultans.

The Spice Bazaar: The Spice Bazaar is one of Istanbul's oldest and most colourful markets. It is located near the New Mosque and the Bosphorus and offers a variety of spices, herbs, nuts, dried fruits, sweets, and souvenirs. The bazaar was built in the 17th century with revenues from Egypt.

The Basilica Cistern: The Basilica Cistern is an underground wonder and one of the best-preserved Byzantine sites in Istanbul. Emperor Justinian erected it in the 6th century as a water storage chamber for the city. The cistern is held by 336 columns, many of which were recycled from earlier buildings. The cistern also features two mysterious Medusa heads and a wishing column.

The Chora Church: The Chora Church is a medieval masterpiece that showcases the artistic and religious heritage of Byzantium. It was originally built in the 4th century as part of a monastery outside the city walls. It was rebuilt and decorated with stunning mosaics and frescoes in the 11th and 14th centuries. The church was converted into a mosque in the Ottoman era and a museum in 1945.

The Bosphorus Bridge: The Bosphorus Bridge is a modern marvel that connects Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus Strait. It is the southernmost of the three suspension bridges in Istanbul. It was completed in 1973 and was the fourth-longest suspension bridge span in the world at that time. The bridge is lit with LED lights at night, offering a panoramic view of the city. The bridge was renamed the 15 July Martyrs Bridge in 2016.

Some notable festivals to enjoy in this best time to visit Istanbul from India are:

The Book Fair: The Book Fair is a literary event every November in Istanbul. It brings hundreds of authors, publishers, and readers from Turkey and abroad. The fair offers a platform for book launches, signings, interviews, and panel discussions. The fair also hosts special sections for children and young adults and comics. TÜYAP Fairs and the Turkish Publishers Association organise the fair.

The Republic Day: The Republic Day is a national holiday on October 29 in Istanbul. It observes the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey on October 29 1923, by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The holiday is celebrated with military parades, ceremonies, concerts, and fireworks. The holiday also honours the Turkish War of Independence and the Turkish Constitution.

The Kurban Bayramı: The Kurban Bayramı, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is a religious holiday every year in Istanbul, according to the Islamic lunar calendar. It marks the holy month of sacrifice, prayer, and charity for Muslims. During Kurban Bayramı, Muslims slaughter an animal, usually a sheep or a cow, and share its meat with the poor and the needy. The holiday also celebrates the story of Abraham and his son.

Tips to Travel to Istanbul in Fall

Check the weather forecast before you go, as it can change quickly and vary from day to day. For cooler and wetter days, you may need a jacket, a scarf, and an umbrella.

Enjoy boat trips on the Bosphorus, which are less crowded and more scenic in the fall. You can also rent a bike or a scooter and explore the coastal areas at your own pace.

Sample Istanbul's seasonal cuisine, such as roasted chestnuts, stuffed grape leaves, quince dessert, and boza (a fermented drink made from millet). You can also try traditional Turkish coffee served with a piece of Turkish delight.

December to February: Winter in Istanbul

Winter is the least popular time to visit Istanbul, as the weather is cold and rainy, the days are shorter, and the events are fewer. The normal temperature goes from 5°C to 10°C, but it can occasionally drop below zero and snow. Winter in Istanbul is not for everyone, but it can also offer some unique and cosy experiences.

Winter is a good time to visit some of Istanbul's indoor attractions, such as the Turkish Baths.

Places to Explore in Istanbul in Winters

Archaeological Museum: The Archaeological Museum is a treasure trove of ancient artefacts from various civilisations and periods. It was founded in 1869 by the Ottoman sultan Abdülaziz and the painter-archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey. The museum displays items from Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and more. Some highlights are the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Sidon Sarcophagi, and the Kadesh Treaty.

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts: This cultural gem showcases the artistic and religious heritage of the Turkish and Islamic worlds. It is housed in the former palace of Ibrahim Pasha, the grand vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent. The museum exhibits a rich collection of carpets, calligraphy, ceramics, metalwork, and ethnography. Some of the rarest pieces are the Umayyad and Abbasid manuscripts, the Seljuk carpets, and the Prophet Muhammad’s relics.

Eyüp Sultan Mosque: The Eyüp Sultan Mosque is a sacred site that honours Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, the companion and standard-bearer of the Prophet Muhammad. It was built by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1458 and rebuilt by Selim III in 1800. The mosque is a pilgrimage destination and a coronation place for the Ottoman sultans. It also contains a mausoleum and a cemetery.

Some notable festivals to enjoy in this season are:

The Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrating the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world. In Istanbul, the Greek Orthodox community observes this day on January 6th with a religious ceremony at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Fener. The event's focal point is the "blessing of the waters," a ritual in which a cross is tossed into the Golden Horn, and young men plunge into the water to retrieve it.

The International Gastronomy Festival is a culinary event that showcases the diversity and richness of Turkish and world cuisines. Organised by the Turkish Cooks and Chefs Federation, the festival attracts chefs from different countries who compete in various categories and display their skills and creativity. The festival also offers a platform for gastronomy brands, food enthusiasts, and media to network and exchange ideas.

Tips to Travel to Istanbul in Winter

Some tips and recommendations for travelling during this Istanbul tourist season are:

Dress warmly and comfortably for the weather and the culture. You may need a coat, hat, scarf, and gloves for cold and snowy days. You may also need to cover your head, shoulders, and legs when visiting mosques and religious sites.

Find cosy and warm places like cafes, restaurants, bars, and hotels. You can also drink salep, a hot and creamy drink made from orchid root, milk, and sugar, a popular winter treat in Istanbul.

Book your accommodation and tickets in advance, as winter is a low season for tourism, and you can find some great deals and discounts.

Conclusion

Istanbul is a city that offers something for every traveller, regardless of the time of the year. But before visiting here, check the visa requirements for your country before you travel to Istanbul.

Additionally, it is advisable to get a travel insurance policy when visiting Istanbul from India.

When you buy travel insurance, you get coverage for lost baggage, mishaps on the trip, and extended accommodation and also pays for the loss incurred due to trip cancellation.

But make sure to compare travel insurance plans before finalising one. Tata AIG offers travel insurance online with easy purchase and claim process. Get in touch for more information.

FAQS

Which is the best month to visit Istanbul?

April and May are generally ideal for enjoying spring flowers, pleasant weather, and cultural events.

What is the cheapest time to visit Istanbul?

The cheapest time is from December to February. During this time, the weather is cooler, and the tourist season is over. You can find cheaper prices for flights and hotels and fewer crowds at the attractions.

Which month is best to go to Turkey?

Turkey is a large and diverse country, so the best month to go depends on where you want to visit and what you want to do.

What is the cheapest time to fly to Turkey?

The cheapest time to fly to Turkey is usually early December when the travel demand is low and the airfares are discounted. However, depending on your departure and arrival airports, you may also find good deals in January, February, and November.

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