Wondering when the best time to visit Turkey is? Turkey is a fascinating place. It’s a Mediterranean country that’s also got wild mountains and Black Sea coastline, a nation of sun-soaked islands, part Europe and part Near East. With all this variation comes different climates, so it can be difficult to know exactly when the best time to visit Turkey is.
Don’t worry, though; we’ve come up with this in-depth guide to when you should make your way to Turkey. We’re talking month-by-month weather rundown and even a seasonal festival calendar so you don’t miss the best events Turkey has to offer.
The Best Time to Visit Turkey
Weather in Turkey in January
January in Turkey is winter – definitely winter. The temperatures are cool, if not outright cold, the average being 4°C across the country. There’s also quite a bit of rain kick-starting the year. Some areas like Antalya are usually warmer at this time of year, with an average high of 15°C. The most visited city, Istanbul, is about 8°C. Coastal resorts are also chilly, and the sun sets at about 4:45 pm. Don’t expect long, balmy days in the sun this month. Having said that, tourist attractions will be quiet, so if you don’t mind the cold – go for it. It is pretty frigid, though.
Weather in Turkey in February
It’s still cold in February, and it’s still low season; if you don’t like tourist crowds, you might find it a great time of year to visit Turkey. Not so great if you prefer hot weather. You’ll have to be prepared for some moisture too; just under half the days in February get rain, so bring some waterproofs along.
Cappadocia even gets snow in February! Temperature-wise, we’re talking 15°C on the south coast, but evening temperatures get as low as 5°C. Other parts of the country see average February temperatures of around 10° C. Istanbul never really gets warmer than 10°C, either – Ankarrah, the capital, around 7°C. For bargain accommodation and low crowds, this month could work for you.
Weather in Turkey in March
Days begin to get a little longer in March as winter starts to disappear. That doesn’t mean it’s hot, though – it’s still decidedly icy. The average temperature nationwide is 8°C, but depending on what area you’re visiting, this can change pretty drastically.
Somewhere like Marmaris, on the southern coast, is actually starting to get relatively warm (17°C), while in Cappadocia or areas around the Black Sea, it can still drop below freezing, there can be fog, and it could snow. Another one of those months in Turkey that might be good for you if tourist crowds aren’t your thing.
Weather in Turkey in April
April sees the start of spring begin to happen in Turkey. The temperatures really start to reflect that; the average high across the country is 15°C (nights being about 8°C). Ok, so it’s not ‘warm’ exactly, but it’s getting there, right? Days continue to get longer, with the sunset inching towards 8 pm as April comes to a close.
For warmer weather at this time of year, coastal regions – particularly the south – are where it’s at. Marmaris and Antalya see averages of 21°C in April, and the sea is a (bearable) 18°C. There’s still rain, and the weather can generally be pretty changeable, especially in more inland and mountainous areas. Silver lining – it’s tulip season in Turkey, too!
Weather in Turkey in May
May is when sunshine really starts to bless Turkey, as the country gets warmer and warmer. All that rain has brought an abundance of nature to this Mediterranean nation, notably in its mountain valleys. Turkey sees an average temperature of 16°C across the board, as well as sunny days and fewer clouds. There’s not a lot of rain, which is good news.
By the end of May, the onset of summer starts to get noticeable in places like Istanbul, which sees temperatures hit average highs of 20°C, but humidity is high (75%!). Cappadocia remains definitively cold, with averages of below 10°C for most of the month, making it still not the best time to visit Turkey for those wanting a balloon ride above the fairy chimneys without being freezing.
Weather in Turkey in June
Ok, so now it’s starting to get hot in Turkey. It’s the start of summer, which can bring pretty hot temperatures in this transcontinental country. The Mediterranean coast is finally great for days at the beach, and June is an ideal time to visit places like Marmaris to beat the summer vacationers.
Antalya, another excellent beach option, has temperatures of 31°C and the sea is a bathtub-like 25°C. Istanbul is not yet hot, with averages of 22°C. It’s a pleasant time to start hitting up the city’s historic sights, like the Blue Mosque, without getting fried by the sun – or inundated with tourists. Turkey sees ten hours of sunshine a day (average) in June, meaning hardly any rain.
Weather in Turkey in July
July is a sun-soaked month in Turkey. From mid-July onwards, it’s peak tourist season, so if you were planning on a tourist-free visit to this country, July may not be the best time to visit. But if you want hot, beach-worthy weather, then this will suit you to a t.
The country sees nationwide averages of 25°C, but on the south coast, boy is it warm! The average high is 31°C, and the sea is perfect for swimming or lounging around in the shallows; Antalya is hitting 34°C highs, while usually cold Cappadocia has 28°C! Good for a dawn hot air balloon ride (but go at the start of the month, before the hordes of tourists get there).
Weather in Turkey in August
Like July, August is hot in Turkey, and there are a ton of tourists. Cruise ships begin to rock up in Istanbul and other coastal regions, which can make seeing the best sights not that fun. Plus it’s sweaty. You won’t need any sweaters or layers; even nighttime temperatures never get below the low-twenties.
If you want to experience swimming in a bathtub, the Mediterranean Sea is about 26°C degrees during August. In a nutshell, August in Turkey means long days, beach fun, plenty of sunshine, and tourists in Istanbul. It’s a pretty good time to visit Turkey.
Weather in Turkey in September
It’s still reasonably warm in Turkey in September, but the temperatures are starting to drop. The average across the country is 27°C, but around the coast, it’s still above 30 every day – and the sea has (somehow) got warmer – it’s 27°C! It’s one of the best times to visit Turkey if you want a non-crowded beach break or want to see the sights of Istanbul without wrestling with tour groups as much as you would in the height of summer.
Things get quieter in terms of tourists, accommodation may be cheaper, but the weather is still glorious – glorious, we tell you! Towards the end of the month, however, temperatures do start to drop – and rainfall increases, too.
Weather in Turkey in October
This month is when Turkey sees the transition to much more autumnal weather. The average high in Istanbul is 19°C, for example, and it’s actually a lovely time of year to wander around historical sights, not being the height of scorching summer anymore.
The beach starts to generally not be a viable option – you may get a few beach days in October, but the sea temperature has dropped (17°C), and the south coast sees average temperatures of 20°C. There’s a lot more rain, with 60mm falling in Istanbul during October. If you visit during this month, you’ll need layers, waterproofs, and maybe even a sweater.
Weather in Turkey in November
Turkey’s average temperature for November is 13°C. It can get quite cold throughout most of the country, especially in Cappadocia, which can start to see its first snowfall at this time of year. Istanbul is also much cooler (15°C), and the crowds previously sightseeing in the city are long gone, meaning its top sights will no longer be as crazy.
Antalya and areas in the south are still relatively warm, with temperatures hovering around 20°. These can, however, drop to about 9°C after dark. Days are shorter, with the sun setting around 5 pm. Summer is definitely old news at this point.
Weather in Turkey in December
And finally, December. This is when Turkey starts to get really cold. It snows in Cappadocia (but that can make it look very pretty), the Black Sea regions get almost freezing, but if you are a keen skier, make your way to Uludag in Bursa Province. This ski resort is in full swing in December, so it may be the best time to visit Turkey if you feel like hitting the slopes!
Elsewhere, in Istanbul, it’s 8°C, and it’s wet. Two-thirds of days in December get rain in Istanbul. Even Antalya and much of the south get a lot of rain. Toward New Year, average temperatures sink to 5°C.
Festivals in Turkey
Turkish Festivals in Winter
Festivities in December in Turkey won’t be much about Christmas, as it’s a mainly Muslim country. From December 7 to 17, however, it’s time for the Whirling Dervishes Festival in Konya. It’s a celebration of the Mevlevi Order, a Sufi (mystic) Islamic sect based on the wisdom of Persian poet Rumi. See the hypnotic, frenzied sema ceremonies for yourself across the city.
New Year’s Eve is big news in Turkey. The biggest celebration is in Istanbul. Expect merriment and fireworks.
For a unique celebration, head to Selcuk for the Camel Wrestling Festival. The what? Yes – camel wrestling. This crazy festival is as crazy as the camels which, dressed in finery, literally wrestle each other. The dates are never set, but it happens sometime in January. Totally worth a visit if you can get there!
Turkish Festivals in Spring
Another film festival occurs in Turkey in mid-March in the capital – Ankara International Film Festival. Here, you’ll get to see a selection of films and documentaries from a host of international and local moviemakers.
Also in March is the Festival of Victory, celebrating the defense of the Dardanelles against an invading British fleet in the 19th century – complete with traditional Ottoman metir music. Eastern Orthodox Easter falls sometime in spring (depending on the moon); a candle-lit mass can be a pretty atmospheric experience.
March 21 is Nevruz (or Nowruz) – Persian New Year. This ancient festival is still celebrated in some parts of Turkey, with a big bonfire and other festivities.
In April, foodies should make a beeline for the Alaçatı Herb Festival – a little known festival that celebrates local fare and delicious traditional cuisine. The eight-day Presidential Cycling Tour kicks off in April, from Istanbul to the Aegean coast and onward to Antalya in the south.
Istanbul Tulip Festival is a fantastic – and very colorful – time of year to be in the city. Though originating in Holland, the tulip gained favor with the Ottomans and is the humble flower is still celebrated to this day.
May sees the Ankara International Music Festival. Expect orchestral performances as well as traditional folk music from the region.
Turkish Festivals in Summer
First things first, Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival kicks off in early summer and carries on all the way till September. There are some impressive sculptures going on here, we have to say!
There’s another Victory Day celebrated in Turkey. It’s called Zafer Bay Rami, and it commemorates the victory over the invading Greek army back in 1922, marking the end of the three-year-long Greco-Turkish War.
On an island called Bozcaada, there’s an ancient grape-growing festival that shouldn’t be missed. Thousands of people head to this small island for plenty of grape-based fun – we’re guessing that means a lot of wine!
Cabotage Day, while sounding a bit weird, is a celebration of all things sea transport-based. You can expect things like yacht racing, swimming competitions, and bustling marinas across a load of different towns and cities.
Turkish Festivals in Fall
In September, music fans should head to Faselis, where there’s a great Turkish Jazz and Folk Festival taking place in the town’s harbor. The very creative International Istanbul Biennial is all about theatre productions, visual arts, and a whole host of dramatic and music-based highbrow fun. It takes place around mid-September.
For something harvest-based, take yourself to the International Wine Festival in Cappadocia. The region isn’t all about staying in caves and wandering around fairy chimneys, so eat, drink and be merry with a whole host of wines in late October.
On November 10, it’s the anniversary of Ataturk’s death. Kemal Ataturk was the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first president. His death is marked at 9:05 am – on the dot – when car horns and foghorns on ships are blasted in commemoration of his passing. It’s quite something.
When is the Best Season to Visit Turkey?
High season (June- early September): Like most places in Europe, Turkey’s high season runs from June to mid September. This is when you will find the best sunny weather as noted above, but also crowds, especially on the Turkish coast, Istanbul, and Cappadocia. Days are longer, the weather is HOT, so you’ll want to be close to a pool or ocean and a room with AC. Hotels are at their highest during this time, but good deals can still be found.
Shoulder Season (April -May and late September – November): The weather in Turkey is cooler during these months, some would consider it much more comfortable than prime summertime weather. It’s not as busy as the summertime, but you’ll still see lots of travelers lingering about. Prices on accommodation and car rentals will drop during this time. The shoulder season is typically a fantastic time to visit Turkey.
Low Season (Late November- March): The temperatures are cooler during the low season in Turkey. You’ll still see plenty of sunny days but also overcast days and little to no sunbathing. It’s too cold to take a dip in the water, but you can still enjoy everything Turkey has to offer. Nights are cool, but the day time is still very comfortable to walk around in. I was even wearing flip flops in December. You’ll also find lower prices and less tourists during this time.
Best Time to Visit Istanbul
Istanbul can get crazy hot during the summer months, meaning the best time to visit Istanbul is in the shoulder season. April, May, September, and October will be the most comfortable time to visit the city and crowds will be much less.
Best Time to Visit Cappadocia
Cappadocia is truly fabulous anytime of year. The crowds are at their peak in the summer season, so if you want lower rates and fewer people around head here in the shoulder – or even better the low season. Anytime of year Cappadocia is good for hiking, we visited in December and were greeted with temperatures comfortable for being out all day in. We also got crazy low rate at some of the best cave hotels in Cappadocia.
Best Time to Visit the Turkish Coast
Another fabulous place to visit in Turkey anytime of year is the coast. Places like Bodrum and Oludeniz are comfortable even in the winter, though you likely won’t be swimming. For swimming and sunbathing visit the Turkish coast between May-October.
Cheapest Time to Visit Turkey
Turkey is a pretty affordable destination to visit year round, though the accommodation, flight, and car rental prices do rise in the summer. The cheapest time to visit Turkey is during the off season between November and March.
Plan and Pack for Turkey
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Turkey so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps here is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well.
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
Of course, what you wear all depends on where you live! For those heading to Turkey in the Spring or Fall, you may want something a little warmer. For those days we always reach for a warm fleece jacket.
Patagonia’s Synchilla Snap T Pullover fleece is the best fleeces for the beach in our opinion. The fleece has a classic relaxed cut that has a timeless look for a walk on the beach or evening bonfire. It’s a double-sided fleece that provides plenty of warmth while remaining soft and comfortable.
If you’re wondering what travel necessities to bring to Turkey then good walking shoes should be your top concern.
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Turkey. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
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