Istanbul Best time to visit and what to pack

Table of Contents

Best Time to Visit

Since Turkey experiences cold winters and hot summers, the spring and fall seasons are the best time to visit the country. These seasons fall between April and mid-September through mid-November. During these months, the skies will most likely be sunny while temperatures are pleasant. Crowds will already start to arrive but will not be overwhelming. Visitors will have a better chance of getting discounted accommodation and airfare.

Best Time for Sightseeing

The best time to go sightseeing in Istanbul is when the temperatures are warm but not yet extremely hot. It is also a good idea to travel outside of the tourist season if you plan to go sightseeing in Istanbul. That way, you won't have to worry about the tourist crowds getting in the way.

Spring is the best month to visit the country, especially in April, just before the temperature gets too high and the flowers burst into full bloom. Regardless of the season, except in winter, plan your visit early in the morning when sightseeing. For the best experience, visit during the opening hours or late in the day.

Best Time to Cruise the Bosphorus

Cruising the Bosphorus is one of the best things to do in Istanbul, and the best time to do this is in May, when the temperatures are warm. Dolphins will also appear in the river during this time, which makes for an even more exciting experience.

The early days of September are also a great time to cruise the Bosphorus, where tourist crowds start to dwindle, and the chilly winter gusts are still several weeks away. But if you want to go cruising in the Bosphorus during winter, be prepared for possible cancellations. Plan to come early in the morning, as there's a higher chance of decent weather conditions.

Best Time to Go Shopping

With its chic boutiques, massive open-air markets, not to mention the incredible maze of stalls at the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul is an ideal destination for shopping. The Grand Bazaar has sixty streets, home to more than five thousand shops selling everything you can think of - from ceramics to carpets, antiques, jewellery, spices, and more!

Autumn is the best time to enjoy shopping in Istanbul when vendors do not have as many customers as they used to have in summer. Therefore, they would be open to bargaining. Shop early in the morning or before closing to get a good bargain. In general, malls and stores in Istanbul offer winter and summer sales. The winter sales will start just before Christmas and run until early January, continuing until their inventory runs out. Meanwhile, summer sales will kick off around the first week of July.

Best Time to Go to the Beach

The best time to visit the beaches of Turkey is in summer, especially between July and September. During this time, the weather is usually hot and dry. Temperatures along the south coast could reach the mid-30s, and sea temperatures are warm enough for swimming. September is also a wonderful time to visit Istanbul for honeymooners.

Best Time for Snow

Istanbul does not always receive much snow during the winter season. If you want to experience snow in Turkey, go to the northern areas, such as Kartalkaya, and into the Koroglu Mountains. Skiing is possible in these areas between December and March when the depth of snow can reach almost ten feet!

Turkey Travel Seasons

The High Season for tourists in Istanbul is from May to September. During this time, the weather is hot and dry, falling in the middle of summer and can go on until late spring. July and August are some of the hottest months in Istanbul. During this time, the temperatures average 30°C and can go up to 40°C or higher. While it's a great time to go to the beach, expect to share the beach with thousands of tourists. The crowds will be thick, and queues are often long during this time of the year. Accommodation rates are also more expensive at this time, and so does the airfare.

The shoulder season, which runs from April to mid-November, is a good time to visit Istanbul, with April the best month during this period as the colorful flowers are in full bloom. While many tourists would visit Istanbul during this time, the crowds are not too overwhelming. The temperatures, especially in April until early October, are likely comfortable. The shoulder season is also a wonderful time to take advantage of discounts on airfare.

The low season in Istanbul is during the winter months, from mid-November until March. It usually starts in November, when the weather makes a significant turn and brings in chilly temperatures with the possibility of snow and rain. It's also the best time to avoid the huge crowds of tourists and long queues in many tourist areas while enjoying discounted accommodations and cheaper airfare. Make sure to pack appropriately for the cold, wet weather. Bring a warm and waterproof coat, hat, and a pair of waterproof boats.

What To Wear

When deciding what to wear in Istanbul, the weather is the number one factor to consider. In general, there are no strict restrictions that you should think about when deciding what to wear on your trip to Istanbul. However, it’s worth checking the weather forecast on the days leading to your trip to help you pack. So, depending on which season you plan to visit, you'll have to keep the weather condition in mind.

While you will not have to deal with any restrictions regarding what you can and cannot wear in Istanbul, you do have to think about the footwear to pack. Since most tourist places like palaces and museums are massive and require lots of walking, including the Grand Bazaar, make sure to wear something comfortable.

What Should Visitors Wear in Istanbul?

In Istanbul, you have the freedom in terms of what to wear compared to many other countries. It's just like any European city where you'll not find restrictions on what to wear while going out and about.

The only thing you need to think of when packing for your trip to Istanbul is the weather condition since the city experiences all four seasons. Another thing to consider in what you will wear is the places you plan on visiting. If you're going to cruise in the Bosphorus, the appropriate attire is smart casual. You are free to wear open-toed sandals or flip-flops if you want.

If you plan on visiting palaces and museums, you can dress casually but wear proper and comfortable shoes, since you need to walk a lot. You should also dress appropriately when visiting religious places like mosques. Men can wear long sleeves and pants, while women can wear sleeved tops and pants or long skirt. If your dress or skirt is too short, you will be asked to cover up. Women are also required to cover their heads with a scarf.

What To Wear During the Summer Months?

If you plan on visiting Istanbul during the summer months, from May to September, you could experience warm and sunny weather. It could get quite hot, so you'll see even the locals dressed in smart casual clothes. You will see men wearing short-sleeved shirts and cotton pants or shorts. Meanwhile, women can wear shorts, casual dresses, and shirts to feel comfortable walking in the hot summer weather.

To make the most of your visit to Istanbul in summer, make sure you pack appropriately. The temperature can get really high. Men can opt for crewnecks, polos, or short-sleeved shirts to go with shorts. Pack a pair of pants so you won't have to wear a cover-up if entering the Blue Mosque or other religious sites.

Women can wear t-shirts and casual shirts suitable for the hot summer weather. Shorts, sundresses, and leggings are also a staple for women during the hot summer season. However, unlike men, the rules for women entering religious sites are stricter. It is a good idea to bring a pair of pants or a long skirt, so you won't have to stand in a queue to borrow a scarf at the mosque for a cover-up.

While it's okay to wear sandals and flip-flops, it is better to wear a pair of sneakers for exploring the outdoors. There are days when the rain is very unpredictable, so it is best to wear shoes that cover up your entire feet and will not cause you to slip.

Hats will come in handy during the peak summer season in Istanbul since it can get very sunny. If you don't want to get a tan as you explore outside, wear a sun hat. Of course, don't forget to lather up with sunscreen.

What To Wear During the Winter Months?

In the winter, between November and March, Istanbul will be freezing. Sometimes, the cold temperatures are combined with occasional snowfall and heavy rain. Although they are not the typical freezing temperatures, since Istanbul is surrounded by water, winter in the city can get a little harsh. Therefore, make sure you pack clothes that will keep you warm when coming to Istanbul in winter.

You will need to bring layers of clothing when going to Istanbul in winter. You don’t need to bring thermal layers. But if you are not used to such low temperatures, it's a good idea that you do so to avoid getting sick, which could spoil your Istanbul vacation.

For your winter trip to Istanbul, make sure you bring a pair of warm pants, jeans, or sweatpants. Consider packing warm sweaters, shawls, scarves, and mufflers to protect you from the harsh winter weather. Woollen long jackets and coats are also essential for your winter trip to Istanbul. Since you could experience frequent winter rain in the city, bring weather-resistant jackets.

If you are from a country that doesn't experience extreme winters and doesn't have winter clothing, don't worry. You can shop for winter jackets while in Istanbul. Depending on the brand, the jackets are reasonably priced.

You also need to pack long boots for your winter holiday to Istanbul, but make sure they are comfortable enough for you. Remember, you will be walking a lot as you explore Istanbul. Sneakers are a bad idea during winter, especially since it could rain, and the streets can get slippery. Water will most likely get inside your shoes, which is very uncomfortable.

What To Wear During Autumn and Spring

Autumn and spring are some of the best times to visit Istanbul. While the weather is slightly chilly, it is not too cold. It is also not too hot, allowing you to explore in comfort. Aside from the perfect weather, the scenery during these months is magnificent.

You do not need to pack plenty of winter clothes if you visit in autumn and spring. But bring a few sweatshirts, cardigans, and jackets. In spring, you should wear semi-casual clothes, like skirts, dresses, trousers, or cardigans.

What To Avoid Wearing in Istanbul

As already mentioned, there are no strict restrictions on what you can and cannot wear in Istanbul. However, there are general guidelines that will apply. As with travelling anywhere in the world, make sure to respect the local culture. Although Istanbul is very relaxed and locals are extremely accommodating to tourists, there are things you need to be mindful of in terms of the type of clothes to wear.

Avoid wearing anything that could be religiously or culturally insensitive to avoid offending the locals. Don't wear clothes that have religious or political symbolism that can be disrespectful or hurtful to locals. Avoid wearing flashy gold and silver jewelry in public places like Taksim-Istiklal and Grand Bazaar to avoid being a target of petty theft.

When going out and about, wear shoes comfortable for walking. Women should avoid wearing high heels, especially if walking longer, especially in Istiklal, where the streets are uneven and made of bricks.

While many people think Turkey has many restrictions being an Islamic country, you could be surprised that it is more liberated than its Arab neighbours.

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