When is the best time to visit Turkey?

The best time to visit Turkey is in the summer months, June to August, for crystal clear waters, traditional gület rides and hot air ballooning over Cappadocia. If you’re looking for winter sports, visiting Turkey between December to January is ideal as the major cities have wet weather and there are plenty of mountain ranges to choose from. The shoulder months – September and May – are good options for travellers who prefer to share the streets with locals rather than tourists. The weather is slightly cooler, but you might prefer this if you don’t enjoy the intense summer heat. It may also be a better time to visit the central and eastern regions as they experience extremely hot, dry summers. Keep in mind that accommodation can still be tricky to find on the coast and in popular resort towns in the shoulder months.

If you’re planning to travel to the eastern reaches during Ramazan (Ramadan), it’s important to consider that many restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating at reduced hours in the day. It's a different story in the evening when the fast breaks and a carnival atmosphere floods the streets. If you enjoy immersive cultural experiences, you might prefer to visit during this holy month.

When is the best time to visit Istanbul?

A view of the Mecidiye Mosque Istanbul, Turkey

The best months to visit Istanbul are March to May and between September to November when there is a plethora of cultural events and a lessening of tourist crowds. The best time to visit Istanbul for travel is before and after the peak summer season during a tepid spring and a chilly autumn. Marvel at the beauty of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar during the shoulder seasons to get the most out of your trip. As with any peak time, warm weather in the summer (June to August) brings large numbers to the city making the queues higher, prices higher and demand for accommodation more competitive. However, you’ll also be able to attend a smattering of the city’s yearly concerts, festivals and events while you sip on a cold glass of one of the best-known drinks in Turkey, rakı.

When is the best time to visit Cappadocia?

Hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey

The best time to visit Cappadocia is from May to July for the spring weather and blossoming flowers and vegetation. The most popular attraction is undeniably hot air ballooning over the UNESCO World Heritage List-protected naturally formed fairy chimneys in the Göreme region rock formations. While the sight is breathtaking any time of year, the winter season from December to February is often the most magical as the tips of these quirky-shaped creations are dusted in snow. The winter months will have less reliable weather meaning you may not be able to see an above-ground vantage from a hot air balloon.

When is the best time to visit Antalya?

Crystal blue waters and coastline seen from the Antalya Castle, Turkey

The best time to visit Antalya is June to August for the summer sunshine and pristine turquoise waters and sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. When you’re not taking advantage of the high summer temperature averages of 29 to 33C (84-91F), feast on the local fresh seafood or cruise along Turkey’s southern coastline in a traditional gület boat. If you’re looking to appreciate the history of this centuries-old city, meander through ancient Roman and Hellenistic cities and their artefacts in Antalya’s quality museums, ruins and artfully preserved old city streets of Kaleiçi.

The best time to visit Turkey - a monthly guide

January

Dogu Express train moving through snowy hills, Turkey

Best for: skiing and winter sports, Selçuk Camel Wrestling Championship, New Year’s Day

The start of the year is a chilly one for most of Turkey. With the winter season in full swing, head to Mt. Cappadocia, Erzurum or Kars for some quality time with the slopes. Since it’s often very cool on the coast many accommodation options and activities may be closed. In your off time, why not indulge in Turkey’s signature coffee and snag some bargains at the bazaars?

February

Best for: skiing and winter sports, museums, hammam spas and the Datça Almond Blossom Festival

Ever thought about a luxurious afternoon at one of Turkey’s signature hammam spas? A perfect option for warming up on cool wintry days or after long walks through the major cities that are often less crowded during this time of year. Spring is on its way so enjoy the snow while it lasts.

March

A panoramic shot of the town of Kayakoy, TurkeyBest for: hiking, exploring historical sites, Ramazan (Ramadan), Newroz, Mesir Paste Festival

March is a special time of year for many in Turkey. This month includes the start of Ramazan (Ramadan) and for the Kurdish community, the festival Newroz which celebrates the start of spring. If you are planning to travel to the eastern regions during Ramazan, consider that many restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating at reduced hours. The evenings, however, are full of life and a carnival atmosphere spreading into the streets.

April

Best for: Gallipoli, Istanbul Film Festival, Istanbul Tulip Festival, hiking,

For many, Turkey in April signifies a time of commemoration as thousands of predominantly Australians and New Zealanders visit Gallipoli to remember and reflect on the first World War. April is also Springtime and hosts the vibrant Istanbul Tulip Festival.

May

Travellers at an ancient site in Ephesus, Turkey

Best for: Hıdrellez, Labour Day, Kakava, hiking

May is the time of year when Turkey is heating up for the incoming summer season. Temperatures during this time can fall around 16 to 35C (60-95F) with chilly nights and regional weather variations. Consider taking some time to hike through the scenic Lycian Way or visit the country’s famous historical sites, such as Ephesus, before the peak season crowds arrive.

June

Best for: beaches, boat rides, hot air balloons, outdoor concerts, Kurban Bayrami, Istanbul music festival

Put away your jackets and pull out your bathers because it’s summer in Turkey. Expect 21 to 35C (69-95F) days and a balmy sea breeze for those sticking to the coastal regions during June. Many tourists and will locals will venture to the beach during summer so book in advance to secure your stay.

July

The fairy chimneys in Goreme Cappadocia, Turkey

Best for: Efes Pilsen One Love Festival, Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Championships, hot air balloons,  

Summertime is the best season for soaring over the heights of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon. Or, if heights aren’t your thing, see them from the ground during the early hours of the morning for a storybook panorama. Still not sold? Is the annual oil wrestling tournament more your style?

August

Best for: beaches, sailing and boat cruises, hiking the Kaçkar Mountains, Victory Day

Keep cool by the coast and avoid the extra hot temperatures found inland Turkey this month. However, if you head high enough you’ll be greeted by cooler temperatures in the highlands providing perfect conditions for trekking through the Black Sea or Kaçkar mountains. The Turkish mountainside is usually snowed in during other times of the year.

September

Travellers admiring the sunset from Oludeniz Georges house, Turkey

Best for: Istanbul Biennial (alternating years), Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, Bosphorus Cup Istanbul Regatta

Turkey is quieting with the return of school break and beaches are a hot commodity for those looking for some rest and relaxation. Although the holiday crowd has departed, the streets of Istanbul are lively with festivals, fresh food and fun. Sample some of the locally caught seafood (balik) and pair with rakı, a signature Turkish drink.

October

Best for: Republic Day, Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival, Cappadocia Ultra-Trail, pomegranate season

Falling in the shoulder season, October’s temperatures fluctuate from 3 to 26C (37-79F) which makes it a more comfortable time for traversing the central regions. Overlook the wonders of ancient archaeological sites of Turkey such as Hierapolis, Göbeklitepe or the Bergama Acropolis. If you get peckish on your days out, sample some of Turkey's signature dishes paired with the in-season pomegranates.

November

Interior decor in Istanbul's Hagia sophia, Turkey

Best for: Istanbul Theatre Festival, Istanbul Puppet Festival, Istanbul Marathon,

The summer temperatures are a memory as Autumn’s cooler weather fully comes into effect during November. This month is also the beginning of most of the country’s rainy season which makes it an excellent time for shopping, museums and attending some of the capital’s cultural festivals.

December

Best for: Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys, bazaars,

Don’t miss out on one of the most picturesque scenes you may ever see with the snowfall on Cappadocia’s famed fairy chimneys. While hot air ballooning is sadly often out on account of the weather, indoor activities such as shopping in the lively bazaars around the country are the favoured pastimes during December.

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