When is the best time to visit Turkey?
The best time to visit the Mediterranean, southern and western regions of Turkey is during the warmer months between June and August as the hot, sunny weather makes it an ideal time to explore the coast, relax on the beach and dine al fresco. However, this is also the peak tourist season and accommodation and tourist attractions often get booked up early, so be sure to plan ahead.
The shoulder seasons – September to October and April to 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 even prefer this if you don’t enjoy 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 accommodation can still be tricky to find on the coast and in popular resort towns.
The cooler months are quieter and accommodation (when still open) is usually cheaper. Depending on where you are and what you’re used to, the weather can be pleasantly crisp instead of freezing, though travel in December and January isn’t recommended unless you’re a fan of snow and ice.
If you’re planning to travel to the eastern reaches of Turkey 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 fast breaks and a carnival atmosphere takes over the streets. If you enjoy immersive cultural experiences, you might prefer to visit during this holy month.
Weather in Turkey
Turkey is a large country with diverse topography, so the climate varies in each region. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect in each season:
- Spring (March, April, May): Spring temperatures range from 0°C to 22°C (32°F to 72°F), with northern, southern and western Turkey experiencing fairly mild weather. Expect very cold nights in central and eastern Turkey.
- Summer (June, July, August): Summer temperatures range from 21°C to 35°C (70°F to 95°F), peaking in mid-July. Expect hot, humid days on the coast and in the north, and intense dry heat in the central regions.
- Autumn (September, October, November): Autumn temperatures range from 3°C to 26°C (37°F to 79°F), with November cooling considerably. Central and eastern Turkey experience chilly autumn nights.
- Winter (December, January, February): Winter temperatures range from -5°C to 10°C (23°F to 50°F), with Eastern Anatolia (and some central regions) seeing considerable snowfall and frigid average temperatures.
Visiting Turkey in spring
- Istanbul Tulip Festival
Spring sees a fair bit of regional weather variation, but by April it's usually mild during the day with average highs of 10 to 21°C. Nights can be chilly so make sure you bring warm layers to rug up. By May, the temperature heats up with highs of 16 to 25°C. It's a great time to visit if you love cultural festivals. Two highlights on the calendar include Hidirellez – an annual feast to welcome the arrival of spring, and the Istanbul Tulip Festival where the city is carpeted with a dazzling display of tulips. It's also a great season for hiking along the stunning Lycian Way, or exploring historical sites like Ephesus without heaps of tourists.
Visiting Turkey in summer
- Adventure Cruising
- Hot air balloons
Calling all beach bums. Summer is when the weather is at its hottest and the beaches are at their most beautiful, so if you fancy cruising along the Aegean coast, June to September is the time to do it. The weather along the coast is enjoyable thanks to the sea breeze, but head inland and you’ll find stinking hot temperatures. However, if you've always wanted to fly over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon (and you can handle the heat), summer is a great time to do it as the winds are low. Plus, Cappadocia's annual Hot Air Balloon Festival usually takes place in July, and this is a truly magical sight to witness.
You could also head to the Black Sea mountains to explore lakes and quaint hilltop villages in the cool highlands, or experience the unique Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championship – an ancient festival where wrestlers get doused in olive oil and grapple with each other.
Visiting Turkey in autumn
- International Wine Festival
- Pomegranate season
The weather starts to cool down in September, making it more comfortable to hike and explore ancient sites in the central regions. It's also a great time to head to the coast for a beach holiday as the summer crowds have gone, allowing you to enjoy the sparkling Mediterranean sea in solitude. Big cities like Istanbul are still warm enough to enjoy alfresco dining, and there are a bunch of festivals throughout the country including the International Wine Festival in Ürgüp, Cappadocia and Republic Day on 29th October. October is also pomegranate season, so don't forget to treat your tastebuds to delicious fresh juice!
Visiting Turkey in winter
- Pretty winter scenery
Winter is the low season in Turkey (aside from ski resorts), but it can be a magical time to visit if you don’t mind cold weather. While you won’t be able to have a beach holiday, you will be able to experience a slower pace in Turkey's major cities, enjoy the view of snow-capped peaks or go skiing in places like Sarikamis and Erzurum. Winter is the perfect time to cosy up in coffee shops, indulge in Turkish coffee and warming winter dishes, and relax in a steamy hammam. It's also a great time to grab some bargains in the bazaars ahead of the festive season.
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