When is the best time to visit Turkey?
The best time to visit the Mediterranean, southern and western regions of Turkey is during the summer (June to August) as the hot, sunny weather makes it an ideal time to explore, relax on the beach and dine al fresco. That being said, summer is also the peak tourist season and accommodation and tourist attractions often get booked up, so be sure to plan ahead.
The shoulder months – September and May – are good options for travelers 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.
The winter (December to February) is 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 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.
Visiting Turkey in spring
Best for: Istanbul Tulip Festival, Hidirellez, hiking
Spring sees a fair bit of regional weather variation, but by April the days are usually mild 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.
Learn more about festivals in Turkey
Visiting Turkey in the summer
Best for: enjoying Turkey's beaches, cruising, hot air balloons
Calling all beach bums. Summer is when the weather and beaches are at their best, so if you fancy cruising along the Aegean coast, June to September is the time to do it. The heat along the coast is manageable thanks to the sea breeze, but head inland and you’ll find stinking hot temperatures so bear this in mind if you don't like getting hot and sweaty.
If you've always wanted to fly over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon (add this to your bucket list immediately if not!), 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 even if you stay on the ground.
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 (and unique) festival where wrestlers get doused in olive oil and grapple with each other.
Visiting Turkey in the fall
Best for: International Wine Festival, enjoying Turkey's beaches, 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 good 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 and pomegranate-inspired dishes.
Visiting Turkey in winter
Best for: skiing, pretty winter scenery, bazaars
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 cozy up in coffee shops, relax in steamy hammams and indulge in Turkish coffee and warming winter dishes. It's also a great time to grab a bargain in the bazaars ahead of the festive season.
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