Istanbul is a fascinating holiday destination, which appeals to travellers looking for a unique cultural experience, a romantic retreat or a cosmopolitan city break. If you’re planning to visit Istanbul, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast. The changing seasons can bring variable conditions, and some excursions and activities are better suited to dry, warm weather than cool, rainy days.
Istanbul enjoys defined seasons when it comes to the climate and weather conditions. From soaring temperatures in the summer to chilly climes in the winter, this is a city that sees everything from snow and ice to sweltering sunshine. If you plan to take a trip to Istanbul, here’s a useful guide to the local weather.
Weather in Istanbul All Year Round 2021
In this article, you can find information about the weather in Istanbul all year round in 2021. Of course, the weather changes exceptionally some years, but the average temperatures are as in the article.
I divided the weather in Istanbul into four main headings: spring, summer, autumn and winter. However, you can also find the weather for each month in the bottom lines. You can also find insider tips on what activities you can do in Istanbul according to the season.
1. Spring Weather in Istanbul
The spring weather in Istanbul is quite walk-friendly and according to most visitors, spring is the best time to visit Istanbul. At this time of year, temperatures start to rise, the skies tend to be bright and clear, and visitors can enjoy the sunshine without having to endure intense heat and humidity.
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Istanbul, as good weather is almost always guaranteed. This is peak tourist season in the city and there’s plenty going on. The Tulip Festival is a highlight for many visitors. Showcasing dazzling displays of tulips across the city, this festival dates back 300 years.
If the weather is good, and the sun is shining, it’s also a fantastic idea to visit the Prince Islands. This collection of nine small islands lies just south of Istanbul, and provides the perfect base for basking in the sun, enjoying scenic views, hiking, swimming, and trying water sports.
March Weather in Istanbul
Although March is considered the first month of spring in Istanbul, the weather is still cool. Average temperatures start to climb slowly, reaching around 10°. There is still a fair amount of rain around during the month of March, with an average monthly rainfall of 70mm, so it’s best to prepare for the odd shower.
April Weather in Istanbul
In Istanbul, the weather starts to get warmer in April, but a jacket is still required. April is generally a dry month which sees plenty of warm sunshine. With a maximum daytime temperature of around 18°, this is a really pleasant time to see the sights and watch gardens and parks spring into life.
May Weather in Istanbul
May is drier and warmer than March and April, and it’s a perfect time to enjoy blue skies and soak up the sun without worrying about getting too hot. May is the best month to visit Istanbul in the spring. The weather in May is suitable for all activities in Istanbul. Temperatures usually reach around 22° by the end of the month.
Packing Tips for Istanbul’s Spring
If you’re visiting Istanbul in the spring, pack lightweight clothing, a sun hat and a cotton or linen jacket or shawl for the evenings. It’s also a good idea to pack a waterproof jacket if you’re visiting in March. If you did not bring enough clothes while coming to Istanbul, there is no need to worry. You can find good quality clothes at cheap prices from shopping streets in Istanbul.
2. Summer Weather in Istanbul
Summer is generally regarded as a time to visit the popular holiday resorts located on the West and South coastlines, rather than Istanbul, which tends to be very hot and humid. While June is tolerable, July and August in the city can be overbearing. During the summer months, there is very little rain, and the mercury rises significantly.
The summer is not ideally suited to sightseeing, and it’s best to head to the coastal resorts at this time of year to enjoy lower temperatures and a refreshing breeze. If you go to Istanbul during the summer months, you can take a Bosphorus cruise or go to the Prince Islands. In addition, you can swim in beaches close to Istanbul.
June Weather in Istanbul
The weather in Istanbul in June is still suitable for walking tours. The sweltering summer heat has not yet begun, and the humidity is bearable. If you are going to visit Istanbul in the summer, June is the best time.
July Weather in Istanbul
The weather in Istanbul in July is not suitable for a long stay outdoors. If you come during this period, you can join Bosphorus tours and visit the Prince Islands. You can also visit the museums of Istanbul and stay in air-conditioned spaces.
August Weather in Istanbul
Most of the Istanbulites leave the city in August. Those who have a summer house go to the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Istanbul weather is very humid in August. When the air temperature of 35 degrees is combined with 90% humidity, it becomes difficult to travel around the city.
Dressing for Istanbul’s Summer
Opt for loose, light, comfortable clothing in the summer. Cotton, jersey, and linen shorts, skirts, dresses, tops and trousers will work perfectly. Don’t forget to stock up on sun cream too. If you want to find cheap summer clothes in Istanbul, you can check out shopping places like Istiklal Street.
3. Autumn Weather in Istanbul
Istanbul weather in autumn is very pleasant and mild, and this is why many visitors choose to book a holiday at this time of year. Temperatures start to tail off from August onwards and the humidity also becomes less intense.
The weather in autumn is ideal for exploring the beautiful, rustic, labyrinth-like streets of Istanbul. Meander at your leisure or take a guided walking tour. Look out for street art, as well as traditional symbols of eras gone by, such as intricate, ornate mosaics and tiles.
The Istanbul marathon usually takes place in November, but if you don’t fancy taking part, there are plenty of less gruelling running and hiking routes around the city’s parks and forests. A day trip on the Bosphorus also comes highly recommended.
September Weather in Istanbul
Istanbul weather in September allows for long walks and cultural discoveries. Temperatures start to fall to a maximum of around 24° and rainfall increases slightly. The evenings and nights are also cooler.
October Weather in Istanbul
The weather in Istanbul in October is a little cool but pleasant and the temperature average is around 18 degrees. There are various cultural activities in the city in October. The last open-air concerts before winter comes in this period. The cinema festival called FilmEkimi also takes place in this period.
November Weather in Istanbul
November is the last period of autumn in Istanbul. In general, the air temperature drops significantly in the second half of November. While you can wear a jacket in early November, you may need to wear a coat towards the end. It is a good time to visit Istanbul, no matter how cold it is. It gets less crowded as it is the end of the tourist season. It is a golden time to visit the city without the winter cold.
What to Wear in Istanbul’s Autumn
If you’re packing for an autumn holiday in Istanbul, take clothing suitable for warm weather and some layers to keep you warm when the sun fades and temperatures drop slightly. If you came to Istanbul without considering the cold weather, you can find very cheap outdoor clothes from the shops in Karakoy neighborhood.
4. Winter Weather in Istanbul
The weather in Istanbul in the winter is a stark contrast to the hot summer days. It’s cold, there’s a lot more rain around, and there is a chance of snow.
Winter may not be everyone’s favourite time to visit Istanbul, but there are perks of seeing the city during the low season. At peak times, tourist attractions can get busy, and in the winter, you can peruse museums and stroll through the narrow streets without getting stuck.
If you’re lucky enough to see snow, you’ll also be bowled over by the beauty of the city under a crisp, white blanket. Winter is an excellent time to indulge the taste buds and take a tour of restaurants serving traditional delicacies and bars serving raki.
If it’s grey and wet outside, you can also head for a hammam and relax in the warm, soothing waters. Shopping in Istanbul is another great way to pass the time on a cloudy, cold afternoon.
December Weather in Istanbul
December is one of the rainiest months in Istanbul. Since the air temperature will be around 10 degrees, it may be difficult to participate in walking tours. If you are going to visit places with plenty of open areas such as Topkapi Palace, be prepared for the wind.
January Weather in Istanbul
January is the coldest month in Istanbul. The average temperature drops to 6-7 degrees. It does not snow in Istanbul every year. However, the times when it snows are usually in January. Snow doesn’t stay on the ground for more than a day or two. However, snow paralyzes traffic in the city. For this reason, if you are going to come to Istanbul in January, try to choose hotels close to the metro and tram.
February Weather in Istanbul
February in Istanbul is slightly better than January. However, the weather is still very cold. The second half of January and the whole of February are low tourist season in Istanbul. If you want to visit museums without waiting, you can visit Istanbul during this period. In addition, average hotel prices are the lowest of the year.
What to Pack for Istanbul’s Winter
As temperatures drop significantly in the winter, you’ll need to take plenty of warm clothing and some sturdy footwear. Don’t forget to pack a warm, waterproof coat, as well as some jumpers, sweaters and long trousers, and a hat, scarf and gloves. If you don’t have enough clothes for the winter months in Istanbul, you can visit the shopping malls of Istanbul.
When is The Best Time to Visit Istanbul?
The weather in Istanbul varies hugely according to the time of year. There are clearly defined seasons, and some months are much more popular than others. The best times to visit to enjoy sun-drenched days without having to withstand oppressive heat are spring and autumn.
During these peak seasons, visitors can expect pleasant temperatures and plenty of sunshine. The summer tends to be too hot and humid for many, while the winter can be incredibly cold and wet.
Istanbul will experience normalization after Covid-19 in 2021. The high tourist season in Istanbul is expected to start in autumn. Considering the tourist-friendly weather of September and October in Istanbul, you may consider visiting the city during this period.
The best time to visit Istanbul actually depends on your travel style. Since I have been a tour guide in Istanbul for about 15 years, I had the chance to observe many visitors.
Based on my observations, I wrote another article in which I give you insider tips for the right time to visit Istanbul. If you want, you can also look at the Best Time to Visit Istanbul article, which contains complementary information to this article.
Istanbul Weather in 2021 by Serhat Engul