Experienced travelers know that Turkey is a vast and beautiful country, full of interesting places, kind people, and amazing food. It is a country that stands on two continents and connects Asia and Europe. Because of its size and content, it is impossible to visit it all at once, so it is best if you plan ahead to find the best time to visit Turkey and see all this beautiful peninsula has to offer.
Winter and summer in Turkey usually bring extreme weather conditions. Generally speaking, autumn and spring are the best time of year to visit Turkey. The chances of catching a cloudless sky and a slight breeze are the best during those shoulder seasons.
Plan your trips to Turkey in May or October, and you will most likely get to wear light clothes without the sunburn or annoying sweat. May is the month with a statistically low chance of rain. However, summer is the high season for many coastal cities and there are plenty of things to experience. To make an informed decision it would be best to check everything that each season in Turkey has to offer to its residents and tourists.
Many tourists who have visited Istanbul or Ankara before would probably tell you that the best time to visit Turkey is whenever you can, and that would probably be true. Since there are plenty of places to go in Turkey, no matter when you decide to visit, you can always find some magical place.
Turkey really has it all, from the best sightseeing spots, museums, and historical places, to natural wonders and hiker’s paradises. All of those places have optimal times for visiting, and here we lay out the weather conditions throughout the year in Turkey.
Spring brings out the best in Turkey, the weather is just warm enough and the rain will most likely not ruin your stay. This is when you can sightsee and hike, or even go to the beach, all without the summer crowds. April and May are what we can call a spring shoulder season, and that is why the hotels and restaurants are not as expensive as they are in the high summer season.
Summer vacations in Turkey are a bingo if you like hot, dry weather and sunbathing on the beach. As soon as the calendar shows the month of June, the tourists start crowding up Turkish coastal towns, which stay packed until the end of August. The prices of both air traffic and accommodation soar, because foreigners and locals alike like to stay as close as possible to the many seas surrounding Turkey.
So is the high season the best time to visit Turkey? Well, yes but only if you steer clear of any type of outdoor sightseeing because the heat can be unbearable, with temperatures above 35oC. Enjoy the beach, because the temperature of the water can get to 21oC, and do not forget to put sunscreen on before you go under the strong Turkish sun.
September marks the end of the high season, but as the crowds start to clear up and the prices fall, the weather is still warm enough for the beach. As October and November come, Turkey enters its fall shoulder season, which is a perfect time to go sightseeing and bargain on a local market.
You can find the best prices of leather and spices on open markets everywhere in Turkey, especially Istanbul if you come during this period of the year. For those who love colder weather and a little bit of wind, October is the best time to travel to Turkey. But November could work ideally for museum-lovers, who can keep cover during the beginning of the Turkish rainy season.
Chilly weather marks the beginning of the low season, which starts around the end of November and lasts until the end of March. The cold breeze brings snow to most inland parts, but coastal cities, such as Istanbul, rarely get the white cast.
It is the best time to visit Turkey if you want to go skiing or participate in other winter activities. Also, the prices are the lowest, and if it is not pouring rain you can visit everything without any queues. This is the best time to go to Istanbul on a budget.
Turkey is surrounded by four different seas and has a 5000 miles-long coastline. Meaning, there are thousands of mesmerizing beaches to visit. The Bosphorus and Dardanelles, the two narrows that divide the Aegean sea and the Back sea, create the Sea of Marmara.
The coastline around that sea cannot measure to Mediterranean beaches, but it sure can surprise you. If you find yourself in Istanbul during the high season, you will for sure need cooling down and the beach called Kilyos can help you with that.
The Aegean sea offers interesting weather conditions, waves, and wind, so you can find many different activities to do when you get there. If you like windsurfing, the best time to visit Turkey for you might be the end of August and the best place to do so is Alaçatı. Kite surfing is very popular over there, so you might even sign up for a competition.
The Mediterranean sea provides Turkey with the most beautiful, wide beaches with white sand. Beaches such as Patara Beach are the best place for romantic walks and sunset watching. During the summer you can enjoy regular beach activities, but the beach is vivid during the off-season, too. It backs onto the ruins of an ancient city, so the romantic walk can be educational, as well as joyful and calming.
Unbelievable, massive boulders mixed with green flora create a backdrop for the Güzelcehisar Beach on the coast of the Black sea. The Black sea is popular for its more rural, natural, and untamed beaches. The sand is gray, the sea is warm and the history of the Turkish land is all around you. The best time to visit is by the end of August when the sea is warm and the crowds are starting to slacken.
Considering how many festivals there are in Istanbul, whenever you go you can catch something happening in this major city. The best time to visit Turkey is probably during the International Istanbul Film Festival that occurs around the beginning of April every year. This is the most prestigious film festival in the country.
The most controversial festival is the International Camel Wrestling Festival which happens each January near Ephesus. January is considered the mating season for camels, so the males get more aggressive during the fight. Embroiders sit on their camels’ backs and fight until one of them falls down, or a camel runs away. Many activists fight against this festival, but the Federation for Camel Culture and other organizations state that this festival is a part of Turkish tradition and culture.
March marks the time to celebrate Hafsa Sultan, the mother of Suleiman the Magnificent, and her recovery with the help of a paste known as mesir macunu. This is why each year from 21-24 March the whole town of Manisa honors this paste during the festival called Mesir Macunu.
The Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim is a unique event that takes place in the waters of the Bosphorus narrow. More than 2000 swimmers compete for first place in a swim race from Asia to Europe. Although not anyone can compete, it is an incredible thing to witness.
The best time to visit Turkey’s inland is during the off-season because the lack of tourists can offer you a chance to really feel the culture and the people. The Rumi festival and the whirling dervishes festival in the town of Konya will give you just that - an opportunity to delve into Turkish culture.
The celebration of a poet who lived a thousand years ago is 10 days long, but the last night marks the night of Rumi’s death. On that day, some performers spin around in circles until both they and the audience don’t achieve inner peace. This unique festival occurs 7-17 December each year.
When you travel on a budget, you usually want to avoid the high season, and the best time to visit Turkey would probably be October or May. Note that they use a different currency in Turkey - the Turkish lira. It would be best to fight shy of exchange offices at the airports or near the popular sights.
You can buy the Turkish lira before you arrive at your destination from US First Exchange, to avoid high airport rates. Another thing, when traveling on a budget to Turkey, keep in mind that bargaining is very common and popular, it can even be fun. Talk with the locals to find out how to get the best prices, and remember to show respect to the culture of Turkish salesmen.
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