Istanbul has a romantic allure for millions of tourists each year, ranking in the top 10 for the most popular tourist cities in the world. Its Byzantine-influenced skyline, filled with mosques, domes and spires makes for an enchanting scene when viewed from the Bosphorus or the Sea of Marmara.
Istanbul climate information
When is the best time to visit Istanbul?
For those who enjoy high temperatures and plenty of sunshine, the summer months offer the highest temperatures combined with long hours of sunshine and little rainfall. Those who wish to explore in cooler temperatures should visit late spring or early autumn as rainfall remains low, whilst temperatures are more comfortable. Winters are generally cool with more frequent rain, but there are still plenty of buildings to explore. The surrounding waters of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, mean that the city has regular fogs and mists at any time of year.
Spring gets off to a cool start, with March seeing average daily highs of 11.6°C. By May, average highs reach 22°C and sunshine hours have increased to around 8 hours per day. Visitors in spring should be prepared for the possibility of rain. March sees an average of 58mm of rainfall, falling to around 43mm in April.
June sees average daily highs of a balmy 27°C, rising to 29.8°C in July, which is the hottest month. Rainfall is low during the summer season, with an average of just 19mm in July. Visitors to Istanbul in July can expect long hours of sunshine, with around 12 hours per day. June and August see around 10 hours of sunshine per day.
The temperature falls steadily throughout autumn. Average daily highs are at a pleasant 25.4°C in September, falling to 20.2°C in October. Sunshine hours decrease too, and in November tourists can expect only 4 hours of sunshine per day. November also sees cooler temperatures with avergae daily highs of 14.9°C, and an increased chance of rain. The average rainfall for November is 69mm.
Winter in Istanbul
Winter brings cooler weather to the city, with average highs dropping below 10°C in January and February. January is the coldest month with daily average highs of just 8.6°C. December is warmer, with average temperatures of 10.8°C, but sees the highest levels of rainfall, with an average of 85mm. Throughout winter, tourists will likely see only 3 hours of daily sunshine.
Istanbul tourist information
Istanbul bridges two continents, providing a wonderful dual aspect both culturally and architecturally; the city is thoroughly cosmopolitan, whilst at the same time drawing from its rich Byzantine and Roman heritage.
The majestic Bosphorus Bridge is a potent symbol of east meets west, and the Bosphorus Strait has some highly recommended boat trips, giving you a real sense of how Istanbul stands at an important cultural confluence.
The Hagia Sophia Museum sums up the city's shifting cultural influences and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. The city's skyline is packed with basilicas and spires, jutting up from famous names such as the Chora Church, the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Topkapi Palace and the incredible Blue Mosque. These beautiful and historic sites are recommended for those hot days when roaming the streets is less pleasurable.
On clear days the Galata Tower provides incredible views around the city. For a taste of traditional Istanbul, take a walk to the Sultanahmet District where there are plenty of bazaars, shops and charming restaurants.
Anyone familiar with football will know that Istanbul also has a keen sporting heritage. Visitors will often come to see European matches featuring teams such as Besiktas who play at the modern Vodafone Arena, Galatasaray (Türk Telekom Arena), and Fenerbahce (Sükrü Saracoglu Stadium). All of these teams tend to feature regularly in Champions League competition.
Istanbul is one of the most inhabited cities in the world and claimed the prestigious title of 2010 European Capital of Culture. If you are after a cultural city break with rather more exotic overtures, Istanbul is perfect.