Best Time To Visit Turkey

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Turkey is a vast country astride Europe and Asia, one of great contrasts. It stretches west to east 1,600 km (almost 1,000 miles) and north to south 650 km (400 miles). Its coastal resorts on the Aegean and the Mediterranean often experience temperatures around 40C/104F at the height of summer. In contrast, some parts of its mountainous interior endure as much as -40C in midwinter. So, the best time to visit Turkey depends on your interests because few countries are as rich in history and culture.

Next year is the Republic’s centenary, and it has recently been renamed as Turkiye (pronounced Turk – i – yeh). The land itself is home to many treasures, some associated with Greek and Roman Empires, legendary Troy and of course, the Ottoman period. A typical itinerary of the best of Turkey would include Istanbul and its iconic landmarks, Ephesus and the “moonscape” of Cappadocia in the heart of Turkey.

Best Time To Visit Turkey

Turkey in Summer

best time of year to visit bodrum turkey
Summer is the best time of year to visit Turkey for some sun. Head to Bitez in Bodrum and you won’t be disappointed.

The months from June spreading into September are dry nationwide, with the chance of a very occasional thunderstorm.

The exception is the Black Sea Coast, where the influence of the ocean moderates the temperatures and provides more rainfall.

Otherwise, these months are hot throughout its boundaries, with the temperatures rarely below 25C/77F anywhere and often close to 40C/104F, so a suntan is guaranteed.

A word of warning: the sun is intense on Turkey’s latitude, so bear that in mind and take suitable precautions against the sun’s rays.

Sunrise comes early (around 5.30 am) and is the best time for strenuous exercise before the heat of the day develops.

Visitors from countries further north may find it strange that the sun sets around 8.30 pm, but there’s no appreciable drop in temperatures in the following few hours.

Turkey has several coastal airports that welcome direct charter flights in the months of summer and highway infrastructure is excellent, so travelling between resorts and cities is no problem.

Renting a car is a popular thing to do and you will encounter minimal problems driving Turkey’s main highways. Istanbul, though, may be a challenge.

map of turkey

Here are some guideline stats but remember the vast size of Turkey and the variations as a result:

  • June (Sunrise 0530, Sunset 2030, Average Low Temperature 20C (68F), Average High Temperature Average High 25C (78F))
  • July (Sunrise 0550, Sunset 2015, Average Low Temperature 23C (73F), Average High Temperature 28C (82F)
  • August (Sunrise 0620, Sunset 2015, Average Low Temperature 23C (73F), Average High Temperature 28C (82F)

Five Things to Do in Turkey in Summer

best time of the year to visit turkey castle of Rumeli Hisari blue sky and green water
The best time to visit Turkey is summer because there are more places to visit, such as the ancient, medieval castle of Rumeli Hisari built on a hill above the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

1- The warm, clear waters around Turkey’s coastline are wonderful. You can just take a day trip out to sea if you wish, but anything is possible. Hire a captain and his boat for a few days to explore the coastline. You will find plenty of help deciding a route if you need ideas.

2- Relax and enjoy the sun, ensuring you have plenty of shade around when you need it. Don’t worry that your suntan will not have developed by the end of even a holiday of a few days. Turkey loves its tea (cay) drunk without milk. It is refreshing and cooling, although if you prefer something alcoholic, that’s not a problem.

3- Take a tour but make sure that your transport is air-conditioned if you are travelling any distance. Avoid walking around during the hottest part of the day, always wear something on your head and carry a bottle of water.

4- Turkey’s cuisine is famous, and its home-grown seasonal produce is both varied and stunning. Visit a local market and sample the local cuisine away from the popular resort restaurants.

5- Look for a tour where you can be introduced to local village life. Turkey has huge cities and many resorts, but it is still a largely rural country where life has not changed much for generations.

Top tips in summer:

best time of year to visit greece and turkey
One of the best times of the year to visit Turkey for a fun vacation is in summer. Pictured here are the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Pergamon.
  • Dress respectfully if you are walking around; Turkey is a Muslim country and beachwear is for the beach. If you are visiting religious sites, you will not be allowed entry without observing the rules. No shorts or tee shirts and bare shoulders are just three rules. Females need to cover their heads.
  • Try to learn a few simple words; the locals will appreciate it. In tourist areas, everyone is keen to learn English primarily.
  • By all means, barter in the markets because it will be expected but don’t lose your temper. You can cause offence by being too aggressive.

Turkey in Autumn

best time to visit turkey Istanbul mosque with autumn trees around it
Autumn is the best time of year to visit Turkey for some colour. Head to Istanbul and you won’t be disappointed.

Turkey is a great holiday destination for activities, land and sea but tourist numbers do fall a little when the main traditional school holidays are over.

When daytime temperatures are very high, walking, hiking, and cycling conditions can be uncomfortable. However, as temperatures ease a little, beginning in September, these activities become more popular.

There are some lovely walks on the Black Sea Coast and the Eastern Provinces, which include Turkey’s tea-growing region.

The Lycian Way in the South West towards Turkey’s main Mediterranean resort, Antalya, is another for keen hikers.

Istanbul is a major domestic airline hub with regular flights to all areas of Turkey, so you can easily plan to see even its most remote corners.

Autumn is also an excellent time to explore Turkey’s many important historical sites, such as Ephesus on the Aegean Coast.

The ancient towns in the far South-East between the famous Mesopotamian Rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, ooze history while Cappadocia is a natural gem.

Istanbul in the autumn is delightful, with highlights including the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Dolmabahce Palace.

Towards the end of the autumn, there can be a chill in the air, especially at night, and certainly in the north of Turkey, but there will still be plenty of sunny days.

best time to visit turkey Cappadocia
You’ll find that the best time to visit Turkey is in spring as the weather is more moderate, most attractions are open and you can get around easily. Pictured here are local carpets for sale in Goreme, Cappadocia.

Here are some guideline stats but remember the vast size of Turkey and the variations as a result:

  • September (Sunrise 0645, Sunset 1900, Average Low Temperature 19C (65F), Average High Temperature Average High 24C (75F))
  • October (Sunrise 0720, Sunset 1815, Average Low Temperature 15C (60F), Average High Temperature 20C (68F)
  • November (Sunrise 0750, Sunset 1750, Average Low Temperature 13C (55F), Average High Temperature 15C (60F)

Five Things to do in Turkey in Autumn

best time of year to visit turkey cappadocia town
The best time to visit Turkey for stunning scenery is autumn. Pictured here is the ancient town at sunrise.

1- Book a hotel on the European side of Istanbul, Sultanahmet or Besiktas, perhaps? Plan a walking tour to explore the significant Ottoman sites and the Grand Bazaar. Don’t leave Istanbul without taking a cruise on the Bosphorus.

2- Look for domestic connections to either Kaseri or Nevsehir to visit Cappadocia. Arranging transfers to Goreme, the most popular base for exploring the region, is easy.

3- If you are holidaying on the Aegean, check how close you are to Ephesus. It is near the town of Selcuk, south of Izmir and just inland from Kusadasi, an important cruise ship destination. While in Selcuk, visit the Basilica of St. John and the Virgin Mary’s House.

4- Head to Trabzon on the Black Sea to take day trips inland to enjoy alpine conditions, which are ideal for walking. Sumela Monastery, built on a steep mountainside, dates back to the 4th century and is a spectacular construction open to visitors.

5- Historians will enjoy the site of Gallipoli, the famous World War I battle where the Turks resisted the allied invasion. It is in the North West coastal region of Turkey, with Troy close by as well.

Top tips in autumn:

when is the best time to visit turkey sailing boats
One of the best times of the year to visit Turkey for a fun vacation is in autumn and going sailing is a popular pastime.
  • There are several hours of sunshine for most of autumn, so wear headwear if you are walking and carry water.
  • Nights can be chilly, and more than that in the north and Istanbul, so if you are out all day, pack a jumper or jacket.
  • Look for special offers for access to the major sites, while an entry card, “Muzekart”, will also allow you to avoid queues at popular places. It will cover several different sites throughout Turkey.

Turkey in Winter

best time to visit istanbul turkey
Istanbul is the dream city straddling Europe and Asia. The best time to visit Istanbul for a dreamy landscape is in winter.

Some parts of Anatolia (the name often used to describe the Asian side of Turkey) face extreme winter temperatures.

Villages prepare for winter by making bread, pickling and drying foods.

In contrast, although sea temperatures fall below 20C/68F, the Mediterranean Coast is still a place for those looking for winter sun.

Antalya is a large resort destination where the season spreads through the winter. Temperatures in the south should reach at least 15C/59F during the day.

Istanbul regularly has snow and low temperatures, but like most large, it still attracts visitors wanting to see its landmarks and perhaps do some shopping.

As long as you dress appropriately for cold weather, Istanbul is still a magical place in winter.

Cappadocia also receives significant tourist numbers in winter as the “moonscape” shapes covered in snow are spectacular.

A balloon trip over the land on a calm, sunny day is an incredible experience.

Dress for the low temperatures, of course, and winter is the season when Turkey receives the most rainfall, with much in the interior falling as snow, and lying for long periods.

when is the best time to visit turkey and greece
Autumn or winter is one of the best times of year to visit Turkey for the amazing landscapes. Kackar Mountains in the Black Sea region of Turkey is one place not to be missed.

Here are some guideline stats but remember the vast size of Turkey and the variations as a result:

  • December (Sunrise 0815, Sunset 1730, Average Low Temperature 4C (40F), Average High Temperature Average High 9C (48F))
  • January (Sunrise 0800, Sunset 1815, Average Low Temperature 4C (40F), Average High Temperature 10C (50F)
  • February (Sunrise 0750, Sunset 1830, Average Low Temperature 4C (40F), Average High Temperature 10C (50F)

Five Things to do in Turkey in Winter

cappadocia turkey best time to visit
The best time to visit Turkey for stunning scenery is during a hot air balloon festival in Cappadocia.

1- Head to the Mediterranean Coast, where you will still find hours of sunshine and resort hotels. Antalya has direct flights from other countries and a good selection of hotels to choose from.

2- See Cappadocia cloaked in snow and if it’s not too windy, you can go up in a balloon to gaze across the whole region. Cave hotels are a delight and well-heated to keep out the cold.

3- Spend some time in Istanbul’s many museums, and do some shopping in the bazaars and modern shopping malls. Istanbul will still be busy because of its permanent population, but attractions will be fairly quiet, especially in midweek.

4- Enjoy the landscape, cycling and hiking in the coastal regions. Hours of daylight are longer in Turkey than in countries with a more northern latitude.

5- Winter is the perfect time to learn more about the local cuisine and its preparation. There are opportunities to take cookery lessons wherever you are in Turkey. Processed food is not part of Turkish life and local cuisine is based on what is currently in season.

Top tips in winter:

best time to visit turkey and greece winter ski slopes
When is the best time to visit Turkey? Some say that winter should be at the top of your list for the skiing
  • Come prepared for low temperatures, especially at night. Winter receives significant rainfall but also plenty of sunshine.
  • This is low season, and the popular tourist sites have minimal numbers, so take advantage of that if the weather forecast permits.
  • Prices are lower during the winter and you will get some excellent bargains.

Turkey in Spring

best time to visit greece turkey terraced pools
There’s no best time to visit Turkey’s famous travertine pools and terraces in Pamukkale. The amazing landscape is a must-see at any time of the year.

The locals say that spring has arrived when migratory birds begin to arrive; Herons from Africa arrive in March.

Turkey is a surprisingly green country; in spring, snow begins to melt in many parts but persists on high ground.

The melting snow increases the flow of rivers and streams, and temperatures by day begin to climb.

Direct flights to the popular regions of Turkey begin (during the winter, travellers usually need to connect to their final destination via Istanbul) towards the end of March.

Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful countryside, cycling, hiking, or just walking at a leisurely pace.

Keen photographers will find that a heat haze may ruin the images they took at the height of summer, not so in the springtime.

The sea is gradually getting warmer and only the very brave will swim in early spring but cruising on the sea is a delight.

The crowds have yet to arrive, so this is another time to enjoy the sites that become very busy later in the season.

the best time to visit turkey orange and yellow spices
One of the best times to visit Turkey is summer because there are so many places you can go, such as spice market store.

Here are some guideline stats but remember the huge size of Turkey and the variations as a result:

  • March (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1840, Average Low Temperature 5C (41F), Average High Temperature Average High 14C (58F))
  • April (Sunrise 0640, Sunset 1915, Average Low Temperature 9C (48F), Average High Temperature 15C (60F)
  • May (Sunrise 0540, Sunset 2015, Average Low Temperature 14C (58F), Average High Temperature 20C (68F)

Five Things to do in Turkey in Spring

when is best time to visit turkey ephesus green hills and blue sky
The best time to visit Turkey is summer because there are so many places you can go, such as Odeon Theater in the ancient city of Ephesus.

1- Spring is a fantastic time to get out and enjoy the environment and fresh air as you’ll find walks and trails to enjoy anywhere in Turkey. It’s important to be prepared for rain and to have some warm clothing with you if you are outdoors for an extended period.

2- Istanbul may still have poor weather, especially in early spring. However, it is a great time to explore its many highlights, especially on the European side of the city.

3- Soccer is a passion among the Turks, although their national side is not as successful as the supporters would wish. If you are in a large city, take the opportunity to watch a league game, and you’ll be amazed by the passion of the fans. You will need an ID Card to get entry to a game in the top division, so look online for Passolig to get information about how to get one if you’re in town during a game.

4- Ephesus is a stunning destination on the Aegean Coast, but it can be an exhausting place to visit during summer, surrounded by crowds. Springtime is an ideal season to see this iconic UNESCO site with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.

5- Don’t overlook Turkey’s capital, Ankara, where the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the “father of the Turkish Republic” is the highlight. An excellent rail connection with Istanbul, good road connections and domestic flights offer an easy way to visit this city in Turkey

Top tips in spring:

best time to visit turkey 2022
The best time to visit Turkey for stunning scenery is summer. Pictured here is a panoramic view of the coast.
  • Be prepared for some poor weather and pack accordingly.
  • Local fruit and vegetable in the markets just after the end of a harsh winter will probably surprise you. Make sure you visit a local market and see the incredible array of colour.
  • It is very early season, so prices are likely to be very competitive. Take advantage of that.

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cropped stephen smith writer.jpg
Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.