Spanning a huge area (equivalent to more than California and Nevada combined) and elevation, plus seven climatic zones, Turkey experiences significant regional and season variations. From hot, sunny summers to snowy winter months, there’s a perfect time of year for every traveler. Read on to determine when is the best time for you.

When should you go to Turkey?

In general, spring and late summer/autumn (April/May and late-September through October) are the best times to visit Turkey, as it is pleasantly warm, with temperatures averaging around 68°F to 86°F (20°C to 30°C) — perfect for exploring the ancient sites, where there’s little shade from the blistering sun (and heat) of mid-summer.

However, your decision may also depend on what you’re interested in. If you’re keen on a sea-focused vacation, mostly lounging around the pool or swimming in the warm Aegean and Mediterranean (which can be cold in winter months), then summer months may be perfect. However, mid-summer is peak travel season, and beaches can be crowded and hotels rates at their highest.

November through to March will be quite cold, especially in higher elevations (most of the Anatolia interior), where the temperature can drop below freezing and much of the landscape will be blanketed by snow. This is true of Cappadocia, which even boasts Turkey’s best ski resorts. This is low season, with fewer visitors, so if you dislike crowds, you’ll benefit from having the most popular ancient sites and other venues, such as Pamakkule, to yourself. However, keep in mind that many hotels and beach resorts close during these months.

If you intend to go hot-air ballooning in Cappadocia, the best months are April through November; between December and March, frequent strong winds, snow, and fog lead to flights being canceled on many days. 

If attending festivals is a consideration, early summer is the peak month for cultural festivals. Note that Islamic festivals are typically determined by the lunar Hijri calendar, which is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian 365-day solar year. Hence, they typically move forward 11 days with each subsequent year. The two most important Islamic holidays—the 4 or 5-day Kurban Bayramı and 3-day Eid (Ramadan Feast)—are also public holidays, when many facilities close. Kurban Bayramı is also the time of the annual pilgrimage (haj) to Mecca, so domestic and international travel are intense at this time.


Seasons Pros Cons Best for Where to Visit
Mar-May (Spring) Mild to warm with mostly clear skies except along the Black Sea High season in Istanbul. Aegean and Mediterranean can be rainy, and many hotels are still closed. Black sea coast can be cold Wildflowers, including tulips in Istanbul Istanbul for sightseeing. Bodrum for the Bodrum Music Festival
Jun-Sep (Summer) Dry and sunny Peak season, with beach resorts and main tourist sites packed. Prices are at their highest. Cappadocia can be extremely hot Sunbathing on the beach Aegean and Mediterranean for the beaches. Istanbul for music festivals. Cappadoccia for the Balloon Festival
Oct-Nov (Autumn) October is mild, with mostly sunny weather Cappadocia and Istanbul are busy and pricey. November is cool and rainy, and many beach resorts close Exploring archeological sites without the crowds Cappadocia for wine-tasting. Southern Anatolia for warm weather
Dec-Feb (Winter) Least expensive time of year. No crowds Cold and potentially snowy, except four Southern Anatalia Exploring Istanbul and archeological sites without the crowds Konya for the Whirling Dervish Festival. Selçuk for the Camel Wrestling Festival 

Regional climates in a nutshell:


Winter Climate

Summer Climate

Istanbul Relatively cold, wet  Somewhat humid
Anatalian Plateau (including Ankara and Cappadocia) Cold, moderately wet, and snowy Hot, dry
Eastern Anatolia Very cold, dry Mild, dry 
West coast (Aegean) Mild, relatively rainy Hot, dry
Mediterranean Mild, relatively wet Hot, dry
Southeast (warmest part of the country) Mild, dry  Very hot, dry

Spring (March to May)

May is a perfect month for exploring Ephesus

All things considered, this is the best time of year, not least because the temperatures are mild to warm countrywide, and the wildflowers are blooming (as well as the famous tulips of Istanbul). March can still be cold, but by late May you’ll typically experience the most pleasantly warm temperatures of all year—an important consideration if you plan on lots of outdoor walking among shadeless ancient ruins or mountain hiking in national parks.

Also, this is a high season for Istanbul (where the gardens and parks are bursting with color) as well as in Cappadocia, and prices peak. However, it’s a good time to visit the Aegean and Mediterranean resorts, where these are off-peak months. Nonetheless, note that many hotels along the coast are still closed in March and even April. The Aegean and Mediterranean in March and April can be fairly rainy. Meanwhile, the coast of the Black Sea is still somewhat cool in these months. 

Spring Events

Mesir Paste Festival: Istanbul, March 21-24. A traditional religious and folkloric festival to celebrate the recovery of Hafsa Sultan, mother of Suleyman the Magnificent, using a medicinal paste called mesir, made of multiple spices and herbs. Held in Istanbul, it draws thousands to witness the holy preparation of the paste, which is scattered to onlookers from the minaret and the domes of the Sultan Mosque.

International Istanbul Film Festival: Istanbul, mid-April. This annual event is held in cinemas throughout the city.

Ahırkapı Hıdrellez Festival: Ahırkapı, May 5-6. This festival celebrates the arrival of spring, and includes locals jumping over fires, plus street performances by traditional gypsy bands.

Bodrum Music Festival: Bodrum, May. Anchored by classic music, this 4-day, wide-ranging festival spans film screenings to culinary demonstrations.

Learn more:
Turkey in March
Turkey in April
Turkey in May

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Summer (June to September)

Summer at Kaputas Beach

If you like it hot, summer is for you, as the weather is dry and sunny throughout most of the country. Especially so if you’ve set your sights on a beach vacation on the Aegean, Turquoise Coast, Mediterranean, or the Black Sea shoreline (except the far-east coast, which can be cloudy and receives long-lasting rainstorms in all months). The Mediterranean is the hottest coastal region, with average temperatures ranging between 86°F and 95°F (30°C and 35°C) in summer. However, the beach resorts are at their busiest and most expensive, while cruise ships disgorge many thousands of passengers daily at key port cities. Hence, Ephesus in particular can be at its most crowded.

Exploring Turkey’s ancient heritage sites can be a broiling experience in mid-summer, and an umbrella will help shade you while roaming the sometimes expansive and treeless sites. Early June and late September will be slightly easier going.

In early summer, Cappadocia is colored by wildflowers. By mid-summer, daytime temperatures can rocket to 105°F (40°C). As such, Cappadocia is relatively quiet in summer compared to late spring peak months, and prices are typically lower than in spring. The combination makes this a good time for hiking the Anatolia uplands and the even more temperate upper mountain slopes. Still, even Cappadocia can appear relatively mild at this time of year compared to Turkey’s arid southeast, which can be witheringly hot, reaching 113°F (45°C) or more.

Istanbul’s summer temperatures average around 76°F (24.5°C) in July and August—the least rainy months; September is rainier, averaging 2.4 inches.

By late September things are cooling down, the crowds begin to disperse from the beach resorts, and it is more agreeable to spend your days roaming the cities and ancient sites.

Summer Events

Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival: Edirne, June. An open tournament that has muscled pehlivans (wrestlers) squirming about to get a grip and a pin on their opponents.

Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival: Aspendos, June and July. Performed within the world’s best-preserved Roman amphitheater, this 2-month festival features performances by top international ballet and opera companies.

Istanbul International Music Festival: Istanbul, June and July. Performances spanning classical, opera, ballet, and traditional music.

Istanbul Jazz Festival: Istanbul, June and July. Chuck Corea opened the first festival in 1984. It’s been going strong ever since, with international performers playing over the course of 3 weeks.

Cappadocia Balloon Festival: Göreme, July or August. This festival takes place over four days and claims to be the world’s largest, with more than 150 hot-air balloons participating at the same time.

Learn more:
Turkey in June
Turkey in July
Turkey in August
Turkey in September

Turkey in Autumn (October to November)

The Bosphorus at sunset

October is a prime time to visit, thanks to mostly mild weather. This month sees a second high season in Istanbul and Cappadocia, with higher prices than summer or winter.

The cooling ocean waters are still warm enough for swimming and the weather is still delightfully sunny along the Aegean and Mediterranean. Prices here are lower at this time of year, and the crowds on beaches and at ancient sites have thinned. By mid-October, many hotels along the Mediterranean begin to close for the coming winter.

By late October, the rainy season has begun in earnest and temperatures have cooled considerably, while the days are shorter. By November, it can be quite chilly and rainy throughout most of the country, except still-warm southeast Turkey—this would be the perfect time for exploring lesser-visited Southern Anatolia.

Autumn Events

International Wine Festival: Ürgüp, late October. Cappadocia is a center of viticulture, and this annual festival features wine tasting events at local vineyards.

Republic Day: nationwide, October 29. Proud citizens parade across the country in celebrations to mark the creation of the Republic, including with firework displays and music concerts.

Learn more:
Turkey in October
Turkey in November

Turkey in Winter (December to February)

Winter snow in Istanbul

You’ll definitely want some warm winter clothing wherever in Turkey you visit at this time of year. By December, it's distinctly chilly nationwide. Temperatures on the Anatolia Plateau, including Ankara and Cappadocia, will be cold, and snow is fairly common. Everywhere, this is the rainiest period of the year. Nonetheless, expect plenty of sunny days (the Black Sea Coast is more consistently cloudy, however, and has the least sunny days). Southeast Turkey remains temperate, rather than cold.

In Istanbul, the average January temperature is 43.5°F (6.5°C), but it can plunge well below freezing. And the city receives snow an average of 15 days during these months, with a peak in January. Ankara, at about 3,000 feet (900 m) elevation, averages only 34°F (1°C), but can plummet to -5°F (-20°C) or so when cold fronts sweep in from Russia. The same is true for high-altitude Eastern Anatolia—typically the coldest area in Turkey.

As such, the country is at its quietest, and prices drop accordingly.

Winter Events

Mevlana and Whirling Dervish Festival: Konya, November or December. This annual 10-day event celebrates the 13th-century Sufi poet-philosopher Jalaluddin Rumi with music and dance performed by ascetic Muslim monks known as ‘Whirling Dervishes.’

Camel Wrestling Festival: Selçuk, mid-January. Bactrian camels adorned in finery tussle one another for dominance during the mating season. The prize is paraded beforehand to stimulate motivation, while their owners win a carpet. Plus, attendees get to enjoy music and traditional foods.

Learn more:
Turkey in December
Turkey in January
Turkey in February 

Planning a trip to Turkey?

Find more advice about how to make the most of your time in Turkey here