Temperatures are warm-to-hot throughout Turkey in May, and average rainfall low. Popular places like Istanbul and Cappadocia see average temperatures of around 68-69°F (20-21°C), while Antalya, Bodrum, and Pamukkale are even warmer at around 77°F (25°C). These temperatures are still cooler than those of midsummer, when they soar even higher.
Crowds & Costs
May is peak season in Istanbul and Cappadocia, so book accommodation and flights in advance if you plan to travel this month. The beach resorts along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts (western and southwestern Turkey), don't really kick into gear until later. If you're looking for some beach time with warm weather and fewer crowds, look to stay in smaller boutique accommodation in these places.
Where to Go
With warm, dry weather throughout, where you go in Turkey in May largely comes down to your own interests and preferences. Istanbul and Ankara are full of cultural and historic attractions that you can wander around, and cafes and restaurants to duck into when you need to cool off. The landscapes of Cappadocia and Pamukkale are at their best when the weather is bright. If you want to hike, the coast between Fethiye and Antalya (the Lycian Way), the Cappadocia area, the Taurus Mountains, and the Kaçkar Mountains are good options.
What to Do
General sightseeing, as well as outdoor activities like hiking, are ideal in May. With warm and dry weather that's not too hot you can comfortably head outdoors to explore ancient cultural sites (like Ephesus), hike along ancient trade routes (like the Lycian Way), or stroll between museums, mosques, and markets (in Istanbul). While May isn't peak season at beach resorts along the coast, this could make it a good month to enjoy the landscape and culture along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts without the crowds (but check accommodation availability first, because not everything will be open).
Events in May
Ramadan, falling between late March and early May, is one of the most significant religious events in Turkey. Observant Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours throughout this month. Some restaurants close for the entire month while others operate more discreetly or for limited hours. Traveling in Turkey during Ramadan can be an interesting cultural experience but might take some greater planning and flexibility as not all eateries will be open for service.
Ramadan Bayrami is a three-day festival immediately following the end of Ramazan. In some other Islamic countries, it's known as Eid. It's a three-day celebration of the end of the holy month, when people break their fast.
Hıdırellez, May 6th, welcomes the arrival of spring. It is an Islamic festival commemorating the day when the Prophets Al-Khidr (Hızır in Turkish) and Elijah met on Earth. People pray for good luck. These days you are more likely to come across Hıdırellez celebrations in small towns and villages than in the cities.
Traveling to Turkey in May? Check out these great itineraries
Turkey Family Adventure: Cappadocia & Lycian Way Hiking - 9 Days. Perfect for active families with kids of all ages, this adventurous 9-day itinerary highlights some of Turkey's most stunning natural scenery.
Wonders of Turkey: Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus - 9 Days. Experience some of Turkey's greatest natural and cultural attractions, including bustling Istanbul, breathtaking Cappadocia, and ever-impressive Ephesus.
Historic Turkey, From Istanbul to Pamukkale - 9 Days. See and experience some of western Turkey's greatest sights, from the vibrant ancient capital of Istanbul to the dramatic terraces at Pamukkale.