Guide to Turkey in December – Travel Tips, Weather & Best Things to Do
For some reason, Turkey is considered to be exclusively a seaside resort destination. That’s not surprising, considering a fact that the country has four seas with gorgeous beaches and rather loyal prices. However, visiting Turkey in December will be no less interesting for any type of traveler.
Snow-capped Anatolian mountains, empty tourist sights, and lower prices are just a few reasons why to spend holidays in Turkey during the first month of winter.
But for you to understand more of what to expect, I invite you to read this post. I included detailed information about the weather, what to pack, what to do in Turkey in December, and other tips.
If you have more questions, ask them in the comments. I am living in Turkey for part of the year (in winter too) and will do my best to help. Oh, and if you plan to visit Turkey in the second month of winter, see my other post about January travel in Turkey.
Turkey Weather in December
The air temperature in Turkey in December differs in different parts of the country. It is much colder in the center and north than in the south. Even at the beginning of winter, Antalya and Kemer delight tourists with green grassy lawns and foliage. However, coastal parks do not have any flowers, and leaves on many trees turn yellow.
Overall, December in most of Turkey is the warmest winter month, although many places get rainfall and others snow. The weather is very mild without too much slush, big snowdrifts and severe frosts as most of Europe is used to. But it is also quite changeable. The sun gives way to clouds and despite the fact that it is warm during the daytime, at night the temperature drops to +5 + 10С. Interestingly, the sea is still warmer than the air.
The water temperature in Turkey in December does not exceed +19.5С and in the Aegean Sea, it is lower by 2-3С. The Marmara Sea and the Black Sea are in December stormy on the coast, and no one swims.
The Mediterranean coast on the contrary can be still warm during the day, so some people even swim, just not too long. We don’t because for us it is too cold. But sunbathing is definitely possible and not just in the south.
A few years ago it was so warm in December all over Turkey that Mark and I were even sunbathing on Burgaz Island near Istanbul. Last year, December was really cold and even snowy. Like here in photos, during the same month weather changed a lot:
This year, it can be a mix of different temperatures and climates, so you need to be monitoring the weather closer to your dates of travel.
Since the temperature is higher during the day, you can wear light clothes. But evenings become windy and cold, so you may need a hat, warm jacket, and a scarf. Also, warm clothes are needed when going for long walks along the coast and for excursions.
As for the temperature on winter resorts in Turkey, during the day it is usually around 0 -1С, and at night the thermometer drops to −12С. With the beginning of December, the ski season is beginning too and skiing is already possible.
Prices in Turkey in December
Due to the cool weather in December, not many tourists travel to Turkey as they do in late spring, summer or early autumn. For this reason, prices drop and tour companies together with hotels offer excellent deals. Istanbul prices also go down and it gets easy to find unique luxurious hotels at a lower rate.
This is why Turkey in winter is a wonderful destination for people on a budget or those who’d love to get more for their money.
Another thing – you will definitely enjoy the absence of long queues and the opportunity to relax in seclusion.
Best Places to Visit in Turkey in December
There are really many places to visit in Turkey in December. Where to go and what to skip will depend on your preferences and style of vacation. But you need to keep in mind one thing – in order to have a great December vacation, it is important to find out in advance what will be closed and what not and choose the right place where to stay.
Also, make sure to pack the right clothes. Nothing can be worse than arriving in a place and realizing that it’s too cold. And not because it’s really cold but because you took the wrong wardrobe.
Here is a list of some of the best places where to go in Turkey in December:
Of course, it was going to make a list. Istanbul is an amazing Turkish city to visit at any time of the year. But among all winter months, December for Istanbul is probably the best.
This city has a rich history, ancient beautiful streets, lots of museums, colorful squares, pedestrian promenades, and colorful bazaars. Oh, did I mention palaces, temples, mosques, and vibrant restaurants? That’s right, so many of them which you can visit with a good discount.
And the best part, you can explore Istanbul at your own pace without crowds and no heat, just locals and their kingdom of cats. The only time when it gets crowded is during Catholic Christmas and on New Year’s eve. A lot of people flock to touristy areas to find the Christmas atmosphere and watch fireworks.
As for the weather, it is so unpredictable. The following 2 photos were taken in December one week apart. At first, it was warm and sunny and felt like autumn but then the rain came and suddenly brought cold. And then other 2 photos are from Istanbul in December on a different year when the last month of winter was rather snowy.
I always recommend packing different clothes for Istanbul and being ready for waves of cold and warmth.
Among must-do things in Istanbul in December I recommend you not to miss:
- A good Bosphorus tour to see the city from the water and listen to its history from your onboard guide.
- Shopping. When I need to buy clothes and I am outside Turkey, I always wait when I return and go shopping in Istanbul. That’s the best place to shop and find anything you need at reasonable prices. In December, there are many sales and extra holiday discounts.
- An extensive food tour. I always recommend everyone to go on a food tour in Istanbul. I tell my friends, my family, and anyone I know. Why? Because there are too many Turkish foods to try that you may be lost. With the tour, you get to try delicacies and discover Istanbul’s must-try dishes.
- Private Turkish Bath Experience
And for more Istanbul inspiration, see my other posts:
- Prices in Istanbul – how much things cost?
- Unique Places to stay in Istanbul
- Beautiful But Cheap Airbnbs in Istanbul
- Practical Travel Tips For Istanbul
- Best Places in Istanbul For any Taste & Budget
- Explore Most Charming Neighborhood in Istanbul Arnavutkoy
Most of the hotels on the coast of Turkey are closing for the winter season and open up again in spring. However, that’s the case for small hotels and guesthouses. Large hotels stay open all year round. Especially popular are all-inclusive 5* resorts that have spa centers and swimming pools with heated (often salted) water.
The most popular area with all-inclusive vacations is on the stretch between Kemer and Alanya. Staying anywhere there in December means that you have access to all well-developed infrastructure and can do many activities besides hanging out in the hotel only.
Antalya and Alanya as the largest cities have many beautiful parks, oceanarium, zoo, and an amusement park. While most of the days are cloudy, you can still enjoy those places to the fullest. There are also several interesting museums for history buffs and shopping malls offer an exciting shopping experience.
Suppose you base yourself in Antalya in December. In that case, you can rent a car and drive to Pamukkale, Konya, Cappadocia, Mersin, Adana and all the way to Antakya which are also good places to visit in Turkey in December if you love history and ancient cities.
NOTE: Aegean coast of Turkey doesn’t have a lot of activities in December. Many towns become very quiet since everything closes for the season. However, visiting the Aegean coast is still amazing for other reasons.
First of all, you can join one of many excursions in the area and visit ancient Pergamon or Ephesus without any people. Second, you can go to wineries (there are many in Izmir province and Sirince is just one of them) and explore a bit of village life.
And third, the first month of winter is perfect for trips to hot springs where some of them are accessible on a day trip from Bodrum, Izmir, and Fethiye.
Among the best tours to join along the Turkish coast during the first winter month are:
December is a good month to walk around Antalya when it is cool and breezy. So definitely do not miss a tour there!
Turkish Hot Springs
Turkey is full of hot springs and thermal pools all over the country. And the best time to visit them is winter when air temperature is low and hot springs’ temperature is high.
Some of the best (and easiest to reach) hot springs to visit in December in Turkey are Pamukkale, Karahayit (both of them are next to each other), and Yalova which is very close to Bursa and Istanbul.
I have described many more hot springs of Turkey in this post but these three would be really the best for first-time visitors. And in December, they are quiet and look rather untouched.
I recommend you rent a car in Istanbul or Bursa to get to Yalova thermal waters (to travel in comfort) and/or rent a car in Izmir to drive to Pamukkale. The drive in that area goes through the Izmir province countryside and mountains and lets you see the region from a different perspective.
For car rental tips, check my car hire in Turkey post at first to see which company works better for each region.
Ski Resorts in Turkey
Among all the things to do in Turkey in December, skiing and snowboarding are the most popular ones.
At the beginning of winter, Turkish ski resorts open their doors to visitors. They are located at an altitude of 1700-3000 m in the mountains and in December (especially in the second part) already have enough snow on the slopes for skiing.
The most popular ski resorts are Uludag (near Bursa not far from Istanbul), Palandoken (in Erzurum in Eastern Turkey), and Kayseri (near Cappadocia, so you can combine a visit to both of them). They are in great demand among tourists, especially among families with children since the tracks are designed for beginners.
But what is particularly cool is that hotels in those ski towns offer all-inclusive stays.
Even if you are visiting Antalya province, you can experience some snow too. While it is relatively warm near the sea, Saklikent National Park (less than 2 hours drive) has a lot of snow. We loved driving there on occasion just to experience real winter and spend a few hours in the snow. But many people love to go skiing.
Pros & Cons of Visiting Turkey in December
1. Prices for tours, excursions, and vacation packages to Turkey in December are significantly lower than during the summer season or New Year.
2. There are no crowds of tourists on the coast and there are no queues at the ticket offices.
3. In December, Turkey has many opportunities for a varied holiday that will include wellness, shopping, and skiing.
4. It is not hot (it gets very hot in summer), so it is convenient to go on excursions and walks.
5. There is a big variety of different fruits and vegetables that have very reasonable prices.
1. In December, Turkish resorts are not suitable for a beach holiday, so you won’t be able to swim in the sea.
2. The weather in most of Turkey is pretty changeable in December. In Istanbul and on the coast, the day can start with a pleasantly cool morning but then end with cloudy skies and rain. In Istanbul, it can even snow. I personally love this type of weather but many people don’t, especially when on vacation.
3. The choice of hotels is partly limited because some of them are closed until spring.
4. Houses and hotels in the coastal parts of Turkey were not built for cold weather. There is often no heat (besides AC) and you can be cold inside your accommodation.
My Top Travel Tips For December Travel in Turkey
1) Due to the winds in Istanbul, on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, the humidity is up to 80%. To stay warm, do not forget about warm clothes, a windbreaker, raincoat, and hat.
2) For vacation on the Mediterranean coast in December (as any other time in winter), choose comfortable hotels with a sauna and indoor heated pools. If staying in the apartment, book only accommodation with heat (not AC type of heat but radiators). You don’t want to stay anywhere without the heat because it is going to be damp and cold.
3) Cold weather is conducive to dining. Spend some time tasting delicious traditional Turkish cuisine and joining a food tour. If you will be in Istanbul, follow my guide to the best food to try in Istanbul and where to find it.
Where to Spend Christmas & New Year in Turkey?
One of the most frequent questions I get either in comments or messages is about winter holidays in Turkey and which city is the best for Christmas and New Year celebrations. I decided to devote a separate section of this post to covering these questions and giving a few tips.
If you are planning your Turkey vacation from the second part of December to early January and want to spend Christmas and New Year in one of the Turkish cities, you need to prepare in advance.
You see, Turkey is a Muslim country. Therefore, as you understand, Christmas is not celebrated at all. New Year in Turkey is also not a public holiday and many Muslims consider it a Christian tradition, so they ignore it.
In large cities, for example in Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya, which are very liberal, you can find enchanting and festive atmosphere, exquisite decorations, New Year’s eve street parties, and shows including beautiful fireworks. By the way, fireworks in Istanbul over Bosphorus are incredible and on the list of the best New Year illuminations in the world.
In Cappadocia, hotels offer exclusive New Year celebrations to their guests and also include shows and fireworks. Bodrum in December is pretty quiet, although it is also possible to join night programs organized for expats who live there.
However, even in large cities do not expect huge all-day-long mass celebrations, Christmas markets, or big concerts on each corner as you’d find in many European countries.
In Turkey, the main celebration comes down to night parties and programs at restaurants, hotels, clubs, and private yachts. And that is popular mainly among tourists.
31st of December is a working day for most people in Turkey as well as the 1st of January. This is why the majority of locals spend New Year’s eve at home with their families or friends without big celebrations. They may have a New Year dinner, watch some TV shows and possibly go out to watch fireworks 1 hour before midnight. But then they go to bed early to wake up in the morning to go to work.
If you would like to celebrate New Year in Istanbul, Antalya, or let’s say Cappadocia, make reservations in advance. Tickets for New Year’s eve private parties (like those on the boats or in restaurants) are sold ahead of time.
Here are some ideas on how to spend Christmas or New Year in Turkey in a unique way:
- Bosphorus New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise and Boat Party – with fireworks in close proximity
- The Land of Legends Theme Park – there are often New Year dedicated programs & events
- Classic Car Tour in Cappadocia with Champagne Party – private holiday tour for a couple or a family
Common Questions About December Travel in Turkey
Is Turkey a Good Place to Visit in December? Yes, I am personally convinced that Turkey is a fantastic place to visit in December. The country is huge with different climatic zones and a wide range of places to visit. Everyone can find a destination of his liking or book a packaged tour that would include visits to different cities.
There will be no beach vacation (unless you stay in the all-inclusive hotel with a heated pool on the Mediterranean coast) but there are so many other things to do, you won’t be bored! December is a perfect month for cultural and gastronomical travel, following historic routes, and seeing ancient sites.
Is Turkey hot in December? No, Turkey is not hot in December. Warm in some regions – yes. But hot? No. You need to pack warm clothes even if you plan to travel only on the southern coast around Antalya or Alanya.
Of course, there can be days when the temperature will be higher than recorded before but that is rather an exception than the norm.
Hot Places in Turkey in December. The warmest cities in Turkey in December are Antalya, Alanya, Belek, Side, and Kemer. They won’t be hot but their conditions are favorable for recreation all year round. In December, in the sun, the thermometer often shows +20℃.
What to Wear in Turkey in December? In December, people in Turkey wear jeans, sweaters, autumn down jackets, closed shoes and even hats, scarves, and gloves. Again, it all depends on the region and where you go. Have different clothes and layers to be sure you dress right for the weather.
What is There to Do in Turkey in December? Turkey is still up and running in December as it does during other months of the year. The coast gets quiet but it doesn’t prevent you from exploring the country as there are plenty of things to do.
Cities have all the usual activities you see other times of the year and you get perfect opportunities for visiting hot springs and going to ski.
Resources I Use When Traveling in Turkey
Whenever we need to rent a car, we use Discover Cars for bookings at the airport and LocalRent when booking in smaller cities or towns and outside the airport.
To find out more about which company will work best for you and what driving in Turkey is like, check my posts about car hire and driving in Antalya and how to rent a car in Turkey on a budget. If you will be traveling to Cappadocia, find out if you should rent a car in Nevsehir or Kayseri.
For hotel stays, I always use Booking (but in Turkey with VPN), Trip.com, and Hotels.com.
For more Turkey posts, check my Turkey page here. I have a ton of information!
More Inspiration For Turkey Travel
- My 5 Top Tips on How To Plan Your Honeymoon in Turkey
- 11 Best Turkey’s Hot Springs to Add to Your Itinerary
- 23 Most Beautiful Cities to Visit in Turkey
Lovely article. I will be travelling to turkey in the last week of November, I will be in Antalya in 1st week of december. I wanted to check with you hows the night life in this costal region – was it lively? Could we find a place to listen to live music or may be party? Did u go to Bodrum, how was it?
There are more than enough nightclubs in Antalya and they are in no way inferior to Istanbul or Bodrum. If there are no restrictions and they are open, I recommend you:
– Simurg Bar in the old town Kaleci. They have concerts, a variety of cocktails, and dance shows.
– Ceila club – the uniqueness of this club is that it works around the clock, so you can go hang out not only at night but also during the day. Famous DJs regularly perform there.
– Arma restaurant – is personally my favorite. Its main feature is its location on the very shore of the sea right on the cliff. This place is like a restaurant and bar at the same time. I’d say it is more a gastronomic nightclub where you can hit the dance floor, have dinner in a romantic atmosphere with views and excellent food.
If you get to Side, go to the Royal Castle Pub, it always has live music, concerts, and different entertainment events. By December it shouldn’t be crowded at all.
To answer your second question, yes I’ve been to Bodrum and lived there during the summer. I love this city and it has a very different vibe. It is even difficult to answer which city I like more. They are both great but very different. At the end of November/beginning of December though, Bodrum will be much, much quieter.
Thank you for this post.
I am contemplating Turkey in mid December for my honeymoon from India. Most other places have no clarity in terms of covid restrictions.
Do you think it would be a good idea and whtehr I can spend 9-10 days there. Thanks. Any help / guidance is much appreciated.
So far, there is no news about any restrictions or new lockdowns in Turkey. But to tell you the truth, even if they are reimposed, they will unlikely affect tourists. Every time when Turkey had a lockdown, it was fully open to tourism and international visitors could freely move around the country, travel, stay in hotels and visit all the attractions.
So even if there are new restrictions (which is very unlikely since the government is sending a message that they don’t want to close up anymore and more people are getting vaccinated), it will only mean that prices for tours and hotels will drop again.
I am absolutely positive that it is a great idea to plan your honeymoon in Turkey for December. The only thing to mention – if you think to visit and stay anywhere on the coast, make sure you book a large hotel because small hotels may choose to close if there is any lockdown, big hotels will not. Other than that I wouldn’t worry about anything.
If you have any other questions or need help with planning your itinerary, let me know! Otherwise, have a wonderful time in Turkey, this is a wonderful destination for a honeymoon!
Love your post.
My husband and I will be travelling to turkey for the first 2 weeks of December . We have already travelled to turkey 3 years back and visited istanbul, cappadocia , antalya and pamakulle.
We want to visit again and have a whole new experience as there are so many places in turkey to visit . We would like to visit istanbul again but my queries are –
1) other than the regular tourist attractions (Hagia Sophia /cistern etc.. which we already went in our first visit, what activities / attractions would you recommend we visit in Istanbul , ?
2) other than The above mentioned places we visited earlier, which place do you advise that we visit in December ? We love hiking /water activities / sight seeing / city tours / good night life ..
Thanks in advance for your reply 🙂
For this visit, I’d recommend you do something completely different. I suggest you spend more time on the Asian side (particularly in Kadikoy and Uskudar) and see a bit of Northern Istanbul.
In Kadikoy, spend at least a full day there in Moda.
This neighborhood doesn’t boast of an abundance of attractions but the atmosphere that prevails in this area is truly special. You can explore it on foot and on an old historic tram (similar to the one in Taksim). For the best experience though, I recommend you to take a tour. Kadikoy is also famous for food (since there are many interesting restaurants offering different traditional food), so I’d suggest you also look at food tours there.
Among some that I found and can recommend are 10 tastings in Istanbul or this Kadikoy food tour.
For tours of Uskudar and Kadikoy together, take a look at this small group tour of both neighborhoods and guided tour of Uskudar.
If you enjoy sightseeing, nature and architecture, I recommend you go to Camlica Hill in Uskudar and see the largest mosque in Turkey and one of the largest mosques in the region. It’s called Camlica Mosque next to the park with the same name. While Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are definitely worth a visit, I believe they are just too touristy. Camlica Mosque is grand, empty (for the most part) and totally unique. Besides that, there is a park Camlica Hill next to it with walking trails and fantastic views everywhere. The mosque itself also has gorgeous views. When there, you can ask a worker (who speaks English) about the mosque and they will be proud to show you around and share a few stories.
Other places that I can recommend in Uskudar are Beylerbei palace and Kucuksu Palace. They are both very small palaces by the water, usually not popular among tourists (mainly Turkish people visit there) and offer a glimpse of life of sultans outside Topkapi/Dolmabahce palace. Near each of them, you’ll also find many cafes, walking trails by the Strait and beautiful panoramas everywhere.
On the European side, I’d also recommend you take a look at Arnavutkoy and Bebek. These are perfect neighborhoods to visit in Istanbul in December. In Bebek, my favorite cafes are Divan Pastanesi and Mangerie, both have excellent food and views, views, views. Also, there in Bebek is Rumeli fortress of great historical importance. You can pay for a tour of the fortress or explore it on your own since there are boards with information. The structure itself amazes with its grandeur and has magnificent views. Bebek has a lovely embankment where it’s pleasant to walk. In fact you can walk all the way to/from Arnavutkoy. I’d go all the way to Bebek and explore there and then start slowly move towards Arnavutkoy.
Not far from there, there is Sensus Kurucesme restaurant/wine bar with a large wine selection.
For all these places, I recommend you use a bus, uber or taxi (only those that have a meter). Purhcase a transport card and it will save you on transportation. Use google maps for finding a bus to the place where you need to go. In Istanbul, google maps is quite exact and gives precise information on where stops are located and which route to choose.
For the nightlife, if you like jazz, I’d recommend Nardis jazz club in Galata or Bova Jazz club in Taksim. The second place is great for non-smokers since smoking areas inside the club are not allowed.
And the last thing, if you have a driver’s license, I’d recommend you rent a car and go see a bit of the Black Sea coast but on the Asian side. Rent a car on the Asian side and drive north to Anadolu, Poyraz, Riva and all the way to Sile. But that’s only on a nice sunny day if it doesn’t rain.
Love your post! Thank you for your detailed guide. I was planning a trip to Turkey by end-December with my husband. We plan on spending 5 days in Istanbul, 4 in Antalya & 3 in Cappadocia but due to the uncertainty of the weather in Cappadocia we are a bit confused about our stay there. Which city do you recommend instead of Cappadocia for a couple?
Thanks in advance!
Cappadocia is very unique in its own way and I honestly can’t recommend anything instead of it that would have similar scenery or attractions. If you’d like to do a hot air balloon ride, Pamukkale also offers this attraction on many mornings but in December it may be interrupted by the weather. In Pamukkale you could also have a romantic stay in one of the hotels with hot springs (I have a separate post about them) and it is near Antalya which makes it easy to add this destination to your itinerary if you plan to visit Antalya city too.
Another city that I’d recommend for couples would be Alanya. It is one of the warmest cities in Turkey in winter. Additionally to all the nice hotels with romantic packages, you can also go on a boat tour since boat tours run throughout the winter there.
Just got tagged to your link and loved ur detailing. I want to travel to Turkey in the third week of December and have a daughter who is 13. There is another family with teen kids. How can I make the grip exciting for them. We have 10 days on hand. We love adventure and good food!!
Hi Almas, can you give me more details? Do you have any idea of what you’d love to see?
For a trip in the second part of December and with teen kids, you could include Eskisehir city with its unique wax museum, park with castle, and Odunpazarı historic district with colorful houses and lot of history which will be interesting for kids too.
If you are ready to rent a car, go to Sapanca Lake and in that area, there is a wildlife park Ormanya which is the world’s third largest natural habitat with zoo and hobbit houses. It is beautiful in every season but in winter with snow looks magical. Sapanca on its own is gorgeous in winter too. It usually gets good amount of snow and in December there are quite a few activities.
As for popular places, I definitely recommend you add Cappadocia and Pamukkale. Cappadocia has so many places to visit, including open-air museums as well as indoor museums, underground cities (best for winter travel and with kids), and you can even do a bit of hiking and ATV tours.
Also, not sure if you like it or not, but you can look into all-inclusive hotels in Antalya or Alanya for a few days. Some of them include different kids events and programs so everyone in the family will have an entertaining vacation.
Love your website and your Instagram 😀 and I absolutely love how you travel bc I have been doing the same(work and travel) for a while, but mostly within India.
I’m going to Turkey this December for 3 weeks (solo) and these are the places I have in mind. do you think I should be adding in or removing anything?
i don’t drive so I plan to take public transport everywhere.
Thank you for stopping by to tell me this 🙂
I don’t know exactly what you like, so it’s a bit difficult to recommend anything specific. But your list looks good. I’d only skip villages, to be honest, and probably better add Antalya if you still have time (it’s easy to fly in/out from pretty much anywhere) and choose to stay in Lara or in/around Old Town.
Alacati in December is very, very quiet and a lot of hotels and shops close. But if I have to be completely honest, I don’t like this village even in the summer during the high season. It’s not the same as it used to be – prices are too high and everything is oriented on tourists with money. And it just lost its identity completely. I’d recommend visiting it only if going by car and driving to Cesme and around the entire peninsula. Or if coming in the evening to stay in one of their B&B and spend only a few hours exploring the village. But going just to Alacati alone in December? I wouldn’t do it.
If you still want to see a village while in Izmir, better go to Sigacik, it is another traditional village (non-touristy yet) by the sea with beautiful expensive villas, yachts and colorful streets full of flowers. When there, you can also see another ancient city of Teos.
Kirazli (do you mean the village near Kusadasi or neighborhood adjacent to Izmir?) If Kusadasi, I’d also skip it. I don’t think most places will be open there during the week. If in Izmir then sure, it’s part of Izmir city and easy to get there by public transport. There are a few nice thermal hotels there and a cable car with mountain views. Let me know which Kirazli you mean since there are a few in Izmir province )).
Fethiye will be quiet too but it’s a small city where people live year-round, so everything will be open (besides some beach hotels), there will be just very few tourists.
Pamukkale in December – definitely yes! I think you are going to be lucky and among only a couple of visitors there and that’s going to be amazing! Pamukkale without people is something incredible! Cappadocia in December – also yes and yes! What I’d suggest – spend more time in Cappadocia and see all 3 towns and if you haven’t been to Antalya, pay it a visit too.
Hii from a beautiful beach in India,
Thanks a lot for your reply and hope you are having a great time whereever you are. 😀
I have just added Sigak, Theos and Antalya to my list and removed Alacati and Kusadasi, haha.
Another quick question – have you been to Konya? Do you think Konya is a good option as well?
I’m a fan of Rumi and I just read the book ’40 rules a love’ as im thinking of adding Konya to my list 🙂
I have been to Konya and I absolutely loved it! In fact, I’ve written a post about the most beautiful cities in Turkey where I briefly talk about Konya and mention who will love this city.
And since you mention you are a fan of Rumi, then you’ll definitely enjoy spending time there! I’d plan to spend 2 nights to make sure you see everything including the Mausoleum and museum of Rumi, all the beautiful mosques, Ince Minare Museum, and more.
If you plan to visit Cappadocia and Antalya, adding Konya would work great. It’s easy to travel by public transport from Cappadocia to Konya and then Antalya, have a break and make stops in all these areas without wasting too much time on getting places.
Thaanks for the detailed reply.
I have added in Antalya and a couple of others from your suggestions as well.
i also wanted to go to Konya since I’m a big fan of Rumi. Do you think to be worth it though?
Yes, it is definitely worth it
Great posting Anya ! Planning and still considering whether to book ticket to Istabul frou Kuala Lumpur this December.
Do you think airbnb in Istanbul is great ?
Airbnb is still a good option, sure. The only thing is that prices there got unreasonably higher and many apartments now cost more than nice hotels with breakfast included.
I am visiting Turkey and Istanbul in the last week of December 2021 till first week of January 2022.
Just wanted some clarification regarding climate and place to visit in Turkey and Istanbul.
1. December last week we have plan in cappadocia so does climate is good? and can we go out to see places near by as I have seen in most of site temperature goes to -2° -3°.
2. Then we are planning to Konya Pamukkale and Kusadasi for one day each. So due climate it doesn’t get close right? Also how is the temperature at this place in month of January 1st week
3. Then 4days in Istanbul….and how will be the climate over here
Cappadocia at the end of December/beginning of January is going to be cold (yes, the temperature is usually around 0 and below it) but everything is open and you can go anywhere you’d like, besides long hikes since in winter wolves on some trails are common.
The only thing – just pack warm winter clothes to make sure you don’t freeze and then you can really do all the activities. I always say that people who don’t have a good winter vacation in Cappadocia are those who haven’t packed the right type of clothes because nothing else restricts from visiting.
I’d also recommend you to rent a car (I also have a guide on that if you need tips) because with it you’ll be able to see much more and stay warmer.
As for your second question, Konya, Pamukkale and Kusadasi have different climates. Kusadasi is the warmest (on average, the temp is between 10-12C degrees but it rains often), Pamukkale can have the same temperature but in January it’s often windy, so may feel colder. Konya is cold, it’s on average 3-4C degrees during the day and wet snow is common.
I can’t really tell you exactly what the weather is going to be like in that first week on the day when you visit. You may be lucky and have a sunny day but you need to be ready if it is grey and windy. But if you have warmer clothes, that shouldn’t be a problem too.
And for Istanbul, I’d also expect to wear warm clothes since it will be windy and can be raining a lot. Although that really is different each year. Two years ago the first week of Jan was raining every single day with the occasional sun but last January it was quite the opposite, the first week was mainly sunny and we had only a few hours of rain for the entire week.
But even if it rains, you can still do a lot of activities since many of them are indoors. Just have an umbrella with you to move freely and not to wait for the rain to pass (because it can pour for hours without a break). And have waterproof shoes with warm jacket to be able to spend a lot of time outside without getting cold too fast.
Love to read your articles
Kindly if you can guide how and where to travel in turkey in December as am planning to visit with my 2 sons age 14and 11
All the places I mention in this post are great for a trip with kids in December. But to help you plan a more detailed itinerary, I’d need to learn more about your travel needs. Let me know what you like and look for, and I’ll come up with more ideas.
Was a treat reading this. Have been to Turkey a few times before, going for the first time 1st week of Dec this year. Will be spending few days in Istanbul and fairly aware of Istanbul. Am interested in seeing something else for a couple of days and get back to Istanbul. Do not want to go to Cappadocia as really not to fond of it. Have been to Oludeniz and surrounding in summers. I havent been to Izmir, and am thinking of going there. Wanted your advise on what to expect there and what once can look forward to different from Istanbul. And will it be a good idea to venture to Pamukkale, (is it as pictureseque now as the older pictures suggest and worth the visit? and advisable in the December weather?). I would be really interested to go to any small villages/towns that are open for tourists to visit that can be visited within short distance of Istanbul or Izmir. Not interested in visiting ancient Roman/Greek sites as such, rather more on the town/city feel and warmth of the local lives.
Thanks for any suggestins and advise.
Visiting Izmir in December is a great idea! It is different from Istanbul, a modern (the most liberal) city with a much slower pace of life. There are a few cool museums, a long promenade with walking/biking trails, viewing platforms, a vibrant bazaar and lots of restaurants and pubs. If I had to compare Izmir to Istanbul, I’d say that it is very pro-western with modern architecture (there is an old part too but it’s rather small), has fewer refugees and immigrants (mainly Turkish population), and fewer tourists. Izmir feels like a different Turkey (as some people say Turkey of the future).
With a short and quick flight from Istanbul, it’s easy to plan a trip there.
Around it, you can go to Nazarkoy (a cute village as you mentioned you would like to see) where locals make evil eye and you can watch the process. Also, you can have Turkish breakfast there and other village food, walk around and have a feel of small village life. Other villages to visit are Foca, Cicekli (not much there but Turkish people go there for a traditional breakfast and to hang out), Ildir, Seferihisar.
Visiting Pamukkale is also a good idea, at the beginning of December this place will be almost empty without any people and the weather should be still nice. In terms of old photos, no Pamukkale looks different now since many travertines are dry without any water but it doesn’t mean the place lost its charm. It is still very beautiful and worth seeing with your own eyes. And if there are not many tourists (shouldn’t be in December), that’s even better. You’ll be able to enjoy that beauty in tranquility. I’d rent a car in Izmir and go on a road trip to Pamukkale. If you do, you can stop in Birgi, a UNESCO town, Sirince village or Kirazli.
I hope it helps!
We are planning for turkey trip on first two week of december 2022.
Can you please help us and let us know how weather will be around istanbul,capadoccia etc places of turkey.
Is it raining more in first two week of december?
Everything is open or closed during this time.
Please help us to resolve above questions.
I’ll be honest, I cannot tell you for sure what’s the weather going to be like in Turkey in the first part of December, no one will since it’s never 100% predictable. Generally, Istanbul from the first days of December becomes rather cold and windy, wet snow and rain are possible, however they are not frequent. Although in the last few years December was quite warm, with the weather more like the Velvet season.
Cappadocia is already cold with temperatures minus 0 during nights. I actually wrote my other guide to Cappadocia in winter, not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but I included very detailed information about the weather there.
I suggest you read all my posts about winter travel in Turkey because I packed them with many details. You’ll find them here, just scroll to that part where it says winter in Turkey.
And to answer your last question about whether everything is open or not, it depends on the destination. In large cities everything is open, Istanbul doesn’t sleep and life is as busy. In Cappadocia, places are open for the most part too.
But the coast is a totally different story. Smaller towns and villages will be closed for the season but in cities, life continues just at a slower pace since the tourist season is over. Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris will be very, very quiet but stores, cafes and many restaurants will be open. Antalya is also bustling with life as well as any other large city, really.
This is so helpful Anya! Thank you.
We are visiting Turkey from 22nd Dec 2022 to 2nd Jan 2023.
The places we plan to cover are Istanbul, Cappadocia and Antalya. Where do you suggest we spend Christmas and New Year? We are open to amend our itinerary.
Hi Tanvi, it’s a good question! Although my answer will depend on what you look to do and how you like to spend holidays.
Istanbul and Antalya are those cities where you can find New Year’s eve parties and various events in clubs, restaurants, and on the deck of a yacht. All the main celebrations start in the evening and last until morning in private venues. There is also a massive firework show over the Bosphorus in Istanbul and in Antalya which is very difficult to get to because there are so many people (for fireworks, you either come early and take a place in line or buy a ticket to the restaurant with a view or join a boat party). But there is not much going on for the public on the streets besides fireworks.
Cappadocia on the contrary is a very quiet place, which is more about winter seclusion and romance. Almost every hotel offers its own event program and New Year’s eve dinner and show. You can also expect fireworks over the chimneys.
I’d personally choose Cappadocia (because I have had already winter holidays in Istanbul and Antalya which wasn’t my style) as I prefer to be in a less-crowded place away from the hustle. Cappadocia feels really magical.
But you may enjoy celebrating it in Istanbul if you like to be in the center of events and if you book a fancy hotel. For private venues, just make sure to buy tickets in advance (I’d say now is a good time) because in November all tickets can be already gone.
Also, take a look at this post one more time. I updated it and included a broader answer to the question.
Your post is incredible and I loved readying it! We plan to travel with our 1 year old from Dec 15-Jan4. We would like to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Turkey. It would be great if you can suggest what’s the best we should do as I’m a bit reluctant with the baby. Thanks In advance
Hi Ambika, specifically for Christmas and New Year celebrations with a baby I’d recommend looking into all-inclusive hotels in Antalya or Bodrum. There are quite a few nice properties that have heated pools, aqua parks, and prepare NY programs for their guests. In this way you’ll be in comfort but within a short distance from big cities where you can go on any day trip by private transfer.
For example, Maxx Royal Belek is one of the best hotels in Antalya for winter vacation. It has heated pools and a big territory with many things to do.
Barut Collection all-inclusive hotel in Lara is even closer to Antalya and has a wide range of entertainment for kids of different ages with playgrounds and animation. Ali Bey resort Sorgun near Manavgat has baby pools and aqua park which is partially open during winter. It also offers children’s disco and well-balanced animation program.
These are just some examples to show you what you can find in Antalya in December. Although there are many more hotels of course.
Outside hotels, if you are willing to rent a car, there are a few interesting winter routes to follow.
Let me know if you are interested and need help with a more detailed itinerary and list of things to do with a baby.
Your information about Turkey is just amazing and it’s more lovely to see you answer all questions in such detailed manners. Thus, heres mine.
My husband, 1 year old boy and I will be traveling to Turkey for the first time. period is ten days from end of nov to first week of Dec. Nov25th-Dec5th.
Id like your help planning our trip as I have a small conference on 29th nov in Istanbul and res of the days we are scratching our head as to what can be done and visited with a baby. Initially i had planned the following.
25TH: arrive Istanbul, take a flight to Pamukkale. visit the sites and leave for Izmir on 27th.
27th: Visit Ephesus
28th leave for Istanbul.
29th work conference.
30th Sightseeing in Istanbul
1st Fly to Cappadocia
2,3 spend time and visit all three towns as we can do hot air balloon with our baby.:(
4th fly back to Istanbul and then back home.
Is Konya doable during our Cappadocia stay?
Should I change/add/remove anything.
As apart from being in Istanbul for the conference from 28-30th nov we are very flexible.
Antalya could be squeezed anywhere or would be too much since theres a baby with us.
We plan on traveling around by driving a car.
FARTHER cities we would take a Flight.
Any tips/info would be so useful. Thanks.
Sure, I am happy to help! But looks like you have a good plan for your time in Turkey and your days seem to be packed with lots of trips 🙂
The end of November is really a good time for all destinations that you picked and in my opinion, it’s better not to squeeze in other cities like Konya or Antalya, although I don’t know your preferred pace and exact time for arrival and departure in Cappadocia.
If you arrive in Cappadocia early and leave late, you can have 2 or 3 full days in the region and go in the evening to Konya, for example, and then spend the following day there and then in the evening leave to Istanbul. But that may be difficult with a toddler and if your flight is in the afternoon or early evening.
Another option is to spend 2 days in Cappadocia (if you plan just to go on a hot air balloon ride and briefly visit 3 towns as you mentioned without any other tours or underground cities) and then fly to Antalya for another 2 days. Although keep in mind that Antalya is a huge city with many places of interest scattered on a big distance.
If I were you, I wouldn’t rush because in this case you may end up spending more time on airports than actual sightseeing and after your conference, I’d better devote the rest of your vacation to Cappadocia. The region is very big and there is really a lot to do. But I don’t know your travel style and how your child is adjusting to it. If you like to travel fast, a quick trip to Konya can be actually an excellent ending to a trip. Yet again, I wouldn’t include Antalya unless you can devote 2 full days to this city.
Another itinerary that you can have is this one (spend more time in Istanbul) and skip Konya and Antalya:
25th: Arrive in Istanbul and stay in the city, get the first introduction to the European side (I’d start with the Beyoglu district)
26th through 28th I’d stay in Istanbul and during these days I’d explore Sultanahmet (I have a detailed post about it here), Kadikoy and one of the unique neighborhoods like Kuzguncuk, Balat, or Arnavutkoy (also wrote about it here). And if you feel that’s not enough, on one of the days I’d rent a car on the Asian side (in the Sabiha Gokcen airport area) or better rent it through Localrent to have them deliver a car to your hotel to make it easier and faster for you, and then go for a day on a mini road trip to the Black Sea coast (Sile, Cayirbasi, Akcakese, even all the way along the coast to Cebeci). In this way, you’ll be able to see a very different side of Istanbul and adjacent towns.
29th: work conference
30th: leave Istanbul to Izmir, visit Ephesus, stay overnight in the area
1st: leave to Pamukkale either by car or plane (by car it will take around 3 hours, the same as what you can spend on airport security and flight), visit the sights on this day and following one and in the evening on the 2nd leave to Cappadocia to stay overnight there
3nd: wake up in Cappadocia and spend 3rd and 4th there. Leave in the evening.
It is a bit difficult for me to make all the suggestions as I don’t know how fast/slow you want to travel, plus I don’t know if your son can do well with many flights and transfers.
In any case, I wouldn’t try to squeeze in too many places as distances are rather big and each place has a lot to offer.
Even if you extend your stay in Izmir and Kusadasi, there are still things to do in the end of November and December, even if you can’t go to the beach.
I hope this helps, but let me know if you have other questions, I hope you’ll enjoy your trip!