Istanbul in winter

Visiting Istanbul in Winter – Weather, Packing Tips & Best Things to Do

Considering a trip to Istanbul in winter might prompt responses suggesting that December, January, and February in this city may not be the optimal season. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until spring or even summer?

Well, visiting Istanbul, as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, is wonderful when you can walk around it without a jacket and scarf. But in my experience, after living in Istanbul for a couple of years and visiting it on a few other occasions in winter, I can tell that this destination is wonderful regardless of the cold weather. And to be honest, winter weather in Istanbul is pleasantly different from winter weather in most of Europe.

So, if you are planning a trip to Turkey in winter and thinking of including a quick weekend break to Istanbul, don’t hesitate to do it. However, consider all the features of winter climate, so you go prepared and pack the right type of clothes that will help you enjoy the trip.

And with my guide below you can get the latest information on what the weather in winter in Istanbul is like, how cold winters get, when it snows, the best things to do, and when exactly a winter trip to Istanbul is a good idea!

Traveling to Istanbul in Winter for the First Time?

Don’t miss these winter tours & accommodation options great for winter trips!

Tours in Istanbul to Take in Winter:

Places to Stay in Istanbul in Winter:

  • Casa Rosa Suits (quiet and great location for anyone in Karaköy)
  • Hotel Poem (elegance on a mid-budget in the heart of Istanbul Old Town)
  • Hotel Ibrahim Pasha (very central luxurious property on a budget to be close to all main sights)
  • Nomad Hostel (for a very tight budget, excellent reviews)
  • Galateia Residence (apartment in Galata historic neighborhood within walking distance to Taksim, Karaköy & public transport) 

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

1. Main Things You Need to Know Before Going to Istanbul in Winter

What Is Winter in Istanbul Like?

snow in Istanbul
December in Istanbul

Istanbul winter is usually mild and merciful except for small periods of really cold days and intense snowfall.

The temperatures in the city usually stay between 5°C (41F) and 15°C (59F) during winter months, sometimes dropping close to 0°, and sometimes going as high as +20°C (68F) – this was especially the case for 2023 (and for 2020), an exceptionally hot year.

February is the coldest month, with temperatures at night dropping as low as 0° and even colder sometimes. But days are still very much manageable, with temperatures nearing 10°C (50F) and sometimes going much higher than that.

Besides the temperatures, the general feeling and atmosphere of the city do not change much as Istanbul is not a seasonal city. So basically everything you can do in Summer here, you can do in Winter too – with the obvious exception of swimming in Burgazada, Buyukada, or other Princess islands.

And Istanbul can be considered somewhat more crowded in Winters than during the summertime as a lot of people leave for vacation and there are fewer students around. But it is really a small difference that only locals -or people who have visited the city a lot in different periods- can notice.

Does It Snow in Istanbul in Winter?

snow in Istanbul

It does snow in İstanbul during winters but it is not like the whole city gets covered with white powder during the entire winter season. Usually, it snows for certain periods, sometimes very light, and sometimes serious enough to close some roads.

If you want to see Istanbul white, probably January and/or February would be the best time for it. But I cannot give any guarantees so you might better check the weather forecasts before buying your tickets if planning a spontaneous trip at this time.

Overall the temperatures keep rising (as anywhere around the globe), and as I have mentioned above, on some “Winter” days you can see temperatures as high as 20°C (68F), which makes it feel more like Spring.

So yes, it snows in Istanbul in Winter, but snow certainly does not dominate the city for a long period.

Is Winter Trip to Istanbul a Good Idea?

Basically, yes! No matter which time of the year it is, a trip to Istanbul is always a good idea. And as the city does not usually get too cold from December to February, the weather won’t be affecting your İstanbul experience, except of course if you are really, really sensitive to the cold in which case other seasons would be more suitable.

Besides that, visiting Istanbul in Winter might be a much better experience than doing so in Summer (assuming that you are not planning to come here to swim in Princess Islands) as summers in Istanbul tend to be very, very hot, which can make it incredibly hard to spend a lot of time outside and discover Istanbul’s different neighborhoods.

And speaking of discovering this beautiful city, Istanbul looks very beautiful in winter not just when it snows but when it rains too. So don’t be upset if the weather forecast shows rainy days on your getaway. Prepare an umbrella and go for a walk!

2. Istanbul Winter Weather Quick Guide

Kuzguncuk in February
Winter weather in Istanbul

Before I start telling you the details about Istanbul’s winter weather, you need to remember one thing – it is very changeable. Do not believe in long-term forecasts. The maximum that you can hope for is a forecast for 3-4 days. But even then it can change a dozen times.

Also, do not plan a trip to Istanbul based on the weather, especially if you want to travel there just for the snow! Because if it snows, the snow doesn’t stay on the ground for long. As I mentioned above, snow is common in January and February, but mainly at night, during the day it melts away quickly due to high temperatures.

Istanbul Weather in December 

Weather in December in Istanbul is more reminiscent of autumn with average high temperature ranging from around 10 to 14°Celsius (50 to 57 Fahrenheit), while the average low temperature can vary between 5 and 8° Celsius (41 to 46 Fahrenheit). However, it is not uncommon to see days with temperatures around 20°С (68F) which is warm enough for sunbathing on Istanbul’s beaches.

December is one of the warmer months, however, a cold wind often blows from the sea and there is occasional rain.

Balat in December
Can you believe we took this photo in the third week of December? Yes, we really did! And it felt more like a cold summer in Europe rather than winter in Istanbul. The following two photos are from around the same time.
winter walk in Kuzguncuk neighborhood
Kuzguncuk in December

One golden rule to remember about the weather in Istanbul in December is that it can change several times during the day and even if days are warm, evenings will be cold.

So it is very important to bring warm layers (including a jacket) and an umbrella (if you don’t have one, you can always buy it in one of the stores or local bazaars).

Istanbul Weather in January

Compared to December, January weather in Istanbul has lower temperatures. The thermometer in the daytime usually stands at around +4+6°С (39F-43F). At night sometimes it drops to 0-2°С (32F-28F).

January also sees a lot of frequent rains and during this month it can snow often (mainly wet snow). Being outdoors for an extended period of time can be somewhat unpleasant due to high humidity and strong winds.

Istanbul weather in January

On average, there are only 9 sunny days in January and the rest of the time, the sky is covered with dense clouds. It rains for about half a time and the rest of the time is mainly cloudy and grey. You need to carry an umbrella with you just in case as the rain can start unexpectedly.

Although who knows, since the weather is quite unpredictable you may get lucky and have sunny and warm weather! But if it’s rather cold, January in Istanbul will be a great month for checking out mosques, museums, water cisterns, and getting many cups of hot Turkish coffee!

Average Istanbul Weather in February 

February in Istanbul is a somewhat interesting month when it comes to weather since it can change many times during one day. The sun can be shining for a couple of minutes and you take your jacket off but then 20 minutes later the clouds come and rain starts.

In February, you also cannot trust the weather forecast simply for the reason that it’s never exact and second because in different parts of the city, the weather can be dramatically different.

For example, it can be raining on the Asian side in Kadikoy or Uskudar while across the Bosporus in Karakoy (20 min by ferry), it’s sunny and a few degrees warmer. And you can see that when standing on the pier. 

Istanbul in February
For many days Istanbul in February looks like this. But then the sun comes out and everything changes in the blink of an eye

In February, on average, the air temperature is +6+ 8°С (43F-46F). On some days, the thermometer rises to +10+14°С (50F-57F). Although at the end of February the number of days with precipitation drops, Istanbul still stays damp and cloudy. From the side of the sea, piercing sea winds blow.

If you are visiting Istanbul in February, do not forget to bring a windproof jacket, a sweater, scarf, gloves, and a warm hat! But be ready to spend a lot of time indoors if it rains every day of your trip.

NOTE: Istanbul museums in winter are somewhat chilly inside, so dress warmly!

3. Reasons Why Istanbul in Winter Can Be a Much Better Option Than in Summer

It Is Actually Not That Cold

Thanks to the Bosporus and Marmara Sea, winters in Istanbul are mild. This is why it is easy enough to explore the city without enduring harsh winter weather.

Unlike many European destinations, Istanbul rarely experiences the biting cold and heavy snowfall associated with winter. Instead, you can enjoy a more temperate climate, making it conducive to exploring outdoor attractions, historical sites, and neighborhoods throughout December, January, and February.

In winter it is still comfortable enough to walk outside, visit open-air markets, and go on tours. Yet, you have to take proper clothes, waterproof shoes (very important), and an umbrella (must-have in Istanbul). 

winter in Istanbul

It Is Cheaper

Istanbul is one of the best cheap destinations for winter travel as prices for accommodation, airfare, and some excursions drop significantly.

While grocery prices, restaurants, cafes, and transportation costs stay the same in winter in Istanbul, prices for hotel stays, airbnbs, and flights go down. So it can be a good reason to plan a journey here at this time, especially if you are traveling on a budget.

You can rent an Airbnb flat, for example, half as expensive as in summer. Hotel and hostel stays are always cheaper too. Even during Christmas and New Year’s time, accommodation is much cheaper than anywhere in Europe. Turkey celebrates neither of these holidays, so not many people flock here. Yet, Istanbul has a nice holiday atmosphere and there are still many festive things to do on New Year’s Eve and the following day.

Also, winter is a perfect time for moving to Istanbul and finding an apartment for the long term. Since not many people visit and there are hundreds of reasonably priced accommodation options on the market, you can find a flat on Airbnb for a month or so and start looking for another apartment on a long-term basis.

From April to November you can’t easily do that since the majority of nice and cheap Istanbul airbnbs are booked with a lot of time in advance.

There are NO Long Lines

In winter, there are fewer tourists in Istanbul, so you will not have to wait in lines for a long time and will have more time to enjoy the city and its attractions. It applies to everything. Exceptions may be places like the Blue Mosque where there is always a line to get in. But even that does not compare with the number of people in the summer.

Also, while traveling by ferry from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side (or vice versa), you can always find a seat by the window and enjoy the beautiful view over the Bosphorus (especially in the evening during the sunset).

Blue Mosque in January
In winter, it is also easy enough to take photos of famous landmarks since the number of people is low

Besides attractions and ferries, lodging places stay half empty too. In summer all types of accommodation are packed with people. But in winter hotels’ occupancy rate is down by half. Even with business travel.

Winter is a Perfect Season For Museums & Indoor Activities (Which Are Plenty!)

Even though winter in Istanbul is not usually that cold, it still rains a lot. If I could compare, I’d say that on some days it rains as much as in Portland, Oregon or in London.

But with the rain, especially during the week, it is such a pleasure to visit Istanbul’s museums which are often empty (and very entertaining!) Besides museums for every taste, there are also underground water cisterns, aquariums, hammams, and ancient mosques. There is just so much to see and experience!

It Is Also the Best Time For Shopping

If you find yourself in Istanbul in January or February, wanting to visit its rich cultural attractions, it is useful to know how to get the most out of shopping too. Because these two months offer great prices and many discounts. 

Fashionable Nişantaşı neighborhood in Istanbul – Turkish Beverly Hills. There are many fashion boutiques and luxury stores here. In summer it is incredibly busy, in winter not so much.

Istanbul does not have such a clear sales schedule as Europe. However, in recent years Turkey has tried to adhere to it due to many tourists in the country who count on shopping at certain times of the year.

So the sales season in Istanbul happens twice a year. First time in summer (in July and August) and second time in winter (from mid-January to late February – early March).

During this time, sales start with 30% discounts, then prices drop by about half, and towards the end of the winter season, you can buy things with a discount of up to 70%. And that’s the discount not only for clothes, jewelry, or furnishings. But also for electronics of any brand and household appliances. However, do not expect the same discount in every store.

4. What to Wear in Istanbul in Winter

What to Wear in Istanbul in December

Since December weather in Istanbul is not subject to a clear forecast and it may change throughout the day many times, you want to pack clothes for different temperatures.

During the day, it can be around +15 degrees Celsius (59F), sunny, and rather warm. But in the evening, it might drop to +7 or +8 degrees Celsius (44F-46F) with strong winds. Without a hat, a warm sweater, and a jacket, you will be cold in the evening.

So this is why I suggest you look at the following items to understand what to pack for Istanbul in December:

  • Jeans or trousers, but if they are lightweight, bring thermal leggings to wear underneath. Otherwise, bring thick autumn-winter pants (like these fleece-lined jeans).
  • T-shirt + a warm sweater or a cozy turtleneck, they are indispensable
  • Autumn jacket, preferably windproof and waterproof and with a hood (like this stylish hooded trench coat). In the last two years, there has been little rain in December in Istanbul, and if it happens, it’s usually not heavy, but it can occur. You may be lucky and have no rain for all days of your vacation or it can be raining every other day. So better take a rain jacket just in case.
  • Comfortable footwear since you’ll be doing a lot of walking in Istanbul, navigating steep slopes and cobblestone streets. Waterproof sneakers are an ideal choice or loafers made from materials that can withstand moisture (preferably with thick sole and 100% leather, like this platform lace-up shoes).
  • Autumn hat (like a beret, fedora, or newsboy cap) is always useful, especially in the evening by the sea
  • Gloves. If you’re sensitive to cold and your hands tend to get cold, it’s better to bring them. Otherwise, you can leave them at home
  • Scarf for colder nights
  • Umbrella that is resistant to gusts of wind
  • Warm loungewear for airbnb flats as some of them can be cool inside

What to Wear in January in Istanbul

January is usually colder than December, so it’s better not to hesitate to bring extra layers.

Hagia Sophia
Karakoy in winter

You can use the same list as I mentioned for December but with a couple of adjustments like:

  • Instead of a lightweight raincoat bring a heavier jacket or coat like the insulated parka or down jacket which has excellent insulation but is more lightweight
  • Woolen sweaters and warm trousers if your jacket is not very warm
  • Gloves, scarf, and hat will be helpful too
  • Waterproof boots to protect your feet
  • Warm socks
  • Umbrella

What to Wear in February in Istanbul

You’ll have a more comfortable time when visiting Istanbul in February if you pack clothes made from natural fabrics, sweaters, warm pants, and winter shoes. Although the temperature in February is higher than in January, it can feel much colder due to cold gusts of wind and rain.

  • Bring insulated pants, jackets, scarves, hats, gloves, and durable waterproof footwear.
  • From my experience, I recommend you bring both a windbreaker and a winter jacket, as the weather during this month can be unpredictable, so you may need both depending on the day.
  • When going for a stroll in the city, dress in layers so that you can remove the extra layers when the sun is out and you feel hot.
  • Don’t forget to bring an umbrella (as for any other month). It will come in handy not only as an accessory but will also protect from the rain and wind.

NOTE: If in December you can leave gloves at home, in February make sure to pack them (or even mittens). Some days can be very cold (mainly because of the piercing wind).

5. Things to Do in Istanbul in Winter

winter weather Istanbul
walking on Galata bridge

As I mentioned earlier, Istanbul is not a seasonal city. Everything you can do in summer here, you can do in winter too, in any month. But here are a few ideas for monthly travel if you don’t know where to start: 

Things to Do in Istanbul in December

If the weather is dry and sunny, December days are perfect for long walks and tours.

When it is rainy, immerse yourself in the rich culture by visiting museums, historical sites, and cozy cafes. Do not miss a chance to join a tour (at least one) as it is not just an option, it’s an essential part of your journey. 

Local guides offer many sightseeing walking and bus tours. It can be a classic walk through the main attractions or a trip to the Asian side of the city with a visit to various shops and Uskudar mosques.

If you are on a self-guided itinerary, I recommend you explore the neighborhoods of Cihangir, Bebek, Arnavutkoy, Balat, and Kuzguncuk.

In rainy weather, visit beautiful examples of Muslim architecture from different eras (like on this free tour) and Old Town of Istanbul with such landmarks as Hagia Sophia Mosque (which used to be an Orthodox Church), Topkapi Palace (the official residence of the Ottoman sultans), and Basilica Cistern, all are great when it rains or snows outside.

But if you’ve been to Istanbul before, better go to lesser-known palaces that are of big importance too. Like Beylerbei and Kucuksu in Uskudar where you can get by ferry from the European side.

Best Tours to Join in December Istanbul


What to Do in Istanbul in January

Istanbul in January
On a walking tour in January. It doesn’t really rain every single day, some days can be rather sunny. Although almost every day is pretty windy.

The weather in Istanbul in January is not very conducive to long walks around the city. Due to sudden rains and gusty winds, it is unlikely that you will be able to enjoy outside beauty and charming landscapes in full. If the goal is to admire the natural sights of this city, it is better to come here during the warmer months.

Yet, despite the cold unpredictable weather, Istanbul in January is crowded and full of tourists. The reason for this is the New Year holidays and sales on shopping which encourage people to seek new adventures and experiences. And Istanbul is just perfect for such purposes. 

So January is the best month for visiting famous Istanbul landmarks, having a romantic city break (since many boutique and luxury hotels offer lower prices), and going shopping. 

Among other things about what to do in Istanbul in January are excursions (mainly indoors), concerts, and cultural experiences. Museums are also great places to visit but many of them close for reconstruction during this time. So if you plan to travel for museums alone, you need to check in advance what will be open and what closes.

For cultural experiences and excursions, it can be more practical to purchase an Istanbul City Pass (check if you need a Museum Card) which provides several important privileges. With it, you don’t need to stand in lines to get to palaces and mosques as well as other sites. During the bad weather, this is a huge advantage.

Things to Do in Istanbul in February

A trip to Istanbul in February is not the best time to get to know the city for first-time visitors. But it still can be a memorable trip if you are ready to combine outdoor and indoor activities

February, just like December, can be very unpredictable weather-wise. It can be raining for a few days in a row but then the sun shows up, warms up the day and you feel like spring is coming.

Nisantasi in December
Some of the neighborhoods in Istanbul for Christmas get lovely decorated

This is why the best way to plan your itinerary is to be ready to adjust and concentrate more on indoor activities. But they go far beyond museums and palaces. 

You can visit one of the closed observation decks or viewing platforms (like the one in Galata Tower, a modern skyscraper Sapphire, Georges Hotel in Galata that has rooftop dining open for outside guests, or one of the restaurants I’ve written about).

Other places where to go are jazz clubs (Nardis jazz club in Galata or Bova Jazz club in Taksim are very popular), wine bars (we really enjoyed Beyoglu Saraphanesi), and hammams.

If visiting Istanbul in February with kids, be sure to visit the Toy museum, which will not leave indifferent children and adults. There are more than 4000 unique items for games from all over the world. And Rahmi M. Koc Museum with an exposition of airplanes, retro cars, trains, and steam locomotives of the 19th-20th centuries.

Other nice places to visit for rainy weather in February are Sea Life Istanbul Water Park, one of the 5 largest in the world, and Istanbul Dolphinarium. A botanical garden with exotic tropical plants is located nearby.

Tours & Experiences to Have in Istanbul in February 


Conclusion – So Is Istanbul in Winter a Good City For Travel?

Despite the fact that Istanbul in winter sees rain, wind, and wet snow, it is still incredible and grand. You just need to pack the right type of clothes and shoes and be ready for the changing weather. But as locals like to say, there is no such thing as bad weather in Istanbul if you have proper clothes.

Although most residents of Istanbul at this time prefer to stay at home or run from one cafe to another to warm up with hot tea, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing else to do.

Quite on the contrary, you’ll find plenty of activities. Plus, it is much better to enjoy the city in a warm coat than to sweat and cry during the hot summer wading through crowds of tourists. 

Of course, in the end, you are the only one who decides if Istanbul in winter is right for you. But I really hope through this post you were able to get an idea of what it is like. 

Where to Go From Istanbul in Winter

More Winter Travel Inspiration

Are you looking for more winter travel inspiration? Here are a few more ideas:

Hey Istanbul travelers, do you have anything to add? Have you been to Istanbul in the wintertime? Did you enjoy it? Share in the comments how your experience was! I’d love to know!

Visiting Istanbul in winter
Thinking either to go to Istanbul in winter or not? Yes, definitely do it! Winter in Istanbul is a perfect season for many activities and I am explaining it in this guide, check it out! #bestofturkey #istanbulturkey #istanbultravel #istanbulinwinter


  1. Hi I’m planning to go Istanbul in December first first week so just wanna know weather is too cold and what should I wear

    1. Hi Chesta,
      The first week of December in Istanbul is still relatively warm. The average temperature is 16-18C degrees during the day and 10-12 at night. It may occasionally rain but rain is not prolonged yet and may end as quickly as it started.
      I’d pack shirts with long sleeves, jeans, jacket with hood/warm hoodie, and shoes that cover your feet/toes. Don’t forget an umbrella, it will definitely come in handy.
      This year the weather is pretty much standard, so I believe you will get a good amount of sun and nice breezy days.

    2. Hi Anya.. Planning on visiting Istanbul in the last 2 weeks of December. Do you have an idea of what the weather will be like. And do you have a list of places / things to do in Istanbul in Winter. Thanks

      1. Hi Moe,
        It is a bit difficult to predict what the weather will be like. But on average, in the second part of December, the daytime temperature usually stays between 10-12 degrees and 3-5 at night. Also, expect occasional rain every day.

        As for the list of things to do in Istanbul in winter, it all depends on whether this is going to be your first visit or not. If you are coming to Istanbul for the first time, my list of things to do in the next:

        – Visit one of the palaces (Topkapi, Dolmabahce, Maslak Karsi, Museum of Great Palace Mosaics), historic mosques (Ayasofya which used to be a church, Kariye museum, Fethiye mosque, Blue Mosque), and underground reservoirs (like Basilica Cistern or Theodosius Cistern).
        Sultanahmet Square is the place to start where you’ll find some of the places on this list next to each other.

        – Visit the museums (Istanbul archaeological museum which collection introduces the history of Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and the Ancient East, Military Museum, coordinates here which has a big collection of historical items related to weapons and military artifacts and all the items represent over 1000 years of the history of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. There is also a new Museum of Modern Art that has a cinema hall showing films about culture and art, a spacious library with unique publications on contemporary art, and a stylish restaurant with panoramic views of the Old Town and the Bosphorus.
        Other museums that not many people visit but they are awesome – Panorama 1453 History Museum, Museum of Islamic and Turkish Arts, Museum of Innocence.

        – Go on a Bosphorus cruise. All ferries have roofs and cabins where passengers stay in warmth and comfort. If budget allows, join a 2.5 long sunset tour which allows to admire the coastal areas up to the second Bosphorus Bridge.

        – Visit famous Turkish bazaars (Grand bazaar, Egyptian bazaar and fish bazzaar in Kadikoy/Uskudar).

        – Try Istanbul street food (pide, pilaf, stuffed mussels the best are in Moda and Besiktas, fish sandwich or fish roll the best in Karakoy, roasted chestnuts, grilled corn, try winter hot drink salep and boza)

        – Explore Istiklal street with its multiple bars, restaurants, cafes, and lounges, then Galata Tower, historic hotel Pera Palace, Ortakoy neighborhood with famous Ortakoy mosque and boardwalk

        – I’d also recommend you a show of dancing whirling dervishes. It’s quite popular in winter and you can watch it in Masal Cafe in Sultanahmet (offering an Ottoman menu and shows on weekends). But the brightest show takes place in the center of culture and art of Hodjapasha, not far from the Sirkeji station in the building of the former hammam. Dervishes perform here every evening. There is a small cozy hall, the show is accompanied by lighting effects and lasts an hour. It is better to buy tickets in advance on the official website. I know getyourguide offers tickets to this show too.

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing your amazing experience. Would you recommend some outstanding cafes or restaurants with any price range and some must visit museums and activities for a small family with a 6 year old kid in late December?
    Also is it easier to communte from the airport to the hotel and between attractions by public transport? Just a bit cautious of hefty taxi fares which I am not sure if they are regulated as in the UK?

    Thanks a lot 🙂

    1. Hi Mohamed,
      As for the museums in Istanbul for families with children, I can recommend the Ural Ataman Classic Car Museum (in the northern part of Istanbul with the collection of old cars), Toy Museum in Kadikoy (it is particularly interesting for kids of younger age), Rahmi M. Koc Museum (opposite side from famous Pierre Loti hill. It features road, sea, rail and air transport, communication facilities, various devices with a visual demonstration of how they operate, and toys. Of particular interest may be an exhibition of vintage cars, as well as rail transport where you are allowed to get on a train and become a driver for a few minutes), Istanbul LEGOLAND in the shopping mall Forum, and park Miniaturk (with small versions of Turkish landmarks. But it’s under the open sky, so make sure to dress warmly).

      For the restaurants, I have a post about them here (not sure if you’ve seen it already). I included restaurants with viewing platforms, panoramas, traditional Turkish food and a couple of budget-friendly cafes with excellent dishes.

      And as for your last question, I’d recommend you use only public transport, yes! It is very well developed and you can literally go anywhere. Just purchase an Istanbul card that gives discounts on all types of public transportation and saves pretty good money. In rush hour, stick to ferries, metro and high-speed tram not to be stuck in traffic. And if you use a taxi, go only with those that have a meter but keep in mind that in Istanbul taxis you also pay for waiting time in traffic and/or on traffic lights.
      When coming from the airport, the location of your accommodation defines if it is better to come by bus or take a taxi. There is a special type of bus that runs only between the airport(s) and city, very comfortable and clean. Did you see this post I’ve written about the Istanbul city – airport transfer? You’ll find information there about both of the airports and how to get from each of them to the city center.

  3. I already visited Istanbul for a week in the mid of December 2019, and i can tell that every single word in this blog is true. Istanbul in winter is amazing and it is not too cold as people think. Even my 2 years old son was so happy and kept playing around without complaning from feeling cold. Istanbul in winter for me is 100 times better than it is in summer where it is hot and crowded. I am visiting Istanbul again in the mid of December this year and i already booked my flight and hotel. Can not wait to see the great city again

    1. Thank you for stopping by to leave a comment, Ahmad! That’s what I also think – Istanbul in winter is much better than during a hot sticky summer. At least you can get warmer clothes if it’s cold. In summer, it may be really difficult to find a place to escape the heat.

      Have a great trip and enjoy your visit!

  4. You were here during an extremely unusual winter. I have lived here 35 years. It has never been that warm before and we were all freaked out about it and hope it never happens again. We usually get some snow in December, sometimes in November even, and about two feet of it in January and then more as late as March. We don’t take the down comforters off our beds until late May.

    1. Hi Izzy, thank you for your input! I spent 2 winters in Istanbul and experienced pretty much the same weather just in a different timeframe. My thing is that I compare Istanbul’s winter to winter in eastern and central Europe which I think is much warmer. In any case, thank you again, it’s good to hear from someone who has spent so much time in the city!

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