Last Updated on February 13, 2023 by Goya
It is finally time to plan your eagerly awaited getaway to Istanbul — a city whose beauty and history have enticed many travellers like you over the years. You check the prices and it seems like a great place to go during wintertime! But before you make any travel plans, one question still lingers: Does it snow in Istanbul? And the answer is yes — Yes, it does! And lucky for you, here is everything you need to know about snow in Istanbul, from average temperatures to the best sights when its snowy season arrives!
Welcome to your guide to the enchanting winter wonderland of Istanbul!
UPDATE, FEBRUARY 2023: Turkey has recently been struck by a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8. The victims and rescue teams could use all the support they can! Please consider donating here: https://ahbap.org/disasters-turkey (the most trusted NGO by the locals)
Snow in Istanbul
#1: When Does It Snow In Istanbul?
Istanbul usually gets its first snowfall in December, with light dustings appearing until late March. January and February are generally known to be the snowiest months; however due to climate change-induced changes in weather patterns, these days, one may experience a few flurries as early as November or beyond March — an uncommon occurrence historically.
Average total days of snowfall are as follows:
Snow In Istanbul In December
Winter in Istanbul officially begins as December sets in, bringing significantly cooler temperatures. Though snowfall is rare at this time of the year, occasional storms can dust the city with a light blanket that rarely surpasses a few millimetres. The average temperature for lows remains mercifully mild allowing locals and visitors alike to still comfortably explore even when winter rolls through Turkey’s largest metropolis!
Snow In Istanbul In January
January is the perfect time to visit Istanbul if you want to explore the city through a blanket of snow. You can enjoy sightseeing without worrying about extreme temperatures thanks to relatively mild lows and highs around 5-8°C in this otherwise coldest month of the year.
Snow In Istanbul In February
Istanbul in the month of February is great for those who want to experience a chilly winter wonderland. Even though temperatures are slowly rising, visitors can still expect some snow. It’s important to note that by late February, Istanbul may be losing its icy grip and chances for seeing flakes become slimmer as winter begins fading away until warmer weather returns again.
Having said that, extreme weather conditions and flight cancellations, although uncommon, may still be seen.
Snow In Istanbul In March
Although snow in March is rare, or hardly enough to affect most tourists’ plans, there have been recent reports of flurries near Istanbul, with some as late as the end of March back in 2021. So, do keep an eye on the weather forecast!
#2: How Often Does It Snow In Istanbul?
While the weather varies year-by-year, it typically snows at least once every other winter season. When it does snow, it is not uncommon for snow to fall multiple times during the same year. The city often sees brief periods of snowfall followed by milder temperatures and rain before another round of wintry precipitation occurs. Some years there may be light flurries while other years may bring heavy snowstorms, so it’s important to check the forecast if you’re planning a visit during snowy months.
#3: Where Does It Snow In Istanbul?
Since Istanbul is a very hilly city spread across two different continents (Europe and Asia), with multiple bodies of water surrounding it (the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara), little pockets of microclimate are not uncommon. This means that weather patterns can vary significantly from one side of the city to another, or even between neighbouring districts at different altitudes.
The districts most likely to receive snow are Arnavutköy, Avcılar, Beylikdüzü, Büyükçekmece, Sarıyer, Sultangazi, Çekmeköy and Beykoz. These areas are located in the higher elevations of the city and often receive significant amounts of snowfall throughout the winter season.
#4: How Much Does It Snow In Istanbul?
The amount of snowfall varies from year to year, with a trend towards an increase in the amount of snowfall seen in recent years. Heavy snow days tend to come in spurts; there may be several days without any accumulation followed by a sudden heavy downfall that blankets everything in white.
#5: Is It Nice to Visit Istanbul When It Snows?
Absolutely! Visiting during winter, especially when it snows, brings a unique charm to this already magical city — the snow transforms its iconic skyline into an ethereal landscape straight out of a fairy tale. The streets are quieter than usual too, so it is not unusual to feel like the lead character in a TV show while wandering around the city!
#6: What to Do in Istanbul When It Snows?
A winter snowfall in Istanbul is a sight to behold. With its winding streets, ancient monuments, and majestic views of the Bosporus, the city is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. But what can you do in Istanbul when it snows? Lucky for you, there’s plenty to do and see!
Go for a Scenic Walk and Warm Treats
When it snows in Istanbul, take some time to explore the city on foot. There are several highlights that are especially beautiful when blanketed with snow — Çamlıca Hill, Pierre Loti Hill in Eyüp, and the walk along the European Bosphorus coast (from Bebek to Rumelihisarı) offer some of the best views of the winter scene. And, don’t forget to purchase roasted chestnuts from street vendors while you’re out!
Visit the City’s Many Museums, Art Galleries and Cafés
Istanbul has an impressive array of museums and cafes that are perfect for exploring on a snowy day. Whether you want to visit the Topkapı Palace Museum or Hagia Sophia Museum, there is something for everyone! And don’t forget about all the cosy cafes where you can warm up with a cup of Turkish tea or coffee, or my personal winter favourite, sahlep — a traditional hot drink made with warmed milk and ground orchid root powder and served with cinnamon on top. And don’t forget the hammams!
Winter in Istanbul
#1: How Cold Is Istanbul In Winter?
Istanbul winters tend to be mild compared to other areas of Turkey and Europe. Average temperatures range from 3°C (37°F) to 11°C (52°F). Although temperatures can drop below 0°C (32°F), especially overnight or on colder days with wind chill, for the most part, the city doesn’t get too cold during winter months. That said, visitors should definitely pack warm clothing when visiting during these months since temperatures can dip quite low and make outdoor activities like sightseeing feel extra chilly!
Here are the average temperatures in Istanbul in winter:
|Month||Average Lows||Average Highs|
|December||5.5°C (42°F)||10.9°C (51°F)|
|January||3.1°C (37°F)||8.5°C (47°F)|
|February||3.2°C (38°F)||9.1°C (48°F)|
|March||4.4°C (40°F)||11.3°C (52°F)|
#2: Is It Nice to Visit Istanbul In Winter?
While it is not “the” season for sightseeing in Istanbul, visiting Istanbul in winter can still be a delightful experience. From visiting museums and historical monuments to sampling some of the best dishes across two continents, there is plenty for visitors to enjoy during colder months. Plus, you can do all that without having to deal with large crowds and hot temperatures!
Don’t get me wrong, the city is still very lively in wintertime, but there simply isn’t as much hustle and bustle as it is during peak tourist season. If you are not easily deterred by a slight chill in the air or the occasional drizzle, you can still explore all the picturesque sites, leisurely strolls along walkways fringed with trees — my favourite is Dolmabahçe Street —, and spend cosy nights checking out the city’s hotspots and sampling authentic Turkish delicacies.
Visiting Istanbul in winter is certainly a unique and memorable experience that is well worth having! And if it snows, well then you get a chance to witness an absolutely breathtaking scene — just imagine walking through Sultanahmet Square covered in fresh white powder!
#1: Does It Snow In Turkey?
Yes! Turkey is a country that has long been associated with sunshine and summer, but there are many parts of the country where snowfall is a seasonal occurrence. Although not all regions experience significant amounts of snowfall each season, there are many areas throughout Turkey where it does snow substantially during winter months; including Ankara (the capital), Erzurum (in eastern Anatolia) and Van (in southeastern Anatolia).
Did you know? Not only does it snow in Turkey, but the country is home to over 40 ski resorts! Some of the most known ones include Palandöken in Erzurum, Erciyes in Kayseri, Kartalkaya in Bolu, Kartepe in Kocaeli, and Uludağ in Bursa.
#2: Can You Ski in Istanbul?
No. While Istanbul is known as “the City on the Seven Hills”, none of those hills are actually for skiing. There are, however, several ski resorts that are within driving distance from Istanbul. The closest ones are Kartepe, Uludağ and Kartalkaya.
With so much beauty and culture waiting for you under a blanket of fluffy white snow, all that is left for you to do is to grab your coat and gloves – because it definitely snows in Istanbul! 🙂
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Photo of Tram by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash
Photo of Antique Store by Ayşenur on Unsplash
Photo of Roasted Chestnuts by Emre on Unsplash
Photo of Sahlep by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash