Does It Snow In Istanbul? Yes & Here’s The Complete Lowdown

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Post author Enes

Written by our local expert Enes

Originally from North Macedonia, Enes is a well-traveled enthusiast residing in Türkiye. He combines his extensive knowledge and avid wanderlust to bring you insightful narratives of his Turkish adventures.

Are you planning a winter trip to Istanbul but don’t know if it’s a good idea to visit the city in the snowy season? Here is everything you need to know about snow in Turkey, specifically the weather and snowfall in Istanbul during the winter.

This complete guide will prepare you for what to do in Istanbul on a snow day, as well as the amount of snow to expect.

Turkey Travel Blog_Does It Snow In Istanbul

Does It Really Snow In Istanbul

So, one of the most commonly asked questions about Istanbul is whether it snows. And the answer is a huge “Yes!” Occasional snowing is a thing in Istanbul during winter.

If you love snowy landscapes, Istanbul under snow can be gorgeous. However, if you don’t like snow or cold temperatures, there’s no need to worry! Because you can have a great time in the city even when it snows!

What Should I Expect When It Snow

Snowy winter months Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul, Turkey_Depositphotos_384441158_S
Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul

In winter, you can expect to see a scenic Istanbul. Despite the chilly temperature, the city usually boasts a warm, hospitable atmosphere in winter.

You can explore Istanbul’s streets and hidden gems better in winter. Without many people around, you can comfortably walk along historic districts and lovely neighborhoods, even when the white snow covers the city on some days.

Popular attractions and landmarks, such as Hagia Sophia or Topkapı Palace, offer a pretty different experience as winter’s dramatic atmosphere gives them a distinct character.

So, visiting Istanbul in winter is perfect if you’re looking for a more tranquil, peaceful trip.

When Is the Istanbul Snowy Season

The first month of winter, January, is also the coldest month in Istanbul. So, the first snow in Istanbul typically falls around January or February and marks the beginning of winter.

The snow in Istanbul doesn’t have a strict time, but heavy snowfall can transform the city into a winter wonderland. So you can expect snowfall anytime in winter. It’s random when and for how long.

However, Istanbul’s snowy season isn’t very long; it usually snows only a few months. Therefore, if you want to visit Istanbul with snow-capped roofs, you should keep your eyes on the weather forecast and book the plane tickets as soon as they announce when it will snow.

Around mid-February, the weather gets warmer and marks the end of winter.

Should I Visit Istanbul When It Snows

Snowy day in Ortakoy, at the Ortakoy Mosque in Istanbul.

Winter is actually a great time to visit Istanbul. It’s usually less crowded than the peak season, and an intimate atmosphere can be felt everywhere.

Although winter can be cold in Istanbul, the city’s warm atmosphere will offer you a comfortable and unforgettable journey. Since there aren’t many tourists during winter, Istanbul has a slower pace, allowing you to discover its hidden gems without waiting in queues.

If you enjoy outdoor activities, winter might be the perfect time to visit a ski resort or participate in various sports. Also, since this gorgeous city in Turkey boasts a unique winter scenery, you can snap lots of spectacular pictures.

Visiting Istanbul In Winter Weather

A group of people walking in Uskudar, Istanbul pier in the snow.

Istanbul in December

December in Istanbul brings the onset of winter with average low temperatures of around 5°C (41°F) and highs reaching up to 11°C (51.8°F). The weather is generally cold, and while snow is not a constant feature, the city may witness occasional snowfall towards the end of the month.

Rain is more common, so packing waterproof clothing is advisable. Despite the chill, December in Istanbul is magical, especially with the city lights and holiday decorations. It’s a great time to explore indoor attractions like museums and historical sites or enjoy a hot Turkish tea or coffee in one of the many cozy cafés.

Weather in December

Low: 5°C (41°F)

High: 11°C (51.8°F)

Istanbul in January

January is the heart of winter in Istanbul, with temperatures ranging from a low of 3°C (37.4°F) to a high of 8°C (46.4°F), showcasing the city’s cold weather patterns. This month sees the highest likelihood of snow, covering the city in a beautiful white blanket and transforming iconic landmarks into picturesque winter scenes.

It’s crucial to dress warmly, as the weather can be quite cold, especially when exploring outdoor sights under a blanket of snow. January offers a quieter Istanbul, perfect for visiting popular attractions without the usual crowds. Enjoying traditional Turkish baths and the vibrant nightlife can also make your winter visit memorable.

Weather In January

Low: 3°C (37.4°F)

High: 8°C (46.4°F)

Istanbul in February

February continues the cold spell in Istanbul, with temperature averages slightly rising from January’s cold to a low of 3°C (37.4°F) and a high of 9°C (48.2°F). Snowfall can still occur, but like January, it’s interspersed with clear, cold days and periods of rain. Packing for variable weather conditions is recommended.

The month is ideal for indulging in cultural experiences, such as attending concerts and exhibitions, which are plentiful during this off-peak tourist season.

Exploring the historic Grand Bazaar and Spice Market without the crowds can also be particularly enjoyable, allowing for a more relaxed shopping experience.

Weather In February

Low: 3°C (37.4°F)

High: 9°C (48.2°F) in Istanbul might not seem too cold, but the cold weather definitely calls for warm clothes.

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Best Winter Activities In Istanbul

A winter trip to Istanbul is an excellent idea if you’re interested in seasonal experiences and want to spend quality time in Istanbul. Since this time of the year provides you with a more intimate and charming atmosphere, you can enjoy the true magic of Istanbul.

Here are some of the most popular winter activities in Istanbul:

  • Visit a Turkish bath. After exploring the city in snowy winter weather, you will definitely need a calming prize. That’s why adding a Turkish bath experience to your itinerary might allow you to achieve relaxation and comfort
  • Drink seasonal beverages. Sampling seasonal Turkish beverages might help you savor Istanbul’s delicious cuisine. From tasty salep to delectable boza, you can try many winter beverages to enjoy a real Istanbul experience amidst the cold weather
  • See the famous landmarks. Even if you visited Istanbul before and know what the popular attractions or landmarks look like, exploring these attractions in winter might be a great experience. Since there are fewer visitors in the off-peak season, you can spend more time at these attractions without sharing them with a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd
  • Go to a ski resort. If you like winter sports, you can head to ski resorts around Istanbul for winter activities. Even though Istanbul isn’t a popular ski town, you can still have a good time and enjoy the feeling of going off the beaten path
  • Watch Whirling Dervishes Show. A popular show with a religious theme, the Whirling Dervishes Show has a significant place in Turkish culture. That’s why you should add this show to your itinerary to explore the lesser-known aspects of Turkish culture
  • Take the Taxim tram. Following a scenic route, the Taxim tram is great for watching Istanbul’s snow-covered scenery
  • Shop at the Spice Bazaar. You can visit the Spice Bazaar and purchase souvenirs every season! So, don’t forget to add this historic bazaar to your winter itinerary
  • Taste local wines. It might surprise you, but Turkey has its own wine culture. In winter, most wineries and restaurants add mulled wine – or sıcak şarap, as Turks call it – to their menus; even though it isn’t that different from the standard mulled wine, this might be the perfect opportunity to enjoy some local Turkish wine brands
  • Sit at a local café and enjoy a delicious coffee. If you get tired after strolling through Istanbul’s majestic streets and visiting popular attractions, you can find a local café to rest. You can drink Turkish coffee or try third-wave coffee while watching the snowfall behind the windows

5 Coziest Cafés To Visit In Istanbul When It’s Cold

Istanbul in winter might be chilly and wet; it might feel like a completely different city than the Istanbul you’re used to, with pleasant weather and lots of sunlight.

Nevertheless, a winter trip to Istanbul might reveal what this city and its culture genuinely look like. At that point, visiting a local café to rest and enjoy delicious beverages while watching the snowy streets will offer you the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s unique culture.

Some of the cafés in Istanbul that locals like a lot are:

1. The House Café Corner

A popular coffee in the Şişli district, the House Café Corner is a great place to spend time.

The venue has a neatly decorated indoor seating area where you can drink coffee and dine in the chilly winter months. However, if the weather is pleasant, you can try the café’s sleek outdoor area.

2. Rumeli Café

A chill café with a distinct atmosphere, Rumeli Café is a true hidden gem for coffee lovers. The establishment has a rich menu with different dishes, desserts, and coffee options.

Rumeli Café is in the Fatih district, and you can get to the café by public transportation.

3. Susam Café

A popular destination in the Beyoğlu district, Susam Café is among the best cafés in Istanbul. The venue offers a rich menu and a sleek atmosphere, providing you with an unforgettable experience during the cold winter season.

Susam Café is also known for its breakfast service. So, if you’re looking for a place to have breakfast, it is the way to go.

4. Prestij Café

Another popular spot in the Şişli area, Prestij Café, has everything you look for! The café welcomes all visitors with its warm atmosphere and a large selection of coffees.

Besides tea or coffee, the place also serves Turkish shisha and many alcoholic beverages, such as beer or wine.

5. Sakura Café

An accessible location, lovely stuff, and delicious coffees are what Sakura Café is known for. If you are looking for a peaceful and comfortable spot to spend time after a tiring day in Istanbul, this café is the way to go.

Although their menu isn’t the richest, the establishment has one of the best coffees in the Kadıköy area.

5 Best Restaurants For Dining In Istanbul When It’s Chilly

After a tiring day of exploring the city, there is no better feeling than sitting at a local restaurant and sampling authentic Turkish dishes. This experience is topped when you visit a restaurant with excellent scenery, where you can watch the romantic snowfall behind the windows.

Here is a list of the most popular Istanbul restaurants that you must visit in winter:

1. Garden Mezze

Garden Mezze is a popular restaurant and steakhouse in the Fatih district. The establishment boasts a well-decorated outdoor seating area and private dining sections.

The venue boasts a very rich menu with some of the best steaks in the area. Although it’s a bit pricier than most restaurants in the area, it’s definitely worth a try.

2. Marbella Terrace Restaurant

Known for its relaxed atmosphere and delicious international cuisine, Marbella Terrace Restaurant is among the most popular spots in the Faith area. The establishment serves mostly seafood with a local twist.

In addition to its rich food menu, Marbella Terrace Restaurant has an extensive drinks menu with popular cocktails, local wine, and famous Turkish rakı.

3. Aida

Aida is a sleek restaurant that serves Italian food and various international wines. Understandably, you might want to try famous Turkish cuisine while in Istanbul, but this traditional Italian restaurant should still be on your itinerary.

4. My Chef

A sleek, contemporary restaurant in the Kadıköy district, My Chef serves delicious international dishes and cocktails. The establishment has a rich menu and very affordable prices compared to most places in the area.

5. Mivan Restaurant & Cafe

Another popular Fatih restaurant, Mivan, is one of the best places to eat in the district. Its excellent location makes the restaurant the perfect spot for a winter trip to Istanbul.

The restaurant has a rich menu with kebabs, steaks, grills, and other delicious meat-based food, perfect for warming up in the cold weather. Mivan also has many vegan and vegetarian food options, as well as a rich selection of coffee.

What To Eat And Drink During Winter In Istanbul

Istanbul is known for its rich cuisine with delicious dishes. So, whenever you visit Istanbul, you can always have the opportunity to sample delicious local food and beverages.

Here are some of the most popular winter foods you should try:

  • Chestnuts. In winter, chestnut vendors of Istanbul sell roasted kestane, which is perfect for keeping yourself warm on chilly days
  • Corn. Boiled corn is a popular Turkish street snack. Vendors usually serve them with various sauces, such as ketchup or mayonnaise
  • Leblebi. A popular Turkish snack, leblebi is roasted chickpeas seasoned with salt and spices. You can purchase freshly roasted chickpeas from any local kuruyemişçi
  • Kabak tatlısı. A healthy and delicious winter dessert, kabak tatlısı is basically pumpkin with syrup and walnuts
  • Salep. Salep is actually a flour made from a type of orchid. However, when you say “Salep,” most Turks will think of the beverage made from that flour. It’s a starchy and sweet drink usually preferred in winter
  • Boza. A fermented beverage made of grains, wheat, or barley, boza is another popular winter beverage. It has a thick consistency, a bit thicker than salep, and a tangy flavor
  • Turkish coffee. Nothing beats sipping Turkish coffee at a local coffee house in the chilly Istanbul winter. If you’re planning a winter trip to Istanbul, you should definitely experience this unique culture
  • Lots of tea. Turks have a rich tea culture, where the beverage is ubiquitous in daily life. So, be ready to drink lots of tea during your trip to Istanbul in winter

Packing Ideas For Istanbul In Winter

Topkapi Palace Istanbul in winter - covered in snow

Istanbul’s winter isn’t freezing and warmer than how most northern European cities experience winter. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can wear a T-shirt and walk around in shorts.

Istanbul occasionally sees temperatures around and even below 3°C (37.4°F). So, you should be ready for the chilly weather.

Packing the right items is the key to having a cozy and peaceful winter trip to Istanbul. As long as you have the right gear and clothing, you can experience Istanbul’s unique winter atmosphere without getting cold.

Here are some of the essential items to pack for a winter trip:

  • Thermal long-sleeved shirts to keep yourself warm
  • Wool and warm sweaters to layer up
  • A couple of thin T-shirts to wear under sweaters
  • Jeans and pants in different styles
  • Thermal leggings to add an extra layer of warmth to your winter outfit
  • A warm coat – wind and waterproof, if possible
  • A scarf to keep your neck and face warm
  • A warm hat or beanie to protect your head from the wind
  • A pair of warm gloves
  • A pair of waterproof boots to wear on snowy days. Also, you can pack a pair of walking shoes suitable for the season



What is the coldest month in Istanbul?

January is the coldest month in Istanbul, followed by February. Although February is a tad warmer, it’s the season of heavy rainfall.

Does it snow in December in Istanbul?

Istanbul in December is usually warmer than in January and February. However, as Istanbul’s weather can be very unpredictable, it can occasionally snow in December.

Does it snow in January in Istanbul?

Istanbul in January is chilly and cold. The first month of the year usually sees around a week of snowfall. So, if you’re planning a visit to Istanbul around that time, you should be ready for snow.

Does it snow in February in Istanbul?

Since the majority of snow falls between January and February, Istanbul in February might welcome you with snow-covered scenery.

What should I pack for a winter trip to Istanbul?

If you’re planning a winter trip to Istanbul, you should pick warm clothes and layers. Some of the essentials are:

  • A coat is essential for dealing with the unpredictable snow in Istanbul in December and beyond
  • A few sweaters
  • Pairs of pants
  • Warm leggings
  • Boots
  • Warm shirts
  • Thermal clothes
  • Warm socks
  • Gloves

Snow In Turkey

When you picture Türkiye in your mind, you’ll probably have beaches pop into your brain. For that reason, it is quite a shock when you tell people that, yes, it does snow in Turkey!

During the summer months, temperatures can exceed 40 degrees and, in the last few years, have gone even higher still. Yet, the mercury plummets during the winter, and even the south coast can be very chilly. Even the usually very warm Antalya sees snow-capped mountains as its backdrop during winter. You can read all about snow in Türkiye here.

Final Word & Questions About Snow In Istanbul

An illustration of a donkey in a city with Christmas lights in Turkey.

Wrapping up our journey through Istanbul’s winter, it’s clear that the city presents a unique charm during the snowy season. Whether you’re captivated by the sight of historic landmarks blanketed in snow or looking forward to exploring the city’s cozy cafés and vibrant cultural scene without the crowds, Istanbul in winter is truly enchanting.

Remember, while the cold air and potential for snowfall add to the city’s allure, being prepared with the right clothing and an adventurous spirit is critical. Istanbul’s blend of Europe and Asia, coupled with its rich history and stunning scenery, makes it a worthwhile destination year-round. Still, there’s something undeniably magical about seeing this metropolis in its winter attire.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Istanbul, consider embracing the colder months for a truly unforgettable experience.

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