Istanbul In January 2024: Winter Weather & Visiting Guide

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Written by our local expert Guru

Written by a local specialist we know and trust to bring you the most up-to-date travel information.

Written by Brandon from the Weather Station Advisor.

Even though the month of January is off-season, the city is still beautiful! Even when it’s raining.  In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what the weather is like in Istanbul in January, as well as what you can do while you are there. We’ll give you detailed information about the temperature, what kind of weather to expect, what to pack, and so much more.

Turkey Travel Blog_Visiting Istanbul In January

Istanbul is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. This beautiful city is famous for many things, like the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Dolmabahçe Palace.

This city of Istanbul is possible to visit year-round, so long as you pack appropriately for the strong winds and low temperatures.

What Istanbul Weather Looks Like In January

Travel Tips For Istanbul - Hagia Sophia Crowds

If you’re a winter or cold-weather person, then January is a good time to visit Istanbul. If you hate the cold, then this is not the ideal month for you, and you should consider going when the sunny days return.

This is because the weather will be roughly 6 to 9°C Celsius at its highest and around 3°C Celsius at its lowest, making January the coldest month of the year to visit Istanbul.

Since the temperature is positively freezing, ensure you’re always bundled up properly with warm clothes and footwear! Still, even though Istanbul is cold at the beginning of the year, it’s definitely not one of the coldest places to live.


What Kind Of Climate Should You Expect In January In Istanbul?


Cold weather differs from one place to another since every single country has its own type of climate. If you plan to visit Istanbul in January, be prepared to get a little wet, as the chance of rain is high. January is typically the wettest month of the year, with there being about two weeks of non-stop rain as well as cold winds.

It also goes without saying that it’ll be pretty cloudy over there, so make sure you’re prepared for only a few hours of sunlight daily.


Snowy winter months Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul, Turkey_Depositphotos_384441158_S
Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul

Additionally, you can expect it to snow in Istanbul in January. While the snowfall won’t be as heavy as in the North American winter months, this city does experience a fair amount of snow in December and at the beginning of January.

Therefore, make sure that you take warm and waterproof clothing with you. There’s nothing worse than trying to see the sights of the city only to be completely drenched and soaked to the skin.

Still, if doing stuff outdoors is not your cup of tea, don’t worry because there are a lot of fantastic indoor museums and palaces to explore.

Statistics And Averages For January Weather In Istanbul

Istanbul on a rainy day in January.

If our colorful descriptions haven’t been very helpful so far, then maybe these statistics will give you a clearer idea of what the weather looks like in January in Istanbul.

Let’s take a closer look at January temperatures:

Average January Temperature In Istanbul

  • Average overall temperature: 6 to 7.2°C or 43-46°F
  • Average high temperature during the day: roughly 8°C or 46°F
  • Average low daytime temperatures: 4°C or 39°F
  • The average temperature during the night is 6.6°C or 44°F

Average Rain In January

Istanbul gets around 100mm of rain in January, and as mentioned earlier, it rains for about 2 weeks.

Average Amount Of Sun In January

If you need sunlight to have a good day, Istanbul in January might not be the best place for you because it gets only about 3 hours of sunshine per day.

Average Amount Of Snow In January

Istanbul gets around 3 or 4 days of snow in January, with levels reaching only around 24mm. It generally snows more in December, decreasing levels as the new year begins.

What To Pack For Istanbul In January

Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul. Locals walking on a rainy night in January

So, what do you need to pack for Istanbul in January? Istanbul can be pretty chilly and sometimes snowy in January, so ensuring you pack items that can handle a range of winter weather conditions is key.

Here are 7 things that we recommend you pack:

  1. Cold Winter Coat: a sturdy and warm winter coat is a must to tackle the cold and potentially wet weather
  2. Accessories: include gloves, a warm hat, and a scarf to keep you snug
  3. Footwear: opt for boots, ideally ones that are comfortable for walking and can handle potential wet or snowy conditions. Rubber boots would be your best bet
  4. Clothing Layers: consider packing warm sweaters, jeans, and optionally leggings for additional warmth
  5. Travel Umbrella: to avoid being trapped indoors, packing an umbrella is a good idea to keep that pesky rain off you
  6. Smart Attire: if you’re planning on visiting any upscale venues, packing some smart attire is advisable
  7. Additional Considerations: Depending on your tolerance to cold, you might also consider packing thermal underwear

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Things To Do In Istanbul In January

Since the weather in January isn’t ideal for outdoor activities and walking tours, here are some things you can do in January that don’t involve going outside.

Hagia Sophia Mosque

One of the major tourist attractions in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia Mosque (previously, it was a museum). This Mosque is one of Turkey’s most notable places to visit and has stood the test of time through renovations, historical events, and even war. UNESCO has also declared it to be a World Heritage site.

This place is both a mosque and a cultural site.

As of January 15th, 2024, Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque has introduced a distinct policy for tourists and worshippers. If you’re visiting for cultural exploration, there’s now a 25 euro entry fee. This ticket grants you access to the gallery floor, where you can admire the sanctuary’s stunning Ottoman and Byzantine features, including the historic mosaics.

This new policy is all about balancing the preservation of this iconic site and enhancing the visitor experience, while ensuring that daily worship remains undisturbed.

Handy QR codes offer insights in 23 languages, making your visit both informative and enjoyable. For the latest updates and details, it’s a good idea to check out their official website

Basilica Cistern

How Many Days In Istanbul Is Enough - The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is another excellent place to visit because it doesn’t involve going outside! This cistern is located below the city and is only a short walk away from the Hagia Sophia Museum. It was built in the 6th century and has two columns in it that are carved with the Medusa’s face on them.

Galata Tower

Another popular place that is a must-visit is the Galata Tower. This tower is widely known for being an exhibition space in modern-day Turkey. However, historically, this tower was built as a watchtower. It has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times throughout history.

Drink Turkish Coffee – Or Tea

In Istanbul, Turkish coffee is traditionally enjoyed sweet and very strong, made by finely grinding fresh Arabica beans; you’ll find coffee houses all over the city. 

If coffee isn’t for you, then consider a cup of tea (caj). Tea in Turkey holds a significant place in Turkish daily life, being consumed 4 to 8 times a day by a large portion of the population, often served hot in tulip-shaped glasses. Tea comes in many flavor options, such as apple, so even kids will enjoy it.

Visit A Turkish Bath

Turkish Baths For Women Guide

Visiting a Turkish Bath, or “Hamam,” in Istanbul provides a cultural and relaxing experience where you can enjoy a public steam bath that originated from the Ottoman Empire culture.

A traditional Turkish bath encompasses several rooms with varying temperatures, including an undressing room, a cold room, a warm room, and a hot room, guiding the visitor through a progressive, purifying journey. You might initially find the experience daunting due to unfamiliar customs, but following these guidelines here, you will be ensured a genuinely enjoyable and immersive experience.

Where To Stay In Istanbul In January

Kids in the room - Alzer Hotel Istanbul

When it comes to trying to find a place to stay in Istanbul, there are a lot of wonderful options. In this section, we’ll look at a list of places to stay and areas worth checking out.

Here is a list of hotels that we approvingly suggest checking out for travel in January!

The Four Seasons At The Bosphorus

The Four Seasons is situated along the Bosphorus, making it the perfect place to wake up during those gloomy January mornings in Istanbul! This hotel is widely known for its beautifully furnished rooms and Turkish architecture. If you’re a history buff, you’d be interested to know that the building that this hotel is in is actually a 19th-century Ottoman Empire palace that was carefully restored!

The hotel offers visitors a variety of suites to choose from, a tour of the Bosphorus Strait, and a guided European and Asian food tour. It’s worth noting that The Four Seasons is a luxury hotel option, but if you’re in the mood to spend a little extra, you won’t be disappointed!


Sultanahmet Palace

Sultanahmet Palace is a 4-star hotel located in the heart of the Old Town District in Sultanahmet. This hotel is widely known for its views of the Marmara Sea and fantastic location. If you’re in the mood to go sightseeing, then this hotel is in the perfect place! You can also visit places like the Mosaic Museum and Blue Mosque.


Basilissis Hotel

The Basilissis Hotel is another excellent hotel to stay at while you’re in Istanbul! We positively suggest staying at this boutique hotel primarily because of its fantastic location in the heart of Constantinople. You can visit places like Topkapı Palace, Aya Sofia, Grand Bazaar, Gulhane Park, and even the beautiful Süleymaniye mosque. Once you’ve crossed all these places off your list, you can go to the Marmaray metro station, which will connect you to various other parts of Istanbul.

Aside from this hotel’s fantastic location, you will eat a ton of delicious food and have an extremely comfortable stay. Overall, it’s a must-visit!


Here Are Some Areas Worth Checking Out:

Best Area For Sightseeing

The best area to go sightseeing in January is Sultanahmet. This area was also called the Hippodrome of Constantinople, thanks to its numerous architectural and ancient sites.

As we said before, if you’re a history buff or someone interested in visiting a bunch of beautifully preserved buildings, then this area is definitely worth it. You can visit the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and, best of all, the Grand Bazaar. You’ll be able to find a wide variety of hotels and Airbnb’s in the area, as well as restaurants, bars, and shops.

Best Area For Nightlife

The best area to visit if you’re someone who enjoys a good night out is Taksim. This area is littered with several bars and nightclubs across a wide variety of price ranges.

While there isn’t necessarily a specific area dedicated to nightlife in Istanbul, we love Taksim because it’s a great area to go barhopping in without losing your friend group! Since January is chilly and rainy, you might not want to spend too much time walking around outside trying to find a great bar. Therefore, Taksim and Istiklal Street is where you should head.

Best Area For Beautiful Views

A trip to Turkey isn’t complete without being able to get some great views of the city. If you’re someone who wants to make their Instagram followers jealous, then we urge you to check out Galata and Karaköy.

In Karaköy, you’ll get a fantastic view of the Golden Horn waterway and the Bosphorus strait. In Galata, you’ll be able to get a panoramic view of the vibrant city as a whole from various rooftop bars and restaurants.

Best Area For Food

Aside from historical monuments and sightseeing, Istanbul is widely known for its food! Kabataş is the best area to visit if you’re a foodie.

This area caters to anyone with any amount of money to spend. From tiny street food stalls to upmarket, fine-dining restaurants, you definitely won’t go hungry here. Some restaurants that we know you’ll love visiting include Tarihi Karadeniz Pide ve Döner Salonu, Afiyet Lokantası, and Hayri Usta.

Finally, Is It Worth Visiting Istanbul In January

Istanbul in January - Galata Tower

The short answer is a resounding yes!

While the weather is cold and can be wet, the upside is that fewer tourists are about because it is off-season. This means that popular tourist spots won’t be very crowded, and hotels and other forms of accommodation will be significantly cheaper than they normally are during peak season.

Additionally, public transportation is easy to find, and you can use buses, cabs, and trains in the area. As we mentioned before, traveling to Turkey after the rush of the Christmas holiday season is an excellent idea because flights are also much more affordable, especially if you book them well ahead of time!

Having said that, if you’re a traveler working with a strict budget or coming from a faraway country, we recommend traveling to Istanbul when the weather is much nicer, as you will enjoy it better.

This is because you need a slightly bigger budget to afford more comfortable means of transportation, like private cabs. Additionally, if you’re a student traveler or someone coming from far away for a very short trip, you don’t want to spend most of your time sitting in your Airbnb or hotel waiting for the rain to stop.

Walking around a city on rainy days with damp clothing is no one’s idea of fun (unless it’s yours, of course), so we recommend visiting Istanbul with a rain jacket and a good travel umbrella.

Final verdict: if you’ve got the budget for it and enough days to spare on a trip in cold, rainy weather, then we recommend visiting Istanbul in January.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is there snow in Istanbul in January?

Yes, there are minor amounts of snow in January. It typically snows for about three or four days in total in January in Istanbul.

Is Istanbul sunny in January?

Unfortunately, it is. The weather is generally quite cold and gloomy in January, with an average of three hours of sunlight daily.

Wrap Up On Going To Istanbul This January

Ice cream in Turkey - Istanbul 2

Istanbul is a great place to visit, and we think that it should be on every traveler’s bucket list! This city has everything that you could possibly want to experience: so many places to see, beautiful weather, and delicious food.

While some might argue that January’s weather is nothing to write home about, we’d argue that the city’s beauty is enough to counteract the grey and gloomy skies! Even if you don’t visit Istanbul at this time of year, make sure you visit it at some point in your life.

Comments (2)

    1. When I moved to Europe from Australia my winter coat there was not warm enough for a winter in Zadar, and Istanbul gets ICY COLD then, so maybe not depending on how thick it is.

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