At Avoid-Crowds.com we know tourism is continuously changing. Before and after COVID it was and will be busier than ever before. That is most certainly the case for all destinations in Turkey. The sun blessed country has become one of Europe’s major tourist destinations and its popularity is on the rise. We have been predicting crowds for Istanbul for over a year now and we have been gradually adding other Turkish destinations. In this blog you can read exactly what is the best time to visit the country that is located in both Europe and Asia.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey ranked sixth in the world in terms of the number of tourists. With over 10 million arriving tourists, Antalya is Turkish most popular tourist destination while Istanbul is a close second with just under 10 million tourists arriving every year. Unsurprisingly, tourism is an important source of economic income which the Turkish governments will need to restarts quickly after the pandemic.
Although we can’t predict what will happen post COVID-19 in 2021, it is clear that once tourism rebounds, Turkey will get crowded again. In this blog, we treat 2021 as a normal year. Whether it will truly be normal of course remains to be seen.
In a regular year, the country will attract most of its tourists from Spring to Autumn. Only winter is a quiet month in the country known for sunshine and beach holidays. Popular Turkish destinations like Istanbul, Bodrum or Antalya can get very crowded during summer. In this blog we give you a month by month run down of the best time to travel to Turkey in 2021. To do so, we combine our crowd predictions with weather forecasts and climate models.
Select your month
In this blog we distinguish between two regions: Istanbul and the coastal Mediterranean towns also known as the Turkish Riviera. This coastal area stretches the western part of the country but to simplify our overview we use climate data or weather predictions for the most popular destination: Antalya.
Is January a good month to travel to Turkey?
January is not a great month for a vacation to Turkey. Although Turkey is known for sunny summer vacations, it will get cold in almost all parts of the country. Although unknown to most of the public, it can actually get so cold, that Turkey is a winter sports destination. According to the Turkish tourism board, Turkey’s geographical position and good snow conditions create great potential for skiing. The ski season lasts for four or six months in the country.
Knowing that most winter sports tourists will look for other destinations, we decided to only focus on either city trips to Istanbul or beach vacations. For these types of activities, a winter stay in Turkey is not so great as it can get cold and wet throughout the country.
During the month of January, in Istanbul the average temperature drops to 6 degrees Celsius (43 Fahrenheit) with only 3 hours of sunshine each day. January is also a relatively wet month in Istanbul with an average of 14 days of rain with 100 mm of rainfall. If you can stand these cold and wet weather conditions, January might actually be a good month to visit Istanbul as crowds will be at the lowest point of the year. That means that you can benefit from low airfares and cheap hotel rooms.
January is also not a good month for a beach vacation in Turkey. January is the coldest month of the year in Antalya with average temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) and only 5 hours of sunshine per day. It is also a rainy month with 11 days of rain and up to 180 mm of rainfall.
Traveling to Turkey in February
February brings very similar conditions to Turkey as during the first month of the year. There will also not be many tourists, but the weather conditions can be summarized in two words: cold and wet. With an average temperature of 5.5 degrees Celsius (42 Fahrenheit) in Istanbul it is actually a tiny bit colder in February than it is in January. It is however slightly drier with 12 rainfall days and a total of 70 mm of rain. Similar to January, if you can stand the cold and don’t mind the occasional rain shower, February might not be so bad for a visit to Istanbul. During the second month of the year, crowds in Istanbul will be low as the tourist season is at the lowest point of the year. If you decide to go to Istanbul in February you can enjoy cheaper hotel rates, lower airfares and no or limited lines at the city’s main tourist attractions.
Traveling to coastal towns in Turkey in February remains a bad idea. With an average temperature of just 10.5 degrees Celsius (51 Fahrenheit) in Antalya in February, the beaches are too cold to enjoy. Rain is also a serious downside for a February stay iin Turkish coastal areas with 10 rain days and a total of 130 mm of rain.
March is an ‘OK’ month to visit Istanbul, not the coast
March is an ‘OK’ month to visit Istanbul. With ‘OK’ we mean that it is not the ideal month to visit the city but is also definitely not a month to avoid. March brings much drier weather to Istanbul than the winter months but the average temperature remains relatively low. With about 5 hours of sunshine each day and only 50 mm of rain, the weather has become much more pleasant. The average temperature is slowly rising and is now about 11 degrees Celsius (52 Fahrenheit). In March, more tourists will start to find their way to Istanbul but it remains relatively quiet.
Meanwhile in the Turkish Riviera, temperatures are not yet good enough for a beach vacation. With an average March temperature of 12.5 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit), we would not yet recommend a beach vacation in Turkey. However, the second part of the month is already better than the start of the month. Although Antalya still experiences 9 days of rain and 80mm of rainfall, sunshine is more common with an average of 7 hours per day. Meanwhile, tourist crowds are still low. That means that hotels and flights are more affordable while the beaches are not yet overcrowded.
April brings the first large crowds to Turkey
April brings better weather to Turkey but also bigger crowds. In Istanbul the average temperature is now improving every day. Measured throughout the entire month the average temperature in Istanbul is 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit) but the second half of the month is already much better than the start.
Meanwhile, in Turkey’s coastal areas, the weather is improving quickly. In Antalya, the sun shines about 9 hours per day while the average temperature has already climbed to a pleasant 15.5 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit). The second half of the month is considerably warmer than the start of April. Rainfall is limited to 8 days during this month with a total of 80mm rainfall.
April also brings the first larger tourist crowds to Turkey. It is good to keep an eye on public holidays and school holidays across the European continent. To understand when it is busy in Turkey in April 2020 it is best to look at the biggest European holiday: Easter (big holiday in Europe not necessarily Turkey). Easter takes place in the weekend of April 12, 2020. Most schools throughout Europe will either close their doors for some days or even a full week. These school closures enable families to travel and with relatively cheap airfares to Turkey, expect larger crowds. Outside Easter, April is a relatively quiet month in Turkey. If you want to be sure you are choosing wisely check our daily crowd predictions for Istanbul, Antalya, Bodrum or Alanya.
Is May a good month to visit Turkey in 2020?
May is arguably one of the best month to visit Turkey in 2020. Although school vacations across Europe can make some destinations in the country quite busy, the second half of the month is relatively quiet. Meanwhile, the weather in both Istanbul as well as the coastal areas has become very pleasant.
In Istanbul the average temperature has now risen to an average of 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit). Having said that, temperatures of over 20 degrees (68 Fahrenheit) are not uncommon while rain has actually turned into something uncommon in Istanbul. In May, it only rains on an average of 9 days with just 40 mm of precipitation. The sun shines most of the day and the last part of the month is absolutely amazing. Good to know is that Istanbul can get busy in May. Especially the beginning of the month can get crowded. It will get most crowded during weekends as the city is a popular destination for weekend trips.
With a pleasant average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and sunshine on almost each day and hour of the month, May is probably the best month to visit the Turkish Mediterranean. Having said that, it can already get busy at the start of the month as many European schools are closed due to school holidays.
In June, things start to heat up in Turkey
June is the last month before the crazy starts, but although the busiest time of the year is still ahead, it can already get (very) crowded. There is little need to describe Turkish weather conditions in June. The weather will be absolutely amazing with an average temperature of 21.5 degrees Celsius in Istanbul (71 Fahrenheit) and 24.5 degrees Celsius in Antalya (76 Fahrenheit). Days with even higher temperatures are not uncommon while rain is something very abnormal in most parts of the country in June.
Speaking of tourist crowds, June is a bit of a weird month in Turkey. Although the tourist season is clearly picking up in the country, the biggest crowds have not yet landed on the beaches or in Istanbul’s streets. Most schools will still be in session and the larger European countries are still weeks away from their summer breaks. Having said that, hotel prices and airfares are already getting more expensive in June. All in all, we believe June is the last month of the year where you can go on a good Turkish vacation without the massive summer crowds.
July is peak season in Turkey
Peak season across Europe, including Turkey, starts early July and lasts until the end of August. Although the beginning of July might not be too crowded, crowds will get massive towards the end of the month. Most schools will now close down for the summer break and Turkey is one of Europe’s most popular destinations for summer holidays. With a peak in crowds expect prices to peak as well. If you travel to Turkey in July, we recommend that you plan ahead!
- July marks the start of peak season in Turkey
- The beginning of the month is less crowded than during the third and fourth week of the month.
Weather conditions in July in Turkey are great although too hot for some. The average temperature in Istanbul has now risen to 23.5 degrees Celsius (74 Fahrenheit) and a very warm 27.5 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) in Antalya. The average maximum temperature in Antalya is even much higher: 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) which is probably too much for some tourists. Rain in Antalya is basically nonexistent in July (1 day with about 10 mm on average). Rain in July is also uncommon in Istanbul.
August in Turkey is peak season at its peak
Turkey’s peak season continues in August. August is probably the busiest month of the year in Turkey. Both the coastal areas as well as Istanbul can get extremely crowded in August. Especially the beginning of the month is very busy. If you decide to travel to Turkey in August, we recommend all tourists to plan their vacation carefully. If you plan to visit well known tourist sites it is best to book ahead.
Turkish weather in August is similar to the weather in July. It will be hot and dry. The average temperature in Antalya has dropped slightly to 27 degrees (81 Fahrenheit). Meanwhile in Istanbul, the average temperature remains unchanged at 23.5 degrees Celsius (74 Fahrenheit). It will also be very dry in August in Turkey with almost no rain at all.
Is September a good month to visit Turkey?
With peak season behind us, we genuinely love traveling throughout Europe in September. Turkey is no exception. Although more and more people now also travel in September, it remains a relatively quiet month to travel while the weather is still very pleasant. Climate change also seems to have an extending effect on summer. Great weather now seems to be extending into October. Having said that, the beginning of September can nowadays be very crowded as peak season is shifting with the improving weather conditions.
- Although still busy early in September, it is a good month to travel
- Temperatures remain very pleasant throughout most of September.
Turkey is no exception and September is a fantastic month to travel. Average temperatures have slightly come down making the weather arguably even more comfortable than the hot summer months. Meanwhile, rain remains very unlikely in most of the country. The average temperature in Antalya in September is 24.5 degrees Celsius (76 Fahrenheit) and the sun shines about 11 hours per day. In Istanbul the average temperature is 20.5 degrees Celsius (69 Fahrenheit) with sunshine on 9 hours per day.
October in Turkey’s riviera is bliss
Overall October is not so crowded in Turkey while the weather remains great in the coastal areas. Tourism has slowed down except for some weeks where schools across Europe are enjoying autumn breaks. Although schools in Europe are out during the autumn breaks, October remains an unpopular month to travel. At Avoid Crowds we do not really understand why. For example, in Antalya the weather remains wonderful with average temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and only 6 rain days. That makes October as good as a month to travel to Turkey as May! With fewer people joining you on the beach we would take an October vacation to Istanbul over a crowded and steaming vacation in August.
Meanwhile in Istanbul, the weather is getting colder and wetter quickly. The average temperature in Istanbul will drop to 15.5 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) and especially the second part of the month can be cold. Meanwhile, crowds can slightly pick up again during the Autumn school holidays in countries such as Germany or the Netherlands.
November is not busy in Turkey but the weather isn’t great
November marks the start of the absolute low season in Turkey. Rain will have returned to the country known to most of us for sunshine and warm temperatures. The average temperature in Antalya will drop to about 14.5 degrees Celsius (58 Fahrenheit) while it will rain on about 8 days. Global warming is making November warmer than ever before and you might be lucky if you decide to go anyway. The average temperature in Istanbul in November is about 11.5 degrees Celsius (53 Fahrenheit) with slightly less rain than the coastal areas.
If you do decide to go to Turkey in November you will travel in a period without tourist crowds. November is one of the slowest travel months in Europe and Turkey is no exception. If you are lucky with the weather, your November experience in Turkey might just be perfect with no crowds and great travel deals.
December in Turkey
Turkey is not a typical Christmas tourist destination and remains quiet throughout the month. Turkish December weather also is not great with very limited sunshine and lots of rain. In Antalya it will be the wettest month of the year with 210 mm of rainfall on 12 rainy days. The average temperature in December in Antalya will drop to 11.5 degrees Celsius (53 Fahrenheit) with lows as cold as 7 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit). In Istanbul it can even get colder with an average temperature of 8 degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit). Needless to say, there will hardly be any tourists outside Istanbul. In Istanbul itself it will also be quiet.