Does it Snow in Istanbul? Why You Should Visit in the Winter

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They told you not to bother travelling in Europe during the winter? They were wrong! Winter is a perfect time to visit Istanbul, and here’s why!

 

No Crowds

 

Lines to get into the biggest attractions in Istanbul can be insane during the summer months. Once you get inside, sometimes there are so many people that you can barely see what you came for! The colder weather means no lines and lots of elbow room.

 

The Snow

 

It doesn’t snow often in Istanbul, but when it does, it is stunning. Both a photographer’s and a romantic’s dream.

 

The Food

Some very special Turkish classics are only available in winter. Hamsi are large anchovies which are fried to perfection in winter. Drinks not to miss out on include the milky sweet sahlep and the thick boza which is made out of fermented wheat germ.

 

Prices

There are some great deals to be found on hotels, tours and restaurants. The famous 5 star hotel, Çırağan Palace is $300 cheaper in January than in June!

 

Sales

Starting mid-December, stores in Istanbul hold huge sales that last until just past the new year. These attempts to clean out that year’s products can mean discounts on everything on the store up to %50! Keep your eye out for the word “indirim”- it means sale.

 

Holiday Festivities

Although most people in Turkey don’t celebrate Christmas, all the secular Christmas traditions are still practiced for New Years. Istanbul comes alive during the holiday season with lights, decorations, and holiday festivities. If you’re here during the holidays, don’t miss the upscale neighborhood Nişantaşı. Every tree and building is draped in lights as well as several streets being covered with light tunnels.

 

Hammam Visits

Who wants to get hot and sticky when it is already hot and sticky outside? Hamams in Istanbul are beautiful and extremely relaxing. They are most enjoyable when you come in with a red nose from the cold.

 

Cafe Time

If you want to dive into Turkish culture, drinking Turkish coffee and tea is an essential part of experiencing Istanbul. Turks drink these beverages steaming hot even on the most sweltering days of summer, but personally, I would much rather cozy up with some hot tea in a cafe when it’s cold outside. Again, sahlep is a perfect drink to order in a cafe. This sublime drink originally made from orchid roots is mixed with milk, sugar and cinnamon.

 

Leather Jackets

This special phenomenon of Turkish fashion can only be experienced during the winter months! As soon as temperatures drop, leather jackets start cropping up like flowers in the spring time. Literally every person starts wearing them! An amazing abundance of black, brown, grey, and all different styles of leather jackets fill Istiklal Avenue.

 

Walking Through the Hills

Wandering around Istanbul is a serious workout. These hills mean business, and under the blazing sun, they can be pretty daunting. However, when it’s chilly out, warming up by exploring steep back streets is a welcome experience!

 

Overall, Istanbul has fairly mild winters and is an incredible city to visit for every month of the year!


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Erin West

Girls’ school graduate turned globe trotter, Erin is spending her gap year in Istanbul. She keeps busy learning Turkish and inhaling figs like nobody’s business. Check out some of her adventures on burghtobul.tumblr.com.

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