A mixture of many cultures and religions, a harmonious combination of Asia and Europe, oriental hospitality and European livability – all this is about Istanbul. About the city, which is more and more popular among travelers. And not only in summer! In our material – everything about winter Istanbul, weather, entertainment and shopping.
The content of the article:
- All about the weather in Istanbul in winter
- Fun in winter Istanbul
- Shopping in Istanbul in winter
- Travel Tips
Everything about the weather in Istanbul in winter – how to dress for a trip?
What you should definitely not expect in Istanbul is snow drifts and meter-long snowdrifts, as in Russia. Winter there most of all resembles our cold summer – the main part of the season is warm and mild weather with an average temperature of about 10 degrees. But be on the lookout – Istanbul’s winter is changeable, and a warm day can easily turn into snow and winds.
What to wear, what to take with you?
- Take a jacket (windbreaker, sweater, sweatshirt) with you so as not to freeze if you are lucky enough to play snowballs.
- Do not get carried away with short skirts and T-shirts, from under which the navel is visible. Turkey is a country for the most part, Muslim, and condemning views are provided for you. In short, respect the customs of the country you plan to visit.
- Don’t forget to grab something comfortable, for quiet walks up the hills, for excursions, for long walks – something more practical than skirts, stilettos, evening dresses.
- When packing shoes in a suitcase, choose light sneakers or moccasins – you will have to go down / up quite often. And running in heels on paving stones is inconvenient and dangerous.
Entertainment in winter Istanbul – where to go and what to see in winter in Istanbul?
Well, what to do there in the middle of winter? – you ask. In fact, in addition to beaches and warm waves, Istanbul has where to relax and what to please the eye (and not only). So, must-see places in Istanbul?
- The main religious symbol is the Hagia Sophia. An Orthodox shrine of the East turned into a mosque (until 1204).
- Galata Tower, from which a fantastic panorama opens up.
- Blue Mosque. 260 windows, blue tiles, an unforgettable experience.
- Topkapa Palace (the heart of the Ottoman Empire until 1853). Executioner’s Fountain, Harem and Mint, Greetings Gate and more. Dress code to visit! Shoulders, legs, head – everything is covered with clothes.
- Dolmabahce Palace. If you could not get through the queue of tourists to Topkapa Palace, feel free to go here. In this palace you will find the same cultural abundance, no queuing, and among other things, a free tour of the harem. Here is the 2nd largest crystal chandelier in the whole world, fantastic peacocks in the garden, a view of the Bosphorus.
- The Carpet Museum on Sultanahmet Square (and the square itself is an analogue of our Red Square).
- Porcelain factory. Collections of Turkish porcelain, you can buy something for memory.
- Toy Museum. Children will definitely like it. Look for the collection of toys at Omerpasa Caddesi.
- Istiklal Street is the most famous avenue in Istanbul. Do not forget to take a ride in the pedestrian part of it on the old tram and look into the famous Turkish bath. And also drop into one of the bars or cafes, in the shop (there are many of them).
- Yerebatan Street and the cistern-basilica, created in the 6th century, is the ancient reservoir of Constantinople with huge halls and columns inside.
Entertainment in winter Istanbul.
- First of all, walking around the city. We slowly and with pleasure explore the sights, relax in a cafe, wander around the shops.
- Evening program – for every taste. Most of the local establishments are open for you until late at night (except for the embankment – they close after 9). The best hangouts are in Laila and Reina. There the stars of Turkey are singing in the open air.
- Maiden’s Tower. This tower (on the rock) is a romantic symbol of Istanbul, associated with two beautiful legends about love. During the day, there is a cafe (you can drop in with the kids), and in the evening there is live music.
- Dolphinarium. 7 swimming pools for 8.7 thousand sq / m. Here you can see dolphins, belugas and walruses with seals. And also swim with dolphins for a fee and look into a cafe.
- Bayramoglu Zoo. On the territory of 140 thousand sq / m (Kocaeli province) there is a botanical park, a zoo, a bird’s paradise, more than 3000 species of animals and 400 species of plants.
- Nargile cafe. Most of these establishments are in the area of Taksim and Tophane. They represent a cafe for leisurely smoking nargile (a device like a hookah, but with a longer sleeve and made of other materials). Institutions’ menus include delicious foaming coffee (menengich) made from roasted pistachio beans.
- TurkuaZoo aquarium. The largest in Europe, about 8 thousand sq / m. Inhabitants of tropical seas (in particular, sharks), freshwater fish, etc. There are about 10 thousand underwater creatures in total. In addition to the deep sea inhabitants, there is also a rainforest (5D) with a full effect of presence.
- Sema, or the delight of the dervishes. It is imperative to look at the ritual dance (Sema) of Semazenov in special robes. Tickets are sold out very quickly for this show, so make sure you buy them in advance. And there is something to see – you will not regret it. You can watch the performance of rotating dervishes, for example, in Khojapash (center of culture and arts). And at the same time look into a local restaurant, where they will eat tasty and inexpensive food after the show.
- Jurassik Land. About 10,000 sq / m, where you will find a Jurassic Park with dinosaurs, a museum, a 4D cinema, a laboratory and a museum of ice sculptures, the TurkuaZoo aquarium described above and labyrinths with caves. Here you will find an all-terrain helicopter for walking through the jungle (4D) and attacking hungry dinosaurs, an incubator for unborn dinosaurs, a special box for newborns and even chambers for sick reptiles, and many other entertainments.
- Nightclubs in Istanbul. Let’s highlight the three most popular (and expensive): Reina (the oldest club, cuisine for every taste, a dance hall and 2 bars, a view of the Bosphorus, a dance program after 1 am), Sortie (similar to the previous one) and Suada (swimming pool 50 m , 2 restaurants, a pleasant cafe-bar and a solarium terrace, panoramic views of the Bosphorus).
- Walk along the Bosphorus by ferry with a tour of all the sights, stops, lunch at one of the fish restaurants, etc.
- Nevizade street. Here you will find bars and restaurants, nightclubs and shops. This street is always crowded – many people prefer to relax and eat here.
- Vialand Entertainment Center. On 600,000 sq / m there is an amusement park (local Disneyland), a shopping center with hundreds of brand stores, and a concert venue. In the amusement park, you can ride a 20-meter swing, take part in the battle for Constantinople, entertain your little ones and older children on rides, look into a 5D cinema, etc.
- Ice skating rink in the Galleria shopping center.
Shopping in Istanbul in winter – when and where will the discounts be?
Most of all, Turkey is famous for its bazaars and the opportunity to bargain. Not bargaining here is even somehow indecent. Therefore, tourists have a wonderful opportunity to discount the price up to 50 percent. Especially in winter, when New Year’s sales begin and this pleasant word “discounts” sounds at every step.
What and when to buy in Istanbul?
Traditional purchases include furs and leather, handmade jewelry, antiques and ceramics, branded items at low prices and, of course, carpets.
The time for pre-Christmas sales / discounts is from December, from Monday to Saturday, from morning to 7-10 pm.
The main fishing spots for shopping.
- Large shopping centers, malls: Cevahir, Akmerkez, Kanyon, Metro City, Stinye Park, etc.
- Shopping streets: Baghdad, Istiklal, Abdi Ipechki (street of the Turkish elite).
- Bazaars and markets: Egyptian Bazaar (local products), Grand Bazaar (from carpets and shoes to tea and spices), Khor-Khor flea market (antiques), old Laleli (more than 5000 shops / shops), Covered bazaar in the Old City (each goods – its own street), the Sultanahmet market.
Things to Remember – Travel Tips:
- Bargaining Is Appropriate! Everywhere and everywhere. Feel free to knock down the price.
- Tax free system. If it is valid in the store, then it will be possible to return VAT on purchases of goods worth more than 100 TL (if there is a receipt with the buyer’s passport data, with the name, price and amount of the return of the goods) when crossing the border. VAT is not provided for tobacco and books.
- The Taksim area is extremely noisy. Do not rush to settle there, the high sound conductivity will prevent you from resting after a day full of impressions. For example, the Galata area will be calmer.
- Being carried away by taxi rides, be prepared that they will not give you change or forget to turn on the meter. Taking into account the congestion of roads and traffic jams, the best option is high-speed trams or metro. So you will get to the place faster and much cheaper.
- Before switching to baklava and kebabs, which are amazingly tasty here and are sold on every corner, pay attention to other Turkish dishes (rice pudding, lentil soup, iskender kebab, dondurma ice cream, etc.), and do not be afraid to order something new – the food here is delicious, and the prices are lower than European ones.
- A boat cruise along the Bosphorus is, of course, exciting, but, firstly, it is expensive, and secondly, a 3-hour walk includes only a tour of the ruined fortress and the Black Sea views. And thirdly, it is not a fact that you can sit at the window – there are always a lot of people willing. An alternative is the ferry to the Princes’ Islands. Advantages: views of the city on both sides of the strait, a cozy resort town at point B (on the island), a lower price for a 1-day trip.
Of course, winter Istanbul is quieter, but this only suits you – less hustle and bustle, more discounts on tickets, goods, hotel rooms. So it will be possible to relax, albeit without swimming in the sea, to the fullest and without serious costs.
See also: Winter trip to Disneyland on your own: how to get and what to see in Disneyland in winter?
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