Tulips blooming in the gardens outside Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.

Springtime tulips in Topkapı Palace. Photo © Mikhail Markovskiy/123rf.

In three whirlwind days you can check out the charm of the city, learn to feast the Turkish way, motor along the Bosphorus, and click heels with Istanbullus at shopping and partying meccas around town.

The best time to visit Istanbul is April, when the city’s tulip commemoration is in full bloom.To get a real grasp of the city in all its contrasting beauty, plan to spend at least five days. This will allow for a couple of side trips: a cruise to the nearby Princes’ Islands and a hop to the city’s various Asian draws. With five days there’s also time to explore the city at night, including its boisterous cabarets and posh waterside nightclubs near Ortaköy and Kuruçeşme.

The Best Times of Year to Visit Istanbul

The best time to visit Istanbul is April, when the city’s tulip commemoration is in full bloom and the entire city is covered with the spectacular indigenous flower. Spring also announces the beginning of Istanbul’s popular arts festival season. Summer is still the busiest tourist season countrywide.

Istanbul’s late spring and early fall now constitute shoulder seasons with lower prices than June-September. For some, winter is the best time of year, and the occasional snow flurry kisses historical sites, transforming the city into a winter wonderland.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Istanbul & the Turkish Coast.