The climate of Istanbul is among the most common questions we get asked via e-mail. Especially with an approaching departure, travelers get caught in a kind of panic: “Will it be hot or cold?” “How should I dress?” “Just need a light jacket or a winter coat?”
It’s true… getting caught off guard by the weather is not pleasant. We can imagine your justified and frantic internet searches to find the most reliable weather portal.
Let’s start by saying that Istanbul is on the same parallel as Naples, therefore one might expect the mild climate of coastal areas similar to the cities of southern Italy. In fact this is true only in part. Istanbul is exposed to north currents without any geographic protection, so the climate is half Mediterranean and half mainland.
The winter is usually not particularly harsh and temperatures hardly drop below freezing, although the sensation of cold can be amplified by the wind. Nevertheless, snow is not uncommon; it makes its appearance every year. The small snow storms are linked to episodes of sudden icy waves that come from Russia, and invigorated by the presence of the Black Sea, generally last 3 -4 days. During each winter, there are at least two or three waves of cold. The rest of the season is typical winter; rainy days and cloudy skies alternating with sunny days. The coldest months are January and February.
Spring is definitely the best time to visit Istanbul, pleasant temperatures combined with the explosion of colors of the many varieties of flowers (especially tulips), make the months of April and May perfect for enjoying the city . March may suffer the backlash of winter, but last year was such a spring month in all respects, that by the middle of the month the vegetative awakening was already advanced. June is a wonderful month…the days are long, the heat is stifling, and you can already put together a 3-4 day stay in Istanbul with a visit to the beach in the south of Turkey (Bodrum and Fethiye to Antalya) because in those areas the swimming season starts early.
Summer is hot and muggy. The high humidity during the day is fortunately mitigated by the night breeze. In July and August the temperatures exceed 30 degrees celsius easily, and rainy days are virtually absent. The influx of tourists, especially in August, is very high. If you have the opportunity to choose between the two summer months, then July is definitely preferable to August.
The beauty of September is comparable to June. It is mild and sunny until later in the month, and is still considered summer in all respects, but it is more windy and less crowded. Autumn makes its appearance in October, with the first rains commence and continue through December. Autumn is also a good time for visiting the city. It isn’t too rainy (more or less like Rome) and most of the cultural festivals (such as the Biennale) are held at this time.
A fundamental characteristic of the climate of Istanbul is the presence of the wind, which is equally as pleasant in summer as it is scathing in the winter. The names of the winds that come into the city vary according to their origin. There are at least eight, the most famous are the Poyraz (from the northeast and mitigates the heat/disperses moisture in the summer) and the Lodos (a hot wind from the south- west which usually causes storms).
The presence of the Black Sea to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south causes the weather to be very changeable. The currents can change quickly, so weather predictions are frequently unreliable. It is not uncommon to observe wrong predictions for the following day, so our advice is to not pay attention to the predictions made 7 days away on international weather portals. Whether you are planning to go to museums or spend a day in the park, it is best to stay flexible enough to rearrange your itinerary if necessary. In addition, the symbol “rain” often does not mean that it will rain all day. Given the variability and the size of the city, a few drops could fall in the morning and then clear up for the rest of the day, or it could pour in Goztepe and stay sunny in Beşiktaş.
The most popular weather portals are weather.com, wunderground.com, accuweather.com e freemeteo.com. They are generated by automatic weather patterns on a large scale, so the level of detail they provide cannot be considered accurate and we recommend that you not take them too seriously.
The most accurate site for the weather forecast in Istanbul is from the national weather service: in the english version there are 5-day forecasts for all major cities, If you want to take a look at the turkish version service is even more precise with detailed forecasts hour by hour and even by neighborhood.