20 Places to Go in Istanbul in Winter: 2021 Updated
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Places to Visit in Istanbul in Winter

Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Historical Turkish Bath, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul Modern, Whirling Dervishes Show, Chora Church, Ortakoy Mosque, Taksim Tram, Basilica Cistern, Galata Tower, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and Egyptian Spice Bazaar.

There is an absolute treasure trove of places to go in Istanbul in winter as the weather remains chilly and the crowds on the streets are considerably less. The city is brimming with prime vacation spots which will be relatively empty on account of the weather, and this is the best time to seize a perfect vacation in this eternally beautiful city.

From historic museums to beautiful gardens and upstreet markets, there are tons of places to visit in Istanbul in winter for a memorable experience! You can even have lip lurking delicacies at some of the best restaurants and cafes here. Istanbul is also home to some of the most popular buildings, fortresses and cisterns that recite the royal legacy of this city and during winters, you can explore these places in the best way.

You can also have amazing experiences here as you groove on to the nightclubs and have Turkish coffee as the street style shops. Some of the best things to do in Istanbul in winter are shopping in the malls as winter sales are on and enjoying the authentic Turkish bath to distress yourself in the cold days.

Here are some of the best Places to Go in Istanbul in winter:

01

Explore the Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, also known as Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish is a historic mosque and is known for its unique size, design and interior decor. The architecture of the mosque will give you a glimpse of the classical ottoman empire and traditional Islamic culture more deeply. Entering from the West Side of the mosque is the best way to experience and appreciate the beautiful architecture because it leads you to the grand main dome of the mosque. This is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul in winter if you wish to cut off the intimidating crowd.

Location: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydan? Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/?stanbul, Turkey

Price: Entry is free

Timings: Anytime, closed only during prayer times.
02

Marvel the Beauty of Topkapi Palace

The Ottoman Empire has left an immense mark on Turkey in terms of culture, lifestyle, buildings and architecture. Topkapi Palace, an Ottoman monument, is a beautiful, magnificent museum, where the Ottoman Sultans lived and administered their kingdom. You can have a glance of the ottoman sultans and their families lifestyle by having a tour of the Topkapi Palace.

One of the main attractions of the palace is the Harem, where the mother of Sultan lived with his wives and mistresses. This is one of the best places to go in Istanbul in winter as the crowd is less giving you a chance to enjoy the beauty of the palace in the best way. 

Location: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/?stanbul, Turkey

Price: 72 Turkish Lira. Free for children under 8. Extra charges required for entering the Harem section and Hagia Eirene Church. Alternatively, you can get an Istanbul Tourist pass and skip the payment

Timings: 9 AM-4:45 PM, Ticket Booth closes at 4 PM. Closed on Tuesdays.
03

Historical Turkish Bath

The historical Turkish bath or the Hamam is a special kind of deep cleansing traditional bath that relaxes your body and mind.  This is an indoor bath that has separate arrangements for men and women. Once you enter the bathhouse, you will be escorted by an attendant who will be at your service during the entire therapy. The attendant will perform a scrub treatment with an exfoliate paste which will remove all the dead skins from your body.

This is the best place for relaxation and rejuvenation after a long and hectic day of sightseeing. This is one of the best places to go in Istanbul in winter as you are offered special treatment with lukewarm water in a warm room.

Location: There are many Turkish baths. But one of the most famous is   Ca?alo?lu Hamam Alemdar, Prof. Kaz?m ?smail Gürkan Cd. No:24, 34110, 34110 Fatih/?stanbul, Turkey

Price:  50 Euro to 180 Euro 

Timings: 9 am- 10 pm (Weekdays), 9 am – 11 pm (Sat & Sun)
04

Be Lost in the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest markets in the world, and that is why it has great historical significance. The Bazaar was established during the Ottoman Empire after the defeat of Constantinople by the Ottoman Sultan. The narrow lanes of the bazaar will give you a feel of nostalgia of the medieval period. Beautiful artistic carpets, jewelry, antiques, clothes and many other things are available in the bazaar at reasonable rates.

There are some popular restaurants like Asian, Havuzlu within the market which will cater to your hunger spree. This is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul in winter as the streets are all decked up for Christmas celebrations.

Location: Beyaz?t, Kalpakç?lar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/?stanbul, Turkey

Price: Varies

Timings: 10 am to 6 pm on all days
05

Admire the Beauty of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is a massive dome, which is the largest of its size, and its architectural marvel is absolutely mesmerizing.  It was initially constructed as a Greek Orthodox church, but later it was changed into the imperial mosque of the Ottoman empire and finally, the Turkish government transformed it into the museum.

This is one of the best places to go in Turkey in the winters as the cool breeze blows it's less crowded, and you can find complete solace while visiting the place. 

Location:
Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydani No:1, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey


Price:
72 TRY or 847 INR

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Monday.
06

Have a Glimpse of History at Istanbul Modern

Istanbul Modern is a museum which gives us a chance to appreciate the art of the contemporary Turkish artists by showcasing the stunning art pieces. It has large galleries, exhibitions, halls, and a library where the murals and the sculptures are exhibited.

There is also a cafe for refreshments and a gift shop containing artistic gift items and souvenirs. This is considered to be one of the best places to go in Istanbul in winter as there is less crowd and you don’t need to wait in huge lines for tickets.

Location: Asmal? Mescit, Me?rutiyet Cd. No:99, 34430 Beyo?lu/?stanbul, Turkey


Price:
72 TL

Timings: 10 am to 6 pm on all days except Monday.
07

Delight Yourself by Watching Whirling Dervishes Show

Istanbul is a haven for Islamic art, culture, and history, and one of the best shows that portray these elements together is the Whirling Dervishes Show. The show is about the Whirling Dervish ceremony which was introduced in the 13th century by a Sufi Muslim mystic and poet, Jalaluddin Rumi.

The show constitutes the real ceremony where the participants/dervishes do extensive chanting, whirling, praying, dancing with music to achieve enlightenment. You can learn about the rich culture of Istanbul by attending this show.

Location: Istanbul has plenty of opportunities to watch the show. The most famous are The Galata Mevlevi Museum, ?ahkulu, Galip Dede Cd. No:15, 34420 Beyo?lu/?stanbul, Turkey


Price: 
100 TL for the show, Museum entry separate fee of 14 TL

Timings: Every Sunday, 5 pm
08

Experience Solace at Chora Church

Chora Church was a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church which has been converted into a museum now. It is also known as the Kariye Museum, and it has evidence of traces of Christianity in Turkey. The beautiful mosaics displayed on the walls showcase the artistic talent that prevailed during the Byzantine period.

You can visit this museum to step back into historical times and to know more about the traditions and culture of Istanbul.

Location: Dervi?ali, Kariye Camii Sk. No:18, 34087 Fatih/?stanbul, Turkey

Price: 54 TL

Timings: 9am to 5pm
09

Enjoy Some Shutter Shooting at Ortakoy Mosque

Ortakoy mosque is considered to be one of the most beautiful architectural gems in Istanbul. With the Bosphorus Bridge in the background and the best scenic beauty surrounding it, this mosque is one of the best creations of the Ottoman Period. The scenic beauty of this mosque will definitely tempt you to indulge in some photography sessions. 

Location:
Mecidiye, Mecidiye Köprüsü Sk. No:1 D:1, 34347 Be?ikta?/?stanbul, Turkey


Timings:
Daily, 9 am to 6 pm, closed during prayer times.

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10

Take a Ride on Taksim Tram

When you are in Istanbul, you have to take a ride on the heritage Taksim Tram. You can choose any length of the journey while traveling by the Tram and it will offer you the best view of the city. You may get the tickets from small kiosks on every tram stop. During winters it offers a panoramic view of the snow-clad mountains and beautiful sceneries during the tour. 

Location: European Istanbul


Price:
TL 1.75

Timings: 7 am to 8 pm
11

Step Back into History at Basilica Cistern

Apart from the magnificent palaces, museums and mosques, Istanbul has several underground cisterns laid all over the city. Basilica Cistern is the most famous amongst all as it is the largest and the most beautiful one. Back in the day, it used to work as a filtration system to the Great Palace of Constantinople. The cistern lies beneath the city of Istanbul and has great historical significance too.

Location: Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd 1/3, 34110 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey.

Price:
20 TRY or 235 INR. Entry is free for children below the age of 7.

Timings: 9 am to 5:30 pm on all days of the week.
12

Drink Some Thick Turkish Coffee

Turkish Coffee is a universally popular coffee which is a hot favorite for people all around the world. Turkish Coffee is a very important aspect of Turkish culture and lifestyle, and you should definitely taste it once you’re here. Many restaurants and cafes are sprawling all over the city where you can taste the famous coffee.

Mandabatmaz located in the famous Istiklal Street is everyone’s favorite place for Turkish Coffee. If you are going to Grand Bazar, then try out the Turkish Coffee in Sark Kahvesi. It's especially a delight to have the Turkish coffee in winters as it offers you respite from the cold temperature by warming up your body. 

Location: Fazil Bey's Turkish Coffee, Cafera?a, Serasker Cd. 1/A, 34710 Kad?köy/?stanbul, Turkey

Price: Varies

Timings: 8am to 12 am/ 8am to 9pm all days
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13

Have a Panoramic View at Galata Tower

Once the tallest structures in the city of Istanbul, this cylindrical stone tower is the crowning jewel of Istanbul. Once you go to the top of the tower, you will be amazed to have a panoramic view of the magical city of Istanbul. Upon paying the entry fee, you can have a tour of the interiors of the tower, which is decorated like a museum.

And for your entertainment and relaxation, the building houses a nightclub, a cafe, and a restaurant. And it is considered to be one of the best places to visit in Istanbul in winter as it gives a panoramic view of the snow-laden city during this time of the year.

Location: Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi, 34421 Beyoglu/Istanbul, Turkey

Price: 7 TRY or 82 INR. Free for children below 7. 

Timings: 9 am to 7 pm daily
14

Admire the Exhibits at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is one of the top few places to visit in Istanbul in winter as it is usually crowded in other seasons and it becomes easier to see the exhibits during colder months. It is located in the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, a friend to the erstwhile Sultan. The whole place is stuffed with antiques, calligraphy and hundreds of rugs and carpets from the Ottoman empire, some dating back to the 16th century!

Location: Binbirdirek, At Meydani Cd No: 44, 34122 Fatih/ Istanbul, Turkey

Price: 42 TRY or 488 INR. Free for children under the age of 8.

Timings: 9 am to 4 pm in winter.
15

Shop Till You Drop at Egyptian Spice Bazaar

The Egyptian Spice Bazaar or Misi Carsisi is heaven for all shoppers and foodies, and you can find everything under the sun at discounted prices. You get the most eclectic and exclusive range of spices in this bazaar and that too at a pocket-friendly price! The moment you enter, you will be hit by the smell of spices, cheese, fragrances and jaggery.

And it is considered to be one of the best places to go in Istanbul in winter because the crowds are less, the prices are down, and since you are inside the market building, you won’t feel the chill if you wear a winter coat!

Location: Rustem Pasa, Erzak Ambari Sok No: 92, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: 8 am to 7 pm from Monday to Saturday
                 9:30 am to 7 pm on Sundays
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16

Stroll Along Istiklal Street

If you want to feel the multicultural spirit of Istanbul, then Istiklal Street is the place you need to be in! Strolling along this street is one of the best things to do in Istanbul in winter as it is in full vogue to celebrate the onset of Christmas and is beautifully decorated during this time of the year. This 3 km long street lies in the Beyoglu locality on the European side of Istanbul and is pedestrian-friendly.

Both the sides of the street are lined by shops and stores- local and international bakery, restaurants, shops, bookstores, nightclubs, shisha cafes and tea houses. This place has now become so famous that Istiklal Street photo walks are very common and one of the top things for tourists to do!

Location: Istiklal Street, Beyoglu, Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: No specific timing
17

Cruising at Bosphorus

Cruising at Bosphorous is way cheaper than other ones around the world but not any less relaxing or mesmerizing! For as little as 25 TRY, this cruise takes you to the Black Sea from the Emanonu, and you’re also served lip-lurking meals during the trip. You’re recommended to take this trip in the winter as the weather is cool and bracing, making your trip extremely memorable.

Location: Alemdar Mah, Ticanethane Sok, Hakki Bey Ishani No: 5/3, 34122, Turkey

Price: 
For adults: Double way – 25 TRY or 290 INR
                                One way- 15 TRY or 175 INR
          For children below the age of 12: Double way – 12.5 TRY or 145 INR
                                                                      One way – 6 TRY or 70 INR

Timings: Depends on the cruise you choose
18

Taste some Local Wines

In cold and damp weather, there can be nothing better than a wine tour to rejuvenate you! These wines tours take you through a few of the best wineries, including Vino Dessera and let you taste four wines at each location.

You will be educated on the varieties like merlot and sauvignon, and you can also know which food item pairs best with which variant. But these tours take a whole day so make sure that you have optimum time at your hand.

Location: Kirklareli District, Istanbul, Turke

Price: Depending on the tour you take

Timings: Depending on the tour you take
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19

Try Istanbul’s Winter Street Food

One of the best things to do in Istanbul in winters is strolling by the less crowded lanes to search for the best street food in Istanbul. Among the top few street items is the kokorec, which has lamb intestines rolled in sweetbread and then fried with spices. Then there is the simit, a dough ring which looks like a doughnut, but is crispy and sesame seed encrusted.

You can also try here the Dilli Kasarli toast, which is basically a grilled cheese sandwich, only with a slice of beef tongue with the cheese.
20

Marvel over the Art Collection at Archaeological Museum

Archaeology started gaining ground in the 19th century, and the Ottomans were really powerful during that time. So, they bought over most of the fancy artefacts from nearby places like Greece and Rome, and the Sultan built a magnificent private collection. This collection now fills the three buildings of the Archaeology Museum in Istanbul, which is located down the hill from Topkapi Palace.

This is one of the top places to go in Istanbul in winter as the crowd is less and you don’t have to stand in queue for tickets! The museum has everything- from sculptures of lions and kings to tablets of archaic scripts from the Hittite period.

Location: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Price: 36 TRY or 420 INR. Free for children under the age of 8.

Timings: 9 am to 7 pm on all days.
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People Also Ask About Istanbul

  1. What are the best places to go in Istanbul in winter for friends?

    1. The Blue Mosque: The architectural prowess of this mosque, also known as the Sultanahmet Camii, is a reflection of the long-gone Ottoman era. You can visit this holy place with your friends and marvel at the decors and the culture that permeates every aspect of the mosque. 

    2. Istanbul Modern: Displaying some of the most magnificent art pieces in Turkey, this museum is an absolute delight. Visiting this impressive place with friends will give you an insight into the culture of Turkey through sculptures and murals.

    3. Chora Church: Once a Greek Orthodox Church, this church has now been transformed into a museum. The interiors are a clear indication of the Byzantine period as well as of Christianity in Turkey and are a perfect place to visit with friends.  

    4. Basilica Cistern: Associated with great cultural and historical significance, the beauty of this famous underground cistern will leave you and your friends greatly amazed. 
  2. Is December a good time to visit Istanbul?

    Yes, December is a good time to visit Istanbul as the weather is cold and wet, but the good part is that the crowds will be significantly less. The entire city seems to be vibrant and lively due to the onset of Christmas celebration during winters.
  3. How many days are enough in Istanbul?

    Istanbul is a beautiful city filled with examples of cultural and architectural brilliance. To see only the best in Istanbul, you need 6-7 days and if you wish to explore it in a more relaxed way, then 10-12 days will be sufficient.
  4. What are the romantic places to go in Istanbul in winter?

    1. Topkapi Palace: This palace gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle of the sultans during the Ottoman period. Viewing the architecture and the beauty of this monument is a great way to bond with your friends.

    2. Hagia Sophia: The several transformations of this dome from a church to a mosque and then finally to a museum and its architecture will leave you spellbound. You can visit this place with your partner and make some new memories.  

    3. Taksim Tram: Hopping on this tram with your partner will give you a glorious view of Istanbul covered with snow. This is the perfect way to have some intimate moments and take in the stunning view of the city at the same time. 

    4. Galata Tower: The view from the top of this historically significant tower of the beautiful snow-clad Istanbul is a sight that you and your partner are unlikely to forget anytime soon.
  5. How cold does Istanbul get?

    Istanbul temperatures are never sub-zero, but they fall to the lowest of 3 or 2 degrees Celsius in the months of January and February. In December, the highest temperature is 11 degrees, and the lowest is 5 degrees.
  6. What is the coldest month in Istanbul?

    January is the coldest month in Istanbul, and the temperature may drop down to 3 degrees in a few days.

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