20 Places to Visit in Turkey in December: 2022 Updated
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Tourist Places in Turkey in December

Fairy chimneys, Lake Cildir, Castle of Kars, Cathedral of Kars, Ruins of Ani, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace Museum, Uludag Ski Central, Istiklal Avenue or Istiklal Street, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Galata Tower, Ortakoy Mosque, Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam and Chora Church.

Turkey is a traveller's paradise with so much to see and do. Most tourists prefer to visit Turkey between June to October which is the peak season for a Turkey trip. However, the winter months are ideal to see some of Turkey's gems as the crowd is less and so is the heat.

The winter resorts, ski centres, frozen lakes and glacial mountains are some of the best places to visit in Turkey in December. Unlike most countries where tourists flock to the cities, Turkey's countryside offers far too many sites to experience. Other than Istanbul and Ankara, Kara, Ani, Ephesus, Cappadocia, Selçuk are some of the places to go in Turkey in December. 

Turkey is a land which nature has bestowed with the most beautiful mountains, plateaux, rivers, ravines, beaches and stony landscapes. Along with nature's gift, man too has crafted far too many marvels from the starting of time till date. From the old-world castles, to frescoed churches, underground cities to ornate mosques, breathtaking palace to sky-soaring towers, there is no dearth of places to see in Turkey in December.

Here are some of the best places to visit in Turkey in December:

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01

Hagia Sophia

This Greek Orthodox Church was built in the sixth century and was the largest building in the world. It was and has always been an architectural wonder for the world and is indeed one of the best places to visit in Turkey in December. Towards the 15th century the church was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman rulers and the Christian features were replaced by the Islamic religious architecture.

Today the Hagia Sophia (meaning "Holy Wisdom") stands as one of most visited museums in the world. The beautiful blue tiled mosque is a beautiful culmination of the East and the West, the Roman and the Ottoman cultures and Islamic and Christian artistry. 

Location- It is located at the Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofia Meydani in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Timing - The Hagia Sophia remains open from 9 AM to 5 PM except Mondays. 

Entry Fee - It costs 72 Turkish Liras to enter Hagia Sophia.
02

Topkapi Palace Museum

The Topkapi Palace was built in the fifteenth century as an administrative headquarter and remained a palace of residence for 380 long years for the Sultans of the future generations. Some of the things that cannot be missed in the Topkapi Palace are: The Harem and its ornate architecture made with gold inlays, the circumcision room of crowned princes, the felicity gate, the library of King Ahmet III.

The books of the library are moved to a mosque but the insides of the room is a site to behold. Even if one stays in Istanbul for just a day, the Topkapi Palace deserves a visit 

Location: It is located at Cankurtaran in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Timing: The Palace Museum remains open from 9 AM to 6 PM except on Tuesdays. In the winters, the museum closes at 4 PM. 

Entry Fee: The entry fee is 40 Turkish Liras. Certain sections of the palace such as the Harem require additional tickets which costs another 25 TL.
03

Basilica Cistern

The Sunken Palace or Basilica Cistern is a historical monument in Turkey. It is one of the two cisterns that remain open to tourists which were built to meet the water requirements for the Byzantine palace and Istanbul city dwellers, in the sixth century.

There are more than hundreds of such cisterns which reserved water underground for the city's needs but only the Basilica Cistern and the Theodosius Cistern can be visited, of which the former is the grander. The tourists walk through the 336 columns of this reservoir across 1000 sq mtrs and relive the famous scene from Dan Brown's Inferno.

Considering the great rush during the peak season, the iconic Basilica Cistern is one of the best places to visit in Turkey in December. 

Location: The Basilica Cistern is located at the Alemdar, Yerebatan in Istanbul, Turkey 

Timing: The cistern remains open from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM on all days of the week. 

Entry Fee: It costs 20 Turkish Lira to enter the Basilica Cistern.
04

Galata Tower

This magnificent piece of Byzantine architecture was built in the 14th century and was known as the Tower of Christ. It was the tallest building in Istanbul at that time measuring almost 220 feet and was later used as a watch tower for identifying forest fires during the Ottoman Empire. T

oday the tower offers a beautiful panoramic view of peninsular Turkey. Tourists can access the top floors of the tower through the elevators operating within the tower. There are restaurants, cafes and a nightclub atop the tower. Once in Turkey, this symbolic stone tower soaring up to the Istanbul skyline should not be missed. 

Location: The tower is located in the Galata quarter of Istanbul just at the northern tip of the meeting point between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus river. 

Entry fee: The tower can be accessed at 35 TLs for an adult.
05

Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is so called because of the hand painted blue tiles that adorn the rich, intricately designed walls of the mosque. When the mosque is illuminated in blue light at night it looks spectacular. The mosque is also known as the Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish was built in the early 17th century during the rule of Ottoman emperor Ahmed I. The tomb of the king, prayer area and a madrasa or Islamic school are worth paying a visit to. 

Location: Located at Sultan Ahmet, right next to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is the sprawling Blue Mosque. 

Timing: The mosque can be visited throughout the day for free, except for the five prayer timings (only for non-worshippers) when it remains closed for 90 minutes each time.
06

Fairy Chimneys

The tall rock structures with mushroom-like caps on top spread across the rocky plains of central Anatolia are known as the "Fairy Chimneys". Neither fairies created them nor are they chimneys, yet the landscape is nothing short of being magical. Millions of years of erosion of the soft rock-ash led to the creation of these phallic structures which also happen to change colour with sunrise and sunset.

A number of different valleys in the region offer multiple hiking routes to walk through them. The "chimneys" appear surreal from the hot air balloons that leave from the heart of Cappadocia and is definitely one of the best places to visit in Turkey in December. 

Location: The Fairy Chimneys are found in the Cappadocia region of Central Anatolia, in Turkey. It mainly lies across four Turkish provinces namely: Nevehir, Kayseri, Krehir and Nide
07

Lake Cildir

Lake Cildir certainly features in the list of the best places to visit in Turkey in December. Cupped by the mountains on all sides, the lake itself is at a height of 2000 metres. This beautiful lake remains frozen during the winter and offers multiple winter sports options for its visitors.

Tourists go there to take a ride on the horse drawn sledges or on snow vehicles across the lake. It is also an experience of a lifetime to watch the fishermen catch fish by digging holes through the glacial surface of the lake. 

Location: Lake Cildir is an inland lake in the northeastern Ardahan Province of Turkey.
08

Castle of Kars

The Castle of Kars also known as Kars Kalesi is one of the places to go in Turkey in December. The castle was originally built in the twelfth century and since then it stands witness to numerous stories of invasions and battles some of which had even destroyed the castle. Through the patronage of emperors, the castle was restored each time and stands where it is today.

During the winter, the panoramic view from the castle of the snow clad countryside of Kars is breathtaking. The castle has no mandatory museums or historic archives, so it is a pleasure to visit this archaic, sturdy, basalt grey monument just to experience its architecture and fortitude. The castle also has a tomb of the legendary guard and soldier Jelal Baba, a reserve of arms and a small mosque. 

Location- The Kars Castle is in the Kars province of North Eastern Turkey, at the bank of the Kars river. 

Entry Fee - The Castle is free to access anytime during the day.
09

Cathedral of Kars

The Cathedral of Kars is a notable monument that deserves a place among the places to see in Turkey in December. It is remarkable because of the transitions it underwent in the history of time from church to mosque to museum and back, ever since its creation in the early 10th century.

Most of its old stone architecture is retained and is certainly worth taking out time to appreciate the artistic rectangular plaques on its walls, the figures of the 12 apostles carved on the dome of the cathedral, the moulded windows. 

Location: The Kars Cathedral was built on slightly raised ground on the western side of the medieval city of Kars, Turkey. The Cathedral is at the foot of the Kars Castle and overlooks the Kars river.
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10

Ruins of Ani

Belonging to the Middle Ages, this ancient city which was once known as the "city of 1001 churches" is today a popular tourist destination in Turkey. Earlier the site was closed and required a special permit from the Turkish government, however the rules have been eased now.

The Mausoleum of the Child Princes, the Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins, the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents, the Ani cathedral, the medieval walls of Ani are some of the remains from one of the world's largest, richest and most populous cities 1600 years ago.

Today Ani stands as a mysterious city on the Turkish plateau bordered by the Akhurian ravine, still wearing emblems from its past riches and is one of the best places to go in Turkey in December. 

Location - Originally an Armenian city, Ani is now located in the Kars province, of north-east Turkey near the Armenian international border, along the Akhurian river.
11

Uludag Ski Central

The Uludag Ski Central is a haven for skiing in Turkey. It offers 28 kilometres of snow slopes of which, about 25 kms are easy and medium terrains for skiers. There are 16 lifts (T-Bars, Gondolas, Chaircars) which can carry about 19000 passengers to the top of the highland in an hour. The Ski resort is one of the best places to go in Turkey in December. 

Location: About 190 kms south of Istanbul is the town of Bursa from where the Uluda? ski resort in the Marmara region is about another 35 kms. While there is regular transportation from Istanbul to Bursa, the distance between Bursa and the resort is easily covered by a Teleferik. 

Timing: The ski resort operates between 9:00 AM to 4 PM. 

Price: Visitors buy tickets at the lift and the price for an adult for a single day is 20.40 USD.
12

Istiklal Avenue

Istiklal Avenue or Istiklal Street is the most famous street in Istanbul which more than 3 million visitors cross in a single day during the weekends. The street is the "Champs-Elysées" of Turkey. The two and a half kilometres of the road is home to numerous boutiques, flower shops, restaurants, art stores, nightclubs, artisanal pastry and chocolate souvenir shops. But it is not just the stores that attract the visitors to this place.

The architecture of the buildings across the street, is an amalgamation of the Gothic, Renaissance, Classical and modern styles. The Çiçek Pasaj? (Flower Passage), the Bal?k Pazar? (The Fish Market), the Hüseyin A?a Camii Mosque, the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches together with mosques, synagogues make every inch of the Avenue worth taking a note of.

There are also several academic institutions of Austrian, French and German background and embassies of France, Russia, Greece, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. 

Location: The road starts at the famous Taksim Square and ends at the. Funicular stop at the Galata Tower, in Istanbul.
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13

Ortakoy Mosque

The mosque is one of the more modern mosques built in 1855. The pink mosaics with which the mihrab of the mosque is decorated, the frescos, the baroque architecture, the wide arched windows that flood sunlight inside, the calligraphy on its walls make the mosque very picturesque.

Also its location exactly at the waterside of the Bosphorus river in the open pier, is what brings many tourists to walk through it. The Ortakoy mosque is also seen as a part of the cruise through the Bosphorus river from Asian Istanbul to European Istanbul. 

Location: The mosque is located at Mecidiye Köprüsü, Ortakoy neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey 

Timing: The mosque remains open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM but closed during the daily prayer times.
14

Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam

The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam was commissioned by Hurrem Sultan who was the wife of Emperor Suleiman Magnificent in the 16th century. This place is also famously known as the Turkish Bath and was built to replace the remnants of the historical Zeuksippos Baths of the 6th century.

The bath today has a host of options for the tourists to experience regal treatment at an authentic Turkish hamam including, scrub, body mask, massage, aromatherapy together with a fruit platter and local drink. It is certainly one of the best places to visit in Turkey in December when the crowd is less and the water is clean. 

Location: The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam is located between the Hagia Sophia Museum and the Blue Mosque at Cankurtaran, Istanbul. 

Timing: Remains open from 8 AM to 10 PM on all days of the week. 

Entry Fee: From 55 Euros to 185 Euros , the Turkish Bath offers different packages for bath and massage.
15

Chora Church

Among the places to see in Turkey in December, the Chora Museum is definitely very impressive and one of the best museums in Istanbul. Following the lines of history, this museum too was built as a church in the rural area ("chora" in Greek) in the sixth century, was later converted into a mosque and is now preserved as a museum.

The frescos are the church complex are relics of the beautiful Byzantine art containing some of the important scenes from the life of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ. 

Location: The Chora Museum is situated in the Edirnekapi region in the Fatih district, Asian Istanbul. 

Timing: The Chora Church is open from 9 AM to 5 PM on all days of the week. In the summer it remains open till 7:00 PM. 

Entry Fee: It costs 54 TL to enter the Chora museum.
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16

Mount Erciyes

This is a dormant peak and is part of the central Anatolian volcanic province that gave rise to the Cappadocian region. Mount Erciyes had last erupted roughly around 6800 BC and is today covered in a receding glacial sheet. Mount Erciyes is among the best places to go to Turkey in December because it is a hub for winter sports and the Erciyes Ski Resort is located there.

Tourists from all over the world come over to ski there due to the lovely slopes and low costs compared to the Swiss Alpine slopes. 

Location: The Mount Erciyes lies in the Kayseri province of Turkey near the Talas and Hacilar towns.
17

Whirling Dervishes Show

The Mevlevi Sema ceremony or the Whirling Dervishes ceremony is not something to be missed when visiting Turkey. The HodjaPasha Culture centre in Istanbul where the ceremony takes place is among the best places to see in Turkey in December.

The followers of the Persian poet, Rumi in the thirteenth century, established this Muslim order known as Mevlevi or the Whirling Dervishes who believe dance to be a form of prayer. The show of the sema or the dance is accompanied by ayin or soul touching music. It is an 800 year old tradition that emphasises the unity in existence by featuring that everything from atoms to planets rotate in a whirl. 

Location: HodjaPasha Culture Center is located in Sultanahmet-Sirkeci, Istanbul on the Hocapasa hamam. 

Timings: The whirling dervishes show starts at 7 PM everyday and continues for an hour. 

Entry Fee: It costs approximately 19 euros per ticket.
18

Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis is also known as the Temple of Diana who is the Greek goddess of chastity, hunting and fertility. It was built in the 6th century BC by the Greek settlers in modern day Turkey in the city of Ephesus which is believed to be close to the birthplace of Goddess Diana.

In the present times, in place of the original temple a lone column and the foundation of the temple remains which is a reminder to the grand temple believed to be one of the largest in the world and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A model of this ancient temple is at the Miniature Park in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Location: The ruins of the Temple of Artemis is situated in the street running between the torn of Selçuk to the ancient town of Ephesus in West Turkey.
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19

Saint John Basilica

It is the holy site where one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, St. John remains buried. The place holds great religious value for the Christians who visit to pay homage to the saint. From a touristic perspective, the magnificent basilica that has been rebuilt at the site atop the hill, offers a great panoramic view of the Selçuk region. 

Location: The Saint John Basilica was built on the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill, in Selçuk in the Izmir province of Turkey. It is about 2.5 kms from the ancient town of Ephesus where the ruins of the Temple of Artemis exist. 

Timing: The Basilica remains open from 8:30 AM to 5 PM. 

Entry Fee: It costs 18 TLs to enter the place.
20

Yedigoller National Park

This park is also known as the Seven Lakes Park in Yedigoller. The seven lakes in the national park were formed due to landslides and add to the beautiful landscape of the park. The small rivulets that flow across the lakes have aesthetically planted bridges, small waterfalls that add to the scenic beauty.

There are caravans, hotels, bungalows and even tents to spend a night inside the park. There are treks available, hot springs and ski centers available in the park to meet the varied tastes of tourists. The park is a reserved habitat for deers and other animals such as lynxes, brown bears, wolves and foxes can also be spotted here. 

Location: The park is located in the Black Sea region, between Ankara and Istanbul in the Mengen district of the Bolu province in Turkey. 

Timing: The park is open 24 hours a day all year through. 

Entry Fee: The cost for entry is 12 TLs.
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We love visiting cultural heritage places and Turkey is one truly packed with it! We loved the experienced and its beauty. And admire how we were supported by the team person who helped us in ever possible aspect, Thank you.
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Great experience! Everything was perfectly organized and they helped us with everything since the beggining
We had a very adventurous trip which was filled with lots of joy and most of the tourist attraction places were covered.
It is beautiful country to visit, with various beautiful places with natural diversity. Loved the places and how it was managed.
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Turkey being the full package of cultural heritage and popularly known its exceptional beauty. We loved the place and its culture. Also the team and planning for more.

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People Also Ask About Turkey

  1. Which are the best places to visit in Istanbul?

    1. Dolmabahce Palace: One of the best places to visit in Istanbul in December is Dolmabahce Palace, which was the Ottoman Empire’s administrative building. This is Istanbul’s largest palace with two hundred and eighty-five rooms and forty-six halls. During December, the crowd is less, so you won’t have to stand in long lines to get into the palace.

    2. Istiklal Street: This is the most famous entertainment area and street in Istanbul, full of all kinds of restaurants, cafes, shops, and street shows. During December, the street turns into a carnival spot, and the arrival of Santa is celebrated with vigor and cheer.

    3. Ankara Castle: If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Istanbul in December, you must head to Ankara Castle that was established under the Roman Empire in the seventh century. You’ll find numerous mosques and old Ankara houses here, which are the epitome of architectural excellence.
  2. Which are the best places to visit in Istanbul for couples?

    1. Camlica Hill: Whether you wish to have a romantic stroll with your partner, devour into delectable delicacies at the cafes or enjoy panoramic views, Camlica Hill should be your ideal option. It has many cafes, public parks, gardens, restaurants, tea houses, and fountains where couples can have the best time of their life.

    2. Bosphorus: Bosphorus is a waterway and natural strait that runs right through Istanbul and is renowned for offering impressive views to visitors. Many dinner cruises run on the Bosphorus Strait every day, giving the couples a chance to explore the city while creating unique love tales.

    3. Aga Hamami- Turkish Bath Enjoy a wonderful couples massage or Turkish bath at Aga Hamami, a public bathing place with breathtaking architecture. Turkish bath is a unique experience that will relax your muscles and refresh your body as you rest in a steam bath.
  3. What is the weather like in Turkey in December?

    The weather in Turkey is pleasant in December with the highest temperature being 19 degrees (around the seas) and lowest being 8 degrees Celsius on average. Turkey experiences some rainfall during December.
  4. Is Turkey expensive to visit?

    Turkey being conjoined to Europe and Asia has the advantage of offering a European vacation at Asian price. It is certainly cheaper than Europe but more expensive than most Asian countries. An average meal in Turkey costs approximately 25 TLs which is about 3 to 4 Euros. Also, Istanbul and Ankara are among the more expensive cities within Turkey so the cost of living is higher there.
  5. What should I pack for Turkey in December?

    - Warm clothes 
    Umbrella or raincoat (preferably a raincoat to stay hands-free) 
    A scarf to cover your head (for women) and shoulders before entering a mosque 
    Swimsuit to experience the Turkish Bath (if not beaches in December) 
    European power adapter 
    Covered clothes as most places in Turkey require conservative clothing 
    Comfortable shoes for hiking, climbing, walking 
    A secret zipped pocket to keep your money while visiting crowded places

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