Didn’t realize that Istanbul gets so cold in the winter? It does! It snows and even at the end of fall and beginning of spring there is a rainy season in which it can get relatively chilly. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect time to visit! Here’s 6 reasons why you should visit Istanbul in the winter months!
What’s the best thing about Istanbul in the winter? Well, for starters – the lines to the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi are halved! 😊 The rush isn’t as big in the winter months, so it’s a great time to have places like the Basilica Cistern all to yourself. Being there alone really captures the eerie, magical nature of the place more than if you’re bumping into tour groups all the time!
It can be quite cold in Istanbul in the winter, and on those cold rainy days there is absolutely nothing in the world that warms you up quite like a hamam day! Get that massage, that steam bath, lie on the hot stone – it’s the most relaxing way to spend a day and a couple hours in a historic hamam warms not just your body, but your soul as well!
Snow Covered Historic Peninsula
Possibly the greatest thing about Istanbul in the winter is just how beautiful it is. Snow coats the entirety of the Historic Peninsula, and seeing the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and all the other historic sites covered in clear white is truly a sight to behold. Get up at the crack of dawn on those snow days and catch the red sun as it rises up over the Golden Horn. It’s a sight you won’t forget for the rest of your life!
Sahlep or Turkish Tea on the Ferry
Even in the summer months, crossing the ferry is one of Istanbul’s most iconic experiences. In winter it’s all the more so, with the orchid-based winter drink Sahlep (topped with plenty of cinnamon!) or Turkish Tea the perfect way to warm up as you cross the fabled strait. Look out over the winter wonderland around you sipping a delightful drink, and you’ll realize how lucky you are to be in this magical city.
Chestnuts Roasted on an Open Fire
Istanbul may be one of the only cities in the world where freshly roasted chestnuts are a street food you’ll find on every corner. Pick up a pack of piping hot, freshly roasted chestnuts and you’ll see just how delicious they are, as well as how much they warm you up when you’re beginning to feel the first effects of the winter months.
Boza is a traditional Turkish drink made of fermented milk. While you’re at your hotel, you might hear someone passing by shouting BOOOOOOZAAAAAAAA! That’s because Boza is still sold in the traditional manner, with a boza seller roaming the streets selling fresh boza. As he passes you’ll see people calling out from their homes to pick up however much they need. It’s both a tradition that’s unlike anywhere else in the world, and the delicious flavor of Boza is healthy and warming in the winter months!