Does It Snow In Istanbul, Turkey?

Photo of author
Written By Sean Lau

Co-Founder of The Turkey Traveler. Globetrotter, Adventurer, and Frequent Traveler to Turkey!

This website uses affiliate links. For more information, click here.

If you are planning a trip to Istanbul in winter, one of the questions you might be asking is “does it snow in Istanbul?”

The answer is yes, it does snow in Istanbul, especially during the winter months of December until February. The winter in Istanbul can get cold enough that the rain becomes snow.

Typically speaking, the first snow in Istanbul occurs sometime in December, but by early March, the city is warm enough that it no longer snows.

However, don’t let this put you off visiting. Sightseeing in the biggest city in Turkey might not be the same with snow as it is with sun, but that’s not to say it’s not worth it.

All is lost when it snows in Istanbul. In this guide, I’ve shared in-depth what you need to know about snow in Istanbul and whether that means you should cancel your travel plans or not!

Planning a trip to Istanbul last-minute?

Make sure you book your tours, places to stay, and airport transfers ahead of time to ensure availability!

Here is our recommended airport transfer in Istanbul:

  1. Airport Shuttle From Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gocken International Airport (SAW) (Super affordable!)

Here are our recommended tours in Istanbul:

  1. Luxury Bosphorus Cruise At Sunset (A must-do In Istanbul)
  2. Whirling Dervishes Show (Unique experience!)
  3. Historical Turkish Bath Experience
  4. Istanbul Food And Culture Tour

Here are our recommended places to stay in Istanbul:

  1. Magnuara Palace Hotel (Gorgeous hotel in the historic centre!)
  2. Pera Palace Hotel
  3. Cheers Hostel (Budget hostel near the Blue Mosque!)

When Does It Snow In Istanbul?


Generally speaking, it starts to snow in Istanbul in December, peaks in January, and the last bit of snow comes in early March. By the middle of March, spring has rolled around and snow is very uncommon in Istanbul.

Though with the current climate change, visitors should expect some unusual weather patterns, which means you might see snow at a time when it’s not common historically.

How Often Does It Snow In Istanbul?


Historically speaking, it doesn’t snow frequently in Istanbul. Because the city experiences relatively mild winters, most of the precipitation is in the form of rain.

January and February are the two months that see the most amount of snow. Even then, you should expect to see only 5.7 days of snow in those two months. Overall, Istanbul sees about 7.1 days of snowfall annually.

To put this into perspective, Istanbul receives 25.3 days of average rainfall in January and February. Precipitation might be common in Istanbul in the winter, but snow isn’t a very common type.

How Cold Is Istanbul In Winter?

Perhaps the biggest reason why Istanbul doesn’t snow as much is the warm temperatures. Though it is not a time of the year when you can go exploring the attractions in Istanbul in shorts and a t-shirt, the temperature just isn’t cold enough for rain to turn into snow.

Here are the average temperatures in Istanbul in winter:

MonthAverage LowsAverage Highs
December7.7°C (46°F)10.7°C (51°F)
January5.3°C (42°F)8.5°C (47°F)
February6°C (43°F)9.7°C (49°F)
March7.4°C (45°F)11.6°C (53°F)

The average wind speed in Istanbul can also make temperatures feel colder, and is something you should consider before visiting.

On average, the wind can reach between 14km/h to 20km/h throughout the year. You’ll want to pack a wind-proof jacket, hat, gloves and scarf when visiting during these months!

Where Does It Snow In Istanbul?

The city of Istanbul spans not only two continents (Europe and Asia) but also three climate zones:

  • Oceanic Climate
  • Humid Subtropical Climate
  • Mediterranean Climate
Credit: WikiCommons

Because Istanbul has over 50 hills (some as high as 537-meter high) and multiple bodies of water surrounding it (Black Sea, Sea of Marmara), Istanbul has several microclimates.

Though it is possible for the entire city to snow, places that are higher in elevation or closer to the north are more likely. This is due to the cold Arctic maritime that comes from the North Pole and Siberia.

Istanbul is one of the snowiest cities in the Mediterranean Basin, and that is because of the cold air coming from the north.

How Much Does It Snow In Istanbul?


On average, it snows about 49 mm (1.9 in) in Istanbul annually. This amount of snow is usually spread out in 7.1 days during winter. The majority of the heavy snowfall happens in January and February.

Snow In Istanbul In December

December marks the beginning of winter in Istanbul. The temperatures have dropped significantly from November. This is the time of the year when Istanbul first starts seeing snow.

Statistically speaking, Istanbul only receives 7 mm (0.27 in) of snow in 0.9 days in December. Though there is technically snow, it is quite negligible. The temperature is also relatively warm, with the average lows around 7.7°C and average highs around 10.7°C. With temperatures like that, it is not surprising that Istanbul doesn’t snow much in December.

📚Read more: Istanbul in December: Weather, Attractions, Tips for 2024

Snow In Istanbul In January

Istanbul in January is in the heart of winter, and it is the month with the highest snowfall in Istanbul. On average, visitors can see 24mm (0.94 in) of snow in 3.7 days in January. Though it is the snowiest month, it is still quite manageable if you are a traveler.

The temperatures are cold, with average lows around 5.3°C and highs around 8.5°C. January is the coldest month of the year, but the temperatures are not so low that it makes sightseeing impossible.

📚Read more: Istanbul in January: Weather, Attractions, Tips for 2024

Snow In Istanbul In February

By February, the coldest time of the year has passed. The temperatures are starting to slowly rise, and snowfall is becoming a little less frequent. On average, visitors can see 15mm (0.59 in) of snow in 2 days in February.

That isn’t surprising, considering that the average low temperatures are now 6°C. Most of the snow happens in the earlier half of the month. The end of February technically marks the end of winter, and by then snowfall is rare.

📚Read more: Istanbul in February: Weather, Attractions, Tips for 2024!

Snow In Istanbul In March

Though unlikely, Istanbul does sometimes get snow in March. This typically happens in the earlier part of the month and in regions that are hilly and in the north. So this means, the historic center of Istanbul, Sultanahmet, is unlikely to see any snow.

On average, there is 3mm (0.11 in) of snow in 0.5 days in Istanbul. Yes, we know. It is hardly any. If you are worried about snow in Istanbul in March, don’t be, especially as a tourist. March is the official start of the spring season!

📚Read more: Istanbul in March: Attractions, Weather, Tips for 2024!

Is It A Good Time To Visit Istanbul When It Snows?

Hagia Sophia In Snow

When it snows, it might mean that your holiday is ruined, but that is not the case in Istanbul. Because of the little amount of snow this Turkish city gets, travelers can still enjoy sightseeing as they would normally do in the summer.

Many of the landmarks in Istanbul are situated indoors, snow tends to have little to no effect on your itinerary.

In fact, the snow in Istanbul is so little that it usually covers the city with an enchanting blanket of white. It surely enhances the beauty of some of the most famous attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.

If you don’t mind the cold weather, then a winter visit to Istanbul can be magical. Just make sure you pack some extra layers!

Does It Snow In Turkey?

Though adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, there are a few areas that get snow in the winter. These places are usually higher up in elevation and in the mountains with most of the snow happening in the eastern part of Turkey.

Central Anatolia (near Cappadocia) also sees some snow in the winter, and there are even ski resorts there.

Things To Do In Istanbul When It Snows

If you are planning a winter trip to Istanbul, here are some ideas for things to do during a snowy day…

Take a Turkish Bath

turkish bath for women

Taking a Turkish Bath in Istanbul, known as a “hamam”, during the winter is one of the best ways to warm up your frozen limbs.

Not only does it warm you up, but they have numerous benefits for both body and mind. The warm and steamy environment of the hamam helps to relax and unwind, providing a natural remedy for stress and anxiety.

The Turkish Bath experience not only cleanses the body but also aids in detoxification by removing toxins and improving circulation.

The hot and humid atmosphere can help you forget about the cold, snowy weather outside.

Hit the Cafes and Coffee Shops

Salep Turkish Drinks

When outside is too cold, dip into one of the coffee shops in Istanbul for a delightful fusion of warmth, coziness, and rich aromatic coffee.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional Turkish coffee or you’d like to try some seasonal Turkish drinks, such as Salep (a warm, cinnamon infused milk drink), the cafes are the perfect respite from the cold weather.

Check Out Basilica Cistern

basilica cistern

In the winter, you may want to add some indoor activities to your itinerary, so a visit to the Basilica Cistern is a must.

This ancient underground cistern, with its mystical atmosphere, provides a cool refuge from the cold weather above ground.

As you descend into its depths, you’ll be captivated by the mesmerizing play of light and shadows reflecting off the water.

The winter months provide a quieter and more serene ambiance, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the historical and architectural wonders of this Byzantine marvel.

Visit the Museums and Art Galleries in Istanbul

Pera Museum

Visiting museums and art galleries in Istanbul during the winter season is another great way to escape the cold.

As the crowds thin out, you can explore the rich cultural heritage of the city at a leisurely pace, truly appreciating the masterpieces on display.

The quiet and serene atmosphere allows for a deeper connection with the art, enhancing your understanding and enjoyment.

From the grand Topkapi Palace to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul’s museums offer a diverse range of exhibits that showcase the city’s history, traditions, and artistic prowess.

Admire the Mosques

The snowy season in Istanbul creates an enchanting allure, and is a great time to admire the mosques and their architectural beauty.

In the crisp air, these architectural marvels seem to emanate a sense of tranquility and serenity. The grand domes and intricate minarets, dusted with a delicate layer of snow, create a mesmerizing sight that transports you to a world of awe-inspiring beauty.

Head to the Ski Resorts

Mount Erciyes
Mount Erciyes

You might be surprised to discover that Turkey has some ski resorts.

In fact, there are several top-notch resorts that offer excellent slopes for skiing and snowboarding, and stunning mountain landscapes.

One of the best ski resorts in Turkey is Erciyes – Kayseri, in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Another popular choice is Palandöken Ski Center, known for its challenging slopes and consistent snowfall.

Uludağ Ski Area in Bursa, Davraz Mountain Resort near Lake Eğirdir, and Sarikamis in the Kars province are also among the top ski destinations in Turkey.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert skier, consider heading to higher elevations and hit the slopes of Turkey!

FAQs About Snow in Istanbul

Does It Snow In Istanbul Every Year?

No, it doesn’t snow in Istanbul every year. Historically, there have been a few years that Istanbul did not snow at all.

Is Istanbul Cold During The Winter?

Istanbul experiences relatively mild winters with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing. While the city is quite chilly, it isn’t cold when compared to many other cities in Europe and Asia.

So, Does It Snow In Istanbul?

By now, you should know it does snow in Istanbul in winter. But because of the mild temperatures, there is more rain than snow in Istanbul during the winter months.

If you were planning a trip to Istanbul then, your plans are very unlikely to be interrupted by snow. Just make sure you pack some warmer clothes!

Leave a Comment