December is the start of winter in Istanbul, as well as a fantastic month with Christmas and New Year fervor in the city. Average temperature is 10°C and precipitation 123 mm. The weather is cold, little snow. We recommend you to bring a winter coat and portable umbrella. Also take sweater for some warmer days. The days are still short but started to get longer, the sun set around 18:30.
(Average Max Temp.: 11°C – Average Max Temp.: 5°C)
Istanbul 5 Days Weather Forecast
Public holidays, Festivals & Events
- Seb-i Aruz (17-24 December, the death anniversary of by Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207-1273), a world famous Islamic mystical poet, theologian and a spiritual master (Sufi), ceremonies at the Galata Mevlevi Lodge)
- Christmas (late December)
- New Year’s Eve & Festivities (31st of December)
Top 10 Things to Do in Istanbul in December 2019
Things to do in Istanbul are endless and it is not possible to mention all the best attractions in Istanbul. We just put together below the most fascinating ones that best suit for December.
1. Take part & enjoy the colorful New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Features fireworks on the Bosphorus, variety of street celebrations. Taksim, Istiklal Street, Nisantasi, Besiktas, Bakirkoy and Kadikoy are the popular districts and neighborhoods to spend a lively partying night. Continue reading…
2. Visit Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace Museum
Dating back to 325, Hagia Sophia is a former church and mosque and declared as one of the world’s greatest architectural works and accepted as the 8th wonder of the world. Hagia Sophia is also one of the most visited landmarks and museums in Istanbul and in the world.
Topkapi Palace Museum is one of world’s richest museums, is a magnificent oriental palace and one of the world’s greatest architectural works. It was the residence of the Ottoman sultans as well as the administrative and educational center of the Empire. It houses the finest samples of seal, book binding, jewelry and box craftsmanship as well as inscriptions.
We highly recommend you to visit and see both museums at once. It would take about 2 hours and 30 minutes. And you should get Skip-the-line-tickets to save yourself from long queues.
3. Mystical night out at the Whirling Dervishes Show
Whirling Dervishes Show or Ceremony (“Sema” in Turkish) is one of the most visited attractions in Istanbul with the tourists. It is because that this ceremony is a very unusual event for the tourists and when they hear about it, majority of them try to catch this one hour show and witness the miracle of the whirling dervishes. The best performances take place at the Hodjapasha Culture Center in Sirkeci, Eminonu. Note that as this show is very popular among the majority of the tourists, you should buy your tickets at least 2 or 3 days before the show. Continue reading…
4. Enjoy the lively atmosphere at the Istiklal Street
Located in the Taksim neighborhood, Istiklal Street (Istiklal Avenue) is probably the most famous street and entertainment area in Istanbul. It is a long colorful pedestrian street full of all kind of shops, restaurants, cafes, street shows and more. Continue reading…
5. Visit Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is an impressive museum combining the Turkish and Islamic works. Located at the Ibrahim Pasha Palace, one of the most important buildings of 16th century Ottoman civil architecture, in Sultanahmet. You can witness to very unique, more than over 40,000 items at the carpet, manuscript, wood, glass-metal-ceramic and ethnography sections. Continue reading…
6. Catch the winter sales at Istanbul’s Shopping Malls
Istanbul also hosts more than 200 modern shopping malls. And some of them are really very huge and amongst the best shopping malls in Europe. As it is one of the winter sales time in Istanbul, we recommend you to visit many of the popular shopping malls and make shopping. Continue reading…
7. Enjoy Istanbul’s lively nights with its bars, pubs and clubs
Entertainment in Istanbul revolves around many of the entertainment venues that the city has to offer. The nightlife in Istanbul has really come alive in recent years and the locals will all tell you that the nightlife spreads out in all directions throughout the city. With its numerous bars, pubs, cafes, night clubs, music venues and restaurants of Istanbul, you can easily spend the night bouncing from one venue to the next. Continue reading…
8. Visit Istanbul Modern Art Museum
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art is the first private museum of Turkey to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions. A great place for modern art lovers. hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities that include permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a photography gallery, and spaces for educational and social programs. Continue reading…
9. Visit Egyptian Spice Bazaar
The historical Egyptian Spice Bazaar is a colorful and mystical covered spice market lined with spice stalls in Eminonu. It consists of a series of covered streets featuring 100 shops and two restaurants along the gates. You are able to find about every kind of herbs and spices at the market, and as well as ingredients for cooking, Turkish delight and Turkish coffee. Continue reading…
10. Historical Turkish Bath (Hammam) experience
This will is one of the one time experiences on your Istanbul visit. With a Turkish bath, also called Hammam, you can enjoy an authentic experience, relax your muscles, refresh your body. The traditional bath mostly include a 15-minute massage. It can a be unique experience for you in these cold days.
Insider Tips for First Time VisitorsFor time visitors to Istanbul should check and well plan the area to stay, best time to visit the city, best places to see and top attractions, how to save money, where to go for eating and shopping, airport transfer and public transportation, etc. to make the most of their Istanbul visit easy, budget, convenient, and safe.
We recommend you to read our articles in the First Time Visitors section of our website before you plan your visit.
We also put together the top travel eases below that you can benefit from your trip. Check them out!
Where to Stay?First time visitors should stay in the city center, better to be near city’s top attractions and within easy reach to public transport. Sultanahmet, Galata-Karakoy or Taksim would be your best choice. Continue reading...
Tourist Discount CardsIstanbul has two major tourist discount cards. You'll have access to variety of major Istanbul attractions and services with a fixed price and save a lot.
This is by far the most practical and cheapest way to explore Istanbul, as well as get airport transfer, public transportation card, unlimited internet, etc.
You can read more with our tips and comparisons on our Istanbul Welcome Card and Istanbul Tourist Pass pages.
Istanbul Welcome Card DeluxeThis is a travel discount card that is delivered to your hotel for FREE upon your purchase online, and will be ready to use at your arrival. You can also receive it from its stand in both two Istanbul Airports.
There are three types of Istanbul Welcome Card and all are valid for 7 days.
- Classic €19.
- Premium €49.
- Deluxe €79.
Notice: Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount. Just click the red button below and make sure you see the discounted price on the official page.
Istanbul Tourist PassThis is a digital travel discount pass that is delivered to your phone upon your purchase online, and will be ready to use at your arrival.
It includes 30+ attractions and services including skip the line access and guided museum tours, dinner cruise, hop-on & hop-off Bus, airport transfer, unlimited mobile internet, etc.
There are four types of Istanbul Tourist Pass:
- 2 day Pass €95 adult - €45 child.
- 3 day Pass €115 adult - €45 child.
- 5 day Pass €135 adult - €45 child.
- 7 day Pass €145 adult - €45 child.
Alternative Buying ChannelsIf you are a Get Your Guide (GYG) or Viator fan for worldwide tour buying, than you can buy these Istanbul discount cards from their links below.
- Viator's 3, 5 or 7 Day Istanbul Tourist Pass from € 115
- GYG's Istanbul Tourist Pass: 3, 5 or 7-Day City Pass from € 115
- Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe by GYG from € 75
- Istanbul Welcome Card Classic by Viator from € 25
- Istanbul Welcome Card Premium by Viator from € 50
- Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe by Viator from € 75
Airport TransfersIstanbul has two international airports. You'll find all the transportation opportunities such as Airport Shuttle, Metro, Train, Taxi, Private Shuttle, etc. from the airports to the city center and vice versa from our pages below.
This is a good option as while the Airport Shuttles or Public Buses will bring you only to the city center and you’ll need to take a taxi to reach your hotel which will seem to be harder for you, private shuttles will drive you just to the entrance of your hotel.
As for private shuttle transfers, we can recommend Kiwi Taxi as we recently tested them and had a great trip to our hotel. We didn't see any bad comments on internet. They have large selection of comfortable taxis, minivans, luxurious cars and 6-19+ passenger minibuses.
You can check and book your transfer from the below widget.