Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

January is the coldest month in Istanbul, together with February, and with an average temperature of 8°C and precipitation 105 mm. Although you will face low temperatures, you can be sure that there are not much snow and it rarely gets below freezing in Istanbul. The snow is low and rainfall is medium.


You can also see the sunshine half of the month. As it is cold winter in Istanbul during January, we recommend you to explore and enjoy indoor places like museums, palaces, art centers, etc. We recommend you to bring a winter coat and portable umbrella when traveling to Istanbul in January. The days are shorter than the summer months, the sun set around 17:30. (Average Max Temp.: 8°C – Average Max Temp.: 3°C)

Istanbul 5 Days Weather Forecast

ISTANBUL Weather

Public holidays, Festivals & Events

  • New Year’s Day (National holiday, 011 January 2020)

Top 10 Things to Do in Istanbul in January 2020

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 January.

1. Visit Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace Museum

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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.


Book Skip-the-line Hagia Sophia via Get Your Guide Book Hagia Sophia Skip-the-line Tickets via Viator

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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.

Book Skip-the-line Topkapi Palace via Get Your Guide Book Topkapi Palace Skip-the-line Tickets via Viator

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.

2. Mystical night out at the Whirling Dervishes Show

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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…


Book Whirling Dervishes via Get Your Guide Book Whirling Dervishes Ceremony via Viator

3. Catch the winter sales at Istanbul’s Shopping Malls

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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…

4. Enjoy Istanbul’s lively nights with its bars, pubs and clubs

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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…

5. Historical Turkish Bath (Hammam) experience

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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.

Book Turkish Bath Experience via Get Your Guide Book Turkish Bath via Viator

6. Enjoy the lively atmosphere at the Istiklal Street

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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…

7. Visit Sea Life Istanbul

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

Sea Life Istanbul is the 5th largest aquarium in the world. Visitors may experience and enjoy the lovely sea creatures, the largest collection of sharks in Europe, the Digital Aquarium, the Turtle Hospital where you may see the injured turtles are getting healed, thematic zones, school trips, birthday parties and much more. Continue reading…

Book Sea Life Istanbul Tour via Get Your Guide Sea Life Istanbul Admission Ticket via Viator

8. Visit Basilica Cistern

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan), serving a museum now, is one of the most impressive and mystical buildings in Istanbul, as well as one of the most visited sights in Istanbul. The cistern is a very quiet and peaceful place conveyed by the columns through impressive arches. The columns, including the legendary Medusa Heads, were compiled from the ancient structures and sculpted of several kinds of marbles. A unique place in Istanbul.  Continue reading…

9. Visit Grand Bazaar

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

The Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) in Beyazit is a shopping adventure that you won’t want to miss. A series of covered streets feature over 4,000 merchants all selling their products and wares. You can find anything here from boots and slippers to gold and silver jewelry. Continue reading…

10. Visit Rahmi Koc Transport Museum

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

The Rahmi Koc Museum in Haskoy, Golden Horn, Istanbul is housed in a former anchor foundry that this science and technology museum is a trove of machines and other eccentric exhibits. Continue reading…

Insider Tips for First Time Visitors

For 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 Cards

Istanbul 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 Deluxe

This 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.

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)There are three types of Istanbul Welcome Card and all are valid for 7 days.
  • Classic €19.
  • Premium €49.
  • Deluxe €79.
Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe comes with Pass for 12 Museums, 3 Tours by Historian Guide, 20 Rides with IstanbulKart (Public Transport), Bosphorus Cruise, Digital Guide Book and Map.

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.

Buy Your Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

Tip: This discount card also gets you 20% for all the other attractions and services on their shop like guided museum tours, dinner cruise, theme parks, airport transfer, unlimited mobile internet, etc., and is a jewel to tourists with a lot to see.

Istanbul Tourist Pass

This 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.

Istanbul in January 2020 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)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.

Buy Your Istanbul Tourist Pass

Alternative Buying Channels
If 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.

Airport Transfers

Istanbul 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. If you are a group or a family with kids or having lots of luggage with you, than we highly recommend you to take private shuttle transfers for your hotel as they offer a fixed rate, comfortable and safe transfer that include meet-and-greet airport pickups and luggage assistance to your hotel from the airports or vice versa.

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.