Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)

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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.


City Life & Weather

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)

Public holidays, Festivals & Events

  • New Year’s Day (National holiday, 01 January 2020)

Top Venues

You can follow the calendar of exhibitions and events of our pick of top Istanbul venues from below.

Istanbul’s January 2021 Top 10 Attractions

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.

We also recommend you check out our Istanbul attractions opening hours & admissions, one day Istanbul itinerary or 3 day Istanbul itinerary to have a better idea before you plan your days in Istanbul.


1. Visit Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern Trio

Hagia Sophia Museum

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)This place is what every Istanbul itinerary has for sure. If you had just one day in Istanbul the world-famous Hagia Sophia Museum would be the first stop.

Dating back to 325, it 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.

It’s like stepping into the holy world of Christianity and Islam, merged on the shell-like apse and under an impressive dome, in a mysterious and mystical ambiance, and a wide range of architectural and art works coming from thousands of years. Such as the golden Christian mosaics and colorful frescoes from the Byzantine era.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.

Wanna learn more about Hagia Sophia?

Topkapi Palace Museum

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)You’ll admire Topkapi Palace Museum and its famous Harem section and have a detailed look at the rooms, gardens, galleries, collections and the decoration from the past and today.

It is a magnificent oriental palace and one of the world’s greatest architectural works. Once a residence of the Ottoman Sultans, it is also one of world’s richest museums.


It houses the finest samples of seal, book binding, jewelry and box craftsmanship as well as inscriptions, as well as the finest collection of Chinese porcelain in the world.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.

Wanna learn more about Topkapi Palace?

Basilica Cistern

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)Basilica Cistern Museum is one of the most impressive and mystical buildings in the city.

The two Medusa Heads, which are used as supports under the two columns at the northwest edge of the cistern, take the most interest and attracts the visitors.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.

Wanna learn more about Basilica Cistern?

We highly recommend you to visit and see all these three museums at once. It would take about 3 hours total. And you should get Skip-the-line-tickets to save yourself from the long queues.

Combo Tickets: Hagia Sophia + Topkapi Palace + Basilica Cistern

This is a great combo ticket. Our favorite. You can visit the above top 3 most visited sights in Sultanahmet with this combo ticket, with skip the lines access. Great value for money. Book your tickets online in advance as they are selling out quickly.

Buy Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern Combo Ticket

Click the red button to buy Combo online tickets and skip the lines.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.


2. Mystical night out with Whirling Dervishes Show

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)Whirling Dervishes Show is one of the most visited Istanbul attractions 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.

There are two popular venues that you can watch this show. Book your tickets online in advance as they are selling out quickly.

Buy Whirling Dervishes Show Tickets at Hodjapasha Culture Center

Buy Whirling Dervishes Show Tickets at Orient Express Hall

Wanna learn more about Whirling Dervishes Show?


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

Istanbul in January 2021 (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 among 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 2021 (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 rooftop restaurants and cafes, music clubs, bars or 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 2021 (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, rest in a steam bath, refresh your body. It will a be unique experience, as well as you will be freshened up.

Buy Turkish Bath Tickets


6. Enjoy the lively atmosphere at Istiklal Street

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)Istiklal Street is probably the most famous street and entertainment area of the city. It is a long colorful pedestrian street full of all kind of shops, restaurants, cafes and street shows.

You can visit the fantastic Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the amazing St. Anthony of Padua Church and Pera Museum there.

In between strolling the Istiklal Street and enjoying the lively atmosphere, you can have a lunch/dinner/snack in one of the pretty restaurants along the way.

Wanna learn more about Istiklal Street?


7. Visit Istanbul Aquarium and Aqua Florya Shopping Mall

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)Istanbul Aquarium, located in Florya district of Bakirkoy, is one of the best theme parks in Istanbul. With its 6,000 square meters area, a special-themed and 1,2 km long travel route originating in the Black Sea towards the Pacific, the fish species, rain-forest, a gift shop with an area of 470 square meters, 1 restaurant having the Panama Canal view on one side and the sea view on the other, it is also one of the best aquariums and theme parks in Europe. You can also enjoy a great leisure time in the Aqua Florya Mall.

Book Istanbul Aquarium & Aqua Florya Shopping Mall Tour

Wanna learn more about Istanbul Aquarium?


8. Visit Dolmabahce Palace

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)One of the most glorious palaces situated on the banks of Bosphorus in Besiktas. The whole palace building is breath taking. The palace houses more than 50,000 objects along its hundreds of rooms. The interior of the palace reflects the grandeur of the epoch, and designed like the luxurious European palaces.

We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money. Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.

Wanna learn more about Dolmabahce Palace Museum?


9. Visit Grand Bazaar

Istanbul in January 2021 (Top 10 Things to Do & See, Weather, Festivals)Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is a shopping adventure that you won’t want to miss. Covering an area of 47,000 m2, it is a 550+ years old covered market, also one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. A series of covered streets feature over 4,000 merchants all selling their products and wares.

You are able to find about anything here from the finest silky shawls and scarves in traditional patterns to traditional items, from antiques, leather goods, ceramics to the famous carpets, from spices, beautiful handicrafts to gold and jewelry.

Wanna learn more about Grand Bazaar?


10. Visit Rahmi Koc Transport Museum

Istanbul in January 2021 (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…


Top Selling Istanbul Sightseeing Tours

For both first time visitors and the ones want to experience and enjoy the Istanbul's highlights, we highly recommend this unique and tailor made sightseeing tours, offered by several quality agents.

We only suggest the proven ways and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. You can feel free to book one of the below top selling Istanbul culinary and food tours.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity starts

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 have some essential information first, before arriving Istanbul. Make sure you read our pages below. * You can explore the majority of the sights and sounds of the city on foot. You will mostly need to take a tram as for transportation in between old and modern city.

* So get an IstanbulKart as you can have access all the public transportation network of Istanbul. One ride is only 3,5 TL (about €0,5), and you can obtain this card (with 6 TL initial fee) at the ticket machines at any tram station.

* There are also guided tours with professional local guides that you can save yourself from the beggars, and people coming beside and ask for helping with guidance around or for money.

* We recommend you buy your attraction tickets online. This is by far the easiest and great value for money.

* Below, you’ll find our pick of the best and great value for money discount cards, and attraction tickets. You can be sure that we only suggest the proven and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. Our website visitors will also get extra 5% discount in some of the tours and tickets.

Tourist Discount Cards & Tickets Advice

Istanbul has several 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. Below you can see our recommendations. There is also Museum Pass for museum lovers.

Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

The is an innovative city pass. It includes fast track entry to 12 museums (Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Harem, Basilica Cistern, etc), 3 tours with historian guide20 rides with public transportation (IstanbulKart), Bosphorus Cruise and digital guide book and city map. It also offers 20% discounts at the most important Istanbul attractions on their shop. With this card you’ll skip the long ticket lines and not have to pick anything up.

Buy Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.


Istanbul Welcome Card Premium

Valid for 7 days, free delivery to your hotel/airport pick-up and includes; Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace fast track entry tickets with 30 minutes guidance and Audio Guide App in 10 languages, Istanbulkart with 10 Rides, Bosphours Cruise (1,5 hours), Digital Guide Book and City Map.

Buy Istanbul Welcome Card Premium

Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.


Combo Tickets for Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern

Valid for 3 days, digital pass, no need a printed ticket, guidance service with certified guides.

Buy Combo Tickets

Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.


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. 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.

Buy Your Istanbul Tourist Pass


Guided Istanbul Highlights Tours Advice

We recommend this kind of tours, especially for first time visitors. You are able to make the most of the city's sights and sounds with a private guide and save yourself from the hassle of making an ideal one day to 3 days plan. All will be made by professionals and you'll get skip the lines tickets, as well as pick-up and drop-off hotel transfer.

Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

This is Get Your Guide's top selling and certified tour, which means it has gained one of the best traveler experiences.

You'll discover the magic of Istanbul on a private 1 or 2-day walking tour with skip the line tickets. Enjoy a river cruise and guided tour of the city highlights, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Dolmabahce Palace, and Istiklal Street.

Duration: 7 hours - 2 days
Live tour guide: English, Spanish, German, Japanese
Pick-up from the front desk of your hotel in Istanbul

Book Highlights of Istanbul Guided Tour


Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Guided Tour

This is also Get Your Guide's top selling tour. Has great traveler ratings and comments.

You'll see the sights of Istanbul that most interest you on a customized tour with private guide. Marvel at some of the city's most significant sights including Topkapi Palace, Chora Church, Basilica Cistern, Fener-Balat neighboorhood, and many more.

Duration: 7 hours - 3 days
Live tour guide: Spanish, English, French, German, Italian
Pickup is available from centrally-located hotels in Istanbul, by your guide on foot.

Book Istanbul 1, 2 or 3-Day Guided Tour


Istanbul in One Day Highlights Tour

This is Get Your Guide's top selling tour. Has great traveler ratings and comments.You'll visit the iconic sites such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, The Hippodrome, and the Grand Bazaar, learn the highlights of Istanbul from a local guide and discover the historical peninsula and learn the whole story of Istanbul.

Book Your Istanbul in One Day Highlights Tour


Airport Transfers Advice

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. Istanbul's both airports are located about 45 km. from the city center. You can take a 1 hour taxi for about €30, 1,5 hours HAVAIST Airport Shuttle for 18 TL (about €2,7), 1 hour shared shuttle for about €15 or 1 hour private shuttle for about €40. There are No direct metro lines to the airports.

Private & Shared Shuttles

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 highly recommend Tranigo (a Turkish company operating since 1996, and partnered with renowned names like Hertz, Thrifty, Budget, and many reliable and efficient local suppliers) as we recently booked with them had a great trip to our hotel.

It offers low-priced, fixed rate private shuttles that include meet-and-greet airport pickups and luggage assistance. Their large selection of comfortable taxis, minivans, luxurious cars and 6-19+ passenger minibuses can match any need while ensuring quick and safe travels to and from New Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW).

Below you can use the search box to find your prefect private or shared shuttle transfer service in between Istanbul airports and your hotel.



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