As the last traces of autumn paint Istanbul with warm hues and a gentle chill fills the air, November unveils a quieter, more contemplative side of this mesmerizing city. Istanbul in November 2023 invites you to explore its rich history, vibrant culture, and serene landscapes. From ancient mosques to bustling bazaars, here are the top 10 things to do and see, along with the delightful festivals that await your visit.
November becomes a more harder month for both locals and travelers due to its being the early start of winter in Istanbul, and with an average temperature of 14°C and precipitation 102 mm. The weather is gradually become colder and the city quiets down. We recommend you to bring a balancing wear in between cold and little cold, like a medium coat and portable umbrella. The days are short, the sun set around 17:50. (Average Max Temp.: 15°C – Average Max Temp.: 9°C)
Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.
Public holidays, Festivals & Events
- Commemoration of Ataturk’s Death (National Holiday) (10th of November, ceremonies in all over Turkey)
- Efes Pilsen Blues Festival (early November, in several venues)
You can follow the calendar of exhibitions and events of our pick of top Istanbul venues from below.
- Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in Beyoglu (art, exhibition, film)
- Pera Museum in Taksim (art, exhibition, film)
- Sakip Sabanci Museum in Emirgan (art, exhibition, film)
- Salon IKSV in Beyoglu (concert)
- Bomontiada in Sisli (concert, theater)
- Akbank Sanat in Taksim (art, exhibition, film, concert)
- Zorlu PSM in Besiktas (concert, musical)
Istanbul’s November 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 November. 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.
Istanbul in November 2023 offers a tranquil escape filled with culture, history, and sensory delights. As you immerse yourself in the city’s rich tapestry of experiences, you’ll discover that Istanbul’s charm knows no season. Whether you’re sipping tea on Pierre Loti Hill or watching short films at a festival, November in Istanbul promises a memorable journey filled with warmth and wonder. Embrace the city’s serene spirit and let its enchantment capture your heart.
1. Visit Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern Trio
Explore the Grandeur of Hagia Sophia
As the former basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum, Hagia Sophia stands as an architectural marvel and symbol of Istanbul’s rich history. In November, explore this iconic structure, which has once again been converted into a mosque, and admire its intricate mosaics, grand domes, and awe-inspiring interior.
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.
- Visit early in the morning to avoid long queues.
- Dress modestly and be respectful of the mosque’s customs.
Uncover the Secrets of Topkapi Palace
Delve into the opulent history of the Ottoman Empire at Topkapi Palace. This sprawling palace complex offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of sultans and the treasures they amassed. In November, explore the palace’s exquisite courtyards, ornate rooms, and the legendary Harem.
This 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.
- Allocate several hours for your visit to fully appreciate the palace.
- Don’t miss the breathtaking views from the palace terraces.
Explore the Enigmatic Basilica Cistern
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.
Descend into the depths of Istanbul at the Basilica Cistern Museum – A Subterranean Marvel, an ancient underground reservoir dating back to the 6th century. The cistern’s hauntingly beautiful columns and the legendary Medusa heads create an otherworldly ambiance. This is one of the most impressive and mystical buildings in the city.
- Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- Capture the atmospheric reflections on the water’s surface.
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.
Click the red button to buy Combo online tickets and skip the lines.
Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount.
2. Visit Istanbul Archaeology Museums
Take a deep dive into Istanbul’s rich history at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. These museums house an extensive collection of artifacts, including items from ancient civilizations, sculptures, and archaeological finds.
One of the richest archaeology museums in the world, Istanbul Archaeology Museums consist of three separate museums on the site that include the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion. Museums house over one million immense collection from various civilizations such as Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations that had deep effect throughout the history.
- Allocate sufficient time to explore all three museum buildings.
- Don’t miss the renowned Alexander Sarcophagus.
3. Enjoy the Top Festivals & Events
Istanbul International Book Fair, November
Bookworms and literary enthusiasts, mark your calendars for the Istanbul International Book Fair, held annually in November. Istanbul’s International Book Fair is a 8 days great fair for book lovers, that is held every year in association with the Turkish Publishers Association, at the TUYAP Fair Convention and Congress Center in the Buyukcekmece district of Istanbul, with an average of half a million visitors per day. This literary extravaganza gathers authors, publishers, and book lovers from around the world.
Explore a treasure trove of books, attend book signings, and engage in stimulating discussions and literary events. Whether you’re a passionate reader or simply curious about the world of literature, this fair promises an enriching experience. More info on www.istanbulkitapfuari.com/en/
Istanbul Marathon – A Run Across Continents, November
The Istanbul Marathon, known as the world’s only intercontinental marathon, takes place in November. Runners from around the globe gather to traverse the Bosphorus Bridge, connecting Europe and Asia, in this exhilarating event. It’s an opportunity to be part of a monumental sporting event and witness the city’s energy and unity in motion. More info on www.maraton.istanbul
Istanbul International Biennial, September – November
For art enthusiasts, the Istanbul International Biennial is a must-visit event during the autumn season. Held every two years from September to November, this prestigious art exhibition showcases contemporary works by both Turkish and international artists. Explore thought-provoking installations, paintings, and sculptures at various venues throughout the city, making it an ideal time to immerse yourself in Istanbul’s thriving art scene. More info on bienal.iksv.org/en
4. 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, rest in a steam bath, refresh your body. It will a be unique experience, as well as you will be freshened up. There are many historical hammams in Istanbul where you can enjoy a relaxing steam bath and invigorating scrub by expert attendants.
5. Mystical night out with Whirling Dervishes Show
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.
6. Get Lost in the Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar – A Shopper’s Paradise, with its labyrinthine alleys and over 4,000 shops, beckons for exploration. In October, embrace the thrill of haggling while discovering unique treasures, from textiles to ceramics and jewelry.
- Approach shopping with a sense of adventure and curiosity.
- Be prepared to spend time navigating the bustling market.
7. Visit Rahmi Koc Transport Museum
Located on the shores of the Golden Horn, the Rahmi Koç Museum is a delightful place to explore. This museum houses a fascinating collection of miniature vehicles, bicycles, machines, and more. You’ll not only be entertained but also gain knowledge as you wander through this unique museum. Plus, it boasts a spacious and beautiful garden. Right nearby, along the Golden Horn, you’ll find Miniaturk, where miniature replicas of Turkey’s most iconic landmarks are on display.
8. Enjoy the lively atmosphere at Istiklal Street
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.
9. Visit Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall and visit Sea Life Aquarium inside
Forum Istanbul is the largest Shopping and Residential Center in Europe. 495.000 m2, 286 domestic & international brands. Cinemaximum Movie Theaters, Funlab Entertainment World, Atlantis Bowling, Tiox Entertainment Center, Flyride Helicopter Simulation and Sand Castle apart from large-scale and tailor-made playgrounds. In addition, the famous Sea Life Istanbul Aquarium, which house the largest shark family in Europe, and the Legoland Discovery Center in Turkey also situated in Forum Istanbul.
Sea Life Istanbul Aquarium 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.
10. 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 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.
Warm Up with Turkish Delights at Istanbul’s Cafes
Café Culture – Cozy Retreats: November is the perfect time to explore Istanbul’s thriving café scene. Seek refuge from the chilly weather in the city’s charming cafes, where you can enjoy traditional Turkish delights, pastries, and hot beverages like Salep and Sahlep.
- Visit historic districts like Beyoğlu and Kadıköy for the best café experiences.
- Try the iconic Turkish dessert, Baklava, paired with a steaming cup of Turkish tea.