September in Istanbul is a time when the city gracefully transitions from the heat of summer to the pleasant embrace of autumn. As the temperatures begin to cool and the summer crowds dwindle, Istanbul reveals its true charm. This vibrant metropolis, steeped in history and culture, offers a captivating array of experiences for travelers in September 2023. Let’s embark on a journey through the top 10 things to do and see in Istanbul in September, along with the exciting festivals that will make your visit unforgettable.
September is the start of Autumn in Istanbul, a superb month after a very hot summer season, and with an average temperature of 25°C and precipitation 64 mm. The early September can still be hot and muggy, but it starts to cool down after the first week and it becomes very ideal for strolling and exploring the city on foot.
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.
City Life & Weather
The weather also becomes unpredictable that while one week is sunny, it can be rainy with thunderstorms.
The city is less crowded with locals due the school fervor of the parents. We recommend you to bring shorts, dresses, t-shirts for warm afternoons, long pants for cooler nights and light coat and portable umbrella in case of rainfalls.
The days are more shorter than in August, the sun set around 19:25. (Average Max Temp.: 24°C – Average Max Temp.: 17°C)
Public holidays, Festivals & Events
- Istanbul Coffee Festival (gastronomy, istanbulcoffeefestival.com.tr)
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 September 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 September. 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.
No Regrets Booking Advice
Istanbul in September 2023 promises a journey filled with history, culture, art, and culinary delights. As you explore the city’s iconic landmarks, attend vibrant festivals, and savor the warmth of Turkish hospitality, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Historic Day Out in Sultanahmet
For the ones who are a true enthusiast of history and want to see the city’s historic sites, we highly recommend you to visit and see Sultanahmet neighborhood. It is the best way to get the most out of the city’s sights, sounds, and scents.
Sultanahmet hosts about all of the most visited historical and tourist sites in Istanbul, such as the Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome), Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Archaeology Museums and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are situated here and all can be explored by walking.
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 September, explore this iconic structure, which has once again been converted into a mosque, and admire its intricate mosaics, grand domes, and awe-inspiring interior.
- Visit early in the morning to avoid long queues.
- Dress modestly and be respectful of the mosque’s customs.
Wander the Historic Sultanahmet Square
Sultanahmet Square is the heart of Istanbul’s historic district, home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Stroll through the square to witness the majesty of the Blue Mosque, the grandeur of the Hagia Sophia, and the captivating allure of the Hippodrome.
- Engage with friendly locals and enjoy authentic street food.
- Explore the historic district on foot to savor its unique atmosphere.
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 September, explore the palace’s exquisite courtyards, ornate rooms, and the legendary Harem.
- Allocate several hours for your visit to fully appreciate the palace.
- Don’t miss the breathtaking views from the palace terraces.
2. Tour city on Double Decker Tourist Bus
Istanbul Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is a cheap way to discover and explore the popular zones of Istanbul which you just couldn’t walk to and see in one day. The sightseeing bus runs every 30/60 minutes and lets you see the most popular popular sights along the interesting and different districts and neighborhoods of the city. And what is great that you can all do it in a couple of hours.
The city sightseeing bus runs every 30/60 minutes and lets you see the most popular popular sights along the interesting and different districts and neighborhoods of the city. And what is great that you can all do it in a couple of hours.
Most Attended & Recommended:
We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.
3. Enjoy the Top Festivals & Events
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
Enjoy the Coffee Festival, September
Coffee Connoisseur’s Paradise – A Caffeine Celebration: For coffee enthusiasts, October brings the Istanbul Coffee Festival, a sensory journey into the world of coffee. Sip on rich Turkish coffee, explore artisanal roasteries, and learn the art of coffee-making from experts.
Istanbul’s Coffee Festival is about 4 days long kind of a carnival, bringing coffee from all over the world to the coffee-lovers’ taste. You can have a fantastic day out and taste coffee from numerous stands, as well as participate to coffee workshops, seminars, playground events and competitions. More information on coffeefestival.com
- Attend coffee workshops to enhance your brewing skills.
- Don’t miss the chance to taste unique coffee creations.
4. Explore the city’s popular sights on bike
Being outdoors and touring the popular tourist spots on bike is definitely a great attraction. Wind through the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sultanahmet. Explore the Golden Horn, the hub of culture and entertainment in the Beyoglu district. Navigate the maze of vendors selling Turkish rugs, spices and lamps in the Grand Bazaar. Marvel at the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia.
5. Embrace the Bosphorus Beauty: Take a Bosphorus Cruise
Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait is a mesmerizing natural wonder that weaves through the city, separating Europe and Asia. In September, take a leisurely Bosphorus cruise to soak in the stunning views of historic palaces, grand mansions, and the enchanting Maiden’s Tower. You’ll witness the city’s unique blend of modernity and tradition from a different perspective.
This is a popular, unique and fantastic forms of entertainment and sightseeing during your Istanbul stay. It is also one of the best ways to discover and enjoy the most beautiful sights and sounds of the city over the sea.
You’ll be able to explore the city at your own pace on board of the boat, and enjoy all the famous landmarks on the Boshphorus such as Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, Rumeli Fortress, Maiden’s Tower and the Bosphorus Bridge.
- Choose a sunset cruise for an extra touch of magic.
- Opt for a private yacht tour for a more intimate experience.
Most Attended & Recommended:
We recommend the below ticket options for the great value for money.
6. A fantastic day out at the Princes’ Islands
Escape the city’s hustle and bustle with a day trip to the Princes’ Islands. These serene islands, including Büyükada and Heybeliada, offer a tranquil retreat where horse-drawn carriages replace electric vehicles, and lush landscapes invite exploration.
Once was the pleasure island of Byzantine Princes, and with its stunning pinewood scenery, the Princes’ Islands are one of the best preserved natural areas and sights in Istanbul. It is one of the best attractions and weekend breaks in Istanbul both for locals and tourists.
You can take a 1 hour cruise to the islands, have a great day out by full tour of the island on the horse-drawn carriage, rest in a cafe by the sea, a lunch at a local fish restaurant. Or you can have a romantic overnight stay in one of the pretty hotels on the island.
- Rent a bike or take a leisurely stroll to explore the islands.
- Enjoy a seafood feast at a waterfront restaurant.
7. Enjoy Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Entertainment
This is one of the most popular night time entertainments in the city. Mostly preferred with the tourists who want to experience a unique attraction specific to Istanbul. Typical dinner cruises start from the Kabatas pier daily at about 20:00 pm and goes for about 3 hours.
While you cruise along Bosphorus and enjoy your meal, you’ll be entertained by traditional belly dancing, oriental show, a henna ceremony, a Romany dance, folk dancing, a live DJ, etc. You’ll be able to see city’s historical sites, including Ottoman palaces, and stunning bridges illuminated by night.
8. Visit Galata Tower and admire the stunning views
Galata Tower is an old Genoese tower overlooking the beautiful Istanbul and has a luxurious restaurant at the top. You can enjoy the excellent panoramic views of Istanbul, Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Continue reading…
9. Visit Pierre Loti Hill and enjoy the impressive views of Golden Horn with Turkish Coffee
Pierre Loti Hill is a great leisure and tourist area in Eyup and one of the most popular sights and places to visit and see for both locals and tourists in the Golden Horn region of Istanbul. Pierre Loti Hill offers great views for the visitors. The hill is about 55 meters from sea level. Drinking your tea or Turkish coffee at the Pierre Loti Cafe and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Golden Horn is a great activity at the Pierre Loti Hill. Continue reading…
10. Catch summer sales at 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.