Istanbul Travel Guide


Turkey's Holy Month, Ramazan, sees much of the city's population fasting during daylight hours, although most restaurants and cafes remain open for those choosing not to participate and for non-Muslims. The festival of Seker Bayrami marks the end of Ramazan and is when the inhabitants of Istanbul embark on a frenzy of socialising, with an emphasis on the sweet tooth. It's one of the city's busiest times; a three-day national holiday when businesses close and public transport is heavily patronised.

An equally busy time for Istanbul is during Kurban Bayrami, Turkey's most important religious holiday. The four-day festival celebrates the almost-sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham on Mount Moriah and results in hotels being heavily booked and a dearth of space on public transport.

As the lunar Hejira year is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year, Muslim events happen 11 days earlier each year.

Other special events include the Istanbul Film Festival in April, May's Conquest of Constantinople celebrations, June/July's International Istanbul Music Festival and International Istanbul Jazz Festival and September/October's International Istanbul Biennial.

30 Aug - Victory Day
19 May - Youth & Sports Day
dates vary according to the Islamic calendar - Kurban Bayrami
dates vary according to the Islamic calendar - Seker Bayrami

When to Go

The best times of year to visit Istanbul are from April to June and September to October, roughly the months of spring and autumn respectively. During these months, temperatures are in the consistently mild range of 16-25°C (61-77°F) and the humidity is not too bad, plus the crowds aren't as big a nuisance as in the summer months. The wintery months from November to February have the highest rainfall (80-100mm/30-40in per month), and it's when spirits are most likely to be dampened.

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