Turkey in December: Weather, Things to Do & Travel Tips in 2023

ARE YOU PLANNING A TRIP TO TURKEY IN DECEMBER?

December marks the start of winter in Turkey, offering a mix of fresh air, occasional snow, and fewer crowds. It’s a great time to discover the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious food while enjoying cooler temperatures and special events.

In this guide, we’ll provide weather information, things to do, practical travel tips, and insider recommendations to ensure your December visit to Turkey is magical.

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Weather in Turkey in December

The weather in Turkey in December is a charming mix of crisp winter air and a flurry of snowflakes. While the temperatures can range from a cool 10°C (50°F) in the daytime to close to freezing at night, the climate varies across the country, giving travelers a spectrum of experiences.

Whether it’s the snow-dusted streets of Istanbul, the frost-laden fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, or the mild Mediterranean breeze in Antalya, Turkey’s weather in December offers a magical backdrop to your end-of-year travels.

Next, we’ll look at the average temperatures across the regions of Turkey.

Average Temperatures in December in Turkey

In December, Turkey’s average temperatures typically tell a tale of two climates – from the chilly air of Istanbul and Ankara to the more temperate conditions experienced in the coastal regions.

Marmara Region

Istanbul, Edirne, Canakkale, Bursa

5°C – 11° C | 41° F – 51° F

Central Turkey

Cappadocia, Ankara, Konya

6° C – 11° C | 43° F – 51° F

Mediterranean Coast

Antalya, Kas, Fethiye

10° C – 16° C | 50° F – 61° F

Aegean Coast

Kusadasi, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Bodrum

9° C – 15° C | 48° F – 59° F

Southeast Turkey

Gaziantep, Mardin, Mt. Nemrut

-1° C – 10° C | 31° F – 49° F

Eastern Turkey

Van, Dogubeyazit, Mt. Ararat, Kars

-5° C – 5° C | 23°F – 40° F

Black Sea

Trabzon, Rize, Samsun

7°C – 13°C | 44°F – 55°F

Next, we’ll look at what to do in Turkey in December.

Best Things to Do in Turkey in December

Experience the wonders of winter in Turkey this December. Immerse yourself in Istanbul’s bustling grand bazaars, savor seasonal delicacies on a food tour, marvel at the enchanting fairy chimneys of Cappadocia covered in snow from a hot air balloon, and explore the ancient ruins of Ephesus.

Each of these experiences offers a unique perspective of Turkey, creating an unforgettable journey into the heart of this captivating country.

boats on the bosphorus straight with views of the blue mosque minarets and domes and the hagia sophia

1. Istanbul Highlights Tour

Experience the magic of Istanbul on the Highlights Tour in December. Despite the chilly weather, the city’s top attractions, like the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Grand Bazaar, become enchanting under snow. While exploring the maze-like Grand Bazaar, take breaks at cozy cafes for a cup of hot Turkish tea to warm up.

interior of hagia sophia light yellow glow of lights hanging from the ceiling

2. Private Turkey Tour in December

Experience Turkey from a whole new vantage point with a private tour in December. These tours cater to your specific interests and allow for a more intimate exploration of Turkey’s rich heritage, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. From the magical snowy vistas of Cappadocia to the bustling, festive streets of Istanbul, a private tour offers unparalleled flexibility and a uniquely personal touch. It’s the perfect way to immerse yourself in the Turkish experience, tailored to your own pace and preferences.

istanbul street food dish of oysters and lemon

3. Istanbul Taste of Two Continents Food Tour

Discover the Istanbul Taste of Two Continents Food Tour this December for a unique culinary journey. Experience mouth-watering classics like Iskender kebab and delicious baklava while sipping robust Turkish coffee in cozy eateries away from the tourist areas. Immerse yourself in Turkish culture, connect with locals, and create lasting memories on this food trip.

colorful hot air balloons flying over the fairy chimneys and rock formations in cappadocia

4. Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour

Discover the awe-inspiring beauty of Cappadocia in December from a unique perspective – a hot air balloon ride. In December, witness the breathtaking winter landscapes of the region, with the ‘fairy chimneys’ adorned with a light dusting of snow. With expert guidance and safety, Cappadocia’s balloon rides offer an enchanting experience.

Bundle up as it will be cold up in the air, soar above the winter wonderland, and marvel at the intricate details carved by nature and history. Don’t miss this magical addition to your December Turkey trip.

Dania and her son at the ancient city of Ephesus standing in front of ruins

5. Visit the Ancient City of Ephesus

A tour of the ancient city of Ephesus in December is a thrilling journey back in time. The cooler temperatures make it ideal for exploring the well-preserved ruins, including the Great Theatre, Celsus Library, and Temple of Hadrian. You’ll tread the paths that Apostle Paul and John once did, and the winter light lends a new perspective to these historic sites.

old town Antalya harbor with small fishing boats and ottoman houses overlooking the Mediterranean sea

6. Antalya Old Town & Boat Trip

Exploring Antalya in December is a delightful experience. The city enjoys a mild winter, making it ideal for leisurely walks in the old town of Kaleici. Don’t miss the impressive 30-meter-tall Lower Duden Waterfall or the opportunity to admire the urban coastline from Antalya’s ancient harbor. Landmarks like Hadrian’s Gate, the Clock Tower, and Kesik Minare are captivating under the warm winter sun.

grand theater seats and view of the theater stage

7. Day Trip to Pamukkale from Antalya

Take a day trip to Pamukkale from Antalya in December. The mild winter air adds a refreshing touch to your voyage. Explore the stunning white terraces of Pamukkale against the winter sky. It’s less crowded this time of year, giving you a chance to fully appreciate its beauty. Enjoy the soothing thermal waters, renowned for their therapeutic properties since ancient times. Also, visit the historical gem, Hierapolis. Its ruins, dusted with a light frost, offer a unique perspective of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

red and blue fireworks display over the Bosphorus Bridge and strait while boats watch

December Events in Turkey

The magic of December in Turkey comes vibrantly alive in the country’s event calendar. As the year draws to a close, the streets of Turkey twinkle with various events and celebrations leading into the new year.

From the heartwarming Santa Claus Festival highlighting Turkey’s rich history to the excitement of New Year’s Eve fireworks cascading over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, December in Turkey is a time of festivities and unforgettable experiences.

International Santa Claus Festival

Experience the International Santa Claus Festival celebrations in Kale (Demre) & Kas in early December. This annual event honors St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, born in this region of Turkey.

Dates: Early December in Kas & Demre, Turkey

Location: St. Nicholas Church, Demre

New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Bosphorus

As the year comes to a close, Istanbul’s skyline transforms into a stunning canvas for a breathtaking fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. The fireworks illuminate the iconic Bosphorus Strait, creating a vibrant spectacle that reflects off the shimmering waters.

This mesmerizing show captivates locals and travelers, marking the start of the new year with an unforgettable visual experience in Turkey.

clock tower in Izmir Turkey

Best Places to Go in Turkey in December

Visiting Turkey in December is where history blends with the present, and snow-covered landscapes ignite the imagination. This winter, explore Turkey’s pristine natural beauty, lively cities, and numerous historic sites that unveil tales from the past.

From captivating Istanbul to the enchanting terrains of Cappadocia, the ancient city of Ephesus, to peaceful Antalya, December offers a unique range of experiences in Turkey. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or foodie, Turkey in December promises an exciting adventure for every traveler.

📍 Istanbul in December

Visiting Istanbul in December is a truly magical experience. The city becomes festive as snow lightly covers iconic landmarks like the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Explore the bustling Grand Bazaar with its festive lights, where you can find unique holiday gifts like traditional Turkish ceramics and exquisite handmade carpets.

The cool weather is perfect for enjoying a hot cup of salep while cruising along the Bosphorus, watching the sunset over the city skyline. Istanbul in December offers a memorable combination of rich history and culture.

👉 Read the 5-Day Istanbul Itinerary

📍 Cappadocia in December

Cappadocia in December is a winter fairy tale. The region’s stunning landscapes are often covered in light snow, creating a mesmerizing white wonderland. The unique rock formations and fairy chimneys contrast beautifully against the winter sky, offering breathtaking views.

You can explore underground cities like Kaymakli or Derinkuyu or hike through the Ihlara Valley, all providing a unique winter experience. And don’t forget to warm up with a hot cup of Turkish tea or coffee in a cozy cave café after a day of exploration.

The winter chill also adds a special touch to the unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the snow-covered terrain of Cappadocia. Be sure to wear layers to keep you warm while you’re flying!

📍 Antalya & the Mediterranean Coast in December

Traveling to Antalya & the Mediterranean Coast in December is a delightful experience. The weather is usually mild, and the city is less crowded, making it perfect for exploring historical and natural attractions at a leisurely pace.

Don’t miss a stroll in the old city, Kaleici, where you can admire historical sites like Hadrian’s Gate, the Clock Tower, and Kesik Minare. Take a boat trip from Antalya’s ancient harbor for a breathtaking view of the urban coastline.

And, of course, be sure to visit the ancient cities of Perge and Aspendos to get a glimpse into the history of the region.

With fewer tourists, you’ll be able to appreciate Antalya’s unique mix of history, natural beauty, and modern comfort.

📍 Izmir & Ephesus in December

In December, Izmir and Ephesus have a unique charm that combines history, culture, and natural beauty. Izmir, the third-largest city in Turkey, is captivating with its vibrant bazaars, delicious cuisine, and warm Aegean vibe.

Don’t miss the Kemeralti Market, a large bazaar with local treasures like spices, teas, carpets, and ceramics. For a peaceful sunset and a cup of Turkish tea, head to the seafront promenade, Kordon.

You’ll find Ephesus, an important archaeological site just a short drive away. In December, the cooler weather makes exploring the ancient ruins, such as the Library of Celsus and the Grand Theatre, even more enjoyable.

Next, will look at what it costs to travel in Turkey in December.

konyaalit beach and city of antalya turkey and the cliffs along the mediterranean sea

Travel Costs in Turkey in December

Traveling in Turkey in December is generally more economical than in peak summer months. Accommodation costs are often lower, and good deals can be found on flights, especially if you book in advance. The cost of food, transportation, and entrance fees to various attractions remain consistent year-round.

Remember, the costs can vary significantly depending on your itinerary, travel style, and the region of Turkey you’re planning to visit. Turkey offers various budget options, ensuring an enriching travel experience that doesn’t break the bank.

the red nostalgic trolley traveling down Isiklar Street in the snow in Istanbul.

What to Wear in Turkey in December

When planning your outfits for a trip to Turkey in December, we recommend you make comfort and warmth a priority. The temperatures can vary from chilly to cold throughout the country, so dressing in layers is recommended.

Start with a light, breathable base layer, add a warm middle layer like a wool sweater or fleece jacket, and finish with a waterproof or wind-resistant outer layer. Remember to pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes with non-slip soles.

Also, bringing accessories like a warm scarf, gloves, and a hat is a good idea. Remember to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, to show respect for local customs and traditions.

👉 Read the Ultimate Turkey Packing Guide

Snow covered fair chimneys in the sunlight

December in Turkey Travel Tips

If you’re traveling to Turkey in December, these tips will help you make the most of your winter trip.

✔️ Turkey Museum Pass

For history and culture enthusiasts planning to visit Turkey in December, the Turkey Museum Pass is a fantastic resource. It grants access to over 300 museums and archaeological sites across Turkey over 15 days, starting from the first use. This includes many must-visit locations like the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

Check the Museums of Turkey app for the most current lists and plan your itinerary wisely to get the most value out of your pass.

✔️ Safety in Turkey in December

In December, Turkey remains a safe destination for travelers. Like any country, staying aware of your surroundings is essential, especially in crowded places. Weather conditions may be challenging due to occasional snow or rain, so driving cautiously is advised if you’re renting a car. Be sure to dress in warm clothes. Rest assured, locals are known for their hospitality and will often go out of their way to assist tourists in need.

✔️ Snow & Rainy Season

In December, Turkey experiences a mix of snow and rain, creating a magical winter landscape. The central and northern regions and higher altitudes, like Cappadocia, often have moderate to heavy snowfall, turning the unique rock formations into a frosty wonderland.

Along the coast, areas like Antalya and Izmir receive more rain, resulting in clear air and lush, revitalized scenery. However, the weather can be unpredictable, so check local forecasts before traveling.

hot air ballon basket of filled with riders as they fly over the Cappadocia rock formations at sunset

FAQs: Turkey in December

To help travelers plan their winter visit, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions about visiting Turkey in December. These questions address common concerns and provide practical advice.

Is December a Good Time to Go to Istanbul?

Yes, December can be an excellent time to visit Istanbul. While the weather is cooler compared to the summer months, the city takes on a magical aura with fewer crowds, allowing for an immersive exploration of its rich history, culture, and culinary delights. The monuments, such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, stand majestically against the winter sky. The bustling bazaars, like the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, offer a warm refuge with their colorful and aromatic displays. Remember to bundle up and perhaps enjoy a cup of hot salep — a traditional Turkish winter drink — to keep the cold at bay.

Is it Worth Visiting Turkey in Winter?

Absolutely! Visiting Turkey in winter is a great idea. You can enjoy the stunning snow-covered landscapes and explore historical sites without the usual crowds. The cooler temperatures make sightseeing comfortable, and it’s also more affordable with lower travel costs.

How Warm is Turkey in December?

In December, temperatures in Turkey vary across the country. Coastal regions like Antalya and Izmir have mild temperatures, ranging from 12°C to 15°C (54°F to 59°F). However, the central and eastern parts, including Ankara and Cappadocia, can be pretty chilly, often below freezing. Istanbul experiences a cold yet manageable winter, with temperatures typically between 7°C to 10°C (45°F to 50°F). Remember that weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.

Snow covered landscape of cappadocia

Conclusion: Turkey in December

In conclusion, visiting Turkey in December provides a captivating travel experience. Explore the historic ruins of Ephesus, wander through bustling bazaars in Istanbul, and marvel at the snow-kissed landscapes of Cappadocia. Turkey has become a wonderland with cooling temperatures, fewer crowds, affordable costs, and magical winter scenery. For an unforgettable December trip, you only need a warm coat, a sense of adventure, and a hot cup of traditional Turkish tea.

👉 Other Months to Travel in Turkey

best things to do in turkey in december