In summer, Istanbul is a great, tourist city. But if you want to know Istanbul’s second pretty face, you need to visit Istanbul in winter. There are numerous facilities in Istanbul in winter you can’t benefit in summer seasons.
Firt of all, it is not crowded. Many people visit Istanbul during the primary tourism season running from May to October. That is a big gift of winters to Istanbul. You can enjoy the streets, many famous places, night clubs etc without crowded.
Secondly, hotel tariffs are much cheaper than the summer season especially if you reserve your place early. Besides, some souvenir shops or private vendors drop their prices because of it is not a tourist time. So, Istanbul in winter is much cheaper than summer.
We need to warn you though, Istanbul is in North of Turkey. So, it is one of the coldest cities in Turkey. You have to be prepared, take thick coats, gloves and hats. Even the cafes and restaurants give you blankets while you enjoying winter in Istanbul.
1- Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia
The great news is that the top tourist destinations in Istanbul are all indoors and within walking distance to each other. Blue Mosque, the Ottoman sultans and their entourage’s former imperial place of worship. Then, when you across the square at the exit of Blue Mosque, you will see the Hagia Sophia, the biggest church in the world in 16th century. After conquest of Istanbul, it is used as a mosque. Now, it is a museum that you can see the real history.
2- Topkapi Palace and Archeology Museum
Topkapi Palace, the Ottoman sultans ‘ first residence since they conquered Constantinople, and from where they governed their kingdom. Each area and courtyard provides a fascinating insight into how Ottoman royal family lived out of the circumcision rooms, kitchens, armor and jewelry displays.
Before the enter of the Topkapi Palace, if you go uphill in the narrow way you will see the Istanbul Archeology Museum. It is less popular than others around it but it is underrated for sure. Not so much people visit Archeology Museum, although it is at least as much interesting as the other. You should definetely visit this fascinating museum.
3- Shopping in the Grand Bazaar
Everybody goes home with souvenirs, and in Istanbul the best place to search for them is the vast Grand Bazaar. It is a maze of alleyways and small shops that make up one of the biggest markets in the world. The age-old tradition of price negotiating, friendly hospitality with loads of Turkish tea cups.
4- Istiklal Avenue
Istiklal Avenue is something else in Istanbul in winter. The lighting, the spirit, the cosy feelings of cafes and the joy of shopping all together. The most popular and busiest street in Turkey is host to many shops but also cultural sites to visit. Among spending the cash in trendy brand name stands, also see the Saint Anthony Padua church’s beautiful design, and Flower Passage where you can grab a bite to snacks and drinks.
5- Galata Tower
As you walk by Istiklal Avenue, down of the road, you will see the fascinating Galata Tower. In the history Galata Tower is used for different puposes. Now it is a view terrace and there is a elegant restaurant in it. To a legend, you will marry the first person you go up the tower with.
6- Visit the Istanbul Aquarium
Istanbul Aquarium is the largest thematic aquarium in the world adored by young and old alike. Visitors follow a set route through the aquarium through 17 different geographic areas including a rainforest. There are 66 tanks ready and waiting to be seen, and 17,000 creatures of land and sea. It is a nice way to spend your day in Istanbul in winter.
You can reach the opening hours and more information in here: https://www.istanbulakvaryum.com/en
7- Turkish Bath Pleasure
A standard Turkish bath is one way of maintaining comfort and destress at the same time. The attendant wipe you clean with a loafer, and you’ll be shocked at how many dead skin you had. Afterwards an olive oil treatment and a traditional cup of tea are available options.