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Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

Hong Kong, China
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Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

Friends went to Istanbul last summer and loved it and now we've decided we'd like to go. We have an opportunity to go for the first week in February (1 to 9 Feb 2011) but are a bit concerned about visiting in winter. We hear that the weather is cold and wet and many destinations may be closed because this is the very low season. It would be a shame to be there and not be able to see the sights. Any comments?

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Istanbul
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1. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

Hi IYGTMH,

Welcome to Istanbul. Istanbul is beautiful at every season. All attractions are open according to their normal schedules. On rainy days, you can always go to the indoor attractions, like historical places, bazaars, museums, etc. Here's what happened in Istanbul, weatherwise, during February 2010. "wunderground.com/history/…MonthlyHistory.html". I suggest that you make your visit.

good luck,

enigma...

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Gloucestershire...
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2. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

As far as the weather is concerned, February isn't a good month - it can be both wet and cold.

However everything will be open so you will not miss any of the main sights (in fact they will be easier to see as there will be fewer crowds or queues - and of course the hotels will be cheaper), much of what you will want to see will be indoors, there are lots of restaurants and cafes to pop into to warm up, and you can be lucky and get a few brighter days. If this is the only chance you can get to visit Istanbul, then I would say, go for it. We first fell in love with Istanbul in the winter.

If you have a chance to leave it till the spring however, you may have a more enjoyable visit (with better weather, longer days, and be able to enjoy more outdoor things like eating outside, a Bosphporus cruise, the tulips in bloom etc).

It all depends on how much the weather is an issue for you.

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Copenhagen, Denmark
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3. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

Was in Istanbul Dec 15 - 22.

Half of the days we had some rain (or a bit more), the other half some clouds or sun. Three days were very good with temperatures up to 15 degrees C - and even though it came down to about 5 degrees the rest of the days, I´d say that you certainly shouldn´t give up going there just for weather concerns. It is a very interesting city and there´s a lot to see and experience regardless of a few showers. You are most likely going to have some nice weather as well; check out weather forecasts to plan what you are going to do on which days.

I found it possible to sit out at cafes perfectly at 10 - 15 degrees. There are many such possibilities along the cozy side streets of the Istaklal shopping street.

Moreover, going there outside the season will be less stressful as regards queues and people approaching you for various commercial reasons.

Joen

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Chicago
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4. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

It's really true - the weather is crummy, but there are no queues. Bundle up well and see the city and the sights. Have a great time!

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5. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

I like to travel in warmer weather to be able to spend more time outdoors, especially in a city with such beautiful water surroundings.

Visit later.

Chicago
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6. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

Warmer weather is always better than cold and rain - no doubt. Cinti, when was the last time you visited Istanbul?

I ask because over the last 2-3 years, the queues have become considerable. Think: really bad. More visitors are coming to Istanbul, which is great, but the cruise ships and tours now take over the Old City during peak season (spring, summer, fall). The next time you visit, you'll see. It's really something.

Of course you want to be happy for Turkey. The country is beautiful and a lot of fun. Yet if travelers and visitors can't see exhibits in Topkapi Palace, for example, because the crowd is five person deep (day in day out, over 8-9 months of the year), then what's the point of even going to the sight?

For these reasons, if travelers have a chance to see Istanbul during the winter ... that's an easy "Yes, definitely!" At least, from those of us who are in the country often.

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7. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

September 2008.

Chicago
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8. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

You'll see lots of changes then the next time you visit - some good, some not so good.

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9. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

I agree - the lines at the major sights are a total nightmare and it seems to be going on later and later. I have noticed huge changes in the past two years.

We went to Istanbul both September and late-ish October this year and in September we couldn't even get near the Haghia Sophia and Topkapi Palace (which used to be the time things started to quieten down), and in October we managed to get inside Haghia Sophia (as we wanted to see the dome without the scaffolding) and even getting there before it opened, within half an hour of being inside, it was crammed full of people busier than I have ever seen it (and the queues to come in as we were leaving were vast).

So while good weather is a must if you want to do the Bosphorus Cruise, sit outside and have lazy dinners, wander around exploring different areas etc, if you want to see the sights and spend time enjoying them, very off-season is the way to go.

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Cincinnati, Ohio
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10. Re: Visiting Istanbul in February - Yes or No?

I am very glad to read that more and more travelers have discovered the delights of Istanbul. It is a shame that there simply are not more ticket sellers at the Aya Sofia because there really is no problem with the place absorbing large numbers once inside. Topkapi Palace, with so many small spaces is another matter. Other than going early and visiting the harem and treasury displays as soon as possible there is no good solution.

We must have been very fortunate in our visits to both because we spent no more than five minutes in line at either, arriving at Topkapi just before opening and actually visiting Aya Sofia mid to late afternoon when it was almost deserted. I remember hearing the call to prayer, I guess from the Blue Mosque, through the open windows on the upper floor. Such good memories!

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