For meteorologists, Turkey has seven distinct climatic regions, but from the point of view of most casual visitors, the most important distinctions are between the coast with its moderate winter temperatures and hot, humid summers, and the inland areas with their extremely cold winters and excessively hot summers. The further east you travel, the more pronounced these climatic extremes become, so that much of eastern Turkey is unpassable with snow from December through to April, with temperatures sometimes falling to around -12°C. In July and August temperatures rise rapidly and can exceed 45°C, making travel in the east very uncomfortable.
The Black Sea coast gets two to three times the national average rainfall, along with more moderate temperatures, making it rather like Central Europe but pleasantly warmer.
When to go
Spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) are the best times to visit, since the climate will be perfect for sightseeing in İstanbul and on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and it will be cool in central Anatolia, but not unpleasantly so. Visiting before mid-June or after August may also help you avoid mosquitoes. If your primary drive is for beach-bumming, mid-May to September is perfect for the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, if a little steamy out of the water. The Black Sea coast is best visited between April and September – there will still be rain but not so much of it. Head to eastern Turkey from late June to September, but not before May or after mid-October unless you’re prepared for snow, road closures and bone-chilling temperatures.
With the exception of İstanbul, Turkey doesn’t really have a winter tourism season. Most accommodation along the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea and in some parts of Cappadocia is closed from mid-October until late April. These dates are not set in stone and depend on how the season is going. High season is from July to mid-September, and prices are at their peak.
Anticipate crowds along all coastal areas from mid-June until early September. You will need to plan ahead when travelling during the four- or five-day Kurban Bayramı, as banks shut and ATMs may run out of cash. Also, try not to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula around Anzac Day (25 April) unless it’s particularly important for you to be there at that time.