Are you planning your winter getaway to Turkey? Exploring Turkey in the cold months reveals a captivating and magical side, offering unique experiences away from the crowds.

Discover a side of the country that is serene, culturally rich, and filled with unique seasonal experiences. Whether you’re drawn to the snowy landscapes of Cappadocia or the winter festivities in Istanbul, Turkey has much to offer during the colder months.

Here are some of the best things to do in Turkey during winter.

Things To Know Before Visiting Turkey In Winter

Preparing for a winter trip to Turkey involves considering the weather, maintaining flexibility in your plans, and taking advantage of the benefits that the season offers, from fewer crowds to budget-friendly opportunities. Take these aspects into consideration when visiting Turkey in winter:

  • Weather: Winter in Turkey varies depending on your destination, and the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s advisable to remain flexible. Coastal areas experience milder temperatures, while inland and mountainous regions can be considerably colder. Check the forecast for your chosen destination and prepare accordingly by bringing suitable clothing.
  • Fewer Crowds: Despite the uncertainty, traveling in winter comes with advantages such as fewer crowds and shorter waiting queues. This provides enough time to explore attractions and connect with locals in a more serene environment.
  • Limited Access: Be mindful that due to weather conditions, some attractions or sites may be closed or have limited accessibility. Proper research and planning are crucial to avoid any disappointments.
  • Low Prices: On the positive side, one of the benefits of visiting Turkey in winter is the lower prices compared to peak travel periods. Flight, accommodation, and tour rates tend to drop, offering great deals, including reduced fees for attractions and activities. Take advantage of these cost savings and enjoy a more budget-friendly and peaceful experience during your winter travels in Turkey.

Places To Visit In Turkey During Winter

Cappadocia’s Winter Wonderland

Cappadocia winter

Cappadocia’s snow-kissed landscapes offer a unique journey. Considered one of the best places to visit in Turkey in January. The iconic fairy chimneys, caves, and valleys transform into a magical winter wonderland, creating a scene straight out of a storybook. 

The most famous thing to do in Turkey in winter is Cappadocia’s hot-air ballooning. With fewer crowds during the winter season, the experience becomes more intimate, allowing passengers to soak in the mesmerizing views in tranquility. 

Enhance your experience by booking at one of the cave hotels. Witness the stunning sunrise and sunset against the breathtaking landscapes. Opt for a hike or a guided tour to explore the underground city, digging into the rich history of the ancient sites in the area.

If you’re planning a romantic trip, Cappadocia is a top place to visit in Turkey in February for Valentine’s Day. It offers a uniquely enchanting experience for activities and exploration.

Uludağ Ski

Ski Adventure in Uludağ

If you’re wondering what to do in Turkey in January, thrill-seekers can revel in the winter sports paradise of Uludağ, Turkey’s premier ski resort. The snow-covered slopes provide a picturesque backdrop for skiing, snowboarding, and other exhilarating activities. 

Uludağ can be easily reached from Istanbul, and from Bursa, by taking the road or Bursa’s Teleferik, which is one of the longest cable-car rides in the world. As one of Turkey’s best ski resorts, visitors can book one of the hotels surrounding the resort to spend their time exploring the slopes in comfort.

From beginners to seasoned enthusiasts, Uludağ provides a comprehensive winter sports experience, making it a prime destination for those seeking both adventure and scenic beauty in the snowy embrace of the mountains.

Istanbul winter

Istanbul’s Festive Transformation

Experience the vibrant transformation of Istanbul during the winter season. Wander through historic landmarks like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque amidst the city’s festive atmosphere. Explore interesting museums and beautiful gardens for a serene stroll. Dive into the bustling Grand Bazaar with its aromatic spices and handcrafted pieces. Istanbul’s renowned malls and retail outlets beckon for a delightful shopping spree. 

As the day comes to an end, unwind at one of the charming cafes or restaurants along the Bosphorus River, or book a dinner cruise.

While exploring the world of Turkish cuisine, why not bring a part of that distinct taste home with you? Consider taking a local cooking class to learn the art of preparing Turkish dishes and enjoy the experience of creating these delicious flavors in your own kitchen.

Visiting Istanbul during the Winter season from December till February, and walking through its vibrant streets and attractions offers a wholesome and enriching experience. 

Pamukkale winter

Pamukkale’s Serene Thermal Pools

Pamukkale should be on your list of things to do in Turkey in February, where the weather is just the perfect temperature to experience the serene beauty of Pamukkale’s terraces and thermal pools. Visitors can wade through the warm, calcium-rich waters, enjoying the therapeutic properties attributed to the mineral content. The terraces, with their surreal and snowy appearance, create a stunning visual. 

The site is not only famous for its natural pools but also the adjacent ancient Roman city of Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hierapolis features well-preserved ruins, including a necropolis, theater, and historical artifacts that provide a glimpse into the region’s rich history.

Whether opting for a day trip, which is sufficient to experience the essence of this enchanting city or choosing to extend the stay, Pamukkale offers a range of hotels to accommodate every traveler’s preference.

Lake Çıldır

Lake Çıldır Sleighing

During the freezing month of February, Lake Çıldır is one of the best places to visit in Turkey in winter. Located in northeastern Turkey, the lake undergoes a stunning transformation that adds to its allure. This second-largest freshwater lake in Eastern Anatolia freezes over entirely, creating a magical and Arctic-like panorama. 

The frozen surface of the lake becomes a canvas for traditional ice fishing, a practice deeply embedded in local culture, with enthusiasts drilling through the thick ice to catch the endemic Çıldır trout. Visitors can enjoy this ice fishing practice as well as ice walking, and horse-pulled sleigh, where they can explore the charming surrounding landscapes. Lake Çıldır in winter emerges as a captivating and worthy destination.

Ephesus turkey

Historical Exploration in Ephesus

Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, invites visitors to stroll through its ancient streets and relive its rich cultural and historical legacy. With the mild winter temperatures and fewer crowds, It’s one of the top places to visit in Turkey in December.. 

Immerse into its well-preserved archaeological sites, featuring remarkable structures such as the Great Theater, Library of Celsus, and the Temple of Artemis. Pilgrims visit the House of the Virgin Mary, and the ancient Agora provides a glimpse into daily life.

Ephesus is a 45-minute drive from the airport of Izmir. Another way of transportation is to take a 9-hour bus drive from Istanbul or a flight from Istanbul to Izmir.

Eastern Express Train Trip Turkey

Unforgettable Eastern Express Train Trip

The Eastern Express Train Trip in Turkey offers an enchanting winter journey, taking passengers on a scenic 24-hour ride through the snow-covered landscapes of Eastern Anatolia. This iconic train route, connecting Ankara to Kars, becomes a magical experience during the colder months. Passengers are treated to breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, forests, and charming villages along the route, creating a picturesque atmosphere that adds to the allure of the journey.

As part of the cultural exploration, travelers have the chance to interact with locals, immersing themselves in the daily life and hospitality of Eastern Anatolia. The train provides well-equipped sleeping cars, offering a cozy retreat from the winter chill outside while indulging in warm and hearty meals amid the winter landscapes. In Kars, the final destination, visitors can explore historical landmarks such as the medieval Kars Castle and the iconic Fethiye Mosque.

While in Kars you can reach the ancient city of Ani, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as Lake Çıldır, adding an extra layer of beauty to the journey.

However, it’s important to plan, as the Eastern Express experiences high demand during winter, and tickets can be limited.

Antalya december

Warm Winter in Antalya

If you’re searching for things to do in Turkey during December in warmer weather, then pack your bags for Antalya. Known for its vibrant summer tourism, Antalya transforms into a serene and charming destination during the winter months. The mild Mediterranean climate and pleasant temperature, even in winter, allow visitors to explore this coastal gem away from the bustling summer crowds.

Visitors can leisurely explore Antalya Museum and the historic Old Town, Kaleiçi, with its Ottoman-era architecture, and discover landmarks like the Yivli Minaret and Hadrian’s Gate. Nature lovers can enjoy the Düden Waterfalls, while golf enthusiasts can experience world-class courses with stunning Mediterranean views. Visitors can still enjoy water activities on the shores. Antalya’s vibrant marina remains a charming spot for leisurely afternoons.

Kaçkar Mountains

Kaçkar Mountains’ Snowy Trails

Embark on a winter hiking adventure in the Kaçkar Mountains. The Kaçkar Mountains, nestled in northeastern Turkey and extend along the border between Turkey and Georgia, boast a stunning and challenging landscape. 

Characterised by alpine beauty, deep valleys, and diverse ecosystems, the region offers opportunities for trekking and mountaineering, catering to various skill levels. The Kaçkar National Park, designated to protect the area’s unique ecosystems, and glacial lakes like Lake Karagölmakes, make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Beyond its natural allure, Visitors can enjoy the warm hospitality and traditional cuisine to enhance the cultural experience.

The Kaçkar region stands as a captivating destination for those eager to explore the beauty of northeastern Turkey.


Fused Experience in Ankara

Begin your winter journey in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, by visiting the iconic Atakule Tower, offering panoramic views of the city from its observation deck. Dive into Turkey’s rich history at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Elmadag Ski Resort just outside Ankara provides a thrilling escape for skiing and snowboarding.

CerModern’s year-round cultural events showcase winter-themed exhibitions and performances. Gençlik Park and the historic Hamamönü district offer serene winter strolls amidst ponds, cafes, and Ottoman-era charm. Ankara’s vibrant winter festivals bring the community together for holiday markets and music events, while Kocatepe Mosque Square hosts lively New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Indulge in the hearty Turkish cuisine at traditional winter restaurants, savoring kebabs and stews. Cap off the season with cultural performances at the Ankara State Opera and Ballet, featuring classical concerts and ballet productions.

Ankara is your answer to things to do in Turkey in January and February, with its diverse cultural and festive offerings.

Erciyes, Turkey

Snow Activities at Erciyes

Your Skiing destination, Erciyes, nestled near Kayseri in central Turkey, transforms into a winter wonderland centered around the majestic Mount Erciyes. The ski resort caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders, with a season running from December to April. 

Beyond winter sports, the region offers a picturesque landscape for snowshoeing, winter hiking, and snowmobiling adventures. Après-ski activities, winter festivals, and cultural events add a festive touch. 

Cozy accommodations, including hotels and chalets, provide a warm retreat, all easily accessible from Kayseri’s international airport. Erciyes promises a diverse and memorable winter experience.

Ishak Pasha Palace

Ishak Pasha Palace’s Brilliant Architecture 

Ishak Pasha Palace, an Ottoman architectural marvel near Dogubeyazit, is one of the most unique things to do in Turkey in February. The palace showcases historical greatness with a unique blend of Persian, Armenian, and Seljuk influences. The palace’s winter charm is heightened as it stands on a hill overlooking snow-covered Eastern Anatolia for 400 years. 

Despite potential winter challenges, visitors can stay at the nearby hotels in Dogubayazıt. The palace remains accessible by taxi, and the visit time to explore the palace is between 1 to 1.5 hours. 

Ishak Pasha Palace is one the places recommended to visit and discover for unparalleled experience due to its cultural significance and architectural brilliance.

The Turkish Hammam

The Turkish Hammam

You can’t visit Turkey and not experience the Turkish Hamam or Turkish Bath! It offers a unique and rejuvenating bathing experience with a rich historical significance. Housed in architecturally impressive buildings reflecting the aesthetics of the Ottoman era.

The hamam experience begins in a warm and steamy, then exfoliation process, removing dead skin cells and promoting smoother skin. This is followed by a traditional foam massage. Intermittent splashes of cold water provide a refreshing contrast, and after the cleansing rituals, guests retire to a cooler room for relaxation, enjoying the tranquil atmosphere, herbal tea, and a sense of calm.

Beyond its physical benefits, the Turkish hammam holds cultural significance. People from diverse backgrounds come together to share stories, relax, and partake in the collective enjoyment of this age-old tradition.

While traditional hammams remain popular, modern adaptations in spas and wellness centers offer variations of the experience, including additional treatments like massages and aromatherapy for a more comprehensive relaxation journey.

Turkish delights

Winter Festivals and Culinary Delights

Embark on a festive journey through Turkey during the winter months, where diverse winter festivals unfold, each highlighting local traditions, music, and cuisine. 

Complementing these festivities is the delightful array of winter specialties found throughout the country. Roasted chestnuts, warm Turkish delight, and comforting hot beverages create a sensory delight that perfectly accompanies the chilly season. 

Dive into Turkey’s diverse culinary scene and immerse yourself in the warmth of both festive celebrations and winter flavors wherever you are in this magical country.

Looking for things to do in Turkey in Summer or Spring? Check out our full guide here.