Turkey exhibits multiple types of climate, such as the Mediterranean (Köppen climate classification Csa, Csb) along the western and southern coasts, and oceanic (Köppen Cfa, Cfb) along the Black Sea. The interior is mainly continental (Köppen variants of Df and Ds) and culminates with an arid desert type (Köppen BWk) in the southeast. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran share borders with Turkey in the east, Iraq, and Syria in the southeast, the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and the Aegean Sea in the west. Greece and Bulgaria are its neighbors in the northwest, the Black Sea in the north, and Georgia in the northwest. Turkey lies mostly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Asia, with a small part that occupies the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. The large water bodies on three sides of Turkey, high mountains, and location in the temperate latitudes influence its climate.
Turkey is a transcontinental country that spans Eurasia, and its capital, Istanbul, is a transcontinental city. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles separate European Turkey that comprises 3% of the country's territory from the rest 97% part in Asia. The Aegean, Marmara, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia, and the Mediterranean comprise the seven geographical divisions in Turkey. The Taurus Mountains lie in the southern part of the Anatolian Peninsula. The principal rivers, such as Euphrates and Tigris, originate in mountainous Eastern Turkey. Mountains prevent the moderate weather of the coast from extending inland, which results in a harsh climate in the interior. The Northern Anatolian Fault Line runs east to west in the northern part of the country. Mount Ararat is the highest point in Turkey at 5137 meters.
Summers are hot in Turkey and tend to be drier than the rest of the year. The average high temperatures are in the 29.4°C (84.9°F) to 36.1°C (97°F) in much of Turkey except for the southeast region, which tends to be a few degrees higher. The Black Sea region has the coldest summers, with average temperatures in the lovely 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) zone. Winters are cold and snowy in the interior and harsher than the coasts. Snowfall lasts up to 120 days a year in Eastern Anatolia, and night temperatures drop in the range of -30°C (-22°F) to -40°C (-40°F). The Black Sea and Marmara coasts see moderate snow that does not stay on the ground for more than a few days. Mountain peaks remain snowy throughout the year. Spring and autumn are the best seasons, with moderate rainfall and few cold days.
Turkey receives the highest rainfall in the winter season and the lowest in the summer. The Aegean, Marmara, Black, and the Mediterranean Sea regions receive plenty of rainfall that ranges from 635mm (25") to 1143mm (45") annually. The central, eastern, and southeastern regions receive considerably less precipitation between 381mm (15") to 508mm (20"). A few areas along the Black Sea Coast receive up to 2540mm (100") rainfall annually. The Konya Plain and the Malatya Plain are the driest regions with less than 304.8mm (12") of precipitation in the year. The annual sunshine ranges from an average of 1600 hours along the Black Sea shores in the north to over 2800 hours in the southeast. The central, eastern, and southern regions receive more than 2500 hours of sunshine annually. The sea temperatures in the south are between 17.2°C (63°F) to 27.2°C (81°F) and warmer up to -12.2°C (10°F) than the north and west.
The highest temperature on record in Turkey is 48.8°C (119.8°F), set on August 14, 1993, in Mardin. The lowest temperature on record is -46.4°C (-51.5°F), set on January 9, 1990, in Caldiran, Van.
The best time to visit Turkey
The best times to visit Turkey are in the spring and autumn seasons, as the summer is generally hot. May, June, and September are preferable months for a trip to the west coast, Istanbul, and the Anatolian Plateau. The southern coast is a perfect destination in late spring and early autumn. Summer is a time to cool down in the high mountains of the southeast. July and August are also better for beach holidays in the north and the north-east, along the shores of the Black Sea, when much of Turkey is hot and dry. The bathing season runs from June to September on the west coast, where the waters are slightly cold.
The worst time to visit Turkey
The worst time to visit Turkey, if there is any, is during the hot and dry summer season. Temperatures often soar above 32.2°C (90°F) during the day. The arid southeastern region is particularly hot, with daily high temperatures mostly above 37.8°C (100°F). However, many northern and western regions see a surge in tourist numbers, with the commencement of the bathing season along the coast. The eastern plateau is hot in the summer and severely cold in the winter. Snowfall occurs for 120 days in the year. Eastern Anatolia often registers temperatures below -28.9°C (-20°F) in the cold season, which makes January a time to avoid places on the plateau.
Turkey is vulnerable to wildfires, heat waves, droughts, floods, storms, earthquakes, and landslides. The arid southeastern region suffers from a severe shortage of water. Flash floods have become increasingly common in recent years. Floods in 2006 and 2009 totaled $1 trillion in damage. Ankara, Izmir, and Mersin are prone to severe flooding since 2014. Istanbul sits on the North Anatolian Fault and prone to frequent seismic disturbances. Thirty-three% of schools have a potential threat of seismic activity. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Marmara shook in 1999, with 18000 deaths and losses of $28 billion. Dense fog is present in the mornings in the mountains and extends its cover over the valleys in the winter.
Weather in January
January is usually the coldest month of the year in Turkey, with cloudy and dark skies. The average temperatures in Istanbul, in the Marmara region, range between 3.9°C (39°F) to 8.9°C (48°F), with only a couple of hours of daily sunshine.
January precipitation near the Sea of Marmara is between 76.2mm (3") to 127mm (5"), with snowfall light at best. The southern regions are warmer than the rest of the country but receive plenty of rain. Sea temperatures at 17.2°C (63°F) in Antalya in the south are much warmer than the northern coasts.
Hotels, restaurants, tours, and activities are available at discounted rates. Expect abundant snow deposits on the mountains, such as Uludag, Pontus, Taurus, and Ararat. The high mountains offer plenty of skiing opportunities to snow lovers. Horse drawn-sleighs over the frozen Lake Cildir are popular among the tourists. Expect freezing nights in many regions. January is generally a time to avoid a vacation in Turkey for people who prefer the warmth of spring and summer.
Weather in February
February is cold and wet in the winter season of Turkey. The average temperatures in Ankara, the capital on the Anatolian Plateau, are in the chilly zone of -2.2°C (28°F) to 7.2°C (45°F).
The rainfall is low at 40.6mm (1.6"), but the winter is snowy, and night temperatures occasionally drop below -17.8°C (-0°F). The daily sunshine improves to 4 hours in many parts of the country after the peak of the cold season recedes in late February. Frosty fingers linger on buildings until mid-morning to give a fairy-tale look to the surroundings. Erzurum, in the northeast, is still below freezing, in the range of -12.2°C (10°F) to -2.8°C (27°F).
Lake Abanta is a fabulous destination in winter, for those who seek amazing natural views in the winter. Lakeside cottages offer some of the best holiday memories to remember. Expect cold air masses from the Russian north to sweep Turkey all the way to the south. Pack warm winter clothes along with a rain jacket during a visit to Turkey in February.
Weather in March
March gradually removes Turkey from the clutches of the winter, with the arrival of the lovely spring season. Early spring is still susceptible to cold fronts and rain, but the temperatures rise significantly by the end of March.
Temperatures in Cizre, along the Syrian border, are in the mild range of 7.2°C (45°F) to 17.2°C (63°F). The average temperatures near Lake Van, on the eastern plateau, are in the cold zone of -2.2°C (28°F) to 7.2°C (45°F) range, with 50.8mm (2") of precipitation, including snow. The Mediterranean coast warms up to the spring season, with mild sea temperatures beneath the 7 hours of daily sunshine.
Many cities on the southern coasts witness a decrease in rainfall that registers between 76.2mm (3") to 101.6mm (4"). The crowds are fewer in the early spring season, and tourist spots do not see the rush of the high season. Carry a jacket for protection from cold and rain during outdoor explorations. Expect March to be a little on the cold side in Turkey, with a cold wave due at any time.
Weather in April
April brings lovely spring weather to Turkey, with plenty of sunshine amid a decrease in the rain. The land blooms with wildflowers, and the fresh smell of soil lightens the spirits. The Aegean region basks in glorious sunlight that warms the sea waters to acceptable levels for bathing and swimming.
Izmir, on the west coast, registers average temperatures in the beautiful zone of 11.1°C (52°F) to 20.6°C (69.1°F). Trabzon, along the Black Sea shores, is relatively cold in the range of 8.9°C (48°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F). The sea tourism season gains momentum with the arrival of the warm spring weather. The horizon appears to clear from the misty cold of early spring under the brilliant sunshine. Rivers and streams are full, and waterfalls roar from the slopes of the mountains.
Expect the nights to be occasionally cold, even though the days are warm. A sweater is useful during outdoor activities, especially in the evenings and nights. April sees less than 76.2mm (3") of rainfall in most regions of Turkey.
Weather in May
May is sunny and beautiful in Turkey at the peak of the spring season. Istanbul has comfortable temperatures in the 12.8°C (55°F) to 22.2°C (72°F) range, with a solid 8 hours of sunshine, and mild seawaters above 15.6°C (60.1°F). Rize, on the Black Sea shore near the border of Georgia, has cool and beautiful weather, with 6 hours of sunshine and less than 101.6mm (4") of rain.
May sees a dramatic rise in tourist numbers as the conditions become sunny and dry. Ankara and Istanbul offer vibrant nightlife and plenty of entertainment for visitors. Museums and historical places, including the ruins of Troy, fetch many visitors who find the skies helpful to take clear pictures. The Turkish Straits are full of ships of all sizes and colors, as misty conditions disappear under the reign of the bright sun.
Expect crowds to become bigger and queues everywhere, with the advance of the tourist season. Visit the southeast before the temperatures soar to extreme levels in summer. May is a lovely time to visit Turkey!
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the warm and dry summer season in Turkey. The long daylight hours and clear skies bring a horde of visitors to the Turkish shores. White, sandy beaches and blue, clear waters attract crowds to the beaches in the north, west, and south. The Black Sea shores are cooler than the Mediterranean by a few degrees. The beginning of the bathing season is a money-spinner for hotels and restaurants on the west coast.
Turkish baths are a popular way to relax in the summer, and the luxurious spas add to the comfort. The average temperatures in European Turkey are in the lovely range of 15°C (59°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) and a bit lesser than the Asian side. Edirne or the ancient Adrianople receive brilliant sunshine that lasts for a daily 10 hours. The skies are mostly clear, with less than 50.8mm (2") of rain in much of Turkey.
Plan months earlier to get fair deals on accommodations and flights to Turkey in the lovely month of June.
Weather in July
July is the hottest and driest month in Turkey, with sunlight often above 10 hours in most regions. The average temperatures in Diyarbakir, in the southeast, are in the hot range of 22.2°C (72°F) to 37.8°C (100°F), with a monumental 12 hours of blazing sunshine.
Most of the country is hot and dry except for the mountains and coasts. The Black Sea shores are a perfect getaway from the summer heat, with mild seawaters. Rize, on the northeast coast, registers average temperatures in the comfortable 20°C (68°F) to 26.1°C (79°F) range. The high mountains provide much needed cool weather in the summer and breezy evenings.
Many couples seek the Turkish coast for weddings in the summer. Festivals, with a dazzling variety of Turkish food, events, and entertainment, engage the hordes of visitors. Museums and historical sites are abuzz with visitors. Wear light summer clothing, preferably sweatshirts, during the day. Carry a scarf for the high mountains. Avoid a visit to the hot and dry interior regions of Turkey at the peak of the summer in July.
Weather in August
August is hot in Turkey, with the average high temperatures above 26.7°C (80.1°F) in most of the regions. Nights tend to be bearable in the mild 18.3°C (64.9°F) to warm 23.9°C (75°F) range. The maritime influence does not allow the coastal strips to bake in the sunlight, and they remain moderate than the interior regions.
The Bosporus Strait sees temperatures above 25°C (77°F), but the Black Sea shores are relatively cool. Light summer clothing is generally sufficient during the day, but carry a hat, goggles, and sunscreen lotions for protection from the mid-day sun. Temperatures in the Bursa region are between 20°C (68°F) to 28.9°C (84°F), with 10 hours of daily sunshine and ocean waters above 23.9°C (75°F). Eastern Thrace receives negligible rain, but the northeast coast registers 101.6mm (4") to 152.4mm (6") of precipitation.
The high mountains are the best bet to escape from the summer heat, but the hill stations witness crowds in August. Expect the temperatures to decrease by the end of the month gradually. August has the warmest seawater temperatures in Turkey.
Weather in September
September sees warm to hot conditions in Turkey at the beginning of the autumn season. The rainfall increases gradually to register between 25.4mm (1") to 76.2mm (3") in many regions. Rize, on the northeastern coast, registers up to 254mm (10") of rainfall.
The average high temperatures drop into the comfortable range of 23.9°C (75°F) to 29.4°C (84.9°F), and nights fare much better. The Balkan Peninsula sees cool air masses that make evenings breezy and nights, cold. Istanbul, Ankara, and the eastern highlands are perfect destinations in the lovely weather of autumn. The northern wind blows many a time on the west coast during the bathing season.
Cruise and boat tours of the Bosporus are popular in the mild weather, with a drizzle due sometime during the day. The fishing season is in full swing, and it is the best time for fish lovers to sample the daily catch from the oceans. The Aegean coast is the perfect place for olive lovers, with the biggest olives in the groves. Overall, September is an excellent time to visit Turkey.
Weather in October
October is colorful and slightly wet in Turkey, with lovely temperate weather amid partly cloudy skies. Vibrant shades of yellow, orange, crimson, and purple make the landscape look like a picture-perfect postcard.
The mercury column dances in the lovely range of 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) range everywhere and only the southeast registers higher by a few degrees. The first signs of the wet season are apparent by mid-October, which brings 50.8mm (2") to 76.2mm (3") of rain in the coastal areas.
The harvest season brings plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to the local markets. Figs and pomegranates are abundant in Turkish villages, and sometimes even drop from the trees to the amusement of the visitors. Street carts full of roasted chestnuts ply for much of the day in almost every city. The sunlight registers for at least 6 hours during the day and is moderately intense. Mild breezes blow during the evenings. Carry an umbrella or jacket during outdoor excursions. October is beautiful due to the pleasant temperatures and the colorful landscape in Turkey.
Weather in November
November is partly cloudy and wet, during the fall season in Turkey. The average temperatures drop in the mild zone of 7.2°C (45°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) in many regions. The central and eastern regions are cold and register temperatures in the 1.7°C (35.1°F) to 12.8°C (55°F).
Light snowfall begins in a few places along with 50.8mm (2") to 127mm (5") of rainfall in much of the country.
The Inozu Valley is a bird watcher's paradise, but also has several wildlife species that are eye-catching in the changing fall colors. Bozcaada Island welcomes latecomers with delicious wine from the grape harvest of early autumn. Lake Abant is a popular destination with spectacular autumn colors and fun activities like walking, bicycling, and hiking in the surroundings. Tourists can have the Oludeniz beach and the nearby Blue Lagoon all for themselves as packed crowds during the season, return home. The days become short, as daylight lasts for 10 hours, and the daily sunshine is less than 5 hours. November is suitable for budget travelers to take advantage of the off-season discounts in Turkey.
Weather in December
December is the wettest month of the year in much of Turkey. The beginning of the cold and rainy winter season sees gray and cloudy skies, with daily sunshine often less than 2 hours. The southern coast receives 203.2mm (8") to 254mm (10") of precipitation.
Offseason trips mean fewer crowds and more opportunities to explore the country without bumping into other tourists. Cappadocia looks like a magical realm, with a blanket of soft snow on the rocky formations, which look mystic from the hot-air balloons in the sky.
Temperatures in the Goreme region, famous for fairy chimneys, are in the cold range of -0.6°C (30.9°F) to 6.7°C (44.1°F). Snowfall is frequent, but the deposits are moderate. Ski resorts, such as Kartepe, Uludag, and Palandoken, offer activities that range from fun to extreme adventure during the winter. Pack a sweater, jacket, umbrella or raincoat for the cold regions but add gloves, a scarf, a hat, boots, and a warm jacket for the snowy mountain resorts. December is an excellent time for budget travelers to visit Turkey.