Unlock the Magic of Istanbul in Autumn: Insider Tips for Your Fall Adventure

The Art of Living in Turkey contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See my Disclaimers for more information.

Planning a trip to Istanbul in Autumn? Come explore all there is to see and do during this season.

SUMMARY: This is a great time to explore Istanbul, the city that straddles the Bosphorus. Learn about what to expect from the weather, what to pack, where to find leaves, what to eat, and fall-related things to do in Istanbul.

I love autumn.

Sometime in September, a specific kind of light green apple comes out at the weekly farmer’s market in my neighborhood.

It’s crisp, tart, and sweet; the height of Fall awesomeness. I wait for it with expectation every year.

The Fall in Istanbul is a beautiful time when the heat of the summer lifts, evenings get a bit cooler, and the whole city settles into the rhythm of the school year.

It’s the best time to visit Istanbul, with fewer tourists around but still enough hours of daylight to maximize what the city has to offer.

While you’re exploring, you’ll want to have the right layers for comfort and protection from the elements. And you won’t want to miss out on the amazing cultural offerings of each specific month.

In this article, we’ll cover what to pack, what to do, where to go, and (most importantly) what to eat during this season. Read on for expert tips to make the most of your time this season.

I’ve spent 17 years autumns in Turkey and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned. Let’s fall into step and start exploring!

Green apples at a local market in autumn.

September in Istanbul

If you’re wondering if September is a good time to visit Istanbul, the answer is a resounding “YES”!

The temperature in Istanbul in September begins with summer-y days with highs up to 77 F, definitely short-sleeve and light pants or shorts weather.

It ends with slightly cooler evenings, where it’s nice to have a hoodie or sweater in tow.

The school year begins in September, so traffic picks up as people come back from their summer holidays and visits to their hometowns.

Istanbul traffic is pretty notorious for being horrible but in the summer it lightens up as everyone exits the city.

September sees the return of ubiquitous white school vans, and commuters dropping off kids on their way to work.

But the beginning of the school year in other countries also means that tourists with kids are not filling up the lines at the Topkapi Palace or Yerebatan Cistern. It’s a great time to check out these historical sites.

Savoring September

Istanbul hosts a few unique festivals in September. If you’re a coffee or jazz lover, this month is for you!

Istanbul Coffee Festival

I can remember when you had to travel across town to a specific spot near Istiklal Street to go to the one coffee shop in the city with third-wave coffee.

Generally, coffee in Turkey was the type that was served with its fine grounds in a small cup, and most people just drank black Turkish tea all day.

About ten years ago, third-wave coffee shops started springing up all over the city, especially in spots like Kadikoy on the Anatolian side.

Now you can get your pour over with washed beans, single-sourced from local cooperatives in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania with fruity green-tea-like notes and smooth chocolate taste in coffee shops all over the city!

In mid-September, coffee enthusiasts, brewers, and suppliers gather for a festival of all things coffee at the İstanbul Coffee Festival.

Check it out if you’d like to taste some amazing art in a cup.

Akbank Jazz festival

If you’re a concert lover, you can pick up a cup of joe at the coffee festival and then head to a jazz concert with the Akbank Jazz Festival.

This festival hosts world-famous jazz musicians in venues all over the city. In addition to concerts, you can enjoy a jazz brunch, listen to lectures, or participate in a workshop.

There are events in places like the Nardis Jazz Club (that also hosts nightly shows), the modern Zorlu Performing Arts Center, and small art centers and large concert venues on both the Asian and European sides of the city.

It’s a must-do if you’re a fan of jazz.

Weather in Istanbul September

Temperatures:Average high of 77°F (25°C), low of 62°F (17°C)
Temperature of the Ocean:73°F (23°C)
Average # of rainy days:6

what to pack in September

Generally speaking, a short-sleeved summer wardrobe with a few long-sleeved layers will be good for September in Istanbul.

It’s good to pack an umbrella just in case, but generally in September it doesn’t rain like cats and dogs here.

As my daughter sometimes says, umbrellas can be “unnecessary protection” because the rain tends to come lightly, and not last all day.

If you’re here toward the end of September, long pants and a long-sleeved hoodie or light sweater are nice for early mornings and evening strolls, and for occasional cooler days.

If you visit a mosque, women should have their shoulders and legs covered (to below the knee) and a scarf to put over their heads. Men should have long pants on.

You can read more about how you should dress when visiting Turkey.

October in Istanbul

A woman enjoys a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks in October.

Are you considering a visit to Istanbul in October? Don’t hesitate to do it!

October is one of my favorite months of the year here. The days are perfect, and being outside and sightseeing is really enjoyable.

Pumpkin spice lattes come out at Starbucks in Istanbul, but the weather is usually not quite cold enough to need the hot version. The iced one is delicious too!

During the days, I often wear long pants and short sleeves but have a light sweater on hand for chillier moments in the shade. Early mornings and evenings are definitely a bit cooler.

October is a great time to explore the walls of the city or to hit any of the top historical sites.

October Opportunities

If you’re in Istanbul in October, there are a few opportunities to enjoy the city that are particular to this month.


Given Turkey’s close ties to Germany, it’s not surprising that a (very pared-down) version of Oktoberfest exists here in Istanbul.

Bomontiada, a culture hub on the grounds of a historic beer factory, hosts Oktoberfest concerts and events in early October each year. Events run for about a week from the end of September into the early part of October.

You can taste Bomonti beer, a brand started during the Ottoman Empire in the late 1800s by a couple of Swiss brothers.

Bomonti unfiltered beer is one of the best among Turkish brands. It’s clean, fresh and light, and really refreshing.

And there’s no import tax on it, so it’s more affordable than European brands.

Bomonti was the official supplier of the imperial court. If it’s good enough for Sultan Abdulhamit II, it’s good enough for me.

You can also try out some amazing restaurants and take in a concert at The Populist.

October 29 Republic Day Celebrations

At the end of October, you’ll see lots of Turkish flags hanging from every building as people prepare to celebrate 29 Ekim (October 29), Republic Day.

This day commemorates October 29, 1923, when the Grand National Assembly of Turkey officially declared Turkey to be a Republic.

The Sultan had been exiled the year before, the Ottoman Empire was no more, and Turkey was birthed as a modern republic with Ataturk at its head.

The closest holiday to this in the USA is the 4th of July. Similar to July 4 celebrations, Turks celebrate Republic Day with fireworks, speeches, and parades.

Weather in Istanbul in October

Temperatures:Average high of 66°F (19°C), low of 54°F (12°C)
Temperature of the Ocean:64°F (18°C)
Average # of rainy days:10

What to pack in October

October weather is very pleasant but can be chilly in the mornings and evenings.

Generally, I’d suggest packing lots of layers. Mostly the weather calls for long pants with short sleeves or light long-sleeved tops, and a few light sweaters or jackets for mornings and evenings.

With 10 days of the month seeing at least a bit of rain, it can be a good idea to have an umbrella or a light rain coat handy.

But often the rain just falls for a few hours during part of the day, so it’s not a big problem if you want to be out and about.

Unless you’re one of the brave souls who swims in the Bosphorus all year, or you’re staying at a hotel with a pool, you will probably not need a bathing suit.

But if you travel further south to places like Fethiye or Antalya, the water is warm enough even in October to take a dip. I’ve enjoyed a swim in both of these southern cities during October!

November in Istanbul

If you’re thinking of planning a trip to this fabulous city in November, I’d say go for it!

The weather in November starts to get chillier. About every other day has a sprinkling of rain, but the month can surprise you with warm and sunny days too.

Our family has enjoyed an occasional November Sunday hanging out at the park or even driving 40 minutes to Riva on the Black Sea Coast, spending a day on the sand (without going into the chilly water).

By the end of the month, days can get cold, but the weather is still comfortable enough to enjoy a brisk walk.

Indoor tourist sites like the Istanbul Archeological Museum or the Blue Mosque are great places to check out in November, with fewer lines.

A couple in front of the Mimar Sinan Arts University are bundled up for the November chill.

November Notables

November is a great time to be in Istanbul, with some special events that are specific to this month.

Istanbul Marathon

Imagine the thrill of running from one continent to another!

The Istanbul Marathon is held every year in early November, and it’s the only intercontinental marathon in the world.

Runners start from Asia and then run across the Bosphorus Bridge (officially known as the 15 July Martyrs Bridge) to Europe.

There is a 42 K marathon and also a 15 K run. In the past, there used to be a “Fun Run” of about 5 K, but they don’t have this anymore.

I participated in this “Fun Run” in 2011, pushing my younger child in a stroller and walking with my 5-year-old. It was an amazing experience to walk across the Bosphorus!

However, I did feel the undulation of the bridge with the number of people walking or running across. Apparently, this vibration can cause structural damage to the bridge, so they stopped this event.

If you’re a runner (or if you just want to know what time roads will be closed to traffic), check out the Istanbul Marathon site and enjoy the excitement.

commemoration of Ataturk’s death: November 10

Another special event in November is a brief moment on November 10 when the whole country comes to a stop for a moment.

Last November 10, my husband and I were driving along on the highway, when we heard sirens go off. At first, we didn’t think much of it.

Then, traffic started to slow down considerably, and we thought maybe there was a traffic jam ahead.

However, the sirens continued, and then people started to get out of their stopped cars and stand at attention next to their cars.

We remembered what date it was, looked at the time (9:05 a.m.), and realized that we were in the middle of a moment of silence for Ataturk.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the revered founder of the Turkish Republic.

During his visits to the city of Istanbul, his residence was the Dolmabahce Palace, the last palace of the Ottoman Sultans.

On November 10, 1938, at 9:05 a.m., Ataturk died in his room in the palace.

That room in Dolmabahce has been kept as it was when he died there in 1938, with his bed and other pieces of furniture from that time.

Every year at 9:05 a.m., the whole country pauses for a moment to remember Turkey’s founder.

Weather in Istanbul November

Temperatures:Average high of 57°F (14°C), low of 48°F (9°C)
Temperature of the Ocean:61°F (16°C)
Average # of rainy days:13

What to pack in November

November can start out quite pleasant but ends up being cold enough to thoroughly enjoy a steaming glass of Turkish tea.

The weather generally calls for long pants, long-sleeved tops, sweaters, and a mid-weight jacket.

Bring along your scarf, gloves, and hat in case you hit a stretch of colder days.

Also, our family tends to notice that there are more grey and rainy days in November, with about half the month having at least a sprinkling of rain.

A good rain jacket or a light umbrella is helpful to have along during the month of November.

Check out my list of travel essentials for women.

Arts in the Autumn

During the fall, Istanbul’s arts scene is in full swing.

There are plays, comedy shows, dance performances, exhibitions, cultural events, and concerts all over the city.

Art galleries are full of amazing works, and every two years the Istanbul Biennial showcases world-class contemporary art.

Word-based events like plays and comedy shows are in Turkish, so they are harder to access for an international audience.

However, art, music, and dance are international languages, and there are plenty of offerings for lovers of the arts in Istanbul.

Music and Dance

The Zorlu Performing Arts Center, easily accessible via the Gayrettepe Metro Stop, hosts international shows and concerts.

I once saw an incredible performance by a traveling theater company that put on West Side Story there. I felt like I was on Broadway, just with electronic subtitles translating the English show into Turkish.

After the show, it was really cool to hear about life on the road when I chatted with the Chinese-Canadian conductor of the pit orchestra.

You can also check out a ballet performance from the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, or a classical music concert at the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall.

The arts are alive and well in Istanbul.

A performance of Swan Lake at the TIM Show Center in Istanbul

Istanbul Biennial Contemporary Art Festival

Paintings, sculptures, and installations, oh my!

The Istanbul Biennial is an amazing gathering of contemporary artists from around the world, showcasing their creativity and talent.

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) has hosted this huge art festival every other year since 1987.

The last one was held in 2022, and the 18th biennial was supposed to happen this fall, in 2024.

However, for various administrative reasons, the art festival was postponed to 2025. Art lovers will have to stay tuned for more details from IKSV.

I have attended this festival before and it was an amazing feast for the eyes.

Booth after booth showcased world-class artists and their sometimes-serious, sometimes-whimsical view of the world. I’m looking forward to the fall of 2025 to check it out again.

Finding Turkish Fall Leaves

One of the best parts of the season is enjoying nature. There are several spots where you can see the beauty of Istanbul, colorful fall foliage, and enjoy some fresh air.

Turkey is too far south to have many maple trees that turn beautifully red, but we do have lovely oaks and plane trees. Here are some spots to find them and get some oxygen.

Gulhane Park

Right next to Topkapi Palace on the historic peninsula of Sultanahmet, Gülhane Park is a lovely little green oasis in the heart of the touristy part of the city.

I love going to Gulhane to soak in the atmosphere of the tall plane trees and enjoy the fountains and green grass.

It makes me feel like royalty to walk around the park that used to be the stomping grounds of the sultans and members of the royal court.

You can enjoy some fresh air under the autumn skies at Gulhane, and if it starts to rain, you can check out some museums right there at the park.

The Istanbul Archeological Museum is on the other side of the park’s wall, and the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam is right inside the park.

Macka Park

Maçka (Mach-ka) Democracy Park is a lovely park in a valley in the heart of Sisli, a 20-minute walk northeast of Taksim Square.

There are walking and biking trails where you can enjoy fall foliage and soak in some nature.

One of the fun elements of Macka Park is a cable car that takes you across the valley in the park. For the price of a bus ticket, you can take a one-stop ride from Maçka to Taşkışla.

If your fall hike works up your appetite, you can get a nice meal hungry at Spago, a sleek rooftop restaurant right outside the main gate of the park.

Prince’s Islands

For a fall day trip from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can take a ferry to the Prince’s Islands in the Marmara Sea.

With the city-run ferry from Kabataş or Kadıköy, you can journey to one of 4 islands, each with its own charm and flair.

All 4 of them are wonderful and worth visiting. From largest to smallest, they are Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada.

Only smaller electric vehicles are allowed on the islands. There are golf-cart-type “taxis” that can tour you around.

This lack of vehicles makes it feel like the islands are a different world, far from the traffic and noise of the city.

Last September I enjoyed a quiet day on Kinaliada, the first ferry stop from Kadıköy.

I walked around to the far side of the island away from the city, and it was like I was at a resort, hours away from Istanbul.

The weather wasn’t hot enough for a swim, but I did enjoy dipping my feet into the cool Marmara Sea.

Autumnal Feasting

Turkey is one of the top ten agricultural producers in the world, and the local markets and restaurants reflect this amazing bounty.

I particularly love the seasonality of Turkish produce. My local bazaar is bursting with seasonal fruit and vegetables.

I love marking the seasons with pumpkins in the fall, oranges in the winter, strawberries in the spring, and cherries in the summer.

Here are some of the bounties that Turkey has to offer in the fall, and some restaurants that feature these autumnal treats.

Whole pumpkins at a local fruit and vegetable market.

Seasonal Produce

This is also the season for apples, pumpkins, pomegranates, and quince. You also start to see cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower at the local markets.

When I first came to Turkey, I remember seeing “kabak tatlisi,” or “pumpkin dessert,” on a menu at a kebab shop. “Wow,” I thought, “Turkey has pumpkin pie!”

My expectations were shattered when my order turned out to be a square piece of pumpkin that had been cooked in simple syrup and was covered with tahini and crushed walnuts.

Once I got over the shock, I realized that this version of sweetened pumpkin was actually quite good!

The tahini and nuts on top balance the sweetness of the pumpkin.

Pomegranates are also a great fall fruit that is featured at juice stands across the city. They’re full of amazing antioxidants, so treat yourself to a healthy drink as you take in the city.

Restaurants to check out

There are a few restaurants around the city that particularly showcase seasonal produce (and serve a great pumpkin dessert).

Ciya Sofrasi

Çiya is an amazing restaurant in Kadikoy that showcases southeastern Turkish cooking at its best.

What sets them apart is how they have learned local traditions from village mothers and fathers and brought them to Istanbul.

The man who started Ciya, Musa Dağdeviren, saw that many of Turkey’s traditions regarding food were being lost as the younger generation wasn’t interested. So he set out to change that.

They incorporate fresh seasonal produce into their salads (sold by weight at a self-service station), stews, and even kebabs.

Ciya has been showcased in Chef’s Table on Netflix and by many YouTube vloggers.

Hebun Corba Evi

If you want to try something off the beaten path, you can take the Haciosman M2 metro up to the Sanayi stop and head over to the Hebun Çorba Evi (Hebun Soup House).

It’s open 24 hours a day and features over 30 kinds of soups, with fresh autumn vegetables.

I think their pumpkin dessert is one of the best in the city. Not too cloyingly sweet, with a really quality tahini drizzled on top.

Karakoy Fish House

The fall is also fish season in Istanbul and anchovies (hamsi) finally make their appearance at fresh fish markets across the city.

If you walk west along the Golden Horn from the city’s main Karakoy ferry stop, you’ll see lots of markets featuring delicious pan-friend anchovies from September through February.

Karakoy Fish House (Karakoy Balik Evi) is one no-nonsense place where you can pick your own whole fish or just order a plate of delicious anchovies along with the mezzes.

FAQs on Autumn in Istanbul

Is everything open in Turkey in October?

Yes, all the tourist attractions, restaurants, and historical areas are open in Turkey in October. It’s a great month to come and experience culture or enjoy a quiet vacation at the seaside.

Where is the best place to go in Turkey in October?

If you’re looking for historical sites and cultural festivals, Istanbul is the best place to visit in October. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, Fethiye and Antalya are the best places to visit. The sea is still warm enough to swim in during the month of October in the southern cities of Turkey.

Is it worth visiting Istanbul in November?

November is a great month to visit Istanbul. All the historical sites are open and there are many concerts and performances to see. In addition, the Istanbul Marathon is a special yearly event that happens in November.

Looking for a guided tour? Check out my list of favorites.

Final Thoughts on things to do in Istanbul during the Fall Season

Whether you’re interested in the classic Istanbul historical sites, parks off the beaten path, or delicious plates of anchovies, autumn is a perfect time to see the beauty throughout the city.

The weather is spectacular, and the city is alive with activity.

Istanbul has so much to offer during this season. Take in a concert. Check out some amazing art. Sample seasonal delicacies and enjoy a refreshing drink. Visit a hammam even. You won’t be disappointed!

I’ve loved all 17 years of autumn in Istanbul, and I can’t wait for more.

What’s your favorite part of Istanbul in the fall? What’s on your must-see list?

Read More:

Turkey Vacation Basics

When I plan a trip these are the websites I use. Hope they help you plan your next adventure as well!

FLIGHTS: I am a huge fan of Skyscanner and WayAway.

VISAS: You can use the free e-visa portal here but for a few extra dollars you can use iVisa and someone else will handle any issues that may come up.

E-SIM: When I traveled to SE Asia I discovered e-sims and I’m never going back. Airalo has been easy and cheap!

TRAVEL INSURANCE: I use TravelInsurance.com for my trips abroad.

CAR RENTAL: I have loved working with Discover Cars when I rent cars in country.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS: I have used these transfers many times and they are always great. If you’d like more options, I also recommend GetTransfers.com as they allow you to compare companies.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on Booking.com.

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: You can browse GetYourGuide’s website to find just the tour you’re looking for!

Similar Posts