Istanbul in May – is it worth going? Weather, water temperature, how to dress, prices 2023. What to do in Istanbul at the end of spring, where you can go – figured out good Time for Trip.
Istanbul, the largest, though not the main city of Turkey, rarely becomes the only target in the holidays plans of European or American travelers. It usually comes as a kind of supplement – it is difficult for citizens vacationing in Turkish resorts to resist the temptation to see the former Constantinople. The capital of imperial Byzantium and once the richest city in the world.
However, at the beginning of May, Istanbul can be considered as an independent tourist destination. After all, when the weather allows swimming without restrictions only in Antalya and Alanya (if else), travelers tend to see the famous attractions first of all.
So, on the threshold of summer, it’s more than reasonable to see the Hagia Sophia, take a walk around the residence of Topkapi, take a cruise along the Bosphorus. Moreover, with a high probability you will walk everywhere not crowded from all sides by other tourists!
How warm is it in Istanbul in May? Will there be an opportunity to swim in the Marmara or Black Sea? Are the prices high? We tried to answer all these questions in our material!
Weather in Istanbul in May
It will almost certainly please you. After all, according to long-term statistics, it is characterized by a very enjoyable, mostly cloudless character. The average day, and with it tourists, observe up to 11-12 hours of sunshine.
Trees are turning green, flowerbeds are blooming, people are walking relaxed, inattentively listening to the words of the guide – they must understand exactly where to start exploring Istanbul. On the summer terraces of cafes and restaurants, there is a revival – fresh air stimulates the desire to try traditional Turkish foods.
In short, there is an atmosphere of peace, relaxation, contentment with life everywhere… happiness.
At the beginning of May 2022, the air temperature in Istanbul reached +17-19 °C during the day. In the second decade of the month, as if on command, it began to rise to +21-23 °C. And closer to June, it began not just to get to the +30 °C mark, but several times went over it!
At night, until about the middle of the month, it’s often frankly cheerful – from +8 to +12 °C. So don’t forget to bring pullovers and hoodies with you in case of evening walks. At the end of May in Istanbul and after sunset it is warm – up to +21-23 °C!
Rain and Sun
Infrequent rains aren’t able to spoil the mood – the probability of a clear day reaches 80%. As a result, the humidity of the air is kept in a moderate and perfectly suitable for long walking excursions range: 65-75%.
The legendary Bosphorus casts a rich blue color. And the boats scurrying along it seem to embody a turbulent time full of latent energy. To refrain from a cruise at this time is beyond human strength.
The firmament is serenely blue, forcing eternally concerned people to think about their short-sightedness. And the sunsets over the ancient city literally immerse you in silent admiration – they are so beautiful!
It is clear to everyone – nature is preparing for summer. And not in a capricious mode, changing anger to mercy. On the cotrary, she does it quite generously, constantly giving warmth and light.
The Marmara Sea off the coast of Istanbul at the beginning of May warmed up to a modest +16-17 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that the ships going on cruises to the Prince’s Islands are crowded. But in the water you won’t notice the swimmers’ heads.
In the future, the rise in water temperature occurs, if not exponentially, then along a cheerfully climbing curve. So the sea warms up to +20 °C – in the middle of May, and to +22-23 °C- at its end.
As a result, thoughts about bathing inevitably appear in the mind of travelers. And if not everyone will take a chance to plunge into the Bosporus, crowded with tankers, then a May trip from Istanbul to the resorts of the Marmara Sea looks reasonable and justified.
Why not – Mudanya is only 175 km away by highway? And to the Erdek, so beloved by family vacationers, – 270 km?!
By the way, many independent travelers in the spring willingly succumb to this temptation. To begin with, they see the sights in Istanbul and nearby, and then go right to the sea!
And that’s right – in May, you can swim in Turkey just not everywhere.
You can choose a hotel from an extremely wide range. For example, at one time we deliberately stayed at the 4-star Erboy Istanbul Sirkeci Hotel, which is located near Istanbul’s Gulhane Park, blooming splendidly in May. That is, not just next to a large green area, but also within walking distance from Sultanahmet Square, Topkapi complex.
In general, it’s not cheap – a room for two even with a discount cost about 90 € per night (now from 110 €). But it was worth it – the beautiful location of the hotel turned the rest into a real pleasure.
It is possible that at the present time this is already an excess. After all, in the center of Istanbul you can find much more inexpensive, but still very decent hotels and guest houses.
For example, here are a couple of more economical options (for 70-80 € without discount), where you can stay in Istanbul in mid-May:
Relatively inexpensive is Artika Hotel, located in the same central quarter of Sultanahmet. That is, within walking distance from the main Istanbul attractions.
Basileus Hotel enjoys a habitually high demand at any time of the year. Featuring a good location and service.
There are shops and inexpensive cafes nearby, as well as the Yenikapı ferry terminal. From where you can go, for example, to Yalova or Izmir (but not to the Princes’ Islands)!
Things to Do
Obviously, the list of places to visit in Istanbul at the end of spring differs little from the same at any other time of the year. Looking for little-known and well-hidden from tourist eyes “pearls” is worth it only for those who have already been to the city before. And are eager for new experiences!
Most tourists will therefore definitely visit the Hagia Sophia, now converted from a museum into a mosque. And – for sure – Sultanahmet, who was a mosque from birth.
About a day is usually spent to get acquainted with the palaces and gardens of Topkapi. And the same amount time you will waste for other Sultan’s residences: Dolmabahce in the European part of Istanbul or cozy Beylerbeyi on the other side of the Bosphorus.
During the walks, there may also be a desire to deep into the history of the city on an excursion. Moreover, in comparison with European cities, they are not too expensive here!
The weather frankly favors long walking maneuvers on the streets. And strictly tells you not to get stuck in the museum halls.
We recommend making the only exception for the Rahmi M. Koch Museum.
Where so many interesting exhibits are collected that only a cursory examination will take several hours.
There are many reviews of the collection on the Internet. And most are enthusiastic!
In May, it is simply criminal not to take part in a boat trip in Istanbul! And not only along the Bosphorus, but also longer ones, for example, to the Princes’ Islands.
The most environmentally friendly place in the whole city – vehicles with internal combustion engines were banned on the archipelago. Only horse-drawn carts or bicycles are allowed!
Where to Go
Another interesting place near Istanbul is the thermal resort of Yalova. Trips to it are possible as part of organized tours. But, of course, you can easily get to the baths of Yalova on your own.
For those who aren’t afraid to rent a car, we recommend getting to the remnants of Troy and partly feel like Heinrich Schliemann. The ruins of the ancient ancient city, around which passions once boiled, are located near the town of Canakkale.
You have to drive along the highway for about 400 km, but you will see a truly legendary place!
The idea of a road trip to Ephesus, once the largest Greek colony in Asia Minor, looks a bit adventurous. Since the journey to the town of Selcuk will take at least 6-7 hours.
If you aren’t afraid of distances, you can go in May to Cappadocia. If the available time allows you to spend 2-3 days exploring this beautiful region of Turkey. Even organizers of tours from Istanbul don’t advise spending!
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