silhouette of a horse with sled on snow covered ground
Expat Life, Istanbul

Expat Living Turkey: Does it get cold in Istanbul?

Many people ask me whether it gets cold in Istanbul. The short answer is: Yes, it does… Not only does it get cold, we had plenty of snow and ice in our short time there.

Snow-covered palm tree. Fantastic.

A lot of people associate Turkey with blistering sunshine, but it does get cold in many parts of the country. So it may (or may not) surprise you to know that winter snow is not uncommon in Istanbul. However, if you didn’t know that it gets quite nippy, you would be far from the only one.


Plenty of Brits travel to Istanbul in the winter months completely oblivious to the fact that it’s, well… winter.  For example back in November 2011, we had a cold snap, where temperatures hovered around 5 degrees celsius.

Upon returning to Istanbul from a few days in the UK, our plane touched down. As the doors opened a glacial gust blew in. Luckily, I was snugly wrapped in a thick winter coat, but a number of the UK passengers were horrified.


Random Male Passenger:                                           

It’s brass monkeys* out there and I haven’t got a coat with me!

Random Female passenger who was travelling entirely separately from Random Male Passenger:                                                                          

Well, I’ve packed 5 bikinis.

I hesitated a moment and then shared my joyful tidings:  

Apparently it’s forecast to snow this week. (Smugly snuggling further into winter coat).


The forecast snow never fell, but their faces most certainly did.



*Brass monkeys is a much used British colloquialism meaning that the weather is cold enough to freeze the b*lls off a brass monkey, i.e.  It’s very cold.


Discover more about living in Istanbul in Uphill Battle, Lost in Translation and Hats for Twins. Otherwise, you can learn about the fascination region of Cappadocia with its cave houses, vineyards and underground cities here.

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