Istanbul skyline

Istanbul for any season

Warm hammams and glasses of boutique Turkish red wine in the winter, tulips and antiques in the spring and the city’s islands explored by boat in the summer are just some of the examples of why Istanbul makes the ideal holiday spot at any time of year

Tulips growing

March to May

No mention of spring in Istanbul would be complete without the famous Tulip Festival, which takes place annually during April. Head to Emirgan Park – the event’s main venue – where tulip gardens in almost every colour imaginable will be in full bloom. Since spring has the year’s mildest temperatures, this is also the time for some serious exploration on foot. If you’re an avid antique hunter, head to the many boutiques in Çukurcuma such as A la Turca, where you’ll find plenty of Ottoman-era beauties. You can visit another of Istanbul’s most important antique dealers in neighbouring Galata, where Sofa Art and Antiques and its owner, Kashif, has some of the best treasures Istanbul has to offer. To breathe in some of that fresh sea air, walk the famous Bebek waterfront promenade to enjoy views of the Bosphorus and make a stop at Bebek Balıkcı for grilled fish and a glass of white wine.

Boat on Bospshorus

June to August

During the height of summer, most residents head to their summer homes outside the city to escape the heat, but there are myriad opportunities to cool off in and around the water. Rent a private boat and explore Istanbul from afar by gliding on the Bosphorus and making a stop for lunch to dine on fresh meze by the water accompanied by ice-cold glasses of rakı, or simply idle the hours away shoreside at the Bosphorus Lounge. If you’re more on the active side, you might decide to rent a sailboat and explore Istanbul’s islands and many hidden coves, where cooling off in the water is encouraged. Talk to the hotel’s concierge team, who’ll be able to advise on the best spots to drop anchor. Summer is also a time for the city’s festivals, most importantly the İKSV Music Festival, Turkey’s most prestigious classical music event, which takes place annually in June and July. Book tickets for concerts by world-renowned artists and orchestras as they take over Istanbul’s venues, most notably, the historic Hagia Irene museum near Topkapı Palace.

Chef cooks at OD Urla

September to November

As the tourist high season comes to a close, it’s time to take a trip outside the city to explore Turkey’s summer holiday towns without the crowds. Skip the usual suspects such as Antalya and instead take a short direct flight to Izmir and rent a car to explore nearby Urla – the ‘Tuscany of Turkey’, as it’s endearingly called. Tour the area’s award-winning boutique vineyards, such as the Urla Winery, and taste local varieties such as Kalecik Karası and Bornova Misketi. Visit the painting and sculpture collection at the stunning Arkas Art, an art museum with the appearance of a modern stone temple in the countryside. Don’t forget to make a reservation at OD Urla (pictured above), a fine dining farm-to-table experience. Prefer to stay closer to home? Make the most of the temperate weather and head to nearby Belgrad Forest to hike epic trails and rest in the tranquillity of the lake. If you’re more of a spectator, the Istanbul Marathon takes place each November, lining the street and bridges of the city.

Food dishes at Neolokal

December to February

When winter arrives in Istanbul, it’s time to get warm and cosy at a traditional hammam – the steam bath and soapy scrub are the key ingredients for thorough rejuvenation. Reserve a private session at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul and don’t be surprised if you happen to fall asleep in the relaxation lounge afterwards. Make use of rainy or snowy days to explore the Dolapdere neighbourhood, where some of Istanbul’s most important art galleries are located. Admire works of contemporary art at the chic Arter building, designed by the London-based Grimshaw Architects, as well as the Pilevneli gallery, designed by the famous Turkish architectural firm run by Emre Arolat. Come evening time, warm up with a few glasses of excellent Turkish red wine at Neolokal (pictured above), one of the city’s fine-dining giants, which also happens to have one of the most comprehensive lists of boutique Turkish wines. Or, alternatively, sip cocktails at the sleek Novikov Bar until the wee hours.

Mandarin Oriental Istanbul
Come Stay with Us
Mandarin Oriental Istanbul


+90 212 349 8888

Istanbul at sunset

Five essential Istanbul experiences

Discover things to do in Istanbul, from the culinary to the curious