Turkey is a country with a diverse set of both oriental and European elements. Most people think of Turkey as a summer destination, but February can be a great time to visit Turkey.
Just think for a moment Turkish cuisine (which is known for a lot’s different food like kebabs, baklava, Turkish delight, Turkish coffee), hammams, bazaars, carpets, destinations like Cappadocia and Istanbul will still be available in winter.
Sure, winter is cold, but there is nothing to worry about if you dress a little more. On the plus side, Turkey can be a little warmer than your home country.
In fact, there are certain advantages if you travel to Turkey in February. Is February a good time to visit Turkey? There will be very few tourists, lower prices and you will enjoy the cultural attractions better than the crowded times. Enjoying your local wine or Turkish near a fireplace in a ski resort, in a villa near the frozen lake, or watching the hot air balloons of Cappodocia is priceless.
Here’s what you need to know about traveling in Turkey in February, including Turkish weather, holidays and festivals, cities and sites to visit in Turkey in February, and my favorite activities in February.
Table of Contents
- What are the best activities you can do in Turkey in February?
- My Favorite Activities
- Weather in Turkey in February
- Special Events in Turkey in February
- Turkish Cities in February
What are the best activities you can do in Turkey in February?
In February, the weather is cold, beaches are empty, but cities are full of life. There are indoor concerts, nightlife, events, celebrations are all there. Museums and cultural sites and all cultural tourism venues are also open in winter with significantly fewer crowds.
Additionally, there are some sites to visit in Turkey, which is way better to visit in February. I will detail what you can do in February in Turkey. First,I wish to reveal my four personal favorite activities in February.
My Favorite Activities
Enjoy Aegean Villages
There are many Aegean villages to enjoy. My favorite is Sirince. This village is one of the most romantic spots and a showroom of Aegean culture. This lovely traditional village is famous for many things, good food, traditional houses and wonderful people are just a few. Here is my travel guide on Sirince.
Sirince is a village filled with talented artisans. Walking in this village takes you back to ancient ages. For this reason, it is also known as Ephesus on the Hills.
And at night, you can enjoy local taverns, a beautiful clear sky with stars, homemade wine, and fresh pine forest oxygen. There are many boutique pensions converted from old houses.
The rooms in Sirince are usually designed traditionally, and most of them have fireplaces. Also, some rooms even have indoor jacuzzis looking at the wonderful scenery of untouched nature.
After a lovely night, lit the fireplace before you sleep 🙂 Don’t forget to enjoy your Turkish breakfast when you wake up.
Sirince has a remote but central location. The village is located just a 10-minute car ride away from the Virgin Mary Church, Ephesus ancient city, Selcuk town. Sirince is also an hour’s car ride (85km) from Izmir and half hour car ride from Kusadasi.
Enjoy Turkish Thermal Spas
If you are in Istanbul and want to do something warm in the middle of winter, Termal Yalova is the place for you. You can reach Termal Yalova by car or ferry cruise from Istanbul across the Sea of Marmara.
This is a site being used since ancient times. This place is enjoyed by Roman Ceasars, Byzantine Emperors, Ottoman Sultans, and lastly, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. There are many hotels with indoor and outdoor pools. I believe that it would be extra amazing if you plan your trip on a snowy day.
Visit the Lakes Near Istanbul
The lake district is in Marmara Region. There are various lakes to visit near Bursa or Istanbul. These are just an hour or two hours’ drive away from these metropolitan big cities depending on the traffic.
However, the atmosphere you will experience will be a tranquil, isolated experience in these lakes. Especially in the winter, there will be only mother nature and you.
Among many lakes, my favorite lake is Sapanca. Feed the ducks, walk around nature, enjoy your coffee, or even better, eat your hot meal near the lake in one of the authentic restaurants.
Best time to Ski
There are many ski resorts around Turkey. The best ones are Mount Erciyes near Kayseri, Palandöken near Erzurum, and Uludag near Bursa.
However, Uludag is my favorite. Uludag is an old volcano surrounded by Bursa 4th biggest city in Turkey. II is known as the ski capital of Turkey, but it offers more.
You can find nearly everything in Uludag plus a magnificent green metropolitan city underneath the mountain. Bursa does not only offer ski resorts. You can also experience geothermal baths, unique culture, museums, cultural sites, and fantastic food.
Bursa has many surprises. Buy the silk garments produced in the city, explore the taverns, and try the doner kebap in its birthplace.
Weather in Turkey in February
February is the coldest throughout Turkey. It is mostly windy, snowy, rainy, or three combined. Snow is common in the north.
Be extra careful in Istanbul, in the city of seven hills. While it is amazing when it snows in Istanbul, roads and slopes will be extra slippery.
Snow is a rare instance in the South and West coasts. You will be both amazed by the view of snow falling on palm trees and locals’ exaggerated reactions.
If it snows half a centimeter in Izmir, schools are closed, the city will halt to a standstill, and they may even declare a state of emergency. Also, there will be people all around enjoying the rare event.
What is the weather like in Turkey in February? Here is the map. If you have a hard time reading the map, I summarized the weather in Turkey in December in the table down below.
As you can see from the graph Turkey’s southern coastline regions are always warmer than their northern counterparts, but February is definitely cold everywhere.
|Region||Temperature in °C||Temperature in °F|
|North Coastline (Thrace and Black Sea including Istanbul)||3°C – 8°C||37°F – 46°F|
|West Turkey (Aegean Coast on including Izmir)||5°C – 10°C||41°F – 54°F|
|Mediterranean Coast (Mediterranean coast including Bodrum and Antalya)||8°C – 12°C||46°F – 54°F|
|Central Turkey (Anatolia including Ankara, Konya, Eskisehir)||0°C – 5 °C||32°F – 41°F|
|East Turkey (including Kars, Erzincan, Van)||-10°C – (-3)°C||14°F – 27°F|
|Southeast Turkey (including Gaziantep, Urfa)||3°C – 8°C||37°F – 46°F|
Source : Turkish State Meteorological Service
Always, check the current extended forecast for where you’re actually going before you leave, so you can find out in advance if it’s unseasonably cold or warm.
Special Events in Turkey in February
Camel Wrestling Festival
The Camel wrestling season begins with the Selcuk festival. This is the most spectacular one. After this event, dozens of smaller events will be held from February to April, and winners of these events will have a chance to attend next years’ Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival.
Camel wrestling festivals rely on hundreds of years of tradition. This is not a big commercialized or touristic event either. Villagers all around Aegean towns gather here to witness the season finale of camel wrestling.
This event is not a commercial event. There will not be many people who want to sell you something. For this reason, come prepared. You won’t find much food other than camel sausages. Bring your picnic backpack and your beverage with you. There will be lots of Aegean dances, Agean music, a lot of drunk local villagers.
There will be musicians walking between, and they will demand to sing at your side. The musicians usually ask to share your drink (mostly raki), but not your money. However, as a foreigner, it may be better to tip them a small amount of money, but they may still ask for a drink, bring extra glasses.
Camels are not native to Turkey. This event is the major reason that there are still camels in Turkey. If you wish to learn more about this UNESCO Cultural Heritage candidate tradition, read my guide for more information.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Turkey like most of the places around the globe. I wrote some of my tips in this article. There will be many activities that are designed for couples all around.
Turkish Cities in February
Cappadocia in February
Cappadocia is a very romantic place, especially on Valentine’s Day. 2 years ago, a Mexican friend of mine proposed to his girlfriend right on Lovers Hill when the hot air balloons were taking off in the distance.
Cappadocia is one of the best places to visit in February. Enjoy the underground hotel rooms with a view of magnificent natural wonder. Take a walk around underground cities, once inhabited by thousands of people, enjoy hot air ballooning, fantastic wines, and much more.
Cappadocia is a protected National Park and Goreme National Park is on UNESCO World Heritage List.
Istanbul in February
Istanbul is all about indoors now. Luckily, there are lots of things to do inside. You want to shop, go to the ancient Grand Bazaar, or countless malls in Istanbul. Ottoman Palaces, Topkapi Palace, and Dolmabahce are my favorite places to visit in February in Istanbul.
Want to do something outdoor? Get in the ferry line, watch Istanbul from the sea and enjoy your tea in the warmth of the ferry.
Do you want you to enjoy something tropical? Go and visit the Istanbul Aquarium. You can spend and enjoy your whole day in this place.
If you are in the mood for cultural events, there countless concerts and activities in Istanbul. The best one to look for is “!f İstanbul” film festival. It is an international independent film festival, where you can watch movies you can’t find elsewhere.
Izmir in February
In February, Izmir, my hometown, is different than most as always. This is the most lively time in the Izmir city center. Everybody is back from their summer houses. Beaches are empty but not the hearts of the Izmir people.
Make your Valentine’s Day reservation; lovers in this city take this date seriously. My favorite place is Urla, this little town is one of the best places to spend your Valentine’s Day in Izmir.
Urla has excellent gourmet restaurants and classic Aegean Restaurants. Urla is famous for its artichoke and vegetables. You can find more information in my Urla travel guide.
Meanwhile, February is not just Valentine’s day. Don’t forget to enjoy Izmir. Walk around Kordon, take the ferry to Bostanli. Enjoy the people, bars, cafes, and tavernas.
Izmir is not the city of kebabs. You can discover many different restaurants. Try local food with Izmir’s winter vegetable dishes. Locals mostly prefer fish and mezes (tapas). Mezes are mostly vegetarian or sea products, and they are absolutely delicious.
Try Efes which is an Izmir brewed beer and only internationally known Turkish beer.
If you need something strong, try Turkish Rakı, a Turkish national drink which is also nicknamed lion milk by Turkish locals.
Being one of the important port cities in the Mediterranean, Izmir has always been the liberal face of Turkey. That’s why Izmir is called the Infidel City of Turkey. Izmir offers everything a European metropolitan city offers but with a Turkish flavor.
Mediterranean Coast, Antalya, Bodrum in February
Fethiye, Alanya, or Kusadasi may not be the best places to go in the winter. Most of the locals close their operations and restaurants, shops, and hotels during the off-season.
However, in Bodrum and Antalya, it’s now locals’ turn to have fun. With a thriving local population, now locals enjoy life.
On the plus side, if you are not shy of cold weather, many of the attractions you have on your must-see list in Turkey are still open– ancient sites, churches, museums, cultural heritage sites. Enjoy your siesta in an orange garden heated with a wood-fueled fireplace after eating your Turkish breakfast.