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Turkey in March: Weather, Special Events, Cities, Tips & More

March is the first month of spring. However, every passing day it gets closer to spring is more visible. Sometimes winter comes back, it is really freezing cold, but sometimes the sun is shining so brightly that you start to think about summer days.

Is March a good time to visit Turkey? March is one of the best months to visit Turkey. Spring tones will be showing themselves, and flowers will start to blossom everywhere. Locals are busy celebrating because this is the month of festivals. Nevruz, holiday, puppet, movie, herb, camel wrestling festivals are just a few to name.

Even dolphins will parade through Bosphorous to warm waters to celebrate the coming of spring.

In other words, Turkey is one of the best places to enjoy spring.

See the dolphins enjoying themselves in Bosporus Channel, Istanbul

Here’s what you need to know about traveling in Turkey in March including Turkish weather, holidays and festivals, cities and sites to visit in Turkey in March, and my favorite activities in March.

Table of Contents

What are the best activities you can do in Turkey in March?

Even if the spring is on the doorstep, you can experience freezing weather. March is probably your last month to enjoy ski resorts. Nature will show signs of awakening from its winter sleep. March still can be cold. Yet, trekking is an ideal option on the Mediterranean Coast.

There will be lots of events, most of the festivals are not commercialized tourist events. Locals still rule Turkey. There will be lots of celebrations, especially Nevruz is a big one. Local celebrations are usually either very cheap or free to attend. I will tell some of them later in this post.

Additionally, some things in Turkey are way better to do in March. Let me reveal two of my favorite activities of March in Turkey.

My Favorite Activities in March

Urla Manej is a perfect place for family activity with nature and animals.

Enjoy Aegean Villages and Towns

There are many places to enjoy in the Aegean region in Turkey. One of my favorites is Urla. This place used to be a fishing town at the beginning of this century, but now it is a hidden gem. Here is my travel guide on Urla if you wish to know more. Urla Manej is a perfect place towith nature and animals.

Urla is a sanctuary of highly educated Turkish intellectuals. For this reason, artists, winemakers, chefs, and many highly creative artisans transformed this town into something unique.

Urla has lots of world-class restaurants. One of the best-known gourmet restaurants is OD|urla. The chef is Osman Sezener, a high school friend of mine, a first-class place for dining out. You won’t be sorry. My second favorite restaurant is Akın’s Place. I have been to hundreds of fish restaurants. This restaurant is the best in this category.

There are lots of boutique hotels in Urla. I think I will take my wife to Urla on our next wedding anniversary. There are many types of accommodation in Urla, but you should know, Urla is a little more expensive than Izmir.

Urla is close to the metropolitan city of Izmir, just 10 km, but it is also a tranquil sea town.

Urla also is one of the heaven of kitesurfers and windsurfers in Urla. If you are not shy of cold, you can enjoy these water sports with wetsuits. You can check my guides on kitesurfing and windsurfing in Turkey for more information.

Last Chance to Ski

There are many ski resorts around Turkey. The best ski resorts are Mount Erciyes near Kayseri, Palandoken near Erzurum, and Uludag near Bursa. Yet, Uludag has always been my favorite.

Bursa, the 4th biggest city in Turkey, lies beneath the Uludag mountain. Bursa has around 3000 thermal hammams, lots of historical sites, silk garments, bazaars, and unique culture. It has been a major settlement since ancient times, and it was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire before Istanbul.

You can easily spend your day in the ancient bazaar area. Bursa has always been one of the biggest trade hubs in Turkey and the historical silk road. You won’t regret shopping here when your partner enjoys skiing in Uludag. After a busy day, do not forget to relax your body by visiting one of the many Turkish baths of Bursa.

Weather in Turkey in March

March starts with a cold tone, but every passing day, it gets slightly warmer. As the warm and cold weather systems battle in the sky, there will be lots of wind (especially in coastal areas), and there will be a lot of rain.

In March, weather in Turkish cities can change rapidly. Water-resistant shoes are a must, and an umbrella is always advised. Snowing in March is rare and usually happens in areas with high elevation.

What is the weather like in Turkey in March? Here is the map. If you have a hard time reading the map, I summarized the weather in Turkey in March in the table below.

As you can see from the graph, Turkey’s southern coastline regions enter spring earlier. North is a little colder, but if you can catch a sunny day, enjoy it.

RegionTemperature in °CTemperature in °F
North Coastline (Thrace and Black Sea including Istanbul)5°C – 9°C41°F – 48°F
West Turkey (Aegean Coast on including Izmir)9°C – 13°C48°F – 55°F
Mediterranean Coast (Mediterranean coast including Bodrum and Antalya)11°C – 15°C52°F – 59°F
Central Turkey (Anatolia including Ankara, Konya, Eskisehir)4°C – 7°C39°F – 45°F
East Turkey (including Kars, Erzincan, Van)-3°C – 5°C26°F – 41°F
Southeast Turkey (including Gaziantep, Urfa)7°C – 13°C45°F -55°F
Average Temperatures in March for Regions of Turkey (1970-2019)
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 March

Local Festivals in March

Unlike other months, there are many festivals all around in March. Here is just some of them:

1. International Film Festival

This film festival usually takes place in March. However, this year, the film festival, due to the pandemic, took place in November. Here is the official site of the film festival. You can always check the updates from here.

You may be surprised to see new tulip arrangements all over Istanbul. Photo courtesy of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

2. Tulip Festival

Tulip’s motherland is Turkey. There will be related activities all around Istanbul and lots of tulip planting.

Imam throwing down the paste to the crowd.

3. Mesir Festival

This festival is celebrated in Manisa for more than 450 years. The Mesir Festival is listed as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Hafsa Sultan, the mother of Suleiman the Magnificent, was cured with a paste of 41 made with spices and herbs. For the commemoration of this event, every year from 21 to 24 March, the paste is prepared by a chef and apprentice according to traditional practice.

A team of 14 women wraps the paste in small pieces, and 28 imams and their apprentices bless the paste. After the blessing, Imam scatters the paste from the top of the minaret and the domes of the Sultan Mosque.

Thousands of people come from different regions of Turkey to compete to catch the pieces thrown by the Imams. It is believed that catching a paste brings good fortune.

Many events related events will take before and after the scattering event of the paste.

Photo courtesy of the Izmir International Puppet Day Organization.

4.Kukla Festival in Izmir

The dates may vary year to year. In 2020, the 14th of International Puppet Days will occur in Izmir between 5 – 22 March. There will be 50 theatre groups from 23 countries and 52 different shows. These shows will be presented in 37 venues across the city, and there will be 223 theater sessions.

Also, there will be two workshops and a panel discussion for professional puppeteers. This is official for Izmir International Puppet Days.

Camel Beauty Contest is one of the activities in Camel Wrestling Festival.

5. Camel Wrestling

The Camel wrestling season starts with the Selcuk festival in February. This is the most spectacular one. You can read my article on Camel Wrestling for my information.

After this event, there will be dozens of smaller events from February to April across Aegean towns and the South Coast of Turkey. The winners of these events will have a chance to attend next years’ Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival.

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Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival
Photo is courtesy of Camel Wrestling Organization

6. Nevruz

It means ” New Day” and 21 March is celebrated as New Year for many communities. It is widely celebrated in Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. Nevruz is listed as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

I have not much experience with Nevruz, probably because I am a city person. This festival is widely celebrated in Anatolia and among the Kurdish population and historically nomadic communities.

Turkish Cities in February

Cappadocia in March

Cappadocia will still be cold. Nonetheless, you can still enjoy local wines, fireplaces, and wonderful Turkish breakfasts. This is your last chance to enjoy a honeymoon-like vacation with your loved one. As the spring gets closer, Cappodocia will be more lively and more crowded.

Also, in March, Cappadocia is cheaper, but you will have a hard time finding good spots in boutique hotels next month.

Even if you are afraid to enjoy hot air ballooning, watch them from the hills as they take off at the dawn of the morning. I would need not tell you that you should discover old underground cities once home to thousands of people.

The cheapest and best activity in Istanbul is hopping on a ferry and watching Istanbul from the sea.

Istanbul in March

You want to do something outdoor, but not sure of the weather. My top advice is to jump on a ferry line heading into one of the Prince’s Islands in Istanbul. March is the best time to discover these islands.

On your journey to Prince’s Islands, enjoy your tea in the warmth of the ferry. If you are lucky to be on a sunny day, enjoy the sun on the outdoor part of the ferry and view Istanbul from the sea. If you are even luckier, you may spot the dolphins.

Prince’s islands are usually packed like penguin colonies with tourists in summer, but the islands will be calm and very enjoyable in March.

Izmir International Fair is a big public park in the middle of Izmir. It is a perfect alternative to the Izmir coastline to enjoy a morning jog or sunbath.

Izmir in March

Izmir is something to see in March. Coastline will be the picnic place for the locals from this month to September. Spring will be the most lively time of the Izmir.

Most of the locals will desert the city in the summer months. Locals tend to leave Izmir after the schools and resettle in their summer houses. In summer, the city is left to working people and mostly working dads.

Mediterranean Coast, Antalya, Bodrum in March

On the southern coastline, by the middle of March, winter ends for good. Bodrum and Antalya, Fethiye, Alanya, and Kusadasi are now recovering from their deep sleep during the winter. Most locals are spring cleaning or renovating their shops to prepare themselves for the tourist season.

Tourists have not flocked to the South yet, and it is calm. The beaches are mostly empty except for some hardy people who can tolerate a little cold.

This is the best time for trekking on the Mediterranean coast without the heat of the summer. Everywhere will be clean and renovated, locals will be more welcoming than the busy summer days.