If you are thinking of visiting Istanbul in February, we wholeheartedly recommend a city break. Many people scoff at travelling during February, traditionally marking winter end. They prefer to wait until Spring; however, this wonderful global city has many delights and surprises regardless of the month. Granted, don’t pack your swimming costume and beach towels. But visitors experience remarkable journeys into Istanbul’s culture and history that ranks alongside Rome and Paris for global importance. For those who want to invest in Istanbul real estate or just travel and get to know the city all year round, fewer crowds line up at attractions. Also, grab good deals on hotels and flights since February is traditionally out of season. So, let’s look at indoor places and attractions to visit when in Istanbul.
Indoor Activities for Istanbul in February
1: Istanbul Weather and Temperatures During February
Temperatures range between 3 to 10 degrees and dip at night. Historically, Istanbul receives roughly 4 to 5 days of snow during February, with dense fog covering city landscapes. In addition, Istanbul receives approximately ten days of rain, but plenty of indoor attractions await visitors. However, sunshine and daylight hours slowly increase, and temperatures warm up towards February end. When knowing what to pack, forget shorts and t-shirts. Instead, bring a winter jacket, long trousers, waterproof shoes, a rain jacket, and sweaters. Pack lightly because you might like to go shopping in Istanbul, home to malls, local markets, and traditional stalls.
2: Visit the Sultanahmet Area
Sultanahmet in the Fatih district is the touristic hub, not only of Istanbul but Turkey. Therefore, most people travel to Istanbul to see the area but do not underestimate its importance. This is from where the Byzantine and Ottoman empires ruled their lands which stretched across the world. Sultanahmet, an architectural masterpiece, features landmark buildings that evoke nostalgia for Istanbul’s former glory. Prominent landmarks include the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern.
- Sacred Architecture: About the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia of Istanbul
- Topkapi Palace: Glorious Seat of an Empire
- Basilica Cistern: 1001 Columns and Heads of Medusa
3: Famous Turkish Baths in Istanbul
As well as enjoying grooming and relaxation, traditional Turkish baths give insight into ancient; social cultures still practised today. After changing into your costume, walk into a steam room to open skin pores ready for cleansing. Dowse yourself down with water if it gets too hot. Then lay down on the marble slab for an overall body scrub to get rid of dead skin, after enjoying soapy wash downs with olive oil soap. To relax further, indulge in an olive oil massage. Some of Turkey’s oldest and most famous Turkish baths are in Istanbul so take time out to enjoy one in February. Famous baths include Cemberlitas, Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan, Cagaloglu and Suleymaniye Hamam. More about Turkish baths in Istanbul.
4: Shop in the Grand Bazaar
Shop under one roof in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, a sprawling network of corridors and stalls. But don’t think it is all about spending cash because the bazaar, a historical building dating from when Ottomans first invaded Istanbul, was a significant trading route on the old silk road, and traders from around the world flocked here to sell and buy. Traditionally, according to Ottoman rules, all traders are grouped according to what they sell, and this practice still happens today. Buy souvenirs here but don’t forget to practise Turkish bartering skills to get the best price possible. Stop by historical Hans to see artisans perfecting their crafts. Guide to shopping in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.
5: Explore New Istanbul
While Sultanahmet is old Istanbul, new Istanbul covers the Taksim and Beyoglu districts. Classed as such because of the many shops and nightlife establishments, the area includes the long Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul, and Turkey’s busiest and longest shopping street. It would be easy to assume this area is all about new and modern given the international and Turkish brand names everywhere. But look closely to discover some marvellous old landmarks that deserve exploring, like Flower Passage and Saint Anthony of Padua Church. Also, visit the Pera museum. Home of Turkey’s most famous painting, The Tortoise Trainer, and the Museum of Innocence, curated by Turkey’s most famous male author, Orhan Pamuk. Find out more places to explore in new Istanbul.
6: Whirling Dervish Show
At the end of Istikbal Avenue sits Galata whirling dervish museum. Belonging to Islam, whirling dervishes were prominent in Istanbul before the new Turkish government banned their practices. This rule no longer applies, and whirling dervishes are more insight into Istanbul’s past. Explore the museum in February to discover how they lived and what they believed, but book tickets for their evening show where dervishes practise the sema, an ancient ritual to put them in touch with God.
7: Galata Tower Viewing Platform and Evening show
Further down the roads, as if heading to Galata bridge, sits the Galata district, home to the famous Genesee tower of the same name. While the building does have an illustrious past dating back centuries, people head there for the viewing platform. In nice weather during February with no fog, do the same, but at sunset for marvellous views over Istanbul’s city landscapes, built on seven hills to match Rome’s glory. Another alternative for nighttime activities is tickets to their evening shows, including dinner, folklore dancing, and music. About Galata Tower.
8: Shopping Malls Galore
For modern Istanbul in February, the city excels in large shopping malls. This is not a place to practise Turkish bartering skills, so forget about culture, tradition, and history. Instead, these places promote shopping, dining, and entertainment under one roof, and larger ones are great places to visit for families because they include kids’ friendly activities. The top five shopping malls are the Mall of Istanbul, Istinye Park, Zorlu Center, Cevahir Mall and Forum Istanbul. Also, visit Sapphire Tower, Turkey’s fourth-tallest building, of which the terrace presents excellent landscape views.
9: Suleymaniye and Fatih Mosques
Mosques are more than just places of worship. For foreigners, they are an insight into Islam and beliefs held by followers. Many architectural showpieces highlight skills and dedication to perfecting buildings to last forever. Istanbul’s old mosques connect to the Ottoman empire, of which some were imperial and used by Ottoman sultans, hence boosting their historical importance. In some lay the tombs of sultans. Two more must-visit mosques during February are Suleymaniye and Fatih. Suleymaniye Travel Guide.
10: Famous Ottoman Palaces
One of our favourite things in Istanbul in February is exploring old Ottoman palaces. Most people have heard of Topkapi palace; but there are many more. Dolmabahce Palace, the last place from where they ruled, highlights the wealth spent when the Ottoman Empire’s reputation was the poor man of Europe. Influential Ottomans also built summer palaces along the Bosphorus shores, where they retreated to in summer or used for diplomatic visits by foreign dignitaries. Some like Beylerbeyi hosted the famous duke and duchess of Windsor. Find out which Ottoman palaces to visit in February.
11: Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium
Lastly, visit the Istanbul Sea life aquarium for kid-friendly activities in February. We must admit we enjoy visiting, and we don’t have kids. An overwhelming range of underwater life portrays the earth’s diversity, from what eyes cannot see on land. Sitting in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district, buy tickets online to see sharks, octopuses, jellyfish, tropical reefs, turtles, and other creatures that deserve admiration. Visiting this aquarium helps kids to learn about our planet with fun.
Also About Istanbul
Istanbul City Guide: Whether you are just visiting or planning to purchase property in Istanbul, our guide to attractions and districts will be helpful. Talking about significant landmarks, why the city is famous, exciting facts, and much more to enhance your visit to Istanbul in February.
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