For many, the month of May in Turkey is the best time to visit the country. With the delights of spring just halfway through, cool temperatures but ample daylight make getting out and exploring exciting. Additionally, beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs are halfway through their blooming time, making most landscapes delightful and colourful. While we live in Turkey all year round, we love the month of May.
Evenings warm up, which means alfresco style dining on our roof terrace. In addition, the month marks the official beginning for holiday industries, when airlines step up their flight schedules, and local councils in Turkey clean and organise their beaches, ready for holidaymakers seeking sun, sea, and sand. If we have not convinced you already that May is a marvellous time to visit Turkey, read on to find out what else is happening.
Guide to May in Turkey
1: Turkey's Weather and Climate in May
Turkey has several different climate zones, so the weather varies depending on location. Head to the northeastern Kackar mountains, and you will still need your winter warmers. However, temperatures start to warm up in the Marmara region, where Istanbul is, and all along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Expect average daytime temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees with this climbing higher at the end of May. For night times, you will need a light jacket. Occasionally, it does rain, but nothing consistent to ruin your holiday.
2: Events in Turkey During May
Labour and Solidarity Day: This yearly event occurs in countries throughout the world overall and goes unnoticed in Turkey's smaller towns and villages. The most prominent gathering used to be in Istanbul's Taksim square area. However, clashes between the public and police frequently happened. So if you happen to visit Taksim square on May the 1st and see large gatherings, walk away.
Ataturk Youth and Sports Day: Officially, this day marks the start of Turkey's 1919 War of Independence to take the country back from allied forces who conquered it during the first world war. On this day, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey, landed in Samsun. In later years, Turkey's government added celebrating the youth of Turkey. Should you book hotels near schools, you will probably hear them practising the national anthem or rehearsing traditional folklore dances to commemorate the day.
Check Local Guides: The above two main events happen on the same day every year, but check local region guides of where you travel to find out what else is happening. For example, there is always an event or festival to celebrate in Istanbul.
3: Best Places to Go in Turkey During May
For Beach Holidays in May: As mentioned before, the official tourism season starts in May and beach holiday resorts all along the southern and western coasts kick it up a notch. Historically, the Antalya area is noted as having Turkey's best beaches. The city centre is home to Konyaalti, and Lara beach, of which the latter features large, all-inclusive themed hotels. Heading further east, the Alanya district is home to Cleopatras beach, which wins raving reviews from Trip Advisor users every year. Other notable beaches include Kaputas and Patara, Turkey's longest.
Exploring Turkey in May: Two places stand out if historical sites and cultural heritage are your ideas for fun-filled holidays. First is Istanbul city. As the former ruling capital of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires, the Sultanahmet district is Turkey's top visited tourist attraction, thanks to historical sites like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace and Basilica Cistern. Alternatively, we love central Anatolian Cappadocia. In addition, these marvellous lunar-like landscapes feature ancient underground cities and UNESCO World Heritage cave churches. Also, throw in the excitement by booking an early morning hot air balloon trip.
City Breaks Destinations in Turkey: Alternatively, for city break destinations with good shopping, nightlife and cultural scenes, many cities in Turkey step up as ideal contenders. Of course, Istanbul always comes out on top as the best city break destination. However, Ankara and Izmir, Turkey's 2nd, and 3rd biggest cities, provide exciting exploration. For a twist to western well-publicised towns to visit, head over to Trabzon and Rize, two cities popular with Middle Eastern nationalities thanks to similarities in culture and food. Additionally, Trabzon is the gateway to scenic places of natural beauty like Uzungol and the Ayder Plateau.
Camping Spots in Turkey: Some people like to be at one with Mother Nature, and we understand why. There is nothing better than sleeping under the stars and waking up to birds singing and that marvellous sunrise view. The excellent news is that Turkey has excellent camping and glamping spots that fit the bill. One of our favourites is Mediterranean Olympos, where the favoured and quirky accommodation is tree houses. Also, head to Faralya for yoga and wellness holidays.
Fethiye Region: Also sitting on Turkey's southern coast, we love the Fethiye region, boasting gorgeous beaches and ancient historical sites. The area is incredibly family-friendly, backed by the Taurus mountains, and fronted by the Mediterranean Sea; hence is home to places of natural beauty. The region separates into different places to stay, including Hisaronu and Ovacik, Oludeniz, Calis Beach and the main city centre.
Bodrum Peninsula: Meanwhile, head over to Aegean Turkey, and the Bodrum peninsula reigns as the tourism king. There are small holiday resorts to stay in, including rustic Gumusluk, luxury Torba, the city centre and Yalikavak, home to the marina, one of Turkey's most prominent since it can hold large yachts; hence wealthy people from around the world often dock in. The Bodrum peninsula pioneered tourism in the 1950s; therefore, expect the best, whether budget or luxury.
Ephesus and Pamukkale: After Istanbul, these two places are Turkey's top visited attractions hosting millions of visitors every year. Ephesus, a former ancient city, nearly rivalled Rome in importance. Landmark buildings to see include the agora marketplace, roman terrace houses, public latrines, Celsius library, and the large amphitheatre, where the Bible's Artemis riots took place. Also nearby is the Virgin Mary's house, believed to be where she ascended. Roughly three hours drive away, the white cotton castle of Pamukkale stands tall and proud on a hillside. Formed by solidified calcium pools, Pamukkale and the nearby ancient Hierapolis city are UNESCO Sites.
- All about the ancient city of Ephesus
- Guide to visiting Pamukkale and Hierapolis
Golfing in Belek: With cool temperatures, this is no better time to hit the golf courses and practise your swing. Here is what to know. The capital of golfing in Turkey is Belek, and the world class championships courses easily match the likes of those in Portugal or Spain. You can even go golfing at night if you like.
4: Food to Eat on Holiday in Turkey
Visiting Turkey during May is ideal because many fruits and vegetables come into season. In addition, Turks love eating healthy hence expect fresh ingredients to appear at tables when you visit restaurants. Don't forget, though, food is an integral part of Turkish society, and there is an unwritten protocol of good and bad manners. This article about Turkish food culture and suggestions of what to eat during May is helpful.
Souvenirs from Turkey: No doubt, you will fall in love with the country when you visit Turkey. We are pretty sure of this. Everyone does. Hence you might want to take home some treasured memories of your visit in May in Turkey. This article gives suggestions, meanings, and where to buy them in Turkey.
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