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The Weather and Things to Do in Istanbul in December

Updated: December 13, 2023

This post covers the weather in Istanbul in December, including average temperatures, precipitation, as well as tips for what to pack.

December in Istanbul tends to be mostly cloudy and cold.


Daytime high temperatures will generally average near 11-12 C (52-54 F) early in the month, falling to about 9 C (48 F) near the end of the month.

A few of the warmer afternoons, especially early in the month, can reach up near 16 C (61 F), and the record high temperature in recent decades was 19 C (66 F). 

Late night and early morning lows tend to be around 6-7 C (43-45 F) early in the month, falling to 4-5 C (39-41 F) near the end of the month.

On a few of the colder mornings, especially late in the month, lows can dip down near 1 C (34 F).

The record low temperature in Istanbul during December during recent decades was -3 C (26.6 F). 


December will normally see 13-14 days with sunny, or at least partly sunny skies and 17-18 mostly cloudy days.

Some precipitation falls on about 10-12 days, mainly as rain with about 1-2 of these days recording some snow.

Measurable snow, however, only falls on 1 or 2 days during each winter (mainly in January and February) and melts quickly.


Wind speeds during this month will be mostly gentle to moderate at 12-28 kph (8-18 mph) but can occasionally be fresh at 29-38 kph (19-24 mph). 

Ocean Temperatures

The beaches near Istanbul lie mostly along the shores of the Sea of Marmara and along the Bosphorus Strait.

The sea temperature during December is cold, falling from about 13 C (55-56 f) early in the month down to about 10 C (50 f) by New Year’s Eve.


During December you should pack clothes for cold weather.

Best to bring along a coat, jacket, a few sweaters, a winter hat, scarf, and gloves, plus jeans and leggings.

You might also want to bring some gloves for the especially cold days.


Although it will be cold this month, there will still be plenty of local guides offering free Istanbul walking tours, and that's usually one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the city and its history.

Istanbul does not typically have many holiday activities, but you might find a Christmas market here and there, as well as some lighting displays sprinkled throughout the city.

This would also be a good time to visit one of the many museums in the area, allowing you to get out of the rain and avoid any bad weather. Here are a few of our favorites:

Oh, and if you're planning to be here for New Year's Eve, you can look forward to the fireworks show along the Bosphorus shore!

For even more ideas, make sure to read our full post covering things to do in Istanbul.

Fred Pickhardt   
Ocean Weather Services 

About The Author

Fred Pickhardt

Fred is a marine meteorologist and sailed briefly with American Export Lines in the Far East trade. He has extensive experience in weather analysis, weather forecasting, and forensic weather event reconstructions. Fred founded Ocean Weather Services and currently provides forensic marine weather reports to the maritime industry.
Updated: December 13th, 2023
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