What to wear in Istanbul Summer (& Early Fall)

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You’d think the chances of crossing paths with someone who only lives a few blocks away from you in real life in Istanbul (pop 16 million and counting) via a Facebook group started by American writers would be pretty slim. Especially when you’re me, a woman from Australia and the other person is Pinar Tarhan, Turkish born Romcom author, content writer and sometime English teacher. Yet in the cyberworld of six degrees of separation that’s exactly how we met. Now we’re friends and meet regularly for lunch, take meaningful walks around the park (we mightn’t solve the problems of the world but we have fun trying) and compare notes on new coffee shops opening up in our area.

When I decided my website needed a post on what to wear in Istanbul summer, I immediately knew Pinar was my go-to expert. She’s finely tuned to weather conditions and can predict rain, wind or excessive humidity at the drop of a hat, which she always has ready in her bag should the need arise, along with a scarf, light sweater and well … I’ll just let her tell you herself.

Pinar says …

Apart from some educational stints and vacations abroad, I’ve lived in Istanbul all my life. And one thing’s for certain: The weather here will always be crazy and unpredictable. So much so that I often dedicate the Crowded House tune Four Seasons in One Day to my city.

Summer in Istanbul can start anywhere from late April to mid-June and usually stays around until mid-October.

What is summer like here, then?

If the temperature is 30 degrees (86 F), it can feel 25 (77F) or 35 (95 F). Or it can feel like 30. Humidity, in general, is very high. Then there are the winds … With these in mind, let’s roll.

What to wear in Istanbul Summer packing list

  • Extra T-shirts and tops. Yes, it is a summer holiday in a semi-Mediterranean country so I know you will pack these. What I am asking is that you pack a few more. Istanbul can turn you into someone who sweats even if you don’t generally sweat much. It helps if the tops you pick are made from easy-dry fabrics. I also urge you to take an extra T-shirt with you during your daily excursions in the city. More often than not, you will need it.
  • your what to wear in Istanbul Summer packing list should include one pair of comfortable pants, ideally something lighter than jeans. It’s one thing to wear jean shorts, but wearing jeans might make you feel increasingly uncomfortable the hotter it gets. Since the average temperature of summer months in Istanbul averages 30, lighter is better. However, pack (or wear) the jeans if you are coming in the fall.
  • A comfy backpack. Especially if you are a freelancer or love taking pictures with more specialized gear. Istanbul is huge, warm, and has unpredictable weather. It is also picturesque and offers gorgeous scenery.
  • You will want a bottle of water or two with you at all times.
  • Add your other stuff and that extra shirt, and I don’t recommend walking around without a bag. Istanbul is fairly safe. That said, don’t put your most precious belongings in your back pockets, and don’t leave zippers open. Just in case.
  • Shorts/skirts/dresses are essential items on your what to wear in Istanbul summer packing list. Whatever makes you feel cool and comfortable, put them in. Something fancy for a night out. While most bars and restaurants are pretty casual, there are many more expensive and elite ones that you might want to check out. Usually, the more expensive the neighborhood and the more breath-taking the view, the costlier the place will be. There is no need to go designer, but a nice pair of pants and a shirt will do guys good. And even if the place doesn’t require a jacket, you might need it due to the airconditioning (AC) anyway. Women have more to choose from. Put one fancy light dress, and you are good to go. If you’re packing something stylish, don’t forget to bring in a pair of shoes that go with the outfit.
  • Flip–flops and/or sandals.  You will want the most air around your feet. Pack a durable, easily drying pair, and you can also wear it at the beach, during the day/night, as well as many excursions. Maybe your hotel has a pool. Maybe you are visiting the islands or taking a boat tour. Pack at least one pair so that if the day gets unbearably hot, you can still chill.
  • A pair of comfy trainers and socks. If you are not used to flip-flops, trainers can carry you the whole vacation. Just don’t forget to air them occasionally.
  • Waterproof shoes. It doesn’t rain that often in the summer, and it usually doesn’t last long. But when it does, you might get you soaked. If you don’t like wearing flip-flops, you should pack a pair. Or better yet, wear them on the way to make your suitcase lighter. If you are coming in the fall, definitely pack them.
  • A scarf or two, and a light jacket. Chances are, you will need the scarf and the jacket inside rather than outside. Some places blast out the air-conditioning like their life depends on it, and it can feel like Siberia. The contrast between indoors and outdoors is huge, so try to get some healthy food and drinks in. It is notoriously easy to catch a cold in Istanbul, summer or not. And a scarf will also come in handy for women when visiting mosques.
  • A hat. You can always buy one here, but you might also get sunstroke until you do.
  • Sunscreen. Don’t neglect to put it on your face and your shoulders. It is quite easy to burn here if you are not careful.

Obviously, don’t forget your passport, money, credit cards and underwear.

Enjoy your Istanbul summer. Keep in mind that the closer we get to fall and winter, the cooler it will get. If you are coming later, add one extra cardigan to go inside that jacket. And if you forget something? Istanbul is a shopping heaven. You can find pretty much anything. But as any experienced shopper knows, retail therapy is a lot more fun if you are just doing it for the hell of it as opposed to looking for specific things you need.

Remember to save some space for souvenirs and other forms of shopping frenzy. And whatever you do, remember to hydrate!

Thank you Pinar for sharing your tips on what to pack for a perfect summer trip to Istanbul. I’d also suggest you pack one of Pinar’s books. They’re great fun and perfect for reading on the plane, by the pool or on the beach. You can find out more about Pinar on her author page and her website.


Here are some of my helpful tips for planning your trip to Istanbul or Turkey.

For FLIGHTS I like to use Kiwi.com.

Don’t pay extra for an E-VISA. Here’s my post on everything to know before you take off.

However E-SIM are the way to go to stay connected with a local phone number and mobile data on the go. Airalo is easy to use and affordable.

Even if I never claim on it, I always take out TRAVEL INSURANCE. I recommend Visitors Coverage.

I’m a big advocate of public transport, but know it’s not suitable for everyone all the time. When I need to be picked up from or get to Istanbul Airport or Sabiha Gokcen Airport, I use one of these GetYourGuide website AIRPORT TRANSFERS.

ACCOMMODATION: When I want to find a place to stay I use Booking.com.

all six books written by Lisa Morrow

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: Let me guide you around Kadikoy with my audio walking tour Stepping back through Chalcedon or venture further afield with my bespoke guidebook Istanbul 50 Unsung Places. I know you’ll love visiting the lesser-known sites I’ve included. It’s based on using public transport as much as possible so you won’t be adding too much to your carbon footprint. Then read about what you’ve seen and experienced in my three essay collections and memoir about moving to Istanbul permanently.

Browse the GetYourGuide website or Viator to find even more ways to experience Istanbul and Turkey with food tours, visits to the old city, evening Bosphorus cruises and more!

However you travel, stay safe and have fun! Iyi yolculuklar.

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