What's the Weather like in Istanbul in March
March sees the end of winter and start of spring in Istanbul. It's still cold (the lowest temperature ever recorded at this time in the region is -6C) and wet but the weather is gradually beginning to warm up, and there's a marked rise in temperature. The average temperature is just 8C, with highs of 11C and overnight lows of 5C. Those parts of the province furthest from the sea experience more considerable continental influences, and the drop in temperature overnight will be more pronounced. However, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the region at this time is around 30C, and by the end of the month it will feel much warmer.
In Turkey at this time, there isn't a great deal of variation in temperature and conditions are similar across the country. Further south, in Alanya and Dalaman, however, it is likely to be slightly warmer with average highs of 17C.
Overnight, it's not uncommon for temperatures to fall below freezing and lake-effect snow from the Black Sea is common, although difficult to forecast, and often quite heavy; on average, March in Istanbul sees around 2 snow days each year.
Average Sea Temperature
It will also almost certainly be foggy and overcast on several days of the month, and most mornings. This is not beach weather, and the sea temperatures are still at their lowest (just 13C).
As temperatures rise, correspondingly, the days begin to lengthen. March sees around seven daily sunshine hours on average, rising to nearly nine by the end of the month, the same as May. However, despite longer days and slightly warmer temperatures, it's still quite wet. March sees rainfall averages of around 50mm over 13 days in the month, and the northern parts of the province are likely to see significantly more; around 105mm in the northern villages of Sarıyer. Further south, Alanya and Dalaman are likely to experience similarly high levels of precipitation; between 96mm and 106mm.
Istanbul Hotels in March
The Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is a great choice for luxury accommodation. The hotel is located in Istanbul's oldest district, just a five-minute walk from the delights of the historic Old City. The facilities are excellent, with plenty to keep guests both pampered and occupied even on rainy days.
Alternatively, Millennium Suites is a celebrated luxury boutique hotel with an elegant modern design. The hotel is located in the centre of Sultanahmet, in the heart of the Old City, just steps from the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia Museum and Sultanahmet Mosque. The hotel prides itself on a service orientated approach to hospitality, and boasts excellent amenities.
Bars and Restaurants
Turkish chicken breast pudding, otherwise known as Tavuk Gösü sounds horrible but tastes fantastic. Don't worry, you can't actually taste the chicken! It's made by boiling chicken breast in water, and then shredding the meat and boiling it again with milk, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and rice flour. And the end result is pudding! Head to the old fashioned pudding house of Göreme Muhallebicisi, in the Kurtulu neighbourhood, to check it out. They've been making it there since 1950.
In Istanbul, it's practically mandatory to drink tea out of a tulip-shaped glass. Turkish tea is prepared in a rather unique way, using a teapot with two levels: one to boil the water, and the other to brew the tea. The tea is completely different from the kind westerners will be familiar with, made from dried black tea leaves from Karadeniz, on the eastern Black Sea coast. There are tea houses all over the city, but the Old Town has some of the most traditional and historic.
Karakoy Gulluoglu serves some of the best baklava in the city, and is highly recommended by tourists and locals alike. Their traditional Turkish menu is freshly prepared from local ingredients and very tasty. Finish your meal with a glass of Turkish tea or coffee.
Things to do in Istanbul in March
Take a walk across Galata Bridge to watch the sun set over the city, as the sky turns pink behind the 14th century Tower. There are great food stalls and restaurants, as well as a few little shops lining the bridge (which make for great browsing).
The Basilica Cistern is one of the city's most atmospheric sites. In the hushed darkness, only the occasional ripple disturbs the still pools and coloured lights illuminate the 336 underground columns. Built by the Romans to bring drinking water to the city in the 6th century, before lying hidden for centuries, this ancient spot still has a timeless quality. Look out for the statue of Medusa hidden in a corner.
Walking the long street of Istiklal Caddesi is an absolute must on any trip. Stretching from busy Taksim, the heart of modern Istanbul, to the twisting cobbled alleys of historic Galata, the street's Ottoman-era buildings house art galleries, shops, restaurants and bars, as well as the ornate arcade known as the flower passage (içek Pasaji). If your feet aren't quite up to anymore walking, hop on one of the vintage red trams to travel the route in style.