Turkey in December: An Underrated Skiing Holiday

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December is the mildest winter month in Turkey and there are tons of spots around the country to still catch some sun or even take a dip in warm coastal waters. Much of the country is, however, covered in a cloud of gray as the rainy season makes its arrival. However, this also means that the ski season is here to stay and this highly underrated destination still offers fantastic traveling opportunities during this time of year. Read on to find out why you should visit Turkey in December.

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Turkey Weather in December

The Emperor Hadrian's gate in Antalya in sunny weather in Turkey.
You can head to Antalya in the south of Turkey which experiences warmer weather conditions in December.

The weather in Turkey in December differs vastly from north to south. Istanbul starts to get chilly by December, while Antalya in the South still has plenty of lovely days to give you a break from the winter chill. The temperature in December ranges from an average low of -3°C to a high of around 5°C.

Antalya on the Mediterranean coast has much higher temperatures though, ranging between 10°C and 16°C. Temperatures in Istanbul rarely dip below the freezing point in December and highs of 11 °C are not uncommon. The Black Sea coast is the wettest during this time of year, while Aegean and Mediterranean regions experience milder weather conditions without much rainfall.

For more details on traveling to Turkey during different times of the year, take a look at our article on the best time to visit Turkey.

Weather in Turkey in December - Rainfall and Temperatures

Nov Dec Jan
Avg Daily (°C) 11 5 3
Avg Nightly (°C) -1 -3 -5
Avg Daily (°F) 52 41 38
Avg Nightly (°F) 31 27 23
Avg Rainfall (mm) 40 60 60

Why Visit Turkey in December

People skiing at Mount Erciyes ski area in Turkey in December.
Turkey is one of the most underrated destinations for skiing but this means you can enjoy it at a cheaper rate.
Pamukkale hot springs in Turkey.
The Pamukkale hot springs are the perfect getaway from the cold weather in Turkey.

A trip to Turkey in December, which marks the beginning of winter, has its own charm and magnetism that cannot be overlooked. Below are a few perks of flying to this continent-straddling country during this month.

  • Better rates: If you are a budget traveler, you are in for luck. With most tourists avoiding Turkey this month, you can take advantage of lower rates.
  • Fewer crowds: Most of the iconic destinations in the country receive less footfall during this time of year. Take in the highlights of Istanbul and Antalya at your own pace without having to contend with crowds.
  • Ski season: Skiing is fast gaining popularity in Turkey, home to stunning, rugged mountains with excellent slopes. Plus, prices are much cheaper here than in other traditional skiing destinations.

Where to go and what to do

Hot air balloons flying in sunset sky Cappadocia, Turkey.
You can head to Cappadocia and ride the famous hot air balloons for the most picturesque holiday.

Turkey is a vast country and home to varied landscapes ranging from towering mountains and Mediterranean coastlines to desert landscapes. The south coast of Turkey offers an escape from the impending winter as the sea still has warm waters coursing through it and there is plenty of sunshine to go around. Trips to Antalya, Fethiye and Alanya are splendid during this time of year and well worth a visit.

A trip to Cappadocia is the kind of holiday that Instagram dreams are made of. Here, hot air balloons rise above the jagged peaks of desert mountains. This is one of the places where snow falls in Turkey during this time of year. See the other side of this stunning destination while there is hardly anybody around. Plus, if you are lucky, you can even have your pick of first-class accommodation in iconic cave hotels at a discounted rate.

Skiing is super popular in Turkey in December and there are ski resorts not far from Istanbul, the capital city. Some of the most popular resorts include Uludag, Palandoken and Kayseri, the last of which is located close to Cappadocia so you can easily combine a trip to both. The magnificent Kackar Mountains, which are covered in snow in December, still offer plenty of hiking opportunities and spectacular scenery of valleys below.

Travel to Pamukkale in winter if you wish to take in its white, cascading hills and several Roman ruins before travelers descend. Its warm springs offer welcome relief from the chilly weather while its blue and white pools are just as beautiful in December as during other times of the year.

Konya plays host to the Whirling Dervishes Festival, a week-long cultural spectacle that celebrates Rumi, a famous Islamic figure. This event follows the Islamic calendar and although it has previously been hosted in November, it is most commonly held in December. During the seven-day celebration, dancers perform intricate moves while dressed in large, billowing skirts that flare up as they twirl around the stage.

Although less than one percent of the Turkish population practices Christianity, you will still feel a warm holiday atmosphere in major cities like Istanbul during December. This month leads up to massive fireworks displays marking the end of the year along with grand celebrations and big feasts. The Turkish people also believe that Santa Clause was born in Antalya and the town of Demra has a festive celebration at the beginning of December celebrating Noel Baba, the local name for Santa. His birth is celebrated in the charming, fourth-century Church of Saint Nicolas.

Turkey’s magnificent scenery along with its rich culture and tradition are still worth discovering in December. This month falls right in the middle of the low season, which means that you get to enjoy the most notable highlights of the country with much fewer people around.

Speak to our travel experts today to get a customized tour and ensure that you do not miss a beat in Turkey!

Go through our tours to Turkey in December for more inspiration.

More information

Published by Tim Green, updated on April 12, 2023

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