15 Bad weather indoor activities in Istanbul

What to do when it rains in Istanbul? Find the best indoor activities below and book your tickets now.

Yes, Istanbul can be rainy, and more than you think. But when the weather forecast predicts rain for Istanbul, it often has a different meaning than in Europe.

During the summer months, between April and mid-October, the rain rarely lasts longer than half an hour to an hour.

During the winter months, especially from November to March, there are long-lasting rain showers in Istanbul. Istanbul even sees snow during the cold season.

You can find plenty of activities in Istanbul either by visiting museums, art galleries, doing shopping, culinary experiences when its pouring with rain. 

We have put together the best activities you can do during a rainy weather in Istanbul, to keep yourself entertained, warm and in a happy mood during your trip.

When is rainy weather in Istanbul?

During the summer months, the weather in Istanbul is comparatively dry.

Between April and September, there is usually only a few days of rain. The rainfall rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes to an hour.

Between October and March, there are also days with gray skies, fog and rainfall. Sometimes it even snows in Istanbul in winter. Photos of snow-covered palm trees in front of Hagia Sophia usually attract worldwide attention.

Climate in Istanbul 

The average annual temperature is 14°C (57°F). The warmest months are July and August with an average of 23°C (73°F). The two coldest months are January and February with just over 5°C (41°F) on average.

During the heat spells, which often last several days and occur from June to early September, summer temperatures can reach over 30°C (86°F) in the shade. The winter, however, is cool or cold and weather is changeable. 

Amount of precipitation: The average annual precipitation is 850 millimeters (33in). Most precipitation falls in the months of November and December with an average of 110 and 124 mm (4,3 and 4,8in). The lowest precipitation is recorded for the months of May, June and July with 36, 37 and 39 mm (1,4-1,5in) on average. Heavy rainfall and flooding occur especially in autumn and winter.

1. Visit a palace

Dolmabahce-Palace-in-Istanbul

Visiting the Dolmabahce Palace or Beylerbeyi Palace would be a great way to explore the history without being affected by the rain. Here are 2 palaces that are the most liked by visitors in Istanbul.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapı Palace was used as the administrational and educational center of the Ottoman Empire for about 400 years. The palace resembles an open-air museum, has been home to Sultan Mehmet II and other sultans who came after him until Sultan Abdulmecid. 

Covering an area of approximately 300,000 square meters today, Topkapı Palace complex is among the largest palace-museums in the world. The Harem section is located in the second courtyard of the palace which is optional to visit.

Open the doors of this mysterious world and take a journey through the mystical corridors of the Harem. Learn more details about the palace Topkapi in our article dedicated article.

Tickets & Tours : Book one of the 2 most popular tickets for entrance and tours, with a discount of 5%.

Dolmabahçe Palace

The magnificent Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus served as the residence of the Ottoman sultan from 1856. Until then, he resided in the medieval Topkapi Palace. After the intensification of contact with Europe in the 18th century, cultural standards were taken over from there. So the main residence of the sultan should be in contemporary style and luxurious, just like the palace of a European monarch.

Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, spent his last days here and died on 10.11.1938.

The Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most important Istanbul attractions. The ottoman palace is famous for its luxurious interior. Inside Dolmabahce Palace, visitors can marvel at the great collection of European antiquity, beautiful paintings, furniture, handmade silk carpets and the famous 4.5 tons crystal chandelier, which is the largest chandelier in the world. The Dolmabahce Palace Harem as well as the Dolmabahce Palace Garden impress their visitors and take them back to the Ottoman era.

Location: Dolmabahce Palace Museum, Vişnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Caddesi, 34357 Beşiktaş

2. Grand Bazaar & Spice Bazaar

To feel the daily life of Old Istanbul, the Ottoman period covered bazaars would be perfect sights. 

Grand bazaar

The largest of them is surely the Grand Bazaar built in 1461. There are about 3600 shops on a covered area of about 45,000 m².

Shopping in Istanbul Grand Bazaar is a shopping experience of a very special kind. In this famous Turkish bazaar you will feel the Orient close up and find everything you can imagine! Textiles, shoes, handbags, tailored suits, dresses, silver, gold, diamonds, household goods, souvenirs, carpets and so on...

Address: Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı), Beyazıt Mahallesi, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul

Spice Bazaar

Or Egyptian Bazaar was built in 1640 in the style of the Grand Bazaar. This covered bazaar is another tourist attraction in Istanbul. Here you immerse yourself in a sea of scents and colors. 86 shops are selling spices, sweets, deli and touristic articles.

Address: Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı), Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok.ak 92, 34116 Eminönü, Fatih, Istanbul

3. Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque visit with an historian

Hagia Sophia Tour in Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia was initially built as a Greek Orthodox Church which is considered unique because of its magnificent architecture. It is part of the historic peninsula which is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985.

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. Christian insignia were partially replaced by Islamic ones, icons were removed and the mosaics were partly destroyed or plastered. Then following the order of M. Kemal Atatürk, who proclaimed the Turkish Republic in 1923, the Parliament decided to convert the Hagia Sophia mosque into a museum in 1934. Finally, it was decided to become an active mosque after a decree in July 2020.

To learn the hidden details and legends about this magnificent monument, we suggest you to join a tour with the local proffessional guides.

4. Make some shopping

shopping in Istanbul turkey - tourist information

You can spend a rainy day in one of the grand shopping malls in Istanbul containing international and local brands. Many shopping malls in Istanbul offers interesting activity areas for children as well. 

İstiklal Street, Nisantasi district and Bagdat Street are among the busiest open air areas where you can find various brands for shopping, restaurants and bars. There are also plenty of grand shopping malls. Let’s see some of the most visited shopping malls of Istanbul.

  • Cevahir Shopping Mall: Büyükdere Cad. No: 22, 34400, Şişli
  • Metrocity Shopping Mall: Büyükdere Cad. No:171, 1.Levent
  • Zorlu Center: Levazım, Koru Sokağı No:2, 34340 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
  • İstinye Park: Pınar, Katar Cd No:73, 34460 Sarıyer/İstanbul
  • Kanyon Shopping Mall: Büyükdere Cad. No:185 34394 Levent - İstanbul

5. Whirling dervish show

The Mystical show of the dervishes is among the most popular performances to see in Turkey. People who perform this mystical performance are called "Semazen - Whirling Dervish". Those who have adopted the Mevlevi belief can become “Semazen” by taking a tough Sema training. 

Sema literally means “sky or universe” , but in Mevlevi belief; it refers the act of hearing. That turning movement symbolizes the formation of man reaching the supreme God, the formation of the universe and the resurrection of the construction in the universe.

It is done by the Mevlevi order in the Historical Hamamizade Ismail Dede Efendi House. The Mevlevi whirling dance performance has been declared as a “UNESCO Heritage of Humanity”. This spiritual show takes about an hour.

6. Visit an interesting museum

Rahmi M. Koç Museum in Istanbul

One of the best ways to spend a day indoors is to visit various themed museums in Istanbul. Let’s see some suggestions. 

Rahmi Koc Museum

The museum is situated on the north shore of the Golden Horn is dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications with permanent and temporary exhibitions. Old cars and trams, an old aircraft and aircraft models, locomotives, ships and a submarine can be seen amongst others.

  • Address: Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi, Keçeci Piri Mahallesi, Hasköy Caddesi 5, Beyoğlu, Istanbul

Jewish Museum of Turkey

The Jewish Museum of Turkey or officially Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews was opened in 2001 and is dedicated to the history, traditions, religious rituals and social life of the Turkish Jews. Until 2015, the Jewish Museum of Turley was located in the former Zülfaris Synagogue in the Karaköy district. With the move to the premises of the Neve Şalom Synagogue in Galata, Jewish Museum of Turkey has become more interactive and alive.  

  • Address: Neve Şalom Synagogue, Bereketzade Mahallesi, Büyük Hendek Caddesi No: 39, Beyoğlu

Istanbul Naval Museum

The Istanbul Naval Museum, which  was originally located on the Golden Horn, was founded in 1897 by the Ottoman Minister of Marine Bozcaadalı Hasan Hüsnü Pasha. After several moves, in 1961 Istanbul Naval Museum found its final home in Istanbul's Beşiktaş district. With a collection of about 20,000 exhibits, the Istanbul Naval Museum is the largest naval museum in the country. It houses a significant collection of military artifacts of the Ottoman navy. Visitors can discover exhibits such as Ottoman boats, manuscripts, nautical charts, navigational instruments, ship models, weapons and more.   

  • Address: Deniz Müzesi Sinan Paşa Mah. Beşiktaş Cad. 6/1, 34353 Beşiktaş-Istanbul

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

Founded in 1914, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum across from the Blue Mosque, is part of the historic peninsula which is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985. Housed in the former palace of the vizier Ibrahim Pasha, the museum includes an immense collection of Islamic art. As the world's largest and one of the most important collections, it is composed of almost all regions and epochs of the 7th to the 20th century. In addition to the oldest collection of carpets and kilims, Ottoman as well as Seljuk crafts such as ceramics, stone and picture works, manuscripts, Islamic calligraphy art and ethnographic Islamic paintings can be admired.

  • Address: Binbirdirek Mh. Atmeydanı Sk. No: 12, 34122 Sultanahmet- Istanbul

7. Madam Tussaud

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Istanbul

You can take selfies with the most famous wax figgures including Justin Bieber, Brad Pitt, Victoria Beckham, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Beyonce, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo Di Caprio, Muhammad Ali, Neymar Da Silva, Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Steve Jobs, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and much more...

Madame Tussauds is located at the very heart of the city, on the Istıklal Street.

  • Location: Madame Tussauds Istanbul is a 7-minutes walk away from Taksim Square (metro M2)
  • Address: Madame Tussauds Istanbul, Hüseyinağa Mahallesi, Istiklal Caddesi No. 56, Beyoglu Istanbul

8. An underground cistern

Cocktails in the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

There are many underground cisterns and tunnels around the Historical Peninsula. Plan a visit to one of these Byzantine cisterns to create some mystical momenton a rainy day if you are around. 

The biggest and most well excavated one is the Yerebatan Cistern (Basilica Cistern). Then follows the 1001 direk Cistern and Serefiye Cistern. 

  • Basilica Cistern: (Currently under restoration) Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul
  • Serefiye Cistern: Binbirdirek, Piyer Loti Cd. No:2/1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
  • 1001 Direk Cistern: Binbirdirek Mah, İmran Öktem Cd. No:2/1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

9. Dinner cruises with show

Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Show

Would you like to experience Turkish nightlife by watching traditional dance shows in 6 different categories? Feel the rhythm of the music by the magic of the magnificent bright lights of the Bosphorus.

This is such a unique experience appealing both to the eye and stomach. The feast of taste starts with delicious appetizers with a wide variety, and a main course with 3 options follows. The grand finale will be with the world famous mixed Turkish deserts and seasonal fruits.

It is almost impossible to feel the enchanting spirit of Istanbul without embarking on an epic and nostalgic Bosphorus Cruise trip, passing the magnificent sights on both the Asian and European sides.

11. Walking tours

Istanbul Walking Tours

You might be an adventurer who does not easily disturbed by the weather conditions. Why not join a walking tour with the professional guides to discover the city then? 

12. City Tour by Bus

Bus and Boat Tour Istanbul

It is possible to explore the city without getting wet on a rainy day by doing sightseeing on a private bus and doing Bosphorus Cruise on the same day. This tour is including a 90 minutes city tour with an English speaking tour guide. You can get to know about the historical and modern monuments and neighbourhoods of Istanbul. The panaromic bus tour continiues with a 90 minutes Bosphorus Cruise with an Audio Guide. Enjoy the spectacular view of the European and Asian sides of Istanbul by the boat.

Turkish Hamam in Istanbul

You may looking for a relaxing and pampering experience in Istanbul. To freshen up and leave the stress and tiredness away, we suggest you to try out one of the historical Turkish Baths. 

One of the most central and well known Turkish Bath is the “Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam” that was the work of Architect Sinan of 16th century. It was constucted on the place of ancient baths of Zeuxippus of 2nd century AD.

14. Read a book in a book-café

Book and coffee is the best company for rainy weathers. You can find cosy bookcafes either on Istiklal Street or Besiktas neigbhourhood, where you can also find lots of shops, eateries, pubs and galleries as well.

  • Türk Alman Kitabevi & Cafe: Şahkulu, İstiklal Cd. No:237, 34431 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
  • Mephisto Kitabevi & Kafe: Kuloğlu, İstiklal Cd. No:125, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
  • Ada Cafe İstiklal: Asmalı Mescit, İstiklal Cd. No:158, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
  • Minoa: Vişnezade, Süleyman Seba Cd. No:52/A, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
  • Kırmızı Kedi Beşiktaş Çarşı: Sinanpaşa, Beşiktaş Cd. No:29/31, 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul

15. Have dinner at Maiden's Tower or Galata Tower

Dinner at Maiden Tower in Istanbul

The story goes that these two iconic towers, one on the European side (Galata Tower) and the other off the Asian side ( Maiden’s Tower), actually fell in love with each other. 

Another legend which dates back to Roman times suggests that, you’ll get marry with the person tou climbed to Galata Tower with for the first time. 

Both of these historical towers offers magnificent viewing terraces and restaurants for dining.

If you’re planning to see the Galata Tower and want to explore the Galata and Pera areas, you can book a tour with a local expert guide.

Istanbul Modern Museum

If you are interested in the art of Istanbul and the general art scene of Turkey, then the one or the other art gallery in Istanbul will surely astonish you.

Salt Beyoğlu

SALT is a not-for-profit institution which hosts exhibitions, conferences and public programs and sustains SALT Research, a library and archive of recent art, architecture, design, urbanism, and social and economic histories to make them available for research and public use. 

Salt Galata

SALT is a not-for-profit institution which hosts exhibitions, conferences and public programs and sustains SALT Research, a library and archive of recent art, architecture, design, urbanism, and social and economic histories to make them available for research and public use. 

  • Hours: Daily except Mondays, Tuesday-Saturday 12:00-20:00, Sunday 12:00-18:00
  • Address: Bankalar Caddesi 11, Karaköy Beyoğlu 
  • Website: www.saltonline.org 

Yapı Kredi Kültür Merkezi (Yapı Kredi Art Center)

Yapı Kredi Culture, Art and Publishing was established to enrich the cultural and artistic life of Turkey at national as well as international level.

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