Turkey Weather in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers

Turkey Weather in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Margaux | Updated Feb. 21, 2024

The weather in Turkey in May is warm, with higher temperatures along the coastline in Antalya and Izmir. Temperatures are also warm and pleasant in Cappadocia and Istanbul, especially during the day. Continue reading for more information on travel and weather, including average temperatures, rainfall, humidity, and travel tips for the month of May.

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Turkey Weather in May: Overview

Averages:

  • Temperature range: 14–24°C (57–76°F)
  • Rainfall: 3 cm (1 inch)
  • Rainy days: 7
  • Sunshine hours/day: 8
  • Sea temperature: 21°C (70°F)
  • Humidity: 59–74% (lightly muggy in the south to more humid on the northwest coast)

May marks the transition between spring and summer in Turkey, with higher temperatures throughout the country, and less cool temperatures into the evenings. Visitors in May can enjoy an average of around 8 hours of sunshine a day.

There are only around 7 rainy days, with approximately 3 cm (1 inch) of rain; basically negligible.

May is one of the best times of the year to visit before the hot summer temperatures hit between June and August.

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Weather of Turkey's Major Cities in May

Turkey City Daily High Temp. Daily Low Temp.
Istanbul (largest city, historical importance) 20ºC (68ºF) 12ºC (54ºF)
Cappadocia (Rockscape, ballooning) 22ºC (72ºF) 7ºC (45ºF)
Antalya (Top beach resort city) 26ºC (79ºF) 16ºC (61ºF)
Izmir (near Kusadasi, once Ephesus) 27ºC (81ºF) 16ºC (61ºF)
Turkey City Rain (cm) Rain (in)
Istanbul (largest city, historical importance) 3 1
Cappadocia (Rockscape, ballooning) 7 2
Antalya (Top beach resort city) 4 2
Izmir (near Kusadasi, once Ephesus) 3 1

The Best Places to Visit in Turkey in May

May is one of the best times of the year to visit Turkey, as temperatures are pleasant during the day, but not yet as hot as they get later on in the year. If you visit in May, you will find temperatures are great for both a relaxing beach holiday and for sightseeing or more active holidays.

All major tourist hubs in Turkey come recommended during this time of year, including Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, and Izmir.

Read on to find out more about the best places to visit in May.

1. Try Turkish Cuisine in Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with part of the city being part of the Asian continent, and the other part being European. This is reflected in its cuisine, which is varied, delicious, and worth exploring while you're in Istanbul.

Foodies are in luck, as you will find that there are so many different dishes to try. Some of the best ones are listed here: The 10 Dishes You Must Try in Turkey.

Walk off your meal by seeing some of Istanbul's most impressive sights, including the world renowned Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia is currently a functioning mosque, but was originally the main church of the Byzantine Empire back when Istanbul was known as Constantinople.

For more ideas, we recommend reading Top 10 Things to Do in Istanbul or taking a look at some of our tours in Istanbul:

2. Get Awesome Views from a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia

After Istanbul, Cappadocia is Turkey's second-most-visited tourist destination. Tens of hot air balloons take off there daily (weather dependent) for an incredible tour across the interesting rock-turret landscapes. May is a great time of the year to do this, as daytime temperatures are very pleasant.

Following your hot air balloon ride, check out the underground cities of the region carved out of volcanic ash, or head to the Open-Air Museum. There is a lot to do in Cappadocia, some of the most popular of which are listed here: Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia.

We include Cappadocia in many of our tours, which you can read more about here:

3. Learn about Turkey's Ancient History in Izmir

Izmir, along Turkey's western coast, is a great place from which to venture to some of Turkey's most popular ancient tourist sites. If you're looking to learn more about Turkey's ancient history, don't skip Izmir, which is also pleasant to visit in May.

In Ephesus, you will find the Temple of Artemis, for example, which is actually listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, also listed in our piece about the Top 10 Historical Sites in Turkey. In Pamukkale, you'll be able to visit the thermal hot springs, which are famous because an earthquake left Roman columns submerged in the clear waters.

Finish off your time in Izmir with Kemeralti Market, which has been central to Izmir for hundreds of years, for some souvenir shopping or to get some spices to bring back. You can read more about souvenir shopping in Turkey here: 10 Best Turkish Souvenirs to Take Home

4. Relax at one of Antalya's Beautiful Beaches

With May warm enough to recommend a beach holiday, Antalya should be high on your list. Take some time to unwind on Konyaalti Beach, just one of Antalya's urban beaches. The area is filled with beautiful resorts, great restaurants, and plenty of entertainment to keep you busy for as long as you want!

For other beaches, check out The 10 Best Beaches in Turkey, or see this tour for a romantic honeymoon itinerary that includes a stop in Antalya: Romantic Turkish Honeymoon — 10-Day Private Honeymoon Tour: Istanbul–Fethiye–Antalya–Cappadocia.

Turkey Festivals in May: Hidirellez

Every year, on May 5 into May 6, Hidirellez takes place in the rural, Muslim areas of Turkey, as well as into Syria, Iraq, and the Balkans. The festival marks the beginning of spring, and is a folk holiday celebrated on the day on which Hizir and Ilyas (the prophets) met. It is observed with dancing and ceremonies that were performed for various gods as spring arrives.

Visiting the countryside during this time you might see some of the elaborate preparations and celebrations, which are colorful. People jump over fire three times while saying prayers, and special meals are cooked on the day in observance.

Start of High Season: More Crowding and More Expensive

May is when Turkey really starts to get busy with tourists, with high season peaking around June, July, and August. As a result, prices can be higher for accommodation and travel throughout the country.

May is also when Labor Day is (May 1, every year), which is a public holiday in the country. This adds to the amount of people traveling around the country, as this coincides with Labor Day throughout much of the world including Europe.

What to Wear in May

With temperatures being higher in May, you won't have to bring quite as many layers to Turkey, unless you're visiting Cappadocia. Cappadocia still sees a significant drop in temperatures in May, and we would recommend bringing a light coat or an additional base layer if you're planning on being up early or out in the evening after the sun has set.

For those visiting Istanbul, Izmir, or Antalya, we recommend light trousers and a t-shirt or shirt made of natural materials. As most of Turkey is Muslim, we do recommend covering your knees and shoulders if you're traveling outside of the main cities or if you are planning on sightseeing in churches or mosques.

Good footwear is also recommended, as well as sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat if you're planning on spending some time at the Turkish beaches.

Monthly Weather in Turkey

Suggested reading: Best and Worst Times to Visit Turkey>>>

Recommended Tours for Turkey in May

If it is your first time visiting Turkey, May is a great time of the year to do this as you can visit almost anywhere in the country and be comfortable. We've listed some of our most popular itineraries that touch on the places listed above:

Our itineraries are customizable, so if you have some other places you'd like to visit, or if you'd like to adjust one of our itineraries, please just get in touch. Our experts are able to help put together your ideal Turkey holiday for you, allowing you to enjoy it without any of the stress of planning a trip. Contact us to begin a tour inquiry.

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