Spend Christmas in Istanbul 2023 | Christmas Shopping, Feasts, Nightclubs, and More!

Istanbul isn't the first city you think about for a lovely Christmas vacation. But you'll be surprised to know that the Turkish capital lights up like London, New York, and any popular Christmas destination. Istanbul's churches sitting right beside Mosques are decked up for Christmas, with shopping streets like Karaköy and Eminönü beaming with Christmas energy. Head to Istanbul on Christmas once, and you'll never be the same.

Why spend Christmas in Istanbul?

Christmas in Istanbul - Why Spend Christmas in Istanbul?
  • Istanbul is less crowded during Christmas. You can see and explore the city at your own pace.
  • Churches in Istanbul are decorated with beautiful lighting. They're a sight to behold!
  • Traditional "cockerel mass" is held in several churches in Istanbul on December 24.
  • You can take a cruise through the Bosphorus Strait on Christmas Eve and enjoy the best evening at sea.
  • Sip a hot beverage on the terrace of Pierre Loti cafe and see Istanbul dressed in Christmas lighting.
  • Istanbul enjoys a pleasant temperature during Christmas. You can enjoy the city and festivals without worrying about the cold.

Top experiences in Istanbul during Christmas


Top 9 things to do during Christmas In Istanbul

Christmas in Istanbul - Walk around Istanbul

1. Walk around Istanbul

Istanbul's history and culture are legendary. Walking the streets of Istanbul is the best way to explore its past and see its diversity. During Christmas, the streets, parks, and neighborhoods of Istanbul are less crowded yet beautifully decorated, making them even more enjoyable.

Head to these popular Istanbul spots to feel the Christmas spirit:

Christmas in Istanbul - Christmas lights in shopping malls

2. Enjoy the Christmas lights in shopping malls

Shopping malls in Istanbul celebrate Christmas the right way. Large trees are decorated and placed in the center of the mall, and Christmas lights cheer up the place. A special program is also organised for families, allowing them to celebrate the holiday together.

Visit the following shopping malls on Christmas:

Christmas in Istanbul - Christmas delicacies

3. Savour Christmas delicacies

Food is a big part of Christmas celebrations worldwide. It is no different in Istanbul. The city's restaurants serve meze, a traditional starter that can double up as a whole meal. You can add Salep, a mixture of milk or boiling water, cinnamon, and a special flour to your Christmas dinner plan.

Where to eat in Istanbul during Christmas?

Christmas in Istanbul - Skating at ice rink

4. Go skating at an ice rink

Christmas is about family, and there are few better ways to celebrate with your loved ones than some adventure. You can go skating at an ice rink in Istanbul's Uniq Istanbul event center. It is available throughout winter, and it is especially fun during Christmas with amazing lights and Christmas music.

Where to go skating in Istanbul?

Christmas in Istanbul - Istanbul cruises
Christmas in Istanbul - Pierre Loti cafe

6. Watch Istanbul light up from Pierre Loti cafe

The sky looks different on Christmas in Istanbul. The lights shine brightly, making the night sky glitter like gold. Pierre Loti cafe is perfect for witnessing Istanbul's glowing best on Christmas. Located on a hill in the Eyüp cemetery, the cafe's terrace provides unbeatable views of the Istanbul skyline on Christmas.

Location: Eyüp Merkez, Karyağdı Sk. No:20, 34050 Eyüpsultan/İstanbul, Türkiye

Find on map

Christmas in Istanbul - Nightclubs in Istanbul

7. Go partying in Istanbul's nightclubs

Night clubs in Istanbul organize Christmas-themed parties, and they're perfect for getting in the festive spirit, meeting new people, and dancing through the night. There are several nightclubs in Istanbul, but the Groundy Club in Kadıköy is well-known for its parties and DJs.

Nightclubs in Istanbul for a Christmas party:

Christmas in Istanbul - International Women's Christmas Bazaar
Christmas in Istanbul - Christmas buffets

9. Book a buffet at an international hotel

Istanbul is home to several international hotels that offer special Christmas meals. Traditional and popular European, Asian, and American dishes are part of the menu, and since it's a buffet, you can enjoy a bit of everything.

Hotels to enjoy a Christmas meal:

Frequently asked questions about celebrating Christmas in Istanbul

Is Christmas a good time to visit Istanbul?

Istanbul is a fantastic choice to celebrate Christmas. Streets and malls in the city light up with Christmas decorations, giving it a stunning glow. Masses are also held in several churches throughout the city, and special events like the Istanbul International Women's Christmas Bazaar (IWI) offer shopping opportunities.

What are some things to do in Istanbul at Christmas?

Christmas isn't the most crowded time of the year in Istanbul. You can enjoy the city's famous historical sites and cultural centers whenever you want. Other options are Christmas-themed parties, a stroll through Istanbul's decorated streets, and a nice buffet at an international hotel.

What is Christmas in Istanbul like?

Christmas in Istanbul is unique because it is colorful and quiet. The city is dressed with Christmas lighting, and fewer tourists are around. You can explore at your own pace and experience the city thoroughly on Christmas.

What is the weather like at Christmas in Istanbul?

December is a chilly month in Istanbul. The temperature can drop up to 5°C at night, while the daytime temperature lingers around 11°C. Warm clothing is essential to keep out the cold.

Is Istanbul crowded at Christmas?

Istanbul isn't the destination most people think about when planning their Christmas trip. As a result, it isn't as crowded. You can enjoy the city's top attractions and restaurants peacefully.

What's open in Istanbul on Christmas?

Christmas isn't a holiday in Istanbul. While the city is decorated and the streets filled with Christmas cheer, it is a normal day in the lives of the locals.

Are there Christmas markets in Istanbul?

Yes, Christmas markets are a massive feature in Istanbul. The Istanbul International Women's Christmas Bazaar (IWI) is among the more popular markets organized by the Istanbul International Women's.

What is the most popular Christmas market in Istanbul?

Winter Bazaar, Handmade Istanbul Holiday Market, IWI Winter Festival, and Zubizu New Year's Shopping are Istanbul's most popular Christmas markets.

Are restaurants open on Christmas in Istanbul?

Since Christmas isn't a public holiday in Istanbul, all the restaurants are open.

What are the best places to stay in Istanbul on Christmas?

Shangri-La Bosphorus, Sultanahmet Palace Hotel, Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel, The Haze Istanbul, and W Istanbul are the best places to stay in Istanbul on Christmas.

What should I eat in Istanbul on Christmas?

A few dishes you can eat in Istanbul on Christmas are Simit, Sis kebab, Lahmacun, Kofte, Kuzu tandir, Menemen, and Durum.

What are the best restaurants for Christmas in Istanbul?

Istanbul is a haven if you love trying new dishes and restaurants. Beso Restaurant Bistro, Panoramic Restaurant, Rainbow fish & meat restaurant, and Hamdi Restaurant - Pera are the best restaurants for Christmas in Istanbul.

Where can I see the Christmas lights in Istanbul?

Christmas lights glow up Istanbul, making it shine like gold. While there are several places to see Istanbul's Christmas glow, Pierre Loti cafe is the best choice. The cafe's terrace provides the best views of the Istanbul skyline.

What are some Christmas traditions in Istanbul?

Christmas isn't celebrated as much in Istanbul as in other European countries. Hence, there aren't any Christmas traditions in Istanbul.