7 tips for an Istanbul city break in October

7 tips for an Istanbul city break in October


Are you wondering if an autumn visit to Istanbul is a good idea?

You might be looking for a half term adventure with the children or perhaps you fancy a more cultural city break, an escape for yourself?

We think October’s a gorgeous time to visit Istanbul. You can expect balmy weather and easy exploring with stunning views and sunsets. There are more cultural festivals at this time of year than any other, in addition to the year-round attractions. Queues for the famous sights are shorter than in the summer and most places are far less crowded. City life bustles on in the streets around you and welcoming tables at pavement cafés wait for you in the sunshine.

Here are seven ideas from us, to help you enjoy your time:

See a great film in a historic cinema during Filmekimi

The 2019 Filmekimi festival runs from October 4th to 13th. Two of the venues are in historic buildings in Beyoğlu, close to Galata, where you can enjoy the architecture as well as the movie. The festival programme has a fabulous choice of films. It’s an international event, so you can expect Turkish subtitles with original soundtracks in English: great for your Turkish language skills too!

Take a stroll around Gülhane Park in the sunshine

Gülhane Park was originally part of the grounds of fabulous Topkapı Palace and is now an oasis of calm in the busy city. In spring the park is bright with tulips, but autumn brings more subtle colour with majestic golden trees and views across the sparkling Golden Horn to Galata.

You can find the locations of Gülhane Park, Galata and our holiday apartments on this Istanbul map.



Eat delicious fish in Karaköy

The ancient neighbourhood of Karaköy, just down the hill from Galata, borders the waters of the Golden Horn and has, for hundreds if not thousands of years, been a destination to find fresh, delicious fish. Karaköy has undergone some development recently, as the informative bloggers at Turkey’s For Life report, but the area is still an atmospheric place to explore and to meet the many well-fed street cats.

Autumn is the best season for fish in Istanbul and here you can enjoy a traditional grilled mackerel sandwich ‘balık ekmek’ cooked while you wait from a simple stand by the ferry stop. If you’re feeling culinarily creative then choose something fresh from the fabulous displays to cook your own way back at home in your apartment kitchen.



Head to the top of Galata Tower

October is a wonderful time to do this. The queue to buy your ticket won’t be so very long and the weather, while you wait, should be enjoyable. Once you’re at the top – there’s a modern lift to help – the views across to Sultanahmet and Topkapı Palace are absolutely stunning. The viewing balcony is quite narrow and feels very high up, so we wouldn’t advise this adventure if you have any issues of vertigo.

If your preference is for a more private, less precarious, very similar view, then stay in one of our Petraki Place short stay apartments and you can take your drinks, meals or simply thoughts up with you any time you like: no need to queue at all. Read more about this view in another of our blog posts here.

Lose yourself in Galata

Our neighbourhood of Galata is full of interesting surprises. Discoveries of cool cafés, boutiques and artisan shops are your reward for slow exploration around yet another corner, which is a simple joy in the mild October air. It won’t be long before you’re recognised by local shopkeepers, which is a lovely feeling in a new culture.

For many, the best shopping street is Serdar-ı Ekrem, right on your doorstep if you stay with us at Pasha Place apartment. This characterful cobbled street is full of independent design shops and cosy cafes. Enjoy a wander and a coffee or two and you’ll feel a real connection with the creative, bohemian side of the city.

Wind down with some live Jazz

The 29th Akbank Jazz Festival  runs for 10 days between October 17th and  27th this year. You’ll find art events and concerts from some wonderful international artists, plus family workshops and even a sushi-making jazz performance! Venues are across the city, including some in Beyoglu – a wander away if you’re staying with us.

Meet like-minded people for a photography walk

The light in October is really lovely. Our favourite guide for photography walks in Istanbul is Monica from Alternative City Tours. She’ll lead you gently through hidden back streets, onto rooftops and into multicultural neighborhoods. All the while you can experiment with your photography in the company of a small friendly group. Have a look at Monica’s Autumn programme for 2019.

“To walk with Monica is to step into a hidden Istanbul.” Mishal Husain, BBC Broadcaster
You can contact Monica directly at [email protected]

Do you have questions?

We really love autumn in Galata and throughout the rest of the year too. We highly recommend an Istanbul city break in October!
Feel free to comment or ask us any questions you may have, below. We’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to book an apartment with us for October 2019 or later into Autumn/Winter, we may still have some availability: FIND OUT HERE


  1. I am traveling to Istanbul between 18 to 22 oct. Do I need warm clothes to carry and what type of warm clothes like heavy jackets and coats?

    • Hello Rahil, of course it depends on how much you feel the cold and from what climate you are coming, but we usually have a light jacket for October evenings and layers for underneath to adjust with the changes. Hope this Helps!

  2. Abrar Siddique says:

    Hi Julia
    I’m planing to visit Turkey in the second half October which may spill to 1st week of November as well. Is this a good time in terms beach fun and all historical site visits ? I read that most hotels close down after mid of October ?

    • Hello Abrar, our business is in Istanbul which has very different circumstances and climate from the south coast. As far as I know, coastal places should be fairly warm during the day, but not like summer and no doubt feeling somewhat autumnal during your visit. Do research your hotels first so that you’re not disappointed on arrival. Things should be quieter than during summer and that’s often a good thing!

  3. Hi,
    thanks for your very beneficial article, your suggestions were great. We are travelling to istanbul from 12- 22 October, and I was wondering if warm clothes are within reach to buy at that time.
    I really appreciate your advice

    • Hello Anita, do you mean that you’d like to buy warm clothes during your stay in Istanbul? If so then yes definitely, it’s not a problem. There’s huge range of clothing available in Istanbul, across all styles and budgets. Hope that helps!

  4. rukhsana bano says:

    i m travelling istanbul from 2nd october to 13 october
    we r travelling with kid… do we need to carry warm clothes… howz the weather during these days????

    • It’s best to bring warm clothes for the evenings. Daytime will hopefully be fairly warm and sunny for you so we’d recommend bringing layers to be adaptable. Do check the weather forecasts a few days before you travel as it can be unpredictable.

  5. Yummy mommy says:

    Do I have to bring winter clothes as I am visiting from the 17th of October 2019?

    • Yes, definitely bring warm clothes for late October nights. Daytime will hopefully be sunny for you (it could also rain and be cold) so we’d recommend bringing layers to be adaptable. Best of all check the weather forecasts a few days before you travel.

  6. Ahh, we’ll be back there in November and really looking forward to it. Thank you for the mention. We need to add a photo to that post because the food section is now at the pazar. A yummy fish soup! 🙂

    • Fish soup… delicious! We really hope to see you again in November and best of wishes for the marathon training meanwhile – so great that you’re doing it again: I’m full of admiration.

  7. We love Istanbul in autumn although it’s November by the time we get there for the marathon. Good to see you blogging and thanks for the mention! 🙂
    Julia and Barry.

    • Hope to see you again soon for the marathon! And very best of wishes for the tricky training meanwhile.

      In future there should be more Turkeys For Life mentions, now that I’m – at last – getting blogging.

  8. Thanks for these great suggestions for our next fall trip.

  9. I wish I could be in Istanbul this October. Hopefully in a year… Thanks for these varied program suggestions. What’s the average daily temperature in October in Istanbul?

    • It’s a great idea to visit next year Virag: we’d really love to meet you! As for the average daily temperature, I just checked and apparently it’s 17 degrees C. Today is much warmer though: 24 degrees at the moment :))

  10. October half-term is when we always visit Istanbul, for a number of family reasons. However it really IS a good time to go.

    October is also the start of the Lodos, a strong warm wind blowing in from North Africa (south-west). We cross the Bosphorus almost everyday and the lodos can make the Bosphorus Straits choppy with squally showers. On the other hand, there is nothing nicer than sitting out in the open, on the top deck of a small boat in the middle of the Bosphorus, with what feels like a warm blowdryer blowing you on the face 🙂

    Some tourists spend all their time on the European side of Istanbul. We are based in Üsküdar, on the Asian (Anatolian) side, and therefore we go to my favourite place Moda which is near Kadıköy – great bars, Cafés and restaurants with beautiful sea views.

    Really Love your blog article Julia, you hit the nail on the head xXx

    • Thanks Ian. We love Moda and Kadiköy too: a great day-trip on the ferry from Karaköy if you’re staying in Galata. Our favourite antique shops are in Kadiköy – another recommended way to while away an autumn, or in fact any, day.

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