Istanbul, the enchanting metropolis straddling two continents, is a city steeped in history and blessed with a rich cultural tapestry. May, with its idyllic weather and bustling events calendar, offers a sublime time to explore this majestic city. From fascinating exhibitions to enthralling concerts, there’s no shortage of things to do in Istanbul in May in 2023.

Weather in Istanbul in May

The weather in Istanbul in May is a delightful blend of mild temperatures and bright, sunny days. With an average temperature of 16°C (61°F), it’s the perfect time to meander through the Istanbul’s labyrinthine streets and marvel at its stunning architecture. However, be prepared for sporadic rainfall, as Istanbul weather in May can be a tad capricious.

For more information on the best time to visit Istanbul, check out our article “From Summer to Winter: Finding the Best Time and Weather to Visit Istanbul for Your Trip”.

Events in Istanbul in May

Lebanon Hanover & Selofan Concert

21 May, Sunday

Istanbul’s vibrant music scene comes alive in May, featuring the highly anticipated Lebanon Hanover & Selofan concert. Synthpop aficionados and darkwave enthusiasts will be captivated by these two enigmatic acts as they take the stage at Salon IKSV.

Akbank Short Film Festival

2 May – 12 May 2023

Film buffs will revel in the Akbank Short Film Festival, a prestigious event showcasing innovative and thought-provoking short films. The festival offers a cornucopia of genres, including drama, comedy, and documentaries, ensuring there’s something for every cinephile to enjoy.

Agnes Denes: The Living Pyramid Exhibition

Until 28 May 2023

Art connoisseurs will be mesmerized by Agnes Denes’ The Living Pyramid exhibition, held at the Sakip Sabanci Museum. This groundbreaking installation showcases the artist’s profound exploration of environmental and social issues through her unique and evocative artistic lens.

Intersecting Worlds Exhibition at Pera Museum

Delve into the captivating realm of Intersecting Worlds, an exhibition at the Pera Museum that examines the intricate relationship between East and West. This thought-provoking display promises to challenge your perceptions and broaden your cultural horizons.

Coffee Break Exhibition at Pera Museum

Coffee enthusiasts, unite! The Coffee Break exhibition at the Pera Museum delves into the fascinating history and culture of coffee, tracing its journey from humble origins to a beloved global phenomenon.

Anime Super Stars The Orchestra 38 Samurai Istanbul

12 May 2023

Anime fanatics will be enthralled by ANIME SUPER STARS THE ORCHESTRA 38 SAMURAI, a sensational event combining the melodic prowess of a live orchestra with the visual splendor of your favorite anime masterpieces.

Top 12 Things to Do in Istanbul in May


Touch History: Visit Historical Sultanahmet

When visiting Istanbul in May, a must-see destination is the historic district of Sultanahmet. Walking through the narrow streets of Sultanahmet, visitors can marvel at the stunning architecture and immerse themselves in the rich history of Istanbul. Visit:

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Blue Mosque
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Hippodrome
  • Grand Bazaar

Take a Bosphorus Cruise/Boat Tour

Revel in the panoramic views of Istanbul’s stunning skyline as you glide along the fabled Bosphorus Strait, separating Europe and Asia.

For a budget-friendly way to experience the stunning views of the Bosphorus Strait, check out the Budget-Friendly Bosphorus Tours in Istanbul (Under 3 Dollars!)

Enjoy Istiklal Street That Never Sleeps

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Istiklal Street, teeming with shops, restaurants, and lively nightlife.

Princess Islands

Escape Istanbul for one day and explore the enchanting Princes’ Islands, where you can bask in their tranquil beauty and enjoy a leisurely bike ride.

Read our full guide about things to do and see on Princess Islands…

Take a Ferry to Ortakoy

Discover the picturesque Ortakoy neighborhood, famed for its stunning waterfront, lively market, and iconic Ortakoy Mosque.

Ferry Istanbul

Stroll Through Uskudar Seaside

Soak in the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus and European side of Istanbul as you meander along the charming Uskudar Seaside.

Participate in Hidirellez Festival

Experience the magic of Hidirellez, a traditional Turkish festival celebrating the arrival of spring, replete with music, dance, and time-honored customs.

Watch Short Films at Akbank Film Festival

Be inspired by the cutting-edge works featured at the prestigious Akbank Short Film Festival.

Have a 2-day Trip to Cappadocia

Embark on an unforgettable journey to the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, famous for its fairy chimneys and ancient cave dwellings.

Explore Istanbul on Bike: Take a Guided Tour

Traverse the city on two wheels, taking in the sights and sounds of Istanbul’s bustling streets and hidden gems as you pedal your way through this captivating metropolis.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Istanbul in May


  • Ideal weather for sightseeing and outdoor activities
  • Numerous cultural events and festivals
  • Vibrant atmosphere


  • Occasional rainfall
  • Potential for crowded tourist attractions

Where to Stay in Istanbul in May

  1. Sultanahmet: Immerse yourself in Istanbul’s rich history by staying in the heart of the city, surrounded by iconic landmarks and authentic experiences.
  2. Beyoglu: Experience the energetic pulse of Istanbul by staying in Beyoglu, with its diverse dining options, vibrant nightlife, and cultural hotspots.
  3. Karakoy: For a trendy, contemporary stay, opt for Karakoy, an up-and-coming neighborhood boasting art galleries, fashionable cafés, and stylish boutiques.

Find Best Hotels in Istanbul >>

Tips for Visiting Istanbul in May

  1. Dress in layers to accommodate the fluctuating temperatures and sporadic rainfall typical of Istanbul weather in May.
  2. Plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time in this bustling city.
  3. Allow ample time to explore the city’s many museums, galleries, and historical sites.
  4. Embrace the local culture by trying traditional Turkish cuisine and participating in local customs.


In conclusion, May is an ideal time to visit Istanbul, offering a pleasant climate, bustling events calendar, and myriad attractions to suit every taste. So why not embark on your own odyssey and discover the myriad treasures awaiting you in this captivating city?

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