Some cities capture your attention and your heart from the very first visit.
With its spectacular cultural sites, warm and welcoming people, rich dining experiences, and bustling bazaars, Istanbul is an incredible city with so much to offer.
Istanbul is a wildly popular tourist destination and this year the two airports that serve the city are set to welcome more than 100 million passengers once again. This is a big deal because the 100 million passenger club is a very select one and only 11 cities are known to have been members.
Here are 5 reasons why now is the perfect time to visit this popular cultural city:
Beat The Crowds
Istanbul has a very seasonal climate with summers that are hot and humid and winters that can be cold. It often snows in Istanbul in January and February.
This means that the peak season months with the best weather to visit Istanbul are between mid-April to June and September to October. Peak season is coming to an end, but that only makes now the perfect time to visit.
Visitor numbers are starting to slow in Istanbul, so you will generally find better deals and smaller crowds. The weather is still good, although you may experience some rain, and all of the sites in the city are open year-round.
East Meets West
Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia. Istanbul is both a culturally modern western city and a traditional eastern city.
Away from the peak summer season, you will be rewarded with a glimpse of a more authentic Istanbul. You can visit the city’s famous Grand Bazaar to shop with the locals and wander among historic mosques and UNESCO world heritage attractions.
Must-visit attractions include the Sultanahmet Camii (better known as the Blue Mosque), the Pera Palace Hotel, and a soak in a Turkish bath.
Visit Istanbul now, and you can enjoy all of these attractions in relative crowd-free peace and with the comfort of moderate temperatures.
It’s a uniquely enjoyable experience to explore the city alongside local residents rather than surrounded by other tourists.
Although November can be a rainy month in Istanbul, the good news is that many of the attractions in the city are indoors. One of the best sites to experience is the Basilica Cistern.
The Basilica Cistern is a huge, underground cistern that was originally built as a water filtration system in the early 6th century.
Now it is an attraction in which the 336 columns of the medieval chamber are lit up, creating a truly magical experience.
Other indoor attractions for late fall/winter visitors include the Hagia Sophia which is a dramatic mosque and the Galata Tower which you can scale for incredible panoramic views of the city.
Now is considered the best time to visit Istanbul for travelers on a budget. This is because many hotels in the city will switch to low-season rates at the beginning of November.
That means that you can stay longer without breaking the bank or simply spend less on your accommodation so that you have more left to spend on experiences in the city.
There are some exceptions to this rule: The Istanbul Marathon takes place on the first weekend of November. This year it will fall on November 5th. As this is the world’s only intercontinental marathon, the city can be exceptionally busy and hotel rates may raise for the weekend too.
If you’re planning to visit Istanbul during this week then you’re advised to book your hotels or accommodation in advance.
Eat, Drink, And Be Merry
Istanbul is famous for its exceptional cuisine. Enjoy traditional spicy Turkish street food or book a table at one of the Nusr-Et Steakhouses in the city (the restaurants made famous by flamboyant celebrity chef Salt Bae).
When the weather is cooler, it’s a great excuse to plan plenty of breaks for Turkish tea and Turkish coffee as you’re sightseeing around the city.
Now is also a great time to book a traditional whirling dervish show, take in a show at the Istanbul theater, or enjoy traditional Turkish dancing.
It’s a great time to get indoors, get cozy, and enjoy the culture of this unique and iconic East meets West destination.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com