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Turkey Weather, climate and geography
Weather and climate
Best time to visit
Turkey is a huge country, and its climate varies widely from region to region as well as seasonally. For sightseeing holidays to Istanbul and the most important ancient and medieval sights, and for active walking holidays, the best times to visit are spring (April-May) and autumn (October-early November) when days are generally warm and sunny but not uncomfortably hot. Rainy spells and cloudy days are possible, however, in spring and autumn, so the best months for a sun-and-sea holiday on the Aegean or Mediterranean coast are June to end September. Resort areas are most crowded from June until the end of August.
In developing ski areas such as Uludag near Bursa and Palandoken near Erzurum, the best time to visit is between December and April. Temperatures in and around Istanbul can vary from well below freezing in midwinter to above 40°C (104°F) in summer. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts experience the hottest summers, with highs of 45°C (113°F), but midwinter temperatures can be as low as -5°C (23°F).
Mountainous Eastern Turkey has the most extreme climate of all, with winter temperatures as low as -43°C (-45F) and highs up to 38C (100F). The climate of the central Anatolia is also extreme with summer highs of 40°C (104°F) and winter lows of -25°C (-13°F). The Turkish State Meteorological Office (www.mgm.gov.tr) provides a day to day, region by region online weather forecast.
Depending on where you are, appropriate clothing will vary widely. If visiting during the summer take light cotton layers and a hat, as temperatures can reach scorching, particularly in the cities. During the winter months pack heavier layers and waterproofs. Sturdy shoes and equipment are advisable for anyone who will be trekking in the mountainous areas.
Turkey borders the Black Sea, Georgia and Armenia to the northeast, Iran to the east, Iraq to the southeast, Syria and the Mediterranean to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west and Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest. Asia Minor (or Anatolia) is the name given to the peninsula that forms a bridge between Europe and Asia. It accounts for 97% of the country's area and forms a long, wide peninsula 1,650km (1,025 miles) from east to west and 650km (400 miles) from north to south. The biggest city is Ankara, which is situated in the central plains of Anatolia.
The other 3% of the country is Thrace, the tiny land mass which is the European portion of Turkey bordering Bulgaria and Greece and separated from Anatolia by the Bosphorus, a strait linking the Black Sea and Aegean Sea. Despite its small size 10% of the population lives here, with most of these in Istanbul.
Two east-west mountain ranges, the Black Sea Mountains in the north and the Taurus in the south, enclose the central Anatolian plateau, but converge in a vast mountainous region in the far east of the country. It is here that the ancient Tigris and Euphrates rivers rise.