What to Do On a Rainy Day in Istanbul

The ancient city of Istanbul is split by the Bosporus, the west side is in Europe, the east in Asia
The ancient city of Istanbul is split by the Bosporus, the west side is in Europe, the east in Asia | Engin Yapici / Unsplash
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

While Istanbul may not be as renowned for its rainy days as cities like London or Berlin, when the skies do open up, the city unveils a plethora of charming refuges. Amid the occasional showers, a tapestry of inviting havens awaits, ranging from captivating museums to intimate cafes, art galleries to enchanting bookstores. These sanctuaries offer solace and warmth during inclement weather, providing the perfect respite to wait out a passing storm.

Istanbul’s rainy-day havens are a testament to the city’s resilience and creativity. When raindrops dance on cobblestones, locals and visitors alike seek solace in the embrace of these enchanting spaces. From immersing yourself in art and culture to getting lost in the pages of a captivating book, these hideaways transform a rainy day into an opportunity for exploration and introspection.

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Get a coffee at Café Cuma

Cafe Cuma

Check out art exhibitions at Mısır Apartmanı

Located right on busy Istiklal Street, the Mısır Apartmanı is an excellent example of the European architecture that once embraced Istanbul all around. The Art Nouveau apartment was built in 1905 and now houses art galleries on all its floors so that you can spend hours walking around and checking out excellent exhibitions of contemporary art.

Take shelter in the Chora Church

If you’re a history enthusiast, then you should run right into the Chora Church once the rain pours down and stand in awe of this structure that dates back to the early 4th century and has some of the city’s most stunningly well preserved internal decoration. The Byzantine Church features scenes from the life of Christ set in a beautifully ornate mosaic.

Drink some wine at Solera

A nice glass of red wine is definitely perfect on a rainy day and the very cozy Solera Winery is one of Istanbul’s best places to enjoy this particular activity. Have a little chat with the owner who will pick out the perfect bottle (or glass) suited to your taste and if you’re hungry, order some cheese to go with your wine.

Really relax at Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı

Courtesy of Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı

No one wants to get wet in the rain, but getting wet in a steamy hot hamam alongside a foamy bath and massage is probably not so bad. Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı is the city’s most sparkling and luxurious (yet affordable) hamam and you can even order an extra massage after your Turkish Bath in case the rain hasn’t stopped just yet.

Browse books at Pandora or Homer Bookstores

Bookworms rejoice when the weather is bad because it gives them another good excuse to spend hours at a bookstore browsing through all the titles. If you’re a fan of history and politics spend a few hours at Homer Kitabevi, which has an excellent collection in English and other languages. If you’re more the fiction type, Pandora is the best place to go for great books in English from your favorite (and soon to be favorite) authors.

Pandora: Katip Mustafa Çelebi Mahallesi, İstiklal Caddesi,Büyükparmakkapı sokak 3/A, 34433 Beyoğlu, İstanbul +90 850 200 2206

Homer: Tomtom Mahallesi, Yeni Çarşı Cd. No:52, 34433 Beyoğlu, İstanbul +90 212 249 59 02

Do some writing at Salt Galata

Courtesy of Salt Galata

If you’re a freelancer and have decided to get some work done since the weather is so bad, there’s no better place to go than Salt Galata. Located within a magnificent building that used to house an Ottoman bank, Salt’s research library converges historic marble with modern interior design and is one of the city’s best places to work. Not to mention the bookstore, café, restaurant, and art gallery inside the structure’s many floors that are also worth a look.

Eat lunch at Hünkar

There’s nothing better than a home cooked meal to really warm you up when the weather is cold and rainy. Hünkar is one of Istanbul’s oldest and best esnaf (tradesmen) restaurants and serves Turkish classics true to their original recipes with the best ingredients. Choose something delicious from the steaming cafeteria-style display and enjoy the upscale yet simple atmosphere.

Explore the Istanbul Archeology Museums

Composed of the Archeology, Ancient Orient, and Islamic Art Museums, the Istanbul Archeology Museums have more than enough to keep you merrily occupied and fascinated for hours while the rain pours down. Just remember that the museum closes at 7pm.

Curl up on a couch at Mavra

Another cozy café that’s become an icon of the Galata neighborhood, you’ll instantly feel like a local when you sit at Mavra and enjoy one of the many delicious dishes or a piece of the divine chocolate cake. Make sure to sit on one of the couches in the back to really avoid the rain outside.

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