08-03-2023 - Public Holidays in Turkey Updated At: 13-02-2024

A Holy Month: Ramadan in Istanbul 2024

Istanbul is beautiful in every season but there is one special time, it is even more beautiful than ever: during Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month in Islam because it is believed that Islam’s holy book, Kuran was sent to the prophet at this time of the year. Let’s have a look at Ramadan and what to do in Istanbul during Ramadan in this article. But before this, first, check out Istanbul Tourist Pass®.

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About Ramadan

Ramadan is the holy month in Islam because it is believed that Islam’s holy book, Kuran was sent to the prophet at this time of the year. The days of Ramadan change every year because it is calculated with the Islamic Hijri Calendar which is also known as Lunar Calendar. The ninth month of the lunar calendar, or Ramadan, has a duration of 29 to 30 days. The beginning of Ramazan moves annually by around eleven days due to the lunar calendar. This year Ramadan is between March 11 - April 9, 2024.

Ramadan is a month in which Muslims are required to fast because one of Islam's five pillars is fasting and it is a way of worship. Moreover, fasting helps people to reassess their sense of sacrifice, self-discipline, and empathy. Understanding the condition of the poor and in need, and promoting health are the key motivations for doing this. Fasting has an impact on people's daily lives and moods. They generally help one another more and pay visits to friends and family throughout Ramadan.

The only thing that people generally associate with this holy month is fasting. Ramadan, however, is more than that. It aims to teach Muslims about spirituality, patience, and humility while drawing people closer to Allah. Therefore, the purpose of fasting is to divert the heart from worldly pursuits, purify the inner spirit, and set the soul free from damage. Additionally, it instills in Muslims the virtues of self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate. Ramadan promotes acts of compassion and charity.

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Ramadan in Istanbul

This is the ideal time to visit Istanbul if you intend to come to Istanbul during Ramadan! Given that Ramadan is the month of mercy and abundance, it might be beneficial for you. Non-Muslims can still participate in iftar and learn more about the month of Ramadan. You may experience Turkish hospitality by taking part in the iftar with the locals. During Ramadan, you can experience an environment like no other. If you hear drums on every street in Istanbul before dawn, don't be alarmed. This indicates that you are being called for the sahur. It would be a thrilling adventure.

During Ramadan, it might not be polite to smoke or eat outside, but of course, you can eat and smoke. Restaurants and bars will also be less busy during Ramadan. Due to people fasting, eateries rarely have many customers at midday. On the other side, some eateries don't provide alcohol for iftar. Some families reserve tables for fasting during Ramadan at particular eateries. We heartily encourage you to give it a try during Ramadan. Mosques in Istanbul can fill up quickly during Ramadan. The mosques would provide you with a cultural experience if you went there during Ramadan.

In Turkey, the final three days of Ramadan are known as "Seker Bayrami," which translates to Candy Feast. People visit their families and share in the festivities with one another on Candy Feast. It is a happy time, here is a Turkish sentence for you: “iyi bayramlar” which means “happy holidays”, in case you want to say to the Turkish people.

What to Do in Istanbul during Ramadan 2024

Ramadan is between March 11 - April 9, 2024. So, the weather will be fairly warm and the days will be sunny. Istanbul is really beautiful in spring with nature’s awakening. Besides the beauty of Spring, Ramadan might also be really thrilling for a traveler to discover the spiritual side of Istanbul. Although when people are fasting, daily life continues as usual, so visitors shouldn't anticipate any negative effects. It is customary to refrain from eating and drinking on the street throughout the day, however, this is not required and is widely accepted.

Restaurants, cafés, and bars are open as usual to serve food and beverages despite having fewer customers. There is no need to panic because the city has lots of choices. Some businesses might not provide alcoholic beverages or may close for renovation. Think about it, it is a great time for renovation if you own a bar.

Reserve a Table for Iftar

As iftar (breaking of the fast) time draws near in the evening, the city once again comes alive. The newly baked Ramazan Pide, a round flat loaf of bread produced especially for the time of fasting, is purchased by locals in front of bakeries, who then rush to get home to their family and friends.

Customers are swarming several eateries as they wait for the muezzin to call for the sunset prayer, which will ultimately signal the end of the fast. For tourists and non-Muslims, this moment might also be a really unique experience. Visit one of the many restaurants serving special iftar menus for Ramadan supper to experience this and wait with others for the moment the fast is broken. Breaking the fast with a date and a drink of water is the norm. Dates will probably with ready on the dinner table.

Join Iftar Tents for Iftar

One of the very special things about Ramadan is that you may see huge tents for people congregating and sharing a meal. Iftar is a communal meal shared by Muslims who are fasting and those who are not, as well as those of other religions, the homeless, and visitors. Attending one of these tents and sharing a meal with the people is particularly advised if you want to experience the true essence of Ramadan.

Eat Pide & Gullac

In the evening, there is a celebratory mood. Several mosques are lit up in green while they wait for believers to arrive for the prayer following supper. Bright fairy lights twinkle, lit messages adorn the minarets, and local cuisine is offered at food stalls. Try Gullac, which is an Ottoman dessert made with special dough added to milk, rosewater, and walnuts which is a customary Ramadan delicacy. You should definitely try this Ramadan delicacy.

Ramadan pide is another delicacy for this month. It is basically a flatbread baked in a stone oven but it is not from the usual same bread dough, it is more delicious and crunchy. You may see long lines for warm pide in front of bakeries.

Wake up for Sahur

Istanbul's streets are filled with the sound of Ramadan drums just before the sun rises. a long-standing custom where Ramadan drummers roam the city rousing people with their rhythmic drumbeats for suhur, the Ramadan breakfast. Sahur is the time people eat before the sun rises so they can fast during the day. Experience this distinctive environment by getting caught up in Ramadan Istanbul's celebratory mood.

Enjoy Ramazan Festivals

Visitors can enjoy a fun night out until the sahur (around 2-3 AM) during the customary Ramadan celebrations and festivities that begin after the iftar meals. In accordance with the spirit of this Holy month, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality organizes a variety of fairs and cultural events during Ramadan in Istanbul, including book fairs, exhibitions, poetry nights, traditional art events, panel discussions, calligraphers' events, whirling dervish performances, Sufi music, and concerts. The primary locations for all of these events are Sultanahmet Square, Beyazit Square, Eyup, Feshane, Yenikapi, and Uskudar.

Join a Hagia Sophia Mosque Guided Tour

Hagia Sophia Mosque is one of the most visited attractions in Istanbul! It will amaze you with its magnificent architecture, history, and ambiance, especially during Ramadan! You will feel the Christian and Islamic history lay there side-by-side while discovering Hagia Sophia Mosque!

In Ramadan, Hagia Sophia will be more beautiful and spiritual but we strongly advise you to go there on a guided tour. Visiting Hagia Sophia with Istanbul Tourist Pass® informative guides will make everything easier and better for you! Here you can find out all about this great tour.

Visit Suleymaniye Mosque

Of the many mosques in Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque is probably the most eye-catching one. This is not simply due to the sheer size of the mosque, but because of its magnificent location, historic importance, and exquisite design. As one of the most imposing structures in the city, the Suleymaniye Mosque is as hard to miss as it is not to be missed. Especially during the holy month of Ramadan, the Mosque will be more beautiful and spiritual. You may come across many people praying, feeding birds in the garden, and walking on the scenery terrace of the mosque complex.

For you to have a meaningful visit, Istanbul Tourist Pass® offers you a free Suleymaniye Mosque Guided Tour. All you need is to use your mobile app and make a reservation. You will feel the serenity of Ramadan at its best in this gorgeous mosque.

Ramadan Feast in Istanbul 2024

Experience the magic of Ramadan Feast in Istanbul, where the city buzzes with festive energy, families gather in joyful reunions, and sweet treats symbolize the end of the holy month. Let's have a look at the importance of this special holiday for people in Istanbul. 

What is the Significance of the Ramadan Feast in Turkish Culture?

Ramadan Feast, or Eid al-Fitr (known as Şeker Bayramı or Candy Feast in Turkey), marks a joyous conclusion to the holy month of Ramadan. It symbolizes a time of spiritual triumph, a return to celebration, and an emphasis on values like family, community, and forgiveness. Paying respects to elders, extending charitable acts, gifting (especially to children), and reconnecting with loved ones are cornerstones of this tradition. Food takes a central role during the Ramadan Feast, representing blessings and shared abundance after a period of reflection and fasting.

Experiencing Ramadan Feast in Istanbul

Istanbul comes alive during Ramadan Feast with vibrant decorations, bustling markets, and an infectious energy of celebration. Festive street vendors entice passersby with sweets and traditional foods, while families gather in homes and restaurants for grand feasts. Mosques become even busier with special prayers and gatherings, offering a glimpse into the deep spiritual undercurrent of this holiday. Visitors can participate by witnessing the vibrant celebrations, respectfully attending special iftar dinners or community events, and immersing themselves in the holiday's rich traditions.

What to Eat in Istanbul During Ramadan Feast?

After a month of fasting, feasts explode with rich flavors and often begin by satisfying sweet cravings (hence Candy Feast). Dishes like baklava, kadayıf (shredded pastry desserts), lokma (sweet dough balls), a vast array of Turkish Delights, and special cookies dominate the sweet offerings. Savory foods are also essential, with roasted meats, stuffed vegetables, rice dishes, and various mezes (appetizers) adding to the abundant spread. This is a time when family recipes, passed down through generations, become the stars of the culinary celebration.

Visiting Istanbul During Ramadan Feast

A visit to Istanbul during the Ramadan Feast promises a unique window into Turkish culture and a truly unforgettable experience. Remember to demonstrate respect and sensitivity: dress modestly, avoid consuming food or drink conspicuously in public during fasting hours, and be mindful of crowds at major mosques. Embrace the opportunity to try traditional treats, engage in meaningful cultural exchanges, and soak up the vibrant spirit of generosity and celebration that makes this holiday special. With some research and a respectful approach, visitors can ensure a smooth and enriching experience while being mindful of those observing the fast.

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During Ramadan or not, we are here for you if you have any questions in mind, you can always contact us on our WhatsApp Customer Line and Instagram account. Have a great time in Istanbul!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Ramazan affect tourists in Turkey?

As a non-Muslim, you are not obliged to fast, and all the restaurants and bars are open as usual in tourist areas, so it doesn't really matter. The standard hours for tourist attractions will apply.

Are restaurants and cafes open during Ramadan?

Yes, most of them open normally and serve their customers. Don’t forget that Turkey is a secular state, not an Islamic one, so you can be very comfortable in Istanbul as always.

What happens during Ramadan in Istanbul?

Ramadan is very festive in Istanbul with fairy lights, festivals, and serenity in the air. No one is forced to fast but it is always polite not to eat or smoke outside during Ramadan.

Are museums open during Ramadan in Istanbul?

Yes, museums, attractions, and experiences are all open during Ramadan, but at the end of the month, there will be a 3 day holiday called Candy Holiday, then museums can be closed on those days.

Is it good to visit Istanbul during Ramadan?

Yes, Istanbul is very calm and serene during Ramadan. In 2024, Ramadan will be in Spring and the weather will be great.

Is it OK to visit Istanbul in Ramadan?

It is not only OK but a good idea to visit Istanbul during Ramadan. You can see a festive city with people coming together and sharing everywhere in the city.

Is there nightlife in Istanbul during Ramadan?

Yes, you can drink, go to bars, and visit open nightclubs during Ramadan in Istanbul.

What do they eat in Istanbul during Ramadan?

Iftar: Meals traditionally start with dates and olives, followed by hearty soups, pides (flatbreads), pastries like börek, stews, and rice dishes. Suhur: This pre-dawn meal often includes eggs, cheese, bread, fruits, and vegetables.

What is Ramadan feast in Turkey?

The feast at the end of Ramadan is called Eid al-Fitr, also known as Şeker Bayramı (Sugar Feast) in Turkey due to the emphasis on sweets.

What is the feast during Ramadan?

The main feast during Ramadan is Iftar, the evening meal where Muslims break their fast after sunset.

What is the famous dish in Ramadan?

There are many, but some popular Ramadan dishes in Turkey include: Pide (special Ramadan flatbread) Güllaç (milk-based dessert with rosewater) Lentil soup Pastries like baklava and börek

What are the two main meals eaten during Ramadan?

Suhur: Eaten before sunrise Iftar: Eaten after sunset

Is everything closed during Ramadan in Turkey?

No. Restaurants and cafes adjust hours, some close during the day, but many remain open, Major tourist attractions stay open with normal business hours.

What should you not do on Ramadan?

Avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum in public during daylight hours out of respect for those fasting. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites.

Can tourists eat during Ramadan?

Tourist or not, everyone can eat during Ramadan. No one expects you to fast if you' don't want.

How strict is Ramadan in Turkey?

Observance varies. Istanbul is diverse, so while many practice Ramadan, others do not. Respect for fasting individuals is expected.

What is open during Ramadan in Istanbul?

Most everything! Museums, historical sites, and markets operate normally. Some restaurants change hours, but there are always options for food.

Does Ramadan end with a feast?

Yes! Ramadan culminates in a three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (Şeker Bayramı in Turkish), a joyful time with feasts, gatherings, and gift-giving.

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