by , SmarterTravel Staff
Istanbul, Turkey: Garden in front of the Haghia Sophia Mosque (Photo: Thinkstock/Medioimages/Photodisc)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on February 21, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: all-inclusive resort, arts and culture, Aruba, Austrian Airlines Group, beach, destination, Drury Inns, Inc., Expedia, festival, guided tour, history, Hyatt, Istanbul, Jaclyn Liechti, KLM, low season, Marriott, Orbitz, Portugal, Radisson, Red Roof Inn, San Antonio, seasonality, shopping, spring, Stowe, Travelocity, Turkish Airlines, Vermont, weather, Westin.

Summer in Istanbul means hot weather and large crowds, while winter brings cool temperatures and wet, rainy days. And, much like how Istanbul brilliantly marries European and Asian cultures, springtime treats travelers to the best of both worlds. Fewer visitors and comfortable temperatures, combined with lower prices make the off-peak season a boon for savvy travelers.

I compared off-peak airfare to peak rates from three different cities and found savings up to $370.

Route Off-Peak Rate Peak Rate
Fort Lauderdale to Istanbul $929 $1,300
Atlanta to Istanbul $1,063 $1,283
Seattle to Istanbul $1,184 $1,349

Off-peak rates are based on travel from May 10 through 17; peak travel prices are based on travel from August 16 through 23. All fares were found using Orbitz and include taxes and fees.

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Airfare deals to the city can be found at Turkish Airlines, which is offering round-trip fares from Los Angeles to Istanbul starting at $752 (including taxes and fees). And at press time, KLM is listing round-trip airfare from $682 (before taxes and fees) from Chicago when you book by February 23. Plus, shopaholics can save 30 percent or more around the city during the first annual Istanbul Shopping Fest from March 18 through April 26.

Travelers can also book package deals to save money on tours of Istanbul. Austrian Airlines Vacation Center offers three nights' accommodations, round-trip airfare from New York, and daily breakfast from $1,039 through March 15. Flo-USA has a land tour of Asia Minor that includes accommodations, most meals, and entrance fees from $2,599 during early spring (that's $200 less than peak summer prices). And Friendly Planet is offering a Best of Turkey tour to Istanbul and four other cities that includes airfare, hotels, and most meals, from $1,699—book by March 16, and you can save an extra $300.

For more information about Istanbul, visit our Istanbul Travel Guide.

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