Spend The Day At Belgrad Forest In Istanbul (Belgrade Forest)

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

Ever think the city of Istanbul’s just all hustle and bustle? Think again. Nestled in the northern part of the city, Sarıyer district boasts Belgrad Forest, a 5442-hectare haven of natural beauty. Away from the city center’s chaos, it’s a breath of fresh air, quite literally.

Once visited by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1521, this forest isn’t just any green space. It’s history and tranquility rolled into one. With diverse plant species, like the sessile oak trees (Quercus petraea), and serene trails, it’s the ideal spot for a fun day at one the most visited recreational areas of Istanbul.

So, when you’re done with sightseeing, head north of Istanbul for a different kind of adventure.

Turkiye Travel Blog_Belgrad Forest Istanbul Guide

History Of Belgrad Forest

A group of people walking on a dirt path through Belgrad Forest.

The origins of Belgrad Forest can be traced back to Byzantine times when it was known as “Sykai.” During this period, the forest was a hunting ground for the Byzantine emperors who were desperately looking for solace and indulged in their favorite pastimes. However, it wasn’t until Ottoman times that the forest gained significant importance.

In the early 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, Belgrad Forest underwent significant transformations. The Ottoman Empire recognized the strategic value of the forest due to its proximity to the relocated capital of Istanbul. They began planting trees and establishing a hunting ground for the ruling elites. This led to the expansion of the forest, making it larger and more picturesque.

The name “Belgrad” was given to the forest in the mid-19th century, inspired by the close diplomatic ties between the Ottoman Empire and Serbia. It served as a gesture of goodwill and a symbol of friendship between the two nations.

The forest continued to flourish during this period, attracting attention from Istanbul’s intellectual circles and becoming a favorite excursion spot for the city’s elite.

The Ottoman government implemented a reforestation project, planting various tree species, including oak, plane, pine, and cedar, to preserve and enrich the biodiversity of the forest. This initiative aimed to combat deforestation and protect the ecosystem.

However, in the late 20th century, Belgrad Forest faced urbanization pressures due to Istanbul’s rapid expansion. The forest became a refuge for city dwellers seeking tranquillity and respite from the chaos of urban life. It also played a crucial role in providing fresh air, regulating the microclimate, and preserving the water resources of the region.

How To Get To The Belgrad Forest From Istanbul

Belgrad Forest is open all year around, 24/7, so even if it’s sunny or snowing, you can go regardless. There is no entrance fee, but if you’re driving, you’ll pay a very low cost to park your car.

If you are starting from the center of Istanbul, the easiest way is to take a taxi. However, this will also be the most expensive option. If you prefer to save cash, you have a few public transport options.

The first option is to take a bus to the Sariyer district of Istanbul and then get a taxi from there to Belgrad Forest. Buses to Sariyer leave from Besiktas very regularly throughout the day. You can also take a ferry from Eminonu or Besiktas to Sariyer and then follow the same advice with a taxi.

A faster option would be to take the Metro to Haciosman, which is the last stop on the Metro line, and then take a taxi from there to Belgrad Forest. The taxi journey should take around 20 minutes.

What To See At Belgrad Forest

My favorite thing to do in Belgrad Forest is to walk around and breathe in the fresh air. I love the busyness of Istanbul, but it really does get quite overwhelming after a few days. A visit to nature is the best way to combat that!

However, there are a few particular activities you can enjoy.

Explore the Nature Trails

A wooden bridge in a wooded area. Autumn view in Belgrad Forest

Belgrad Forest is known for its beautiful trails, perfect for hiking and walking. Take a leisurely stroll through the lush greenery and immerse yourself in nature.


For cycling enthusiasts, Belgrad Forest is a haven. The forest offers well-maintained cycling paths that cater to different levels of expertise. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced mountain biker, you can enjoy rides amidst the tranquil surroundings.

Horse Riding

Various stables in the area offer horse riding lessons and guided tours that allow you to experience the forest’s charm from a different vantage point. Trotting along the forest trails, surrounded by lush greenery and fresh air, creates an unforgettable experience.


If you’re into snapping beautiful natural photographs, Belgrad Forest gives you plenty of opportunities to do just that!

Have a Picnic

A circular wooden bench in a wooded area in Belgrad Forest Istanbul

Pack a picnic basket and find a cozy spot in the forest to enjoy a meal with your loved ones. There are many recreational areas with long wooden tables available for public use. It’s a great way to relax and unwind amidst the serene surroundings. However, do remember to take your rubbish with you once you’re done.

Discover Historical Landmarks

Belgrad Forest is home to several historical landmarks. I’ll talk about these in a bit more detail in a new section, but bear in mind that there is history in the forest, too.


Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the forest. You might spot various animal species, such as squirrels, rabbits, and even foxes. Birdwatching enthusiasts will have a great time exploring the forest trails.

Enjoy a Meal in the Rest Areas

There are several rest areas within Belgrad Forest where you can find restaurants and cafes. Treat yourself to a delicious meal or grab a cup of coffee while surrounded by nature.

Visit the Göktürk Lake


If you’re a fan of water activities, head to the nearby Göktürk Lake. You can go kayaking or rent a paddleboat to explore the tranquil waters. It’s a perfect spot for some leisurely water-based fun and very cooling during the hottest summer months.

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Wildlife & Nature Spotting

I just mentioned wildlife spotting, but that subject deserves a bit more detail.

Spanning over 5,000 hectares, Belgrad Forest boasts an impressive biodiversity. The forest is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, with more than 170 bird species, including the rare Syrian woodpecker, and over 60 different mammal species. Additionally, the forest is adorned with majestic oak, beech, chestnut, and pine trees, creating a picturesque landscape throughout the seasons.

Let me give you a glimpse into the wonderful wildlife you can find in this forest terrain:

Eurasian Wild Boar

 Wild boar can often be spotted foraging for food in the undergrowth. With their distinctive appearance and stout bodies, they add a touch of wildness to Belgrad Forest.

Red Deer

Belgrad Forest is home to a sizable population of red deer. These majestic creatures can often be observed grazing peacefully in the meadows or wandering through the forest, making for a truly mesmerizing sight.

European Hedgehog

These adorable little creatures are nocturnal and can be found in Belgrad Forest.

Eurasian Lynx

Lynx walking in the forest

Although relatively rare, the elusive Eurasian Lynx has occasionally been spotted in the forest. It has a stunning coat and piercing eyes.

Eurasian Jay

The forest is also home to a variety of bird species, and the Eurasian Jay is one of the most colorful and lively. With its vibrant blue feathers and charming personality, it’s always a delight to spot one flying through the treetops.

European Beech Marten

These small, agile mammals are native to the region and can often be found scurrying about in the tree canopy.

Various Bird Species

Belgrad Forest is known to be a haven for birdwatchers. You can witness all types of birds, including the Great Tit, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Black Woodpecker, and many more. From small songbirds to powerful raptors, the forest is a haven for avian enthusiasts.

Remember, when observing wildlife, it’s essential to maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing their natural habitats.

Historical Landmarks

Day Trips From Istanbul - Belgrad Forrest Dam

I mentioned historical landmarks earlier in our ‘things to do list,’ so let’s talk about a few notable ones in particular.

Sadberk Hanim Museum

Situated on the northern edge of the Forest, this private museum displays an impressive collection of Anatolian and Ottoman artifacts, including ceramics, textiles, and ethnographic objects.

Ayazma Church

Tucked away amidst the trees, Ayazma Church is a small Orthodox Christian church with a long history. Believed to have been built in the 19th century, it features beautiful frescoes and is a peaceful spot to visit.

Belgrade Hunting Mansion

Built during the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century, this mansion used to serve as a hunting lodge and retreat for Sultan Abdulhamid II. Today, it is open to the public and often hosts exhibitions and cultural events.

Kilyos Castle

Located close to the Belgrad Forest, Kilyos Castle is a medieval fortress that offers panoramic views of the Black Sea. Originally built during the Byzantine era, it was later expanded and used by various civilizations throughout history.

Şifa Village

Situated within the forest, Şifa Village is a charming settlement that dates back to the Byzantine period. With its traditional wooden houses and stone pathways, it provides a glimpse into the rural life of the past while also offering cozy restaurants and cafes to enjoy.

Tips For Visiting Belgrad Forest

Looking up at trees in Belgrad Forest on a sunny day.

Plan your visit in advance.

Belgrad Forest is a beautiful and vast area, so it’s a good idea to plan your visit in advance. Decide which trails you want to explore and check the weather conditions.

Dress appropriately

Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for walking or hiking. Since Belgrad Forest is a natural environment, be prepared for uneven terrains and potentially muddy paths. Insect repellent is also a must-have in your bag.

Bring water and snacks.

Exploring the forest can be pretty tiring, so remember to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Also, pack some snacks or a picnic to enjoy along the way.

Grab a map and stay on the trails.

Belgrad Forest has several interconnected trails, so grab a map at the entrance and stick to the marked routes. It’s easy to get lost and stray from the main paths, so be mindful of your surroundings.

Respect the environment

Remember to be a responsible visitor and ensure you leave no trace behind. Dispose of trash in designated bins, avoid damaging plants or disturbing wildlife, and follow any safety guidelines provided.

Check for events

Belgrad Forest often hosts various events and guided tours, such as birdwatching or nature walks. Check the local tourist information or the forest management website to see if there are any upcoming activities during your visit.

Belgrad Forest In Istanbul Wrap-Up

Belgrad Forest is a true natural oasis that offers an escape from the chaotic pace of city life. Whether you’re seeking tranquillity, recreational activities, or a deeper connection with nature, this enchanting forest has it all.

As Istanbul continues to grow, preserving and appreciating places like Belgrad Forest becomes increasingly important as they stand as reminders of the importance of protecting nature and sustaining our connection to the natural world.

So, if you find yourself in Istanbul, take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle and embrace the serene beauty of Belgrad Forest.

Belgrade Forest FAQ


What is Belgrad Forest?

Belgrad Forest, also known as Belgrad Ormanı in Turkish, is a beautiful and vast woodland located on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey. It is a popular destination for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

How large is Belgrad Forest?

Belgrad Forest covers an area of approximately 5,800 hectares, making it one of the largest green spaces in Istanbul.

Are there any entrance fees to visit Belgrad Forest?

Only vehicles have to pay a minimal entrance fee.

What are the main attractions in Belgrad Forest?

Belgrad Forest offers an array of attractions and activities. There is a popular and picturesque pond where visitors can rent rowboats and enjoy a leisurely ride. There are also several hiking trails, picnic areas, and charming cafes where you can relax and immerse yourself in nature.

Can I have a picnic in Belgrad Forest?

Absolutely! Belgrad Forest is a perfect place for picnics. There are designated picnic areas with tables and benches, as well as wide open spaces where you can spread out a blanket and enjoy a delicious picnic amidst the beautiful surroundings. Just remember to clean up after yourself and respect the environment.

Is it possible to go hiking in Belgrad Forest?

Yes, Belgrad Forest is an excellent destination for hiking enthusiasts. There are various trails to choose from, ranging in difficulty and length.

Are there any facilities available in Belgrad Forest?

Yes, Belgrad Forest offers some facilities to enhance your visit. There are parking areas near the entrance, restrooms, and drinking water fountains scattered throughout the forest. Additionally, you’ll find small cafes and vendors selling snacks and refreshments.

Can I bring my pets to Belgrad Forest?

Yes, pets are allowed in Belgrad Forest. It’s a great place to take your furry friends for a walk and enjoy some quality time together. However, make sure to keep them on a leash and clean up after them to maintain the cleanliness and harmony of the forest.

How can I reach Belgrad Forest?

Belgrad Forest is located on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey. It can be easily accessed by public transportation, including buses and minibusses. Alternatively, you can also drive to the forest using your own vehicle or a rental car. 

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