10 Gardens & Parks In Istanbul To Escape The Noise

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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.

I spend months at a time in Istanbul, so I know firsthand how hectic it gets. In this guide, let’s take a look at the greenest and most natural spaces across both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

By the end, you’ll know all about the top gardens and parks in Istanbul and head to be one with Mother Nature in the heart of the city.

Turkiye Travel Blog_Gardens & Parks In Istanbul To Escape The Crowds

If you’ve ever been to Istanbul for a few days, you’ll know it’s busy and it’s loud. Even if you’ve never been and you’ve just seen it in pictures, you’ll probably be aware that the traffic is like nowhere else on Earth. You really can’t walk without having to move out of the way for someone else every five seconds.

It’s a fantastic place, don’t get me wrong, but it can be overwhelming.

For such a vast metropolis with so many people living and visiting there, you might be shocked to find out that there are some pretty green and natural spots, too.

Some are even right in the heart of the most visited parts of the city, giving you the ideal place to head to when you need to escape the crowds and breathe for a second.

10 Top Green Spots In Istanbul

These green spaces are located on both sides of the Bosphorus, so in effect, some are in Europe and some are in Asia. But that’s the cool thing about Istanbul: you can be in either continent in a matter of minutes.

European Side Of Istanbul

1. Belgrad Forest, Sariyer

Day Trips From Istanbul - Belgrad Forrest Dam

If you make an effort to visit Belgrad Forest, you’ll feel like you’re a million and one miles away from any city and that you’ve been transported into the middle of a huge, dense forest with no one for miles. That’s how it feels when you head to this beautiful and huge forested area in the Sariyer region of Istanbul.

Now, I should point out that it’s not all that easy to get to Belgrad Forest because it’s the green area that’s the furthest from the city, but it’s certainly not impossible, and it’s more than worth the effort.

The forest is around 15km away from the city limits. To get to Belgrad Forest in Istanbul, you have a few options depending on your starting point.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Public Transportation: If you prefer using public transportation, you can take the metro to Haciosman station (M2 line) and then transfer to bus number 42T or 42M, which will take you directly to Belgrad Forest.
  • Taxi: You can also opt for a cab, but remember that this will be the most expensive option.
  • Private Car: You can take a private car, and you can drive from Taksim to Belgrad Forest in around 45 minutes.
  • Private Tour: If you want to skip the hassle of arranging transport, you can take a private tour. 

Once you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by fresh air, almost silence except for the sound of the wind and birds and countless giant trees towering over you. There are walking trails, picnic spots, and wildlife spotting opportunities, and it’s just the best place for photos and chilling out.

It’s also a must-visit if you’re into flora and fauna, as there are more than 2000 different types found in the forest.

2. Gezi Park, Taksim

Gezi Park is a beautiful and historic park located in the Taksim district of Istanbul, Turkey. It’s literally right next to Taksim Square, so you can’t miss it, and it’s very walkable. You’re a stone’s throw from the busy Istiklal Street, but when you’re in the middle of the trees, you really do feel like you’re nowhere near a city.

It is known for its lush greenery, peaceful atmosphere, and stunning views of the city. The park has become a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

You can take a leisurely walk through the park’s pathways and enjoy the serene surroundings. You’ll find benches where you can sit and soak up the atmosphere.

It’s a good idea to pack some snacks or grab some delicious Turkish street food nearby and have a picnic in Gezi Park. There are plenty of open spaces where you can spread out your blanket and enjoy your meal.

The other plus point is that within walking distance from Gezi Park, you’ll find cultural landmarks like Istiklal Avenue, Galata Tower, and Dolmabahçe Palace.

You should also keep an eye out for street performers who often entertain you with their music or dance performances near Gezi Park. It adds an extra touch of liveliness to your experience.

And, of course, numerous picturesque spots are perfect for that perfect Instagram photo.

You might find a few stray dogs around this park, but they don’t bother you if you stay out of their way. If you have food, they might want to come and have a sniff, but they’re generally not dangerous if you let them be.

3. Yıldız Park, Besiktas

A large tree in Yildiz Park, Besiktas in Istanbul.

Yildiz Park in Besiktas is a hidden gem, and without knowing about it first, you can easily miss it. It’s a simply beautiful and serene park located on the road between Besiktas and Ortakoy, and you can easily walk there from either point. It is known for its lush greenery, peace, and quiet, and there’s some history to check out, too.

Yıldız Park was once part of the imperial garden of the Yildiz Palace during the Ottoman Empire. It was a favorite retreat for Sultan Abdulhamid II and his family.

The park spans an area of approximately 115 acres (47 hectares) and is filled with various tree species, including pine, oak, chestnut, and magnolia trees.

The park’s hilly terrain can be a little challenging, so take your time, and also make sure that you wear shoes with a grip during the winter months, as shedding leaves and rain can lead to slipperiness!

Several well-maintained walking trails throughout the park allow you to explore its natural beauty at your own pace. These paths lead to charming pavilions, picnic areas, small streams, and even an artificial lake and waterfall. You’ll also find small statues of animals, which are actually rubbish bins!

When you fancy a cup of Turkish tea or coffee while enjoying your nature walk, there are charming tea gardens where you can unwind and chill out.

If you do take a picnic or any food with you inside the park, remember to take your trash with you – this space is so pristine it really shouldn’t be ruined.

4. Gülhane Park, Sultanahmet

People walking in Gulhane park, a historical urban park in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, Turkey

Gulhane Park is one of the most beautiful parks located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood. It is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike, and it’s pretty hidden away, which means it’s never crowded no matter what time of day you visit. This park reminds me of Narnia, and when it snows, it looks even more like it!

Gülhane Park is situated right next to the Topkapi Palace Museum, making it easily accessible. The park was once part of the outer garden of the Topkapı Palace during the Ottoman Empire. It was opened to the public as a park in 1912, and you can imagine the sultans walking around, taking in the fresh air and sun.

The park boasts lush greenery, colorful flower beds, and well-maintained pathways that make it perfect for leisurely walks or picnics with family and friends. You’ll also find fountains, statues, and charming pavilions that add to its charm.

If you head to the furthest edge of the park, you can see right over the Bosphorus and down to the bridge, with a great view over to Asia.

Of course, be sure to grab a glass of Turkish tea from the café.

Being located in Sultanahmet means that Gulhane Park is conveniently close to other famous landmarks like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), and Basilica Cistern, making it an ideal spot for a break during your sightseeing adventures.

5. Emirgan Park, Sariyer – Istanbul Tulip Festival

In Istanbul, the tulips are arranged in a circle in Emirgan Park, Sariyer

Emirgan Park is a beautiful park located in the Sariyer district. It is known for its stunning landscapes, colorful flower gardens, and sensational views of the Bosphorus. The park spans an area of 117 acres and offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city.

One of the highlights of Emirgan Park is its collection of tulips. During springtime, the park becomes a vibrant display of thousands of tulip varieties in various colors and patterns. This is the site of the annual Tulip Festival in Istanbul.

It’s truly a fantastic sight, and you’ll need your camera for sure. However, this also means crowds, so it’s best to get there early in the day or during the late afternoon to beat the crowds.

Apart from tulips, Emirgan Park also features several walking paths, picnic areas, and charming tea houses where you can relax and enjoy some traditional Turkish tea or coffee while taking in the scenic surroundings. There are also historical pavilions within the park that date back to the Ottoman era.

Emirgan Park is in Sariyer, so it’s not super-central. However, it’s not hard to get there. You can take the metro or tram to connect with buses or taxis that will take you closer to Emirgan Park.

The closest metro station to Emirgan Park is the Haciosman Metro Station (M2 Line). From there, you can either take a taxi or hop on a bus heading towards Sariyer. Alternatively, if you’re near Taksim Square or the Sultanahmet area, consider taking the tram (T1 Line) towards Kabatas and then transfer to a bus heading towards Sariyer.

6. Bebek Park, Bebek

Bebek Park is located between Ortakoy and Sariyer in a very affluent neighborhood, but it’s super beautiful. It is known for its stunning views of the Bosphorus and its peaceful atmosphere. The park offers a variety of activities, such as walking and jogging paths, picnic areas, and playgrounds for children.

If you’re looking to relax and unwind, Bebek Park is the perfect place to do so. You can find a cozy spot under the shade of a tree or take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade. The park also has several benches where you can sit and enjoy the view while reading a book or simply taking in the surroundings.

A great activity is checking out the huge tankers and ships that slowly and silently make their way down the Bosphorus – like huge giants tiptoeing past!

For those who are more active, there are sports facilities available at Bebek Park as well. You can play basketball or volleyball on one of the courts or even join in on a game with some locals. There’s also an outdoor fitness area where you can exercise and stay fit while enjoying nature.

If you’re visiting with children, they will love exploring the playgrounds. There are swings, slides, climbing structures, and even a mini train ride that they can enjoy. It’s an excellent place for them to burn off some energy while having fun outdoors.

Once you’re done, be sure to explore Bebek a little and soak up the chilled-out vibe. There are also some excellent seafood restaurants around this part of the city, although they’re certainly not cheap.

7. Ulus Park, Besiktas

Ulus Park Istanbul is a beautiful park located in the Ulus neighborhood of Istanbul, close to Besiktas and high on a hill. It’s a pretty affluent area again, and you’ll find some seriously upmarket bars and restaurants around. Additionally, it’s an excellent spot for rooftop bars because the view over the Bosphorus is pretty amazing.

Despite all that, it offers a serene and peaceful environment where you can escape the hustle and bustle.

You can easily reach Ulus Park from Besiktas via the bus, or you can take a taxi. I wouldn’t recommend walking as the hill is quite steep!

The park offers sensational panoramic views of the Bosphorus Bridge, Maiden’s Tower, and the Asian side of Istanbul. It’s an ideal spot to capture stunning photographs or admire the cityscape.

There are plenty of lush green lawns, colorful flower beds, and well-maintained walking paths that make it perfect for strolls or picnics with family and friends. The park provides various recreational facilities such as children’s playgrounds, basketball courts, and outdoor fitness equipment if you’re feeling energetic.

There are also several cafes and restaurants within or near Ulus Park where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cup of tea while taking in the scenery.

8. Maçka Democracy Park, Besiktas

Macka Park is nestled between the vibrant neighborhoods of Nisantasi and Besiktas, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists alike. It’s also a great place to go if you’re seeking shade on sunny days, as the tall trees do the job well. Some well-maintained pathways give superb views over the city, down to the Bosphorus, and over Asia.

One of the highlights of Maçka Park is its picturesque pond with beautiful swans and ducks. You can also rent paddle boats to explore the pond if you like or sit and chill out instead.

There are plenty of benches scattered throughout its grounds where you can sit back and unwind while enjoying breathtaking views of Istanbul’s skyline. The park also provides designated areas with picnic tables. Additionally, there are basketball courts and open spaces perfect for playing football or volleyball.

After a relaxing time in the park, you can easily explore nearby neighborhoods like Nisantasi, known for its upscale shopping boutiques and trendy cafes. Or you can head to Besiktas, a lively district famous for its vibrant street life and bustling markets.

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Asian Side Of Istanbul

9. Camlica Hill, Uskudar

Hidden gems of Istanbul - Aerial drone view of Istanbul, Turkey. Camlica Tower

Camlica Hill is a beautiful and iconic landmark in Istanbul, located on the Asian side of the city. It offers sensational panoramic views of Istanbul’s skyline, including the European side of the Bosphorus Strait. This is one place you will need your camera for, and trust me, you’ll take more than enough photos with the changing light.

You can see not only over the Bosphorus Bridge and over to the European side with its massive skyscrapers and iconic buildings, but also over the Sea of Marmara, where all the huge ships sit, waiting to move through the Bosphorus Strait and to catch the best fish in the area. I have never seen a beautiful view quite as good as this one, and I took more photos than should actually be allowed.

I’d recommend going late in the afternoon because then you can see the changing lights, catch the sunset, and take photos of the skyline all lit up at night.

You should also check out the most beautiful mosque just a stone’s throw from the hill, Camlica Mosque; it’s the largest in the city. In addition, there is Camlica Tower, which offers 360-degree views from the top, and there is also a top-quality restaurant up there if you don’t mind heights.

You can reach Camlica Hill by taking public transportation, such as buses or taxis, from various parts of Istanbul. If you prefer a more scenic route, you can also take a ferry from the European side to Uskudar and then catch a bus or taxi to Camlica Hill.

There is an excellent café on site, which offers Turkish breakfast, gozleme, toast, and other snacks, as well as tea, coffee, salep, and other refreshments. In addition, the nearby Uskudar district offers plenty of authentic restaurants where you can indulge in traditional dishes like kebabs, mezes (appetizers), baklava (sweet pastry), and Turkish tea.

This place is a must-visit; in fact, it’s unforgettable and so unbelievably peaceful.

10. Polonezköy Nature Park, Beykoz

Polonezkoy Tabiat Park is a beautiful natural park located in Beykoz, on the Asian side of the city. It is known for its lush greenery, serene atmosphere, and diverse wildlife.

The park offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and it’s far enough away from the central reaches to make you feel like you’re somewhere very chilled out indeed.

You can reach Polonezkoy Tabiat Park by car or public transport. You can take a bus from Ortakoy, Sariyer, Kadikoy, and Uskudar to Polonezkoy village and then walk to the park – look for buses that are heading to the Beykoz district.

There is an entrance fee to access the park, but it’s definitely worth it.

The park has well-maintained walking trails, but make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring water along for your hike. There are also designated picnic areas.

Keep your eyes peeled for various species of birds, butterflies, rabbits, squirrels, and even wild boars that inhabit the area. It’s an excellent opportunity for nature lovers and photographers alike. And, if you’re feeling adventurous or want a unique experience in the park, horseback riding is available for both beginners and experienced riders.

The nearby village of Polonezkoy is home to descendants of Polish immigrants who settled there in the 19th century. Exploring this charming village will give you insights into its rich cultural heritage.

As you can see, Istanbul’s most famous parks and beautiful gardens are not just scenic escapes but also the best places to experience the natural beauty of this vibrant city.

Each park, a popular spot among both locals and tourists, offers a unique glimpse into the quieter, greener side of Istanbul.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful stroll or a quiet spot to unwind, these oases provide the perfect antidote to the city’s hustle and bustle. So, next time you’re in Istanbul, be sure to step into one of these tranquil retreats and enjoy the serene side of city life.

ISTANBUL PARKS & GREEN SPACES FAQS

What are some of the popular green spaces and parks in Istanbul?

Istanbul is home to several beautiful green spaces and parks. Some of the popular ones include Emirgan Park, Yildiz Park, Gulhane Park, and Belgrad Forest.

Are Istanbul’s best parks easily accessible?

Yes, most of these parks are easily accessible by public transportation such as buses or metro. They are also conveniently located near major tourist attractions.

Are there any entrance fees for Istanbul’s parks?

No, most of the green spaces and parks in Istanbul do not have an entrance fee. You can enjoy them free of charge.

Can I have a picnic or BBQ in Istanbul’s parks?

Yes! Many of the parks provide designated picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal with your friends or family. However, for safety reasons, it’s important to follow park rules regarding open fires or barbecues.

Are there any activities available within these green spaces?

Absolutely! These parks offer various activities such as walking trails, jogging paths, cycling routes, playgrounds for children, and sports facilities like basketball courts or football fields. Some even have boat rides on nearby lakes or ponds.

Can I bring my pet to Istanbul’s green spaces and parks?

Most of the parks allow pets on leashes; however, it’s always recommended to check individual park regulations before bringing your furry friend along.

Do Istanbul’s parks host events throughout the year?

Many of the larger green spaces often host cultural events like concerts or festivals during different seasons. It’s worth checking local event listings to see if anything interesting is happening during your visit.

Are there cafes and restaurants in Istanbul’s parks?

Yes, some of the parks have cafes or restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cup of coffee while surrounded by nature. However, it’s always a good idea to bring your own snacks and drinks, especially if you plan on spending an extended period in the park.

Are Istanbul’s green spaces and parks safe for solo travelers?

Yes, these parks are generally safe for solo travelers. However, it’s always advisable to take basic safety precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and avoiding isolated areas at night.

Can I rent bicycles or other equipment within Istanbul’s parks?

Some of the larger parks offer bicycle rentals or other recreational equipment like paddleboats. It’s best to check with park authorities or rental services nearby for availability and pricing.

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