With its reservoirs that supplied İstanbul with water for many centuries after its foundation, its fountains, and rich fauna, today, Belgrad Forest serves as the city’s lungs. Roughly half an hour’s drive from the city center, Belgrad Forest’s running and cycling tracks make it a matchless destination for sports enthusiasts. You can run or walk along the 6.5-kilometer trail, have a picnic surrounded by the chirping of birds, or just meditate by the pond.
Maçka Democracy Park
You will get your fill of green at Maçka Park, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city from one of the cable cars that pass over the park. People come to this park, which is a green oasis in the heart of the city, to jog and walk, to walk their dogs, have a picnic, or meet with friends in the evenings.
Before attending the concerts and festivals held at the neighboring Küçükçiftlik Park, it’s a great idea to drop by the park for an energizing visit.
Preferred by families with children living in İstanbul who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Polonezköy should be your principal destination for breakfast on Sunday. Prepare yourself for a delightful day in nature where you can try a real Turkish breakfast and barbeque.
Renowned as Türkiye’s first living nature & tree museum, Atatürk Arboretum is an area of scientific research and observation for İstanbul University’s Faculty of Forestry. It hosts nearly 2,000 unique plant species over 296 hectares of forestland. After spending a day in the heart of nature at Atatürk Arboretum, which is located in Sarıyer, you can enjoy dinner at the area’s famous restaurants featuring Black Sea cuisine or at the local fish restaurants.
Overlooking the Bosphorus, Emirgan Park is renowned for its tulips. Here, you can enjoy a glorious view of the waterway over breakfast or dinner at the cafés and restaurants located in the Yellow Pavilion, Pink Pavilion, and White Pavilion - each named after a tulip color. Before enjoying a walk in the park, which should be at the top of your list of “Places to See in İstanbul,” take an art tour at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum situated right next to the park or walk along the Bosphorus coastline.
Frequented particularly by those who wish to get some fresh air in the summer, Bebek Park is ideally suited for a delightful morning walk. You will feel great walking in the confluence of green and blue, greeted by a view of the Bosphorus and the boats anchored at the bay as you approach Rumeli Hisarı (Rumeli Fortress). During your walk along the trials, you can sit under the centuries-old trees and enjoy the view.
Situated between Beşiktaş and Ortaköy, Yıldız Park is a paradise in the heart of the city covering an area of approximately 46 hectares of land. The biggest park in the city, Yıldız Park was cited in various historical sources for its bay tree forests and as the area where Pan played his flute along the Bosphorus according to classical mythology. Yıldız Park hosts more than 120 species of exotic trees and bushes, as well as Yıldız Pavilion (Yıldız Köşkü). You can spend your entire day in nature here, engaging in various activities. As you walk, run, or ride your bike, the squirrels and other park wildlife will be there to keep you company.
Çubuklu Park and Khedive Palace
Situated on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus on the way from Üsküdar to Beykoz, Çubuklu Park, which undergoes a complete transformation in spring and summer, and the Khedive Palace offer glorious views of the Bosphorus. In the tulip gardens surrounding Khedive Palace, you can experience spring to the fullest. Accompanied by birds chirping, you can walk along the path meandering through the pine forests, and enjoy the view at the observation terrace.
Princes’ Islands, Mimosas, and Judas Trees
Those who are willing to go a bit further in search of natural beauty can take a joyful ferry ride accompanied by the seagulls to the Princes’ Islands. Spring is the ideal time for a tour involving a long uphill hike to the Monastery of St. Georgia on Büyükada, a walk to the Monastery of St. Spyridon on Heybeliada, and a delightful dinner against the sunset in Kalpazankaya on Burgazada.
In İstanbul, early spring is mimosa time. Particularly on the Princes’ Islands, the mimosa trees dazzle visitors with their stunning appearance and fragrance. Those who miss the mimosa season, can catch the Judas trees that adorn the Bosphorus coastline and paint the city in purple in April.