Istanbul is the city that never stops to amaze me. I have spent quite a lot of time here but I still have the feeling I have seen nothing! And seriously, now that I live here, I find new spots that take my breath away almost every week.
After a busy week, last Sunday I took my camera and went out to explore Üsküdar, a beautiful and underrated district in the Asian side. Guess what? I found another hidden gem! If you are interested in visiting a non-touristic place in Istanbul that will give you the most complete views of the city, then you should not miss Çamlıca Hill (in Turkish: Büyük Çamlıca Tepesi). Read on to discover all you need to know about this place and how to get there.
Büyük Çamlıca Tepesi
Situated in the district of Üsküdar on the Asian part of the city, Büyük Çamlıca Tepesi (aka Çamlıca Hill) is one of the seven hills of Istanbul and the highest point in the entire city. At 268 m above sea level, Çamlıca Hill offers a panoramic view on both shares of the Bosphorus, including the two bridges that connect Asia with Europe. On clear days, it is even possible to see the Golden Horn and Sultanahmet.
For the best visibility, I recommend visiting on a clear day around sunset time. But overall, even in foggy and rainy days, the views from Çamlıca Hill are priceless!
Çamlıca Sosyal Tesisleri
Besides the amazing views, in Çamlıca Hill you will find a nice park perfect to hang out like a local and a pleasant tea garden (Çamlıca Sosyal Tesisleri) where you can sit and enjoy Turkish food (such as kumpir, gözleme, dönner, etc.) at reasonable prices. It is really a great place to spend a couple of lazy hours, eat something or just drink a Turkish tea with a gorgeous view!
I observed that Çamlıca Hill is a loved place for local people in Istanbul who (specially on weekends) come here to relax, take tons of selfies, enjoy a family picnic or simply have a snack at the Çamlıca tea garden. The day I was there, I had the feeling I was the only “yabanci“ (foreigner).
If coming from Taksim, the easiest way to access Çamlıca is taking the bus 129T and getting off in Kısıklı bus stop. After that, be prepared for a 15-20 minutes steep walk up the hill… Sorry!
A more scenic way to get to Çamlıca from Taksim is taking the funicular from Taksim to Kabatas and later a ferry to Kadiköy. From Kadiköy, you can take any of the following buses: 14, 14F or 14R and get off in Kural stop. After a 10 minutes walk up the hill, you will be in Çamlıca!
If coming from Üsküdar, you can take any of these buses: 9üd, 11E, 11L, 11K, 11Y, 11A, 11üs, 11M, 11ST or 320 and get off in Kısıklı station. Once in Kısıklı, if you dont want to face the walk up the steep hill, you can always take a taxi! It should not cost more than 10TL (3euros).
Most of Istanbul visitors go only to touristic places like Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia, etc. that are definitely a must. However, if you are going to spend more than a couple of days in Istanbul, I highly recommend to go off the beaten path as well and visit Çamlıca Hill! This is the kind of place you won’t probably find in your guide book but will really surprise you. Only from Çamlıca Hill you will realise the huge size and force of this 17 million city.