If you are visiting Istanbul in April and like me, you are a sun seeker, you are in luck! As you probably have noticed, there are flowers blooming everywhere in the city. Istanbul is an explosion of color since millions of tulips have been planted in parks, along avenues, and basically anywhere in the city where there was some green space available.
Although you can see flowers blooming everywhere in Istanbul, if you want a real tulip treat, you should not miss Emirgan Park, where the 11th International Istanbul Tulip Festival takes place.
Lale Festivali (Istanbul Tulip Festival)
Every year around this time, Istanbul dresses up with millions of tulips of a wide variety of kinds and colors. With more than 20 million tulips planted, the Istanbul Tulip Festival takes place in many parks along the city (such as Gülhane Parkı, Yıldız Korusu, Beykoz Korusu, Göztepe 60. Yıl Parkı, Büyük Çamlıca Korusu, etc.). However, the best place to experience the Istanbul Tulip Festival is Emirgan Park (Emirgan Korusu). This year almost 3 million tulips of 190 different kinds have been planted there!
Tulips came from Turkey, not from Holland
Unlike the common beliefs that associate tulips with the Netherlands, history says that tulips originally grew wild on the Asian steppes and commercial tulip cultivation actually began in the Ottoman Empire. Tulips were brought to Holland by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.
Throughout the history, the tulip has been one of Istanbul’s traditional symbols having a major role in Turkish arts and culture. Called lale in Turkish, tulips even gave its name to the wealthiest period of Ottoman Empire (Lale Devri, the Tulip Era).
For a more elaborated history of the tulip, you can check out Wikipedia’s page on tulips.
How to get to Emirgan Parkı
If you are in Istanbul during the month of April, do yourself a favor and go to see some tulips in Emirgan Park.
The Istanbul Tulip Festival is officially on until April 30th, so you still have time. If you can, try to avoid going on the weekends, when it gets really crowded with locals families, and traffic jams make it difficult to access the park. I would also recommend visiting as early as possible before the flowers start wilting.
Emirgan Park is located by the Bosphorus, in the district of Sariyer, a little bit past the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (aka Second Bridge). You can reach Emirgan Park by bus 25E from Kabataş or 40B from Beşiktaş. Another, more scenic, option is taking the Çengelköy-Istinye ferry line that has a stop in Emirgan and amazing views of the Bosphorus (keep in mind the times the ferry run are very limited).
If you are considering to visit Istanbul, I highly recommend visiting in spring when days are long, the weather is really pleasant and you can enjoy the Istanbul Tulip Festival, not to mention the many other things that make this city, at least for me, the most beautiful on earth…