Ultimate Guide to the Istanbul Tulip Festival 2024: 10 Best Places to See Tulips 


Imagine strolling through a park, seeing millions of colorful bulbs in yellow, pink, red, and other hues, and enjoying the pleasant weather at the same time. You’re not dreaming — this is the famous tulip festival in Istanbul! 

Indeed, one of the most important cultural events in Istanbul is its tulip season. Although it’s called the Istanbul Tulip Festival (or Istanbul Lale Festivali in Turkish), this ‘festival’ doesn’t actually have a set location. Instead, millions of tulips bloom in specific parks, groves, and gardens across the city!

If you’re planning to visit Istanbul in the spring, be sure to visit at least one or two parks where tulips bloom (you’ll thank us later 😉). According to the Istanbul Metropolitan, there are nearly 10 million tulips planted in preparation for the tulip season in Istanbul — so you can imagine how beautiful it becomes once spring comes around. 🙂 

Are you already excited? Keep reading, as this guide answers your burning questions, such as…

🌷 Where is the tulip festival in Istanbul? (This post contains 10 amazing places to see tulips in Istanbul!) 
🌷 When is the tulip festival?
🌷 What should I know about the tulip festival in Istanbul? 
🌷 Plus the history of tulips, a helpful map, useful travel tips to make your trip easier, and more! 

Grab your cameras and let’s check out some of the best places to see tulips in Istanbul! 

Istanbul’s Tulip Festival: The Basics

Istanbul Tulip Festival Travel Tips: Planning Your Visit

🌷 When is Istanbul’s Tulip Festival? — The 2024 Istanbul Tulip Festival is scheduled to take place between April 1st to April 30th. Like we mentioned before, this isn’t an ‘official’ event, but rather when you can expect to see tulips blooming in Istanbul (similar to the yearly cherry blossom forecast in Japan!). While the tulips typically bloom in April, this can change depending on the weather, climate, rain, and so on. Sometimes you may see tulips as early as the end of March, or as late as May! 

⭐️ Important! If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul in 2024, please note that the 2024 Istanbul Tulip Festival coincides with Ramadan. Ramadan in Turkey happens from March 11 to April 9, and Eid al-Fitr is April 10 to April 12. Istanbul gets very crowded during Eid al-Fitr, which is why we recommend visiting after April 12. Plus, most of the flowers will already be blooming around mid-April.

🌷 When do tulips bloom in Istanbul? — As mentioned above, tulips will typically start blooming in Istanbul around April, although they may start earlier and finish later. 

If you’re worried weather the tulips will bloom before your trip, we recommend going on Instagram or TikTok and searching for either #Emirgan or #Gulhane in the hashtags and choosing ‘Recent Photos.’ That way, you’ll see the current tulip situation and if they’ve already bloomed or not. 

🌷 How much does the Istanbul tulip festival cost? — Since the tulips are found in Istanbul’s public parks and gardens, it’s free. 🙂 

🌷 What’s the weather like? — In short, the weather in Istanbul in April is very unpredictable. 😅 Some years we had very light rains and clear skies, while other years it was very drizzly. However, most days typically have sunny skies and a gentle breeze. We’ve also noticed that most of the rain happens towards the beginning of April — like the old saying goes, April showers bring May flowers! 😉

The average weather in Istanbul during April is between 8 to 14 C (47 to 55 F).

🌷 What to wear — Since we’re on the topic of weather and temperatures, we recommend wearing layers when exploring Istanbul. The weather can quickly change over the course of the day, and it’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared! Likewise, carry a portable umbrella just in case. 

🌷 How to avoid crowds — The absolute best time of the day to see Istanbul’s tulips is during the morning on a weekday. Most people are at work, and there aren’t as many crowds and people. We really recommend avoiding weekends (if possible), as everyone will typically visit popular tulip locations like Emirgan or Gulhane Park.  

One final tip is to please avoid stepping on the tulips and/or picking the flowers (🥹). They’re very delicate and even tiptoeing around them will damage the flowers. 


History of the Tulip & Istanbul Tulip Festival

While most people think of the Netherlands when they hear the word tulip, these colorful flowers are actually native to Turkey! In fact, they made their way to Europe from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, igniting a trend that would sweep across the continent.

However, let’s back up a little… 

The story of the tulip in Turkey dates back to the Ottoman Empire, when these flowers were first introduced to the region from Central Asia and the Middle East. Tulips quickly became a symbol of wealth and prestige in the Ottoman court, reaching the height of their popularity during what is known as the Tulip Era (1718 to 1730) under Sultan Ahmed III. This period was marked by peace and prosperity and a time when arts and culture flourished, with the tulip being a prominent symbol in literature, art, and even clothing. Luxurious ‘tulip parties’ were held in the palace gardens, where the elite of Istanbul would gather to admire the beauty of these flowers under the moonlight, accompanied by music and poetry.

Over time, the cultivation of tulips became an art form, with gardeners competing to create the most beautiful and unusual varieties. It was from Istanbul that tulips were introduced to Europe in the 16th century, where they sparked “tulip mania,” especially in the Netherlands, which continues to be associated with these flowers to this day.

The significance of tulips in Istanbul declined in the following centuries, only to be revived in recent years as a symbol of the city’s historical and cultural identity. The Istanbul Tulip Festival was officially established in 2006 by the city as a way to restore the tulip’s historical significance and to rejuvenate urban spaces with this beautiful flower. We think they did a great job! 


Istanbul Tulip Festival Map

To make it easier, we’ve created a map of all the parks and groves listed in this blog post:

Best Places to See Tulips in Istanbul on the EUROPEAN SIDE

Emirgan Park (Emirgan Grove) 

There’s no doubt that Emirgan Park is the most popular place to see tulips in Istanbul — in fact, its Wikipedia page even has a separate section about the tulip festival. 🙂 

This is one of the largest parks in Istanbul (it’s 47 hectares!) and you can easily spend an entire day seeing the tulips in Emirgan Park, visiting nearby attractions (we’ll get to them later), and seeing the beautiful views of the Bosphorus. The park has everything you need, including picnic areas, restaurants, cafes, a children’s playground, benches, public toilets, and much more.  

There are 190 species and more than 10 million tulips in Emirgan Park, which makes for very picturesque photo opportunities!

A Short History of Emirgan Park 

Emirgan Park was originally developed by Sultan Murat IV in the 17th century, who gave the plot of land to his friend, the Iranian nobleman Emir Güne Han (hence the name, Emirgan). The sultan and Emir would often drink and go hunting around the area, but after Murat IV passed away, his successor (Sultan Ibrahim I) had Emir executed (🥲) for allegedly writing propaganda. 

The park was then under the control of Egyptian khedive Ismail Paşa, who built three pavilions (which we’ll talk about in just a bit) in the 19th century. Finally, the Istanbul authorities bought the woods in 1943 and turned it into a public park. While Emirgan Park unofficially celebrated its tulips for decades, authorities decided to host the first official Tulip Festival here in 2005, and Emirgan has been a popular place for locals and tourists ever since!

Details of the Yellow Pavilion

Emirgan Park Pavilions

Besides the flowers, the other most popular attraction in Emirgan Park are the beautiful traditional houses. There are three in total, and they are named the Yellow Pavilion, Pink Pavilion, and White Pavilion — which coincidentally are the colors of tulips you’ll also see in the park! 😉  

All three pavilions are used as restaurants and cafes, serving traditional Turkish and European food. Our personal favorite is the Yellow Pavilion (Sarı Köşk in Turkish) due to the beautiful hand-painted wall decorations and original decor. If you can snag a seat outside on the terrace, you’ll also have a lovely view of the surrounding tulips. 🙂 

Click on each link for their respective location on Google Maps: 
📍Yellow Pavilion 
📍Pink Pavilion 
📍White Pavilion

What to do around Emirgan Park

As we mentioned in the beginning, there are so many things to do around the area that you could spend an entire day here. When we visited last year, we decided to make it a fun day trip to Emirgan Park and its surroundings. Here are some of our favorite places nearby:

🌷 Baltalimanı Japanese Garden — If you’re still not done with beautiful flowers, why not take the 20-minute walk to the nearby Japanese garden? This adorable hidden gem is an authentic Japanese garden that has typical elements like a pond, gazebo, stone paths, wooden bridge, and a tea pavilion. Of course, there are also sakura trees blooming during the spring. 🙂 

🌷Sakıp Sabancı Museum — Located right next to Emirgan Park, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum is known for its Ottoman-era collection, including calligraphic art, clothing, paintings, and more. It’s such an interesting and unique museum that we even wrote about it in our 10 Unique Istanbul Museums blog post!

🌷If you’re particularly adventurous, you can enjoy a lovely 40-minute stroll down the Bosphorus to Rumeli Fortress (Rumeli Hisarı) and the upscale Bebek neighborhood.


Gulhane Park 

Gülhane is one of the most historical tulip gardens in Istanbul, in part thanks to its proximity to Topkapi Palace, where Ottoman sultans and their families lived for more than 400 years. In fact, Gülhane Park was even part of the Topkapi Palace gardens until it became a stand-alone park in 1912.

Gülhane Park is also one of the easiest places to see tulips in Istanbul (along with Sultanahmet Square) for tourists, especially if your accommodation is in Sultanahmet or Beyoglu — it’s literally right in the center of Istanbul’s Old Town. 🙂 

While Gülhane Park is a popular place all year-round, it really comes alive during the tulip festival. Meadows of tulips stretch as far as the eye can see, and there are usually events held on certain days (i.e. music, dancing, art shows, etc.) 

You can easily spend an hour or two walking through Gülhane Park, taking photos of the tulips, and exploring the nearby attractions. Our favorite attraction inside Gülhane is the “water screen,” which is a wall of water that falls down and makes different words and shapes (like tulips!). It’s a stunning visual display that’s also relaxing. Click here for the exact coordinates on Google Maps →  

What to do around Gülhane Park

🌷Column of the Goths — An 18-meter column that commemorates the Roman victory over the Goths. Fun fact: This is the oldest-surviving monument from the Roman era. 🙂 

🌷 Gülhane Park Cistern — Why pay for the Basilica Cistern when you can see a miniature version for free? 😜 This cistern was recently restored and often holds art displays. 

🌷Istanbul Archaeological Museum — Located just outside of the park, Istanbul Archaeological Museum is an impressive collection of Turkish artifacts dating back thousands of years. There’s even a mummy! 


Sultanahmet Square

Flanked by the famous Blue Mosque to one side and Hagia Sophia on the other, Sultanahmet Square is, without a doubt, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Istanbul. Yet it gains an especially beautiful charm when tulip season comes around!

During the month of April, city gardeners plant thousands of tulips in Sultanahmet Square. Dozens of different colors adorn the square and make it even more beautiful. 🙂 

Another interesting attraction is the “Tulip Carpet” (Lale Halısı), which started in 2015. As the name implies, more than 550,000 tulips are planted in Sultanahmet Square in the shape of a traditional Ottoman carpet. It’s absolutely huge (about 1,400 square meters/15,000 square feet!) and emphasizes how the tulip was originally from Turkey. 

The rug “pattern” changes every year, which makes it even more exciting! 


Yıldız Park

One of the most beautiful parks near Beșiktaș is none other than Yıldız Park (“Star Park”). This sprawling park also takes the title of one of the largest public parks in Istanbul thanks to its 287,000 square meter area. Inside the park, there are hundreds of varieties of plants and trees, with some surviving since the Ottoman era. 

Yıldız Park is a great place to see tulips in Istanbul because it’s further away from the main tourist areas, yet still accessible. You can pair a visit to Yıldız Park with a trip to the nearby Dolmabahce Palace (2 km/1.2 mi away) or a stroll around Ortaköy (1 km/0.6 mi away). 

Don’t forget to pack a few snacks and drinks, as this park is also a popular place for picnicking! There’s also a suspension bridge, a treetop walkway, and a lovely mansion (Malta Köşkü). 


İbb Soğanlı Bitkiler Parkı 

Last but certainly not least, we have the Soğanlı Bitkiler Parkı, which literally translates to ‘Bulbous Plants Park.’ As the name implies, you can see a variety of interesting tulips here. 🙂 

The park has 260,000 flowers, which include 79 different species of 11 flowers (such as tulips, daffodils, peonies, and begonias). 

The park is located near Zeytinburnu and accessible via Marmaray light rail. We recommend visiting this park only after you’ve been to the others listed in this guide, mostly because there’s not as much to do around the area. While the park is not as large as the others, it is surrounded by the Yedikule fortress (a 7-tower fortress from 1458 that doubles as a dungeon museum!) and there is also a nice seaside promenade nearby. 

Best Places to See Tulips in Istanbul on the ASIAN SIDE

Why limit yourself to the European side of Istanbul? There are also plenty of amazing tulip gardens in Istanbul’s Asian side! Here are our favorites: 

Göztepe Park 

There’s a reason why we put Göztepe Park as the first place on our list — it’s the best place to see tulips in Istanbul’s Asian side! First, it’s very to reach from Istanbul’s Old Town: all you need to do is go to the Marmaray station (either at Sirkeci or Yenikapi) and get off at Göztepe station. From there, it’s a pleasant 15-minute walk.

Göztepe Park is the biggest tulip park on the Asian side — last year, more than 1 million tulip bulbs were planted! The park itself stretches multiple blocks and has a few different ‘themes’ with various tulips. Our favorite area is where there are yellow and red tulips (in the color of the Turkish flag) near the statue of Atatürk. 🙂 (see second photo above)

The park also has plenty of lovely amenities, like a large marble fountain in the center, plus benches, a children’s playground, a footpath, gazebo, and more. 


Çamlıca Park

Located atop of Çamlıca Hill, this park combines stunning views of the Bosphorus with charming tulip fields. 

The park is divided into two parts — Büyük Çamlıca (Big Çamlıca) and Küçük Çamlıca (Small Çamlıca). When combined, about 1 million tulips were planted across the two areas. 

You can combine a trip to Çamlıca with a visit to Fethi Pasha Grove (see below) — the trip takes 30 minutes via the M5 metro line.


Fethi Pasha Grove

A small but super adorable area is the Fethipaşa Grove. This area typically has around 200,000 tulips planted during the season, with 20-something different species. 

There are a few facilities in the grove, such as the beautiful and historic Fethipaşa Sosyal Tesisleri (with a restaurant inside).

If you’re planning a trip to see the tulips in Fethi Paşa Grove, we also recommend adding a quick stop at Kuzguncuk, which is an adorable neighborhood just a short 10-minute walk from the grove. This is one of the only neighborhoods in the city that has preserved the “old Istanbul atmosphere” (plus there are some adorable colorful houses along the streets!). We’ve written an entire travel guide — click here to see our Kuzguncuk neighborhood guide → 🙂


Hidiv Kasri (Khedive’s Palace)

Located far up the Bosphorus and practically opposite of Emirgan Park (on the Asian side!) is this beautiful palace and grove.

The Khedive Palace (also known as the Çubuklu Palace, named after the neighborhood it’s located in) was built in the early 1900s for Khedive Abbas II of Egypt. The palace itself is a gorgeous masterpiece that’s designed in an Art Nouveau style, and was inspired by classical Italian villas – you can definitely see the influence thanks to the stained glass, marble, and European-style murals throughout!

On the outside, the palace is surrounded by a large grove that covers more than 270 acres, which is full of gorgeous tulips once the Istanbul Tulip Festival rolls around. We especially love this place because it’s not as popular as the other gardens and groves mentioned on our list — and therefore less crowded! 😉

⭐️Travel tip! ⭐️ You could technically visit both Emirgan Grove and Hidiv Kasri in one day – just take the “Rumeli Kavağı – Eminönü ferry line” from Emirgan pier to İstinye pier (it’s literally the next stop and the crossing takes 5 minutes :)). Click here for timetables, and make sure you click ‘Eminonu Departure’

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What is the Istanbul Tulip Festival?
The Istanbul Tulip Festival is an annual celebration that marks the blooming of millions of tulips across the city. It’s a tribute to the flower that has significant historical and cultural importance in Turkey. The festival lasts for a month and features a dazzling array of tulip displays, cultural events, and art installations in various parks and groves around the city. Don’t miss it! 

When does the Istanbul Tulip Festival 2024 start?
The festival typically occurs during the spring, when tulips naturally bloom. The 2024 Istanbul Tulip Festival will take place between April 1 to April 30. 

Where are the best places to see tulips in Istanbul?
Istanbul has tons of parks and gardens where you can see tulips. Some of the most popular locations include Emirgan Park, Gülhane Park, Yıldız Park, and Göztepe Park. 

In which neighborhood is the Istanbul Tulip Festival?
The Istanbul Tulip Festival takes place all across the city — from the Old Town (Gülhane Park and Sultanahmet Square) to the further outskirts of the Bosphorus (Emirgan Park), and even in parks on the Asian side of Istanbul (Göztepe 60th Year Park)!

When is tulip season in Istanbul?
While the exact timing can vary from year to year depending on weather conditions, tulip season in Istanbul typically occurs in spring, with the peak blooming period usually falling in the month of April. This is when the city’s parks and gardens are most vibrant, showcasing a wide variety of tulips in full bloom. 

Where can I see tulips in Turkey?
The best city to see tulips in Turkey is none other than Istanbul! It’s so famous that it even has a festival every spring to honor this flower. 🙂 

Why are tulips so significant in Istanbul?
Tulips have deep historical and cultural roots in Turkey, symbolizing beauty and abundance. They were highly prized during the Ottoman Empire, especially in the 18th century during the period known as the Tulip Era, when they became a symbol of wealth and prestige. Istanbul, with its ideal climate for tulips, became a center for tulip cultivation back in those days, and the flower remains a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage.

What is the best time to see tulips in Istanbul?
We recommend visiting from mid-April onward — most tulips will have already bloomed, and the weather is typically nicer during this time of the month. 

How long does the Istanbul Tulip Festival last?
An entire month! If the weather is nice and you’re lucky, you might even see them in the beginning of May. 🙂 

Where can I find the best tulip displays in Istanbul?
Istanbul is renowned for its spectacular tulip displays in several parks and gardens during the tulip season in spring. Emirgan Park, Gülhane Park, and Yıldız Park are among the top locations where you can see a breathtaking variety of tulips in full bloom. Sultanahmet Square is also famous for the ‘tulip carpet’. 



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