Are you looking for the best time to visit Istanbul? Or Turkey in general? Generally May or September are thought of as the best time to visit Istanbul, but here are three reasons why April might be the best time of all.
1. The International Tulip Festival
Tip-toe through the tulips!
2015 is the 10th anniversary of the International Tulip Festival in Istanbul. Prior to our visit I did not associate tulips (lale) with Turkey at all. Like many people, I associate these lovely spring bulbs with Holland. (Today Holland is the leader in the commercial production of tulip bulbs).
However, after delving further into the history of tulips, which were originally found growing wild on the Asian Steppes, the Ottomans were a vital part of the cultivation and popularity of tulips. During the Ottoman empire tulips were often worn in turbans. In Arabic letters lale has the same letters as Allah, and tulips were considered a holy symbol. Tulips are commonly found in the motifs on Turkish ceramics.
There are some wonderful places to see the tulips (and they add a great dimension to your photos as well)!
In 2013, the only year I found statistics for, there were over 14.4 million bulbs planted in over 270 different varieties throughout Istanbul.
Our post on the Bosphorus River cruise includes some additional pictures, but to see the tulips try:
- Gulhane Park near the Topkapi Palace
- The Topkapi Palace Gardens
- The Hippodrome for some fantastic pictures of the Blue Mosques with tulips
- And Emirgan Korus (Which also has a Tulip (Lale) Museum) which is highly recommended and can be reached by either bus (28E) from Kabatas using the Istanbul Kart or via the Bosphorus Hop On/ Hop Off tour. This was by far the highlight.
How does it compare to the tulip fields in the Netherlands during the spring? Istanbul is equally impressive, especially as the tulips are literally everywhere around the city. (And it doesn’t rain as much)!
2. Good Weather
It is not too hot and the weather is relatively stable without too much rain. (September would also be a good time to visit, but there would be no tulips).
3. Smaller Crowds
A few places we visited, had lines to get in, and seemed quite busy to us, so I can only imagine what it is like in summer. Need I say more!
And if you are still not convinced why April is the best time to visit Istanbul- check out these pictures!