A nature grove in the heart of Istanbul (Besiktas), overlooking the Bosphorus. Found inside are scenic paths, tree-covered hills, waterfalls, and gardens.
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the urban park was only reserved for city dwellers. In the early 19th century, it began to flourish into an oasis with a small artificial lake, summer houses, pavilions, and a porcelain factory were established.
Top Things to do and See in Yildiz Park/Grove
While somewhat similar to Ulus Park. in that you’ll find views of the Bosphorus and lovely gardens to match; it’s the forest wonders here that make it so special.
Now, let move on our top list of things to do in the park:
1. Grab Your Camera and Visit the Waterfalls
Some of the most picturesque views in Yildiz Park are found by the cascading waterfalls. How this wonderful scene found its way into the heart of Istanbul, is probably a royal secret!
2. Head on Down to the Duck Pond
While some might call it a lake, the ducks “call it home”. Not only do they have a run of the place, they even have their own house built on the water. From time to time you’ll see them walk the plank.. and when they do, all the cameras all come out to play.
If you’re truly a lucky duck, you might just catch a turtle bathing in the sun.
3. Breathe in the Garden Air
While the shade of blues, reds, oranges, and yellows will dazzle both you and your Instagram fans alike. The smells of flowers in bloom will also delight your senses and make the memories even more powerful.
4. Have Breakfast or an Afternoon Picnic
Whether you’re with friends or family members, Yildiz Park is one of the most picturesque places for picnicking in all of Istanbul.
Loads of tourists bring food to the park and there is no shortage of space to eat. Picnic tables, benches and even pavilions with barbeques await avid picnickers. If you want to know what to bring, just a ask local or take notes from the ones already doing it.
5. Relax with Some Coffee, Cake, and Art
The former vacation homes of royals have to been turned into food venues and now cater to hungry park patrons. The Art Cafe at the top, however, has the best eye-candy on the inside a view of the Bosphorus on the outside.
6. Enjoy a Romantic Evening Stroll
The soft light emanating from the old-school lanterns can easily set the mood, while the numerous benches and bridges offer many an opportunity to steal a kiss.
7. Go Squirrel or Bird Watching
Even if you’re not a fan of birds, their sweet music will fill your ears throughout the park. In the spring, adept watchers can find collared flycatchers. Warblers and parakeets can be seen zipping around most of the year.
You won’t have trouble finding a squirrel in the park either. In fact, you’d have more trouble NOT finding one, who isn’t already quarreling with a chipmunk.
8. Cross a Bridge… or Seven
If you want a photo on a bridge with water in the background, this is the place for it. The park has tiny little bridges, lover sized bridges, and even a wonderfully long suspension bridge! No matter which one you choose, your camera is sure to be snapping pics.
9. Get Married!
We kid you not. The scenery in Yildiz Park is so beautiful, and so in contrast to the concrete jungle of Istanbul that it will be hard to NOT find a wedding party already here. On the bridges and near the flower gardens, you’ll find many a blushing bride with glowing grooms. Whether you want to partake in the fun yourself or simply applaud those who tie the know is up to you.
10. Meditate and Relax the Day Away
The gorgeous greenery, sing-song birds, blooming flowers and cascading waterfalls all add up to a very relaxing atmosphere within Yildiz Park. Whether you want to cuddle up with a lover or a good book, you’ll find little nooks and crannies everywhere.
11. Take a Walk in the Forest
Can you even imagine a forest in the very heart of Istanbul? This is what Turkish Dreams are made of! If you choose to take a walk on the wild side, you’ll find vegetation including magnolia, judas trees, horse-chestnuts, silver limes, bay-leaves, and more.
On top of that, you can easily find shade any time of day under a cypress, pine, ash cedar or pine tree. Some of these beauties are more than 400 years old.
12. Stroll Along the Decorative Pathways
The decorative stones along some of the park’s pathways are a mosaic work of art. You might just find yourself looking down rather at the scenery all around you.
13. Strike a Statuesque Pose
Another thing you’ll find in abundance along the pathways are statues. The red tulip one is quite popular, but so are the many concrete people and animals waiting for you to discover them.
14. Go for Jog or Train Those Glutes
With all the pathways scattered throughout the park, this one of the best places to jog in Istanbul. You’ll never tire of the scenery, as there is just too much to see. If you’re into hill climbs, your glutes will love the burn from the up and downs trail.
15. Get Your Porcelain on
What park would be complete with its very own porcelain factory? No, we’re not kidding and you can read more about it below. Tours of the factory can offer a nice break on a hot and sunny day in the park.
Yildiz Park has two old pavilions (Cadir and Malta). Originally, these two places were used for harem picnics but are now where you can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It was built close to Cigaran Palace and served as décor for the Baylan Brothers. It’s now home to the Art Cafe.
You can take a tea break here or have breakfast and lunch.
The Cadir pavilion is open throughout the week from 9:00 am to 10:30 pm.
A few meters away from Cadir and where you’ll find the Belediye Restaurant, a more elaborate dining place. This area offers the most beautiful views of the Bosphorus.
The Malta Pavilion is open from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.
The Tile and Porcelain Factory
This factory was built during the Ottoman Period and is located near Yildiz Park street entrance. It’s connected to the National Palaces and serves as a museum.
You’ll find a workshop inside where cups and other porcelain products are made. Since the factory is properly signposted, you can easily spot it.
Inside, there’s a well-lit workroom where painters showcase their exquisite pieces. But because the factory is now state-run, all work is hand-painted.
Outside the factory, you can enjoy the green picnic areas. You’ll also appreciate the colorful bloom in April. Undeniably, this is a great getaway if you want to walk away from the summer heat.
The porcelain factory is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am 6:00 pm. It’s closed on Saturday, Sunday, and religious holidays.
It’s free, but you can also hire an English guide within who can help you tour around for just 5TL.
Know Before You Go
- The WC (washrooms) are located far from the park entrance on the western side near the restaurant.
- The park is free but parking cost 8TL.
- The park is very big and can be hard to navigate blindly. Take a map if needed.
- Weekends are crazy busy, especially on Sundays. Go on a weekday if you want more space.
- If going by taxi have them drop you off at the cafe. This is the highest point in the park and will allow you to get your bearings.
- The park is very steep, hilly, and not suited for the elderly, disabled or very young.
- If you want to see every single thing in the park, you might want to travel by car.
- The best time to visit the pavilion areas is during the summer when flowers are in bloom.
- The easiest access to Yildiz Park is via the Besiktas pier.
- You can also access the park via Palanga Street or Cigaran Street
- Be wary of car traffic when in areas near the parking lot.
The Yildiz Park (Yildiz Grove) is located in Besiktas, Istanbul, in the Yildiz Palace Complex that was built by Sultan Selim III in 1889.