Gulhane Park, located in Istanbul, Turkey, is an urban park blanketed from end to end in candy colored tulips. If you're thinking of visiting, be sure to go in mid-April while all of the bulbs are in full bloom and the temperature is warm and comfortable. The best time of day is early in the morning when locals and tourists alike are not yet out and about for the day.
Walking through the park is little bit like a stroll through Candyland. Each area of the park has its own story. On the right there is a hillside covered in grape hyacinths. Like a babbling stream they flow down under a white lollipop bridge and out into a pool of flowers surrounded by a bank of tulips.
On the left are shallow pools of running water interlaced with arched bridges and an occasional fountain. Watch carefully and you may even see Mary Poppins swinging her umbrella as she sings her way over a nearby bridge.
Not until you have wandered about ten minutes into the park do you really begin to get a feel for the garden. The early morning sunlight sweeps through the flowers like wind through a wind chime, and after your eyes have begun to absorb the color-riot, your other senses join in on the party. The wind picks up and wafts the smell of a thousand tulips right in front of your nose. It’s the equivalent of plunking your head face first into a giant bouquet of freshly cut flowers, but arguably much more pleasant.
It takes about twenty minutes to walk straight through the park. That is if you don’t stop to smell the roses, or in this case the tulips, not to mention the endless winding paths that beckon you over. If there ever was a place to linger, this is it, and you should plan to spend much more time here. In fact, it is worth at least an entire morning and a well-packed picnic lunch, if not many, many returns.
What: Gulhane Park
Where: Eminonu district of Istanbul, Turkey
For How Long: Hours upon hours upon hours
What Else to Know:
- Go in mid-April: plan your trip around tulip season
- Early morning is best, fewer people, better sunlight
- Bring a picnic lunch!
- Its entirely free
- It can be combined with a trip to the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and/or Topkapi Palace