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GoWithGuideFind your perfect tour guide at GoWithGuide. Relax and cherish unforgettable tours with loved ones. Create personalized tours for a truly memorable trip!

Our Top 3 Private Nature Tours In Istanbul

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by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Denise B.

Last updated : May 14, 20248 min read

Nature

Inasmuch as Istanbul is a cross-cultural treasure trove of history, it is also the crossroads of several natural phenomena. The city is a transition zone between the Mediterranean and Euro-Siberian biological regions, resulting in a rich diversity of animal and plant life.

 

It lies below an aerial superhighway for bird migration from north to south in autumn, and vice versa in spring. Underwater, the Bosphorus is a melting pot of marine life, with residents and migrants swimming the straits alongside foreign species that have been transported there by the busy passing traffic. 

 

Our expert guides can take you on specialized tours of this spectacular biodiversity on land, above ground, and under the sea. 

Istanbul Floral Tours 

 

Three climates affect Istanbul. In the south on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, the climate is borderline Mediterranean, with winter rainfall and dry summers.  The humid subtropical climate on the Black Sea coast brings hot, humid summers and mild winters. In between the two is an oceanic climate, featuring cool summers and mild winters. Consequently, humidity is often high, there are no prolonged dry spells, and winters are mild. 

 

The terrain around Istanbul is undulating, with several hills, valleys, and river basins. This relatively small area is home to almost 2,500 native floral and fern species. In comparison, the United Kingdom, which is 50 times the size, has 1,850 species. 

 

The city has numerous green open spaces, given over to the grounds of former Imperial palaces, botanical gardens, and arboretums. Through the ages, trends have shifted between indigenous and exotic species. A private garden tour with one of our local guides is just the thing to do this aspect of the city justice. 

 

The dominant natural vegetation in the north of Istanbul is mixed leaf forest. In the Belgrad Forest on the European side of the city, you will find majestic oaks, aspens, chestnuts, and beech trees. These deciduous trees are at their most splendid in spring and autumn. The forest is also inhabited by wildlife including deer, wild boar, foxes, and even wolves.   

 

There are nine national parks in Belgrad Forest, offering a range of vistas and facilities. For example, in Irmak Park, you will find hiking and cycling trails, as well as restaurants and picnic spots, with hotels and other accommodation nearby. 

 

Polonezkoy Nature Park, in the Alemdag Forest on the Anatolian side of the city, is the oldest and largest of Istanbul’s natural sanctuaries. Deciduous and evergreen trees, including pines and cypresses, provide a home for deer and game birds. The park has camping facilities and is an ideal environment for orienteering. Additional accommodation is available in the village nearby. 

Birdwatching 

 

The Bosphorus is one of the world’s most important bird migration routes. Biannually, it draws thousands of amateur and professional ornithologists from around the globe. The Straits form a bottleneck in the path of millions of birds that migrate between Africa, Asia, and Europe each year. Turkey as a whole provides refuge for 400 species of migrating birds, offering them safe havens for feeding and breeding.  

 

Late March is the best time to observe the spring migration. Throughout the summer months, birdwatching enthusiasts can participate in tours, workshops, and other events in the city and its surroundings. In autumn, the birds head south again with their offspring. 

 

At the northern end of the Bosphorus in the Feneryolu neighborhood, you can find the Sariyer bird observation tower, set in a beautiful forested nature park. It is an international meeting point for bird lovers and photographers alike. Bird species include eagles, osprey, and the legendary stork can be spotted here. 

 

From the top of the tower, you have sweeping views of migrating birds as they pour into the Bosporus Strait, past the 322m high Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (the fifth tallest in the world). After snapping and ticking off new species on your bird watching list, why not treat yourself to refreshments and great views in the large restaurant below the tower? 

 

About 40km north-west of the city is Lake Terkos, another great vantage point from which to view the bird migrations. The lake hosts several endangered bird species, such as the Siberian Goose and the Greater Spotted Eagle. This large body of water is separated from the Black Sea by a thin strip of land and is a popular venue for locals and tourists alike. Eastern imperial eagles, Sparrowhawks, and Ospreys prefer these cooler waters and can be sighted in the springtime.

 

Lake Büyükçekmece, which lies south-west of the city, has been identified by Birdlife International as an important area for the conservation of bird populations. Dams and sandbars have created fresh and saline waterways that are home to several waders and waterfowl species. Migrating flamingos are being attracted, in increasing numbers, to these salty wetlands. If you are lucky, you might also spot an otter! 

Marine 

 

The Bosphorus Strait is one of the world’s busiest waterways. There is a constant flow of ships, tankers, fishing boats, and passenger vessels. Below the surface, the aquatic life is just as frenetic, not least of all during the seasonal migrations. 

 

Each spring, great shoals of anchovies, sardines, and mackerels travel north up the Straits to breed in the deep, cool waters of the Black Sea. They return at the end of summer to the warmer Seas of Marmara and the Mediterranean. In their wake are larger fish and the great mammals of the ocean; dolphins, porpoises, and whales.   

 

Angling is a popular pastime in the city, and an important contributor to the local economy. According to local fishermen, the names and taste of the fish change with the seasons. Our local guides will be able to show you the best fishing spots and where to taste the wares. The season closes from April to September to allow fish to restock. 

 

The various aquariums or underwater zoos found in Istanbul really bring the sea to life. The Istanbul Aquarium has six zones that take you from the Black Sea to the Amazon Rainforest. At Sea Life you can view the underwater world through a glass-bottomed boat, and at Emaar Aquarium the children can watch a mermaid show while you scuba dive among the rays. 

 

The best marine diving spots are off the Princes’ Islands. In terms of diversity, they compare well to the top dive locations in the Mediterranean. As a bonus, divers can see shipwrecks and ruins of the Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations underwater. 

Conclusion 

 

Besides the evidence of over 7,000 years of human settlement, Istanbul has much to offer those who wish to explore its nature in all its splendor. GoWithGuide’s expert local guides have a deep understanding of Istanbul’s rich and varied natural history.  

 

Whether you are interested in flora, fauna, birds, or marine life, they can arrange a customized private tour to suit your interests and schedule.

Istanbul Tour Guide - Tunahan O.

Tunahan O.

Turkey

I am a tour guide in Istanbul. I usually do walking tours and street tours. I have a lot of routes in Istanbul                                                                                                                                 

Istanbul Tour Guide - Semih B.

Semih B.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
Turkey

Hi there. My name is Semih. I live in İstanbul. I am professional licensed tourist guide. I would like to host my curious tourist guests as being their tour guide.                                                                                                                                  

Istanbul Tour Guide - Yasin K.

Yasin K.

Turkey

Merhaba (Hello) from a friendly Istanbulite! My name is Yasin, a licenced tour guide who is in love with his city. Istanbul is more than a regular city. It has been a melting pot of different empires, religions, languages and cultures for centuries! I've been living in this amazing city for 36 years and have about 8 years of experience as a guide. My purpose is not only to show you some historical buildings but also give you a chance to learn more about our unique history, culture-traditions, cuisine, daily life etc. I am very interested in both Roman/Eastern Roman (Byzantine) and Ottoman heritage of Istanbul, so I can offer you very specific tours that you'll always remember. I have basic information on the old/medieval Greek and can read the Ottoman Turkish. I can also understand caligraphic inscriptions easily. I believe that if you really want to feel the soul of historical buildings, you should know what those inscriptions explain to us. That's why I spent so much time to improve myself in this field. I also love photography and trying different types of healthy and traditional food. Fortunately, Istanbul gives us a great chance for them. I'll be so happy to help you with them, too! Feel free to contact me for either a full-day or a half-day tour. I can provide you a complete program or customizable itinerary. Let's explore this amazing city and unique culture together!                                                                                                                                 

Aydin Tour Guide - Umut K.

Umut K.

Turkey

Hello , I am a professional licensed english speaking tour guide in Turkey, I do guiding all around Turkey.                                                                                                                                  

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