Rose harvest in Turkey: precious moments & delicate fragrance

Anyone who ever drove through – or even past – Isparta will have noticed it: this is the city of roses. The pink billboards advertising rose products are hard to miss as soon as you are nearing the town. And while this may all just seem like a brilliant commercial stunt, there’s a whole history behind the rose production in Isparta. As always, the real magic happens away from the shops, where skilled hands of early risers are the secret behind the rose harvest in Isparta. The smell is overwhelming when the morning air is filled with the delicate fragrance of Damask roses, and the awe-inspiring rose fields get a quick makeover from blooming pink bushes to lush green fields.

In this post, we’ll tell you how the Damask rose ended up in Turkey, and what you need to do to make the most out of your rose harvesting visit.

The Rose Fields Are Harvested Each Morning

The Rose Fields Are Harvested Each Morning

The Damask rose: a precious byproduct of smuggling

Today, it almost feels as if the Damask rose fields have always dominated the view on the outskirts of Isparta. The cities’ symbol, however, isn’t indigenous to this region. The first saplings were smuggled in from Bulgaria in a walking stick by İsmail Efendi in the early 1870s. Why smuggled, you may wonder? Because the Bulgarian rose valley in Kızanlık (or Kazanluk), where he took the saplings, was a protected area. Still, during his time in Bulgaria, Müftüzade İsmail Efendi noticed how lucrative the production of rose oil could be and decided to give it a shot once he came back to Isparta.

By 1892, he was ready to start producing rose oil. In a way, the rest is history, as the rose oil production in Turkey now accounts for about 65% of the worldwide production, and is a major source of income for thousands of families in the area.

An Explosion Of Color And Smell

An Explosion Of Color And Smell

Where are the Isparta rose fields?

Contrary to the lavender fields in the region, the rose fields are much more dispersed over several valleys and villages. You’ll find the largest rose fields of Isparta in the proximity of Güneykent, appropriately renamed by locals as ‘Güller Vadisi’ or Rose Valley. But also near Yeşilyurt, Gülköy, and even lavender villages Kuyucak and Ardıçlı. If you’re an independent traveler like we are, take a short road trip through the valleys, and you’re bound to see the rose fields. If you’re looking for the typical hotspot, head over to Rose Valley.

The photos in this post were all taken near Yeşilyurt. You’ll find the exact location on the map at the bottom of this article or our Turkey Trip Planner.

Harvesting The Last Roses Of The Day

Harvesting The Last Roses Of The Day

Best time to visit the rose fields & see the rose harvest

If you want to make the most out of your rose fields and rose harvest visit. You need to know two things: you must come during the right months, and you want to visit at the right time during the day.

The rose fields are in bloom from mid-May till the end of June.

 

The rose harvest starts at the crack of dawn every morning, by 10 am, you’re too late and every blooming rose is harvested.

The rose harvest is done entirely by hand and starts at sunrise. The plan is to finish the picking each day before the sun shines too brightly, and it becomes too hot. This isn’t to protect the workers, but to preserve the precious oil. Fresh, fully blooming blossoms are abundant with oil. As the sun gains in power, the roses mature too quickly, causing the oil to evaporate into the air.

The Rose Harvest Started At The Back Of The Field Early Morning

The Rose Harvest Started At The Back Of The Field Early Morning

The roses are then taken to the factory where they are processed on the same day. While most of the rose oil production is highly industrialized these days, some artisan rose oil makers still use traditional methods and make rose oil using a distiller they call a black boiler, and without the use of chemicals. You need approximately 4 tonnes of roses to extract 1 kg kilogram of rose oil. If you know that this equals over 1.5 million rose blossoms, you realize that this a very labor-intensive process. No wonder rose oil is considered to be the liquid gold of the perfume industry.

Click here to read more about the production methods for rose oil

Then The Roses Go Into A Big Bag

Then The Roses Go Into A Big Bag

Rose-themed fun facts

You may have noticed Gülköy in our list of villages to visit to see the rose fields. A telling name, as it translates to Rose village. Not only the billboard near Isparta feature all things roses, but you’ll also notice that a lot of girls and women have names with the Turkish word for rose, ‘gül’, in it. Some are just called Gül, other Gülay, Gülseren or Gülderen, just to name a few. These last three have a lovely story that goes with it.

The names are given depending on the time of the day that the girl was born. Evening girls are called Gülay, because ‘ay’ is the Turkish word for moon. Gülseren’s are born in the afternoon when the roses are spread out before being distilled. The name translates to ‘she who spreads out the roses’. Early morning girls – to the same analogy – are called Gülderen, because that’s when the harvest takes place.

Only Roses That Are Blooming Are Harvested For Rose Oil

Only Roses That Are Blooming Are Harvested For Rose Oil

Apart from its precious and delicate aroma, Damask rose oil can be used as an anti-depressant, or to heal the skin. Damask rose water is your go-to remedy for:

  • healing wounds
  • reducing skin redness
  • pore tightening
  • anti-aging effects
  • treating eye infections
  • soothing pharyngitis
  • relieving headaches
  • helping with anxiety & depression

Final thoughts on visiting the rose fields and rose harvest

If you want to see the rose fields near Isparta at their best, and especially if you want to witness the rose harvest, make sure to be there early morning. For the best experience, explore things a bit further afield to avoid large groups. Are you keen on participating in the harvest? You’ll be very welcome to do so. As explained, speed is a key element, so another helping hand is always appreciated! You’ll get a quick introduction on how to pick the blooms, and after that, off you go! Make sure to bring something to protect you from the heat, and the early morning sun.

One Bag With Roses After Another

One Bag With Roses After Another

If you’re interested in a pre-organized experience, consider attending the annual Rose Festival held every year in May and organized by Isparta’s Güneykent Municipality. Join our Facebook group to be notified of the dates. Also, if you time your visit just right – and you’re a bit lucky – you’ll be able to combine a visit to the lavender fields with your rose harvest experience. While late June is still early for the lavender to bloom, the sea of purple usually is already starting to show. This way, you’ll get to enjoy the last days of the rose harvest, and the first days of the lavender bloom.

Go to the TABS below for more practical tips to prepare your rose fields visit

✔️ Have you been to the rose fields? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the area to your bucket list.
Damask Roses In The Morning Sun

Damask Roses In The Morning Sun

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Make sure to plan your rose harvest visit right to make the most of it. If you show up late, there will be no more blooming flowers until the next morning.

When in doubt, the owner of Lavanta Villa has kindly volunteered to offer assistance or to answer any questions you may have. You can also send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Consider combining your visit to the rose harvest with the lavender fields if you can visit at the end of June, and drive further through to Lake Salda for more splendid nature in Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

There aren’t that many hotels near the rose fields. You could decide to stay at Lavanta Villa near the lavender village of Kuyucak, or in Isparta.

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Getting to this area by car is easy. Just follow the signs to any of the villages mentioned in this post from the D650 or D625 main road.

If you’re relying on public transportation, your best option is to take a bus from Isparta to Keçiborlu. Click here for the current timetables and to book your ticket online. (website is in Turkish but very straightforward) From there, you’ll need a taxi to get to the rose fields. Remember that you need to be there early for the harvest, so it may be best to plan your arrival the night before.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here. The nearest airport is Isparta Süleyman Demirel Airport.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Make sure to plan your rose harvest visit right to make the most of it. If you show up late, there will be no more blooming flowers until the next morning.

When in doubt, the owner of Lavanta Villa has kindly volunteered to offer assistance or to answer any questions you may have. You can also send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Consider combining your visit to the rose harvest with the lavender fields if you can visit at the end of June, and drive further through to Lake Salda for more splendid nature in Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

There aren’t that many hotels near the rose fields. You could decide to stay at Lavanta Villa near the lavender village of Kuyucak, or in Isparta.

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Getting to this area by car is easy. Just follow the signs to any of the villages mentioned in this post from the D650 or D625 main road.

If you’re relying on public transportation, your best option is to take a bus from Isparta to Keçiborlu. Click here for the current timetables and to book your ticket online. (website is in Turkish but very straightforward) From there, you’ll need a taxi to get to the rose fields. Remember that you need to be there early for the harvest, so it may be best to plan your arrival the night before.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here. The nearest airport is Isparta Süleyman Demirel Airport.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Rose Harvest In Turkey: Precious Moments & Delicate Fragrance
Rose Harvest In Turkey: Precious Moments & Delicate Fragrance
Rose Harvest In Turkey: Precious Moments & Delicate Fragrance
Rose Harvest In Turkey: Precious Moments & Delicate Fragrance
Rose Harvest In Turkey: Precious Moments & Delicate Fragrance

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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Rose harvest in Turkey: precious moments & delicate fragrance