Sports in Turkey

Hello everyone,

The Olympic Games are now just a few days away and we would like to talk about sports.

What sports are the most popular and/or unusual in Turkey?

Are sports facilities easily accessible there? Where and how can one find sports clubs in the region?

Are there sports events regularly held in the country?

And you? What is your favourite sport? Which one(s) do you practice in Turkey?

Thank you in advance,


In the region where I live (Rize in the North East of Turkey), I find cross-country running and mountaineering very fulfilling. I engage in these activities alone or with individuals whose finesses I have an idea about before the events. Swimming in the sea is also on the table but it is best done where there are no settlements on the coast because of the potential of raw sewage discharge.
There are a number of sports clubs that I am aware of but I have not participated in their activities yet because of timings and effort levels.

I live in Çalış (near Fethiye, Müğla province) and play flat-green bowls with a small group of friends every week. This is a very popular sport in the UK but our green is the only such one in the whole of Turkey!

Five years ago we hosted the first (and only) Turkish Flat Green Bowls Championship and this was attended by groups from all over the country ... mainly teenagers. They had only practiced on indoor surfaces, so a few of the local ex-pats gave them tuition on the Saturday prior to the actual competition on Sunday when we officiated all day.

If any ex-pats living in other areas want to visit and play just text me!

I'd like to know if anyone plays Ultimate in Turkey..

It seems to me that more educated and modern Turkish are far more engaged in a variety of sports than the vast majority of Turkish people.UUnfortunately, I have met with very few young girls who are encouraged to be sporty (I have worked with more than 10000 girls and boys over the years). When girls are sporty it is often limited to tennis, volleyball, running or swimming - other sports are highly discouraged or not available (I am familiar with arenas/schools/programmes in Ankara, Istanbul and Antalya).

As for me... I love bike riding, tennis and kayaking. My son is an avid footballer, tennis player, archer, bike rider, roller blader, and hockey player. Our neighbourhood in istanbul satiates all these sports except hockey (we go to zeytinburnu). There are a few girls on his archery team and 2 in hockey but his tennis is pretty equal girls and boys - no girls on football:(

If you have money anything is possible in Turkey but if you are poor or living inner city ones options for sports would be pretty limited! There seems to be little emphasis on state funding - ohhhh so sad.

best to all

Oh final musing-  during the London summer games most Turkish either didn't know or didn't care about the Olympics. The exception was the broadcasting of wrestling and running (because of the wins I think).

Most Turkish see the world within their Turkish borders. For example I have only been in 1 school (out of more than 60) that has a map of the world (grades 1-12). Turkish maps are all the students need???

I believe it is this insular way of looking at the world that discourages or detracts from their greater participation in sports (for the vast majority.

But Turkish people are physically strong and walk a lot. So I think the national sport is walking ;)

Hi Priscilla,

As far as I noticed, the local people here are pretty crazy about football, having multiple clubs throughout Istanbul city. There is extreme enthusiasm during local and international football league sessions.

That also answers the question regarding the most popular sports events held in Turkey being the football leagues. 

However, as Sheelz observed correctly, there is barely any stirrings during  the Olympics session. People dont care much about it.

The second (somewhat) popular sport is Basketball.

Although most major cities in Istanbul have water bodies/coastlines, the water-sports is not as abundant as it could be. People do sailing and occasional swimming, water boarding and gliding, but I have not seen anything on a professional level as much.

And yes, the observation that girls are not as involved as men (for whatever reason, personal choice/lack of encouragement) is also pretty correct. The remarkable exceptions are volleyball and basketball. Also, in athletics, girls have won some mark achievements.

I was having a discussion at the office a while back about traditional sports and two names that popped up were traditional wrestling and cirit (horse back javelin throw). Though these sports are losing popularity amongst the new generation.

Regarding any unusual sport, the Turkish traditional wrestling may come under that category ad it is majorly different than the modern wrestling. However, it is not unusual for most Asian cultures.

Interestingly, the horse races were mentioned. Word being, tongue in cheek, the emerging new interesting 'sport' for majority of Turkish people is betting on horse riding! Hmmm..


Sports facility are found almost everywhere, at least that is my observation in Istanbul. Although, some of them can have ridiculous prices.

At least in Istanbul, I have been able to find sports clubs easily. At times, walking distance from my house (for me being anything between 1 and 3KM).

Other than these, you can find sports grounds for basketball/tennis etc in different parts of the city, though they may not be as accessible.

I am not sure about schools as I do not have any direct connection with them, but I have learnt that they do have reasonable facilities.

And me? Well, my top favorite sport is to stay in bed and hit snooze for 7 times in morning! Sometimes I am too sleepy to even do that.

Other than that, I try to do cycling here, though to find a decent place to cycle is a suicide mission considering the driving attitude here. Reasonable cycling places are somewhat far from my house.

Have also just recently gotten back in to the athletics routine, running in morning to stay in some sort of shape.

Other than that, i am trying to get into swimming at the moment.

La Copa de la Vida Loco Loco!!

Hi dear priscilla
Turkey is like other normal semi advanced countries in many of subjects such as sport.
Football is popular and interesting kind of sports in this country like other countries.
about sports regularly it is important to say the bigger and more famous cities have more and rather activities in sporting than small and unknown cities.
about me i can tell you i'm prefer the boxing in my own training but for just watching my favorites are football and very kind of national sports.
which is your favor ?

Good timely edit

This is little bit off the topic but I got different opinions about sense of sport around the world. Why we interested in sports? pure idea under the  sport is being well. Actually it has to be that... along with this people want to enjoy and feel good while playing sport. But  at the present; sport is completely become a  trading activity and brain washing instrument for the governments and decision makers. For example Football (Soccer), players have 8 digits salaries per year plus side incomes (advertisements, movies, etc.) They earn that moneys just with play sport. So we cant say that this is just being well. Nobody give that money to anybody for just making sporting activity.
Off course people love the watch those games and sure they really enjoy. as well there are millions of football and basketball hooligans all over the world. For some people football, beysbol, hockey, basketball are everything for their life. I know that kind of people.  I have a lot of hooligan friends. They dont care anything but the their favorite teams. So governments are using those idiots and weak points of people. If you look back carefully many important decisions were taken during the derby or national team matches. Especially Argentina, Brasil, Turkey etc. I dont say governor are waiting for the derby match for taking important decisions but most cases they dont want pass that chance. Because people are hypnotized and cant think anything but the games at that times. They cant react anything.
Well, I like walking too as Sheelz mentioned :)
Have a great day to everybody

Yes Aqu - agreed it is slightly off topic- sports (playing/watching)  are about friendship, healthy, community, culture and, as you said, a means to suplicate the masses while often pursuing duplicitous agendas by corporations or governments.

I love to be outside in nature but I generally feel claustrophobic in large screaming/chanting crowds- so I tend to avoid large commercialised sporting events (plus they are too damn expensive!!!!).... but watching kids or college/uni teams sports is how I prefer to enjoy

on a side note- when the Olympics where in calgary (canada) I was my high schools official school photographer so I got to attend many of the events and meet tons of athletes (I was also on a ski team at the time). My son and I atteneded a few events at the Vancouver Olympics and one track event  in London

I think the idea of the Olympics is great but the reality of drug induced athletes and all the politiking in the sportsworld I find disheartening and scary

peace all

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