Nature and the outdoors in Istanbul

Indoor and outdoor activities in Istanbul
Updated 2024-03-02 19:21

Moving to Istanbul means that you will have plenty of time to discover everything this city has to offer. Istanbul loves sports: and here you will have lots of options for both practicing and watching it. 

Sports centers and gyms in Istanbul

Istanbul will welcome you with a generous selections of gyms, bike lanes, tennis courts, yoga studios, and other sports facilities. Most Istanbulers are very sports-friendly. Actually, you might have to plan your gym visits carefully to avoid the "gym rush hours," which are usually from 5 to 10 p.m.

The MAC is among the most popular sports clubs in Istanbul. It's a chain of fully-equipped gyms and if you are new to the city and still seeking for your own workout setting, a MAC gym could be a wonderful location to start. MAC gyms can be found in many neighborhoods all throughout Istanbul.

If you are looking for exercise beyond squats and deadlifts, Istanbul has you covered as well with a wide selection of yoga studios, pilates centers, martial arts dojos, dance studios, and more.

Just like in most big cities, gyms and other recreational areas in Istanbul are not only about fitness and staying in shape. They are also a great way to meet new people, socialize, and even network.

Popular sports in Istanbul

Istanbul may come across as hectic, busy, and restaurant-centric. But the city is simply good at hiding its extensive recreational facilities. Here, you will have the option to try out or continue practicing a variety of sports.

Istanbulers often play football, volleyball, tennis, basketball and other team sports in their free time, and you should have no problem finding an amateur team to join.

Street sports, such as street basketball, are also popular, and you will see basketball courts in a lot of residential neighborhoods in the city.

Jogging and running are also very popular in Istanbul. The promenade along the Bosphorus Strait is a popular spot for morning and evening joggers. Other popular jogging locations are Emirgan Park, Yıldız Park, Moda Coast, Gülhane Park, and others. Istanbul also holds several annual running events, such as the Istanbul Marathon, the only marathon spanning two continents.

"Yağlı Güreş," or traditional oil wrestling, has a long history in Turkey and is also still practiced today.

Spectator sports in Istanbul

Istanbulers don't just do sports, they also love watching it.

As in all of Türkiye, football is a very popular sport to follow in Istanbul. The "Big Three"—Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Beşiktaş—are the city's biggest football teams with lots of devoted fans.

Volleyball is also very popular, womens' volleyball in particular, after the Turkish women's national team, “Sultans of the Net,” won the European championship. 

Some of the most popular stadiums in the city are the Türk Telekom Stadium (Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi), Ülker Stadium (Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium), and others.

Hammams in Istanbul

Once you have settled in Istanbul, you should definitely visit one of its famous hammams. Hammans are the ideal place to relax and discover the local lifestyle in a steam bath. Usually, weekdays are the best time to visit a hammam as they are less crowded and more peaceful. But if you are in for a real cultural experience, you can visit on Sundays.

Hammams are generally open on alternate days for men and women. Some of them even have separate rooms so that everyone can enjoy these exotic steam baths at the same time.

Note that only tourist hammams are open to both men and women on the same day. Hotels have luxurious hammams, and Galata Hamam is one of the most popular in Istanbul.

Yacht cruises in Istanbul

Most expats love to cruise on the Bosphorus when the weather is nice. There are private yachts as well as group cruises, and these are ideal for individuals as much as families. Dinner, lunch and snacks are served during the cruises. Besides, many expat families choose to rent a yacht for a weekend getaway.

Princes' Islands

Located on the Anatolian side of the Marmara Sea, the Princes' Islands or Adalar in Turkish, consist of nine small islands. These used to be a place of exile in the Byzantine era. Today, it has become one of the most popular spots for a weekend getaway. However, only Büyükada, the largest and most popular, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Kınalıada are open for visits. Sedef Island is only open to its residents. These islands are generally calm, without traffic (every kind of motor vehicle is forbidden on the island) and are a great spot for a variety of outdoor activities, from biking and jogging to yachting.

Useful links:

Galatasaray Hamami

Top Kapi Sarayi

Istanbul Saraylari

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