As milder weather arrives in Istanbul, running becomes a great way to both exercise and take in the sights of the city. Istanbul’s many parks, neighborhoods, and paths make it a great city for jogging, regardless of skill or experience. Also, if you’d like some company, there are many free workout opportunities in the city for you to enjoy exercise with good communities.
Belgrade Forest is the ideal escape from the rush and noise of the city, but it also happens to be a perfect place for jogging. The forest extends over 5,000 hectares and contains a 6.5-kilometer running track that takes you around a lake and provides you with lush greenery and beautiful wildlife to maximize your enjoyment. Several pulse-checking stations are also located along the route, making your run even more productive.
The largest of the Prince Islands, Büyükada is home to one of the city’s most interesting running routes. The island has a population of approximately 7,000 and remains mostly untouched by the 21st century. Because there are no cars allowed on Büyükada, you’ll only have to watch out for horse-drawn carriages and bikers. The route, starting at the northern tip of the island and making a complete lap along its perimeter, is slightly over seven kilometers.
Starting from Kuruçeşme in Beşiktaş and going along the Bosphorus is a breathtaking running route whose scenery will push you to keep going. If you choose to run all the way to Bebek, the route is around three kilometers, but there are plenty of other stopping points along the way. You witness the beauty of the Bosphorus and the city as you run by; the beautiful waters, both Bosphorus bridges, and the many fishermen all make for a great view as you run your way through this part of Istanbul.
One of Istanbul’s greenest and most charming parks, Maçka Park offers a great route for runners of all levels. Starting in Taksim, you can either take the easy route by entering the lower end of the park or enter the park from the higher entrance for a more strenuous workout. Maçka Park’s soft, unpaved path is perfect for anyone looking to exercise in the calm of nature.
Sarayburnu provides the ultimate route for those who prefer scenery above all else. The run in this area includes dazzling views of not one, not two, but three different bodies of water. Beginning at Tophane and crossing the Galata Bridge, the path then circles around Sarayburnu, continues to the Bosphorus, and eventually brings you to the Marmara Sea. The route totals about 9.5 kilometers.
This waterside route is yet another sight for sore eyes. To reach the hidden gem all you have to do is walk down the road next to the Fenerbahçe Orduevi. The path then continues on to Bostancı and onwards to Pendik. This course is tailor-made for runners; it includes many different paths you can explore, food and drink vendors, and views of beautiful greenery and the coast.
This quiet park is a gathering place for locals to relax and meet up. While running, you are likely to be greeted by comforting scenes of children playing and residents enjoying the weather. Unique in that it is actually located on an island, this park also provides awe-inspiring views of the Bosphorus and the Historical Peninsula. When you decide you’ve had enough, you can reenergize at any of the small cafés in the area.
Ways to join a free group workout
Doing it with a group of friends often make things easier and funner. All you need is to put your smartphone to good use, and follow the right social media accounts to be first to know what’s happening.
Adidas: join the Adidas Runners Istanbul group on Facebook or download Runtastic app to follow events at various locations in Turkey and beyond.
Reebok: follow @reeboktr to keep up with the outdoor workout schedule. Pre-registration is not required for most events.
Sweaters app is a one-stop-shop for all your active lifestyle needs in Istanbul. Besides organizing free (as well as ticketed) events on a regular basis, the app helps you find a workout partner, a gym, or a healthy food restaurant nearby.
Although the name of the group emphasizes running, Rundamental organizes all kinds of sporting events from nature runs to cycling to yoga. Think of it as a group of like-minded friends getting together for a common goal. Reach out via www.rundamental.com.tr to learn more.
If boutique organizations and small groups are your thing, join Beat Run Crew and find out about their events as soon as they are announced. To learn more, follow @beatruncrew and to register email [email protected].