Let's face it, vacations are a time to indulge in food, drinks, and relaxation, and put aside the demands and necessities of everyday life for a while. However, for some people, like myself, running is an essential part of their routine and they just can't let go of it, even for a few days. As they say, once a runner, always a runner.
Fortunately, running in Istanbul offers a unique and exhilarating experience that cannot be matched anywhere else.
In addition to being a fantastic way to stay fit, running is an excellent way to explore a new location.
Istanbul’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, stunning architecture, and rich history make it an ideal destination for runners looking to discover the city’s hidden gems. Moreover, given Istanbul’s slow-moving traffic, running might just be the most efficient way to get around, allowing you to experience more of the city’s sights and sounds in less time.
So, without further ado, here are our top 5 places to run in Istanbul, each offering a distinct and unforgettable experience.
Begin your Istanbul run in Kurucesme, then head towards Bebek or the second Bosphorus bridge. The round trip is about 7 miles to the bridge, or 3-5 miles for a shorter run. Enjoy the scenic route, but watch out for fishermen along the Bosphorus. Passing through Arnavutköy, let us know, and we’ll support you with water or Raki!
Journey through time on a run around Buyukada, the largest of the Princes’ Islands. Spanning two square miles with a 7,000-strong community, it’s untouched by Istanbul‘s modernity and chaos, featuring only electric vehicles and bicycles. Enjoy a car-free 7.2 km run around the island, perfect for tranquility, scenic beauty, and fresh air.
Start your run in Tophane, journey to Karaköy, and cross the Galata Bridge. Circle Sarayburnu below Topkapı Palace, with the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara on your left. Pass three water bodies on this route. For a simple run, follow the path a few miles and return the same way, reaching either the radar tower or Ataturk Bulvari. For variety, return via Aksaray, under the Aqueduct of Valens, and across Ataturk Bridge to Beyoglu. This unique 6-mile loop offers an unforgettable Istanbul experience.
Start from Taksim, head past Gümüşsuyu to İnönü Stadium, and ascend towards Nisantasi, passing Swissôtel. Choose to enter Maçka Park’s lower end near Swissôtel or, for a challenging workout, head uphill to the upper entrance at Harbiye. Inside, enjoy freedom—run, do cartwheels, sprint, or just be playful.
Belgrade Forest, about 15 km from Istanbul, is a favorite weekend spot and a natural retreat for a workout. Spanning over 5,500 hectares, it’s a top recreational area in Istanbul. There’s a 7km track around a lake, but feel free to explore beyond it. Venture into the forest’s heart, discover mountain bike paths, and immerse in the plants, fauna, and serene beauty—a stark contrast to Istanbul’s bustling cityscape. And don’t worry, you won’t encounter any rug salesmen here!