Best Running Routes in Istanbul, Turkey

Belgrade Forest
Belgrade Forest | © KpokeJlJla/Wikimedia Commons
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Even though Istanbul may not seem so runner-friendly at first glance (given all that traffic and mesmerising urban chaos), there are indeed some great running routes worth exploring. From Istanbul’s beautiful, hidden green spaces to scenic paths overlooking the city from afar, here are some of the best places to go for a run and burn off some calories after overindulging in the Turkish food scene.

Maçka Park

Located in the upscale Nişantaşı neighborhood, Maçka Park is popular with locals on weekday evenings or at weekends, taking a brisk walk or jogging from one end of the park to the other. So while Maçka Park is not huge, there’s definitely enough space and decent inclines to get a really good workout. And once you’ve finished running, you can sit down on the grass to finish with some stretching exercises. Also, for those with a dog, Maçka has a designated park for everyone’s four-legged friends to sniff around and get some much-needed exercise.

Arnavutköy to Bebek waterside

The waterfront that lines the Arnavutköy and Bebek neighborhoods is known for its Ottoman-era mansions, cool boutiques, and modern restaurants. It’s also an excellent place to go for a run, especially when the weather is sunny. Make your way from Arnavutköy Sahili all the way to Bebek Parkı (and perhaps even further) and enjoy the privilege of running by the glistening Bosphorus, dotted with seagulls and boats. When you make it to Bebek, reward yourself with breakfast at Mangerie (how about some pancakes, for example?).

Mangerie Bebek: 69 Cevdet Paşa Caddesi, Bebek T: +90 212 263 51 99

Belgrade Forest

One of the biggest forests to be found in Istanbul, Belgrade Forest is situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the city, but is definitely worth the journey for those runners who want to immerse themselves in nature. Accessible by car and bus, the forest is spread across approximately 5,500 hectares (13,590 acres), with a four-mile (six-kilometer) long running path that starts by the Neset Suyu (Neset Spring) fountain and weaves through the woodland.

Golden Horn

Istanbul’s other famous strait is also a great place for a run. Start your route at the Unkapanı Bridge and continue along the water’s edge all the way to Balat, then all the way back. If you really want to amp up your run and are keen to explore one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, make your way through the inclining streets of Balat to catch a glimpse of some beautiful, former Greek Orthodox homes, as well as a smattering of hidden churches.

Moda waterside

No list of Istanbul’s best running routes would be complete without including the Asian side of the city, which is known to be more runner- and bicycle-friendly than the European side. Specifically, the waterfront that stretches out from the Moda neighborhood is a great place for a run, taking in views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus. At the end of the run, be sure to take a seat on one of the big rocks by the water and really soak up the view.

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