Despite its prime location on the Bosphorus, Istanbul can feel more like a concrete jungle than a seaside paradise. The abundance of buildings and structures is especially noticeable when you’re looking to go out for a nice, refreshing run.
What’s a runner to do? Thankfully the city still has some tree-lined trails and coastal paths that are will make you want to lace up your trainers. We’ve put together a list of these running routes so that you can explore the city and break a sweat, all at the same time.
Rumeli Hisarı to Kuruçeşme
The large promenade that runs from almost directly below the Second Bosphorus Bridge in Rumeli Hisarı to the Kuruçeşme neighbourhood offers one of the best unobstructed views of the Bosphorus in the city. This long, wide path follows the waterside for just over 4 km. Except for a brief detour in Bebek, where the seaside is lined with cafes and restaurants, you’ll have delightful views of the water, the Asian coastline and the various fishing boats and yachts that make their way up and down the strait. Not to mention the cool sea breeze, which is a godsend when you’re on a long, hot run. Just be sure to watch out for the fishermen casting off the promenade!
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Kadıköy Pier to Yoğurtçu Park
Salih Igde, Flickr
This route, often referred to as the ‘Moda seaside’, offers expansive views of both the sky and the Marmara sea. In fact, it is one of the few places in Istanbul where you don’t feel hemmed in by the city’s hills and towering buildings. If you’re taking the ferry over, it’s best to start from the Kadıköy Pier, run to Yoğurtçu Park, which is right next to the Fenerbahçe football stadium, and then turn around and jog back along the same route you came. While it may feel repetitive to double back on yourself, this 6 km offers different scenery depending on the direction you’re going: on the way out you can contemplate the sea, while on the way back you can take in some impressive views of the Golden Horn in all its splendour.
Topuzlu Dam in the Belgrade Forest © Tamra Hays/Flickr
There are so many running paths in Belgrade Forest, you could spend a whole day jogging and still find new trails. While we don’t recommend that (running should be enjoyable, after all), this is the best spot if you need to get in a long training run or if you prefer running on dirt and gravel paths as opposed to concrete or asphalt. The other big draw of Belgrade Forest is the fact that under its dense tree cover you feel worlds away from the near-continuous din of Istanbul. No honking cars, no shouts, no helicopters... just you and the trail.
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While Maçka Park is by no means the biggest green space in Istanbul, it offers enough paths for a short run and, most importantly, it’s in a prime location. The park is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Taksim and borders Nişantaşı, making it an easy place to run to if you end up staying in either neighbourhood. The park is very well-maintained and, while it sits on an incline, does not have any soul-destroying hills. If you’re looking for a longer run, you could continue on past the Beşiktaş football stadium located at the east exit of the park and run north along the big boulevard that follows Dolmabahçe Palace.
Another of the city’s longest seaside paths traces the shore of the Marmara Sea in Caddebostan. This area, which is often used for races, has beautiful views of the Princes Islands and is separated from the road by a narrow park. If you begin at the Bostancı ferry terminal and run west toward Kadıköy, it will take a little over 5 km to reach the end of the waterfront path. While it’s a bit further afield, those who make the effort to get to Caddebostan will find the journey more than worth it.