Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and spring has arrived with all its beauty. As the season of refreshment and revival, spring shows that the times when we will swim in vivid blue seas and lie on golden sand are on the way. Spring is also the season when we can lose the weight we gained over the winter.
Walking is known as one of the most relaxing and energizing exercises if you have a busy schedule, and walking helps us stay healthy, both mentally and physically.
Although Istanbul is described as a "concrete jungle" by many due to its busy traffic, massive crowds and restless nights, there are some hidden walking trails where you can discover Mother Nature's beauty and feel fresh oxygen in your lungs. So whether you've become an Istanbulite for the long-term or just arrived in the city, here are nice ways for you to relax your mind, get some fresh air and discover the city on foot.
Belgrade Forest on the Çatalca Peninsula
Lying 15 kilometers northwest of Istanbul on the Çatalca Peninsula, Belgrade Forest is a preferred jogging and walking location in Istanbul. Even though it seems a bit far away from the city center, the place has become a hotspot for active people looking to enjoy its natural ambiance and wonder among the tall trees that include every shade of green. Walking, running and jogging tracks in the forest begin at a fountain by Neşet Spring and continue for six-and-a-half kilometers with exercise equipment available for public use. Exercising may be difficult, however, simply because you may be too busy taking photos of the natural beauties you will spot on the trail. There are many ruins and aqueducts in the forest from the Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman eras, so it will be like a sporting adventure through history as well.
Undeniably, Belgrade Forest is a natural haven in the spring with blossoming flowers and green trees, but it is also a nice getaway from the increasing heat for a walk in the summer. If you are looking for a walking trail in a wide-open, green space away from the crowds, horns and busy traffic, then Belgrade Forest is a perfect option for you.
How to get there: Since it is not an easy destination to reach, the best way to go is by car. It only takes about 35 minutes to reach from the European side. If you would rather take public transport, you hop on the 42T bus from Taksim or the 153 bus from Sarıyer to Bahçeköy and then just walk from there. There may be some groups in Istanbul that arrange buses heading to the forest, but bear in mind that these groups generally arrange such trips only on the weekends.
Fenerbahçe Park on the Asian Shore
Fenerbahçe Park is probably one of the best jogging trails in Istanbul and should not be missed if you wish to get away from the European side and find a secluded place to stretch your legs. The park is basically a small island, as there is just one little pathway used by cars to reach the park. In the spring, the park is magical with wide green areas and roads suitable both for jogging and cycling. There are also different cafes and restaurants located in the park. After you feel tired due to exercise and jogging, the green grass always welcomes you to take a rest.
Fenerbahçe is one of the most elite districts on the Anatolian side and the park has been restored in the past months as flora has been renewed and walking trails, recreation sites, picnic areas and a garden for dogs to play have been all added. For those who arrive there by car, a parking lot is easily accessible and an incredible panoramic Prince's Island view with Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque can be seen at the edge of the park.
How to get there: To reach Fenerbahçe Park, you should follow road signs while going towards Bostancı from Kızıltoprak. After passing the marina on the right and crossing a small bridge, there is a peninsula where the park is located. If you would like to go there by walking, you should follow Moda Seaside's walking trail.
Demokrasi Park on the European side
While many parks and green spaces are located away from the city center, there is a notable exception in Istanbul: Maçka Park, also known as Demokrasi Park. The park is located near Nişantaşı, one of Istanbul's fanciest and ritziest districts, which is why it is a common walking trail for those who live in Şişli, Beşiktaş and Beyoğlu. You can see many people jogging and walking in the earliest hours of the day in Maçka Park. There are many entrances from Nişantaşı, Taksim and Harbiye, as it is one of the largest parks located in the city center.
The park is a great visit with its wide roads, benches, jogging and walking trails and flower gardens, and this huge green space in the core of the city also offers facilities equipped for those looking to play sports and exercise. On the Nişantaşı side of the park, there is also a nice cafe that overlooks the grounds and where many people eat breakfast and enjoy the greenery.
How to get there: There are many routes you can take to reach Maçka Park. The easiest way if you live around Taksim is to use Gümüşsuyu road through İnönü Stadium. You can also reach it from Beşiktaş by heading up to Akaretler. As another alternative way, you can follow Abdi İpekçi Street to enter the top end of the park.
The Bosporus trail on the European side
The Bosporus trail is the easiest and the most Istanbulite-friendly walking trail in the city with a view of the Bosporus that you can enjoy during your walk. Starting from Beşiktaş - or any other point on the road leading to İstinye - you can follow the path by jogging, walking or running. The trial continues until İstinye, and many people living in Istanbul prefer this route since it is easy to reach and has a refreshing sea view. The only downside is the traffic jam that is almost always parallel to you, but the Bosporus view is so fascinating that the traffic turns into a tolerable backdrop when you see the water.
What makes this route so preferable is it's being a way to discover the popular district of Istanbul on foot. On the Beşiktaş-İstinye route, the beauties of Istanbul grab you immediately and can help you unwind. So if you would like to feel Istanbul's energy and explore it by yourself, plug in your earphones to escape the horns and traffic and enjoy the beautiful city.
How to get there: If you live around Beşiktaş, you simply need to reach the seaside to start on your trail. If you are around any other district on this walking trail, just find the seaside and walk along as much of it as you want.