Sports & Recreation in Istanbul
Istanbul is a huge city with over 13 million people. Of course there is a huge concentration of cement especially in the city center but there are also many recreation areas and sports fields in the city, as well as parks and natural beauties. Young people in Istanbul are involved in many differents sports, being football (soccer) the most popular one. Out of 18, there are 5 Istanbul teams playing in the National Premiere League: Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Kasimpasa, and Buyuksehir Belediye. Some of the major soccer stadiums in Istanbul are: Ataturk Olympics stadium, Fenerbahce Sukru Saracoglu Soccer stadium, Galatasaray Ali Sami Yen Soccer stadium, Besiktas Inonu Soccer stadium.
Basketball is also very popular in Istanbul, teams are playing in the national league and they participate to European championships. Abdi Ipekci Arena and the Sinan Erdem Arena are the major basketball venues in the city. In 2010, the World Basketball Championship was held in Istanbul and the Turkish national team played in the finals against the USA, becoming the world's second best team.
Motor sports is another popular one in Istanbul, many national and local on and off road rallies and international races such as the World Rally Championship (WRC) are organized in the province. Istanbul Park Racing Track was built in 2005 and since then it hosts Formula 1 races, Moto GP and other international motor sports.
In 2006, Red Bull Air Acrobatics race was held for the first time in Istanbul, on the Golden Horn. This brought a record of almost 1 million spectators on the ground.
Istanbul is surrounded by water, especially Black sea, Marmara Sea, and Bosphorus are very busy with boat traffic. Every year, there are sailing races and off shore motorboat races in the Bosphorus and in the Sea of Marmara during the summer period. Several swimming races are organized too. Diving is also possible off the Princess Islands.
Turkish people enjoy horse races as well. There is a big hippodrome in Zeytinburnu district which is filled up with people during every race in the season. Betting is also possible for these races. There are also several horse riding ranches near Istanbul.
Istanbul hosts an international and intercontinental marathon every year since 1979. This Eurasia Marathon is the first and only of its kind in the world for tens of thousands of people crossing two continents over a suspension bridge. There are also several European championships or local athletic races in the city.
Istanbul has three golf courses, even though it's not a popular sport for local people it attracts especially foreigners and expats who live in the city. These 18 hole golf courses are in Kemerburgaz, Silivri, and Levent (9 holes) neighborhoods.
There are several tennis facilities in Istanbul, since 2006 Istanbul Cup is held every year in the city and it's becomming popular for the young people.
Istanbul doesn't have high mountains for skiing but there are several in nearby cities to the east. Nearest skiing resorts are; Kartepe in Sapanca (about 150 km - 93 mi) or Uludag mountain in Bursa (about 240 km - 150 mi) or Kartalkaya in Bolu (about 270 km - 168 mi).
Belgrade forest is a huge forest to the north of the city and is very popular for picnikers and joggers, especially during the weekends. Besides Belgrade forest and Polonezköy town, several nice parks in the city attract local people to jog; Emirgan park, Yildiz park, Macka park, Gulhane, Camlica hill, etc.
In November 2010 Istanbul is designated as the "2012 European Capital of Sports" by the the European Capitals of Sport Association (ACES). In 2011 Valencia in Spain holds this title.
Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.