The 10 Best Hikes In Istanbul

Published by: Bounce23 May, 2022

The ancient yet modern city of Istanbul, Turkey stands as the largest city in the country and a favorite location for both tourists and locals to visit. It came to life as a city called Byzantium and has a history dating back nearly 2,000 years. Later on, the city's name was changed to Constantinople and finally Istanbul, which is what it remains today. It is the world's only transcontinental city, being right in the middle of Europe and Asia, so if you cross from one side of the Bosphorus Strait to the other you will be in different continents!

Aside from being one of the world's most fascinating cities, Istanbul also has a gorgeous surrounding landscape that makes it an excellent place to go hiking in the great outdoors. You can capture some stunning views of the city and environment from one of the surrounding mountains so make sure that you pack your hiking gear for the trip. Everything that you don't need can be left in a suitcase locker in Istanbul.

Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Istanbul

Sultan's Trail

The perfect place for an easy walk around Istanbul is Sultan's Trail, which will bring you from the Eyüp Sultan mosque to the Sülemaniye mosque. The walk will bring you through Istanbul's Old Town and is a great way to sightsee and learn a bit about the city's history at the same time.

This route is important as it was the course that Suleiman the Magnificent and his armies walked throughout history. The part of the trail that is located in Istanbul will bring you past the Yavuz mosque, the Sufi Temple of Jerrahi, the Faith Mosque and the Kariye mosque, which will take you about 4 hours to complete. A famous long distance hike, the whole route continues on to Vienna. It won't take you long to reach this trek since it is in Istanbul's center. We've created a guide on how to use the transportation system in Istanbul. Learn how to get around by tram, bus and more.

Belgrad Forest Nature Parks

On the northern European side of the city are the Belgrad Forest Nature Parks. Together they make one of the biggest forests in all of Istanbul at 5,500 hectares and it is an important area for the local ecosystem and wildlife. Plants, mushrooms, trees and various animal species call the parks home and if you take a trip to Istanbul you can take advantage of the area, too.

The space is made up of nine nature parks offering their own trails and pathways to follow so you can spend all afternoon strolling through them all. You might even see remains from the old irrigation system that was installed during the Ottoman period, which is several hundred years old. Make sure to always pick up after yourself to not disturb the environment. You can reach the park in a bit over half an hour from Istanbul.

Evliya Çelebi Way

A great hike for those who want to see as much of the city and its surrounding landscape as possible should head to the Evliya Çelebi Way. The trail begins in Istanbul and continues all the way to Hersek, stretching for nearly 600 kilometers. It is not suitable for a day trip since it will take much longer than a day to get through the whole thing.

If you want to explore the area but don't have time to get through the entire thing you can always do it in parts. The path was named after the writer and explorer from the Ottoman period who traveled the path back in the 17th century. You have the choice of either hiking or horseback riding through the towns and areas on Evliya Çelebi Way. You can reach the trail in about 40 minutes by car.

Kilimli Parkuru

One of Istanbul's most famous parks with some of the best hiking trails is Kilimli Parkuru. It is a safe spot with well marked signs that can keep you on course so you won't miss any of the stunning views from across the cliffs and down the bays. There is a restaurant by the trailhead that you can stop at for a meal before or after your hike.

One of the paths will take you down to a lighthouse and back and if the small ferry is running you can take it across to reach the lighthouse steps. This hike is located a little further away from the city and is about a two hours drive by car.

Balaban Village and Durusu Lake

The Durusu Lake, which was formerly known as Terkos Lake, is the province's biggest lake as well as an important water source for its people for the past hundred years. The shore of the lake makes for a beautiful area with reed fields that are also an ecosystem for different kinds of birds.

There are a couple of trekking routes in the area but one that is highly recommended is the path that takes you from Balaban Village to Karaburun. The trail will begin with some beautiful views of the lake and eventually bring you to the Black Sea by Karaburun. It will take you a bit over an hour and a half to get to the area.

Ballıkayalar Nature Park

The Ballikayalar Nature Park has everything that nature lovers need to make a beautiful hike. There are lakes, streams, waterfalls and a stunning green canyon for you to explore, plus a gorgeous walking route that can take you around the area. It is a great place for birdwatching since several bird species have chosen it as their home.

The park serves as a much needed greenspace in the area since it is located next to one of the biggest industrial neighborhoods in Istanbul. You can get here in just under an hour from the city center. Be aware that you will have to pay an entrance fee of 10 Turkish Lira to enter the park.

Binkılıç Village and Yıldız Mountains

Grab brunch in the city and get ready to hike. Not too far from Istanbul's center is a small village at the base of the Yıldız Mountain Range. You can take a nice hike beginning at the Binkılıç Castle ruins, which date back to sometime around the 6th century of the Byzantine period. After taking in the views from the fortress you can begin your trek.

The hiking trails will take you through forests of pine, cedar and oak trees, and the area is one of the most beautiful in Istanbul. You will need to drive for about an hour and a half to reach the trail.

Polonezköy Nature Park

The Polonezköy Nature Park is Istanbul's first and largest nature park at 7,420 acres in size. You can do almost anything nature related here, like hiking, camping or orienteering. There are also some great picnic spots and restaurants in the area, making it the perfect spot for grabbing lunch.

As such a huge space there is no surprise that wildlife has thrived here. Some of the species calling the park home include several species of wild deer, squirrels, wild boars, pheasants, owls and other types of bird species, weasels, jackals and more, not to mention the plants and flora. The park is a bit over a half hour drive away.

Princes Islands

The Princes Islands can only be accessed by ferry from Istanbul, but if you make the journey you will be rewarded with a place of natural beauty for you to walk around. There are a total of nine islands to explore and, since cars are not allowed, they are all gorgeous places with undisturbed nature and paradise for hiking enthusiasts.

During your time on the islands, you are likely to come across a small town or two, although horse-drawn carriages are the chosen mode of transportation. Much of the island has been left undisturbed but the region is decorated with walking routes and trails. You can reach the ferry port in under an hour by car.

Erikli Highland

The Erikli Highland is a great spot for hiking in Istanbul. The beginning of the trail is an easy walk but after a couple of minutes the track gains elevation to reach the highlands. The area has several settlements and structures to explore and if you continue along the waterfront you can pass by a beautiful waterfall.

The local scenery can be admired from the viewpoints in the highlands which will be the highlight of your adventure. The Erikli Highland is situated about two hours from Istanbul by car.

Easy Hikes in Istanbul

Kilimli Parkuru

This is a great place for a simple walk in Istanbul. The trails are not difficult and the signs are conveniently placed to help you navigate the area. Take your time on the hiking routes and enjoy your day in nature!

Princes Islands

The Princes Islands are one of the best places to take a stroll in Istanbul. The landscape and terrain are not too challenging so even those who don't have much experience can give it a go. Make sure you pack water and snacks for your journey since you will be across the coast from Istanbul.

Polonezköy Nature Park

Although this park is big, that also means that it is full of trails and pathways. If you search you can find several shorter ones that are beginner friendly and easy to navigate. This is one of the best places to start your hiking adventure in Istanbul.

Intermediate Hikes in Istanbul

Sultan's Trail

Much of the Sultan's Trail takes place inside the city so it will not be too difficult to hike in terms of elevation and terrain. However, since the trail is long it can take a while to complete and if you are planning to trek the whole thing you should have at least some experience.

Belgrad Forest Nature Parks

The nature parks that make up Istanbul's largest forest are not too challenging to trek, although they are not easy, either. There is a nice selection of paths for you to choose from making it perfect for people of all difficulty levels.

Binkılıç Village and Yıldız Mountains

The forests on this trail have fairly wide paths that are perfect for anyone who wants to test their hiking skills at the next level. The trails aren't too difficult but are still challenging enough to keep advanced hikers entertained.

Difficult Hikes in Istanbul

Evliya Çelebi Way

This path is huge and goes on for a long distance. Although you can separate the trail into smaller sections for a short walk, it is not going to be easy if you plan on tackling the whole thing. It will take you several days so make sure you bring everything that you need to camp.

Erikli Highland

The trek up to the highlands has some elevation gain which is why it can be difficult. We recommend that you have some previous experience before you give it a try. Make sure that you bring some food and drinks in case you need a break along the way.

Ballıkayalar Nature Park

This trail is one of Istanbul's more difficult options since it navigates through several kinds of terrain. You will need to be prepared for everything from forests and valleys to lakes and canyons on this path.

The Nicest Walks in Istanbul

Descending into Istanbul Airport, you will notice how beautiful the landscape is. There are meadows, forests, lakes, cliffs and waterfalls for you to discover on trails suitable for all difficulty levels. There are also paths that you can use to try horseback riding, climbing, biking or walking, which makes it a versatile place for everyone to enjoy spending time outside in nature.

You can hike around Istanbul in either the summer or winter although you will need to bring the appropriate equipment for the time of year that you are visiting. It is important to have the proper footwear, a safety kit, refreshments and maybe a GPS or map if you are worried about getting lost. Once you have walked all the trails in the national parks you can see if there are any nearby urban hikes to explore, since the city itself is also worth exploring.

There is much to do in the city, like shopping and museum hopping, but make sure that you take the time for a hike in nature. You won't regret it!

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