Sports in Turkey

There are thousands of sports clubs in Turkey for those athletes who wish to join one. A great majority of these clubs focus on football. In addition, there are individually licensed athletes who engage in sports and take part in competitions without any club affiliation. There are a total of 5,1 million licensed athletes in Turkey as of 2019.

Sailing and Boat Trips, Gulet Cruising

Turkish sportsTurkey has four bordering seas; the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea, so it not surprising that cruising is a popular sport here. There are many boat charters available, both as bareboat or Gulet boats with skipper. Gulets are traditional wooden huled motor yachts with many comforts and gulet holidays are becoming increasingly popular along the Turkish coastline. Best Gulets are usually built in Marmaris and Bodrum.

Scuba Diving

Mediterranean and Aegean coasts are the best places to dive. It is also possible to dive to shipwrecks from World War I (with special permission of local authorities) in Gallipoli, in the province of Canakkale. Diving for purposes of sport, with proper equipment and in non-restricted areas, is permitted. Foreign divers should have official documentation of their qualification, training and must be accompanied, when diving, by a licensed Turkish guide. The limit for diving with diving gear is 30 meters. For educational purposes, this limit is extended to 42 meters. Dives exceeding 30 meters must be done with proper diving and medical equipment. In order to protect Turkish archaeological and cultural treasures, it is strictly forbidden to transport or export Turkish antiquities or natural specimens. Detailed information can be obtained from any Turkish Tourist Information Office.

As an achievement, a young Turkish woman Yasemin Dalkilic broke several world records in Free diving category by diving with an unsupported fixed weight at a depth of 46,05 meters in 1:51 minutes in 2001, with a limited variable weight at a depth of 105 meters in 2:38 minutes in 2001, and with an unlimited variable weight at a depth of 120 meters in 2000.

Rafting & Canoeing

Turkey's rivers provide perfect conditions for canoeing and rafting, for both beginners and experienced, because of their length, depth and water regime. Some of the best rivers for rafting are: Coruh, Barhal, Berta, Firtina, Colak, Koprucay, Manavgat, Dragon, Goksu (Silifke), Zamanti, Goksu (Feke), Kizilirmak and Dalaman Cayi. Especially Coruh river (grade 5 and 4) is rated as one of the Top 10 white water rafting places in the world. 4th World Water sports Championships was held here in 1993 with approximately 300 competitors from 28 countries. Kayaking is also getting popular in some of the rivers.


The bays around Cesme, Bodrum and Datca peninsulas, as well as Antalya, have ideal wind conditions for windsurfing. Turkey's Aegean shores are among the best windsurfing and kite surfing areas in the Mediterranean. The coastal plain enjoys an exceptionally mild climate, with soft, verdant springs, hot summers, sunny autumns and warm winters marked by occasional showers. For windsurfing and sun-bathing summer months are ideal.

Alacati has a shallow area that extends 500 meters out from the beach. Combined with flat water, no tides or currents, this is a perfect place to improve technique, speed surfing and freestyle. It is an ideal place to learn to water start. The wind in Alacati (in Cesme) is an accelerated Meltemi that is funneled through the hills. A local thermal effect caused by the dry hills heating up increases the strength. It's windy all the time, most reliable in the summer. The wind will blow for a large part of the day, the strongest being in the afternoon. From May to end September the wind is medium to strong (2-6 beaufort) and during the winter strong southerly winds take over from October to March (4-8 beaufort).

In Bodrum - Bitez area the season runs from late May to Early November with the strongest winds being in June through September. During the morning the wind is gentle making it ideal for the rookies, followed by hard winds for the trained surfer in the afternoon. Temperatures are hot all times, except during the night during the first few weeks at the beginning and end of the season. The sea is warm throughout.

Teos is located on the west coast south of Izmir and a great place for beginners and others that need to get techniques like the water start, turns and tricks straightened out. The bay has a shallow area so that you can stand, where's once out of the bay the space is free for speeding or slalom. The most consistent wind is the Meltemi during the summer months, blowing from the north/northwest reaching 5 to 6 beaufort in strength. When you're in the bay and something comes up that you can't make it back to shore, the wind will just make you drift to one side of the bay, so you can just take your rigging and walk along the shoreline back to where you launched. Round noon-ish it tends to die down a little, but picks up again in the afternoon.


Kiteboarding or Kitesurfing is one of the latest popular water sports in the world, as well as in Turkey. In the past 10 years many kiteboarding centers are opened along the Turkish coastline, frequented by the locals and foreigners during the summer months.

There are several good kiteboarding locations and kiteboard schools in Turkey where it's possible to practice this sport for about six months during the summer, such as in Akyaka at Gokova Gulf near Marmaris, Pirlanta beach and Alacati in Cesme, Icmeler - Urla near Izmir, and Burc beach in Istanbul. Gokova has constant smooth winds and regular small waves for kiteboarders and has a long beach for them. Pirlanta beach has some strong winds as it's open to the Aegean Sea thus usually experienced kiteboarders choose this spot. Alacati has gentle winds and shallow waters therefore it's good for beginners. Also Urla has shallow waters and gentle wind so it's good for the starters. The Burc beach is located in Kilyos on the Black Sea coast of Istanbul and has some strong winds and high waves towards a long beach, it's a good location for pro's. Generally speaking, in most of these kiteboard locations you get a gentle meltemi wind in the morning hours, getting stronger constantly with the flux of the air in the afternoon going up to an average of 4-5 Beaufort, and in some days can go up to 5-7 Beaufort and continue blowing day and night. During the strong windy days or off-season, pro's can practice some freestyle and wave riding especially in Cesme peninsula and in Kilyos.


Fishing can be done without a license in non-prohibited and non-military areas as long as you're an amateur, using amateur and non-commercial equipment, multi-hooked lines, and fishing nets not weighing more than 5 kilograms. Commercial fishing by foreigners might result in heavy penalties. Latest details concerning fishing zones, the minimum sizes of fish that can be caught, and the numbers of fish that can be caught per person, can be obtained from the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Especially Aegean and Mediterranean are rich fishing areas.

Flying & Ballooning

Plane gliding, hang gliding, parachuting, paragliding and single engine flights are catered for as well as services that provide instruction courses. Best areas are Fethiye, Eskisehir, Pamukkale, Ephesus and Istanbul.

Hot Air Balloon rides can be taken daily over Cappadocia near the province of Nevsehir. Each flight is a fantastic experience as you float intimately amongst the fairy chimneys and soar over the magnificent Cappadocian landscape. They usually carry between 6 and 24 passengers and depart very early in the morning to catch the sunrise and gentle winds, lasting for about 1-1.5 hours. Lately, there are also balloon rides organized in Pamukkale.

Caving (Spelunking)

The most beautiful and interesting caves are located in the Toros regions along the Mediterranean coast, southeast, northwest Anatolia and Thrace. With an approximate number of 40.000 caves and caverns present, Turkey is like a paradise of caverns and spelunking when compared to other countries. An important geologic - geomorphologic fact in the formation of caverns is karstification (karstic fields) and this karstification is present especially in Western and Central Taurus Mountains, within the borders of Mugla, Antalya, Isparta, Burdur, Konya, Karaman, Icel and Adana provinces. The longest (Pinarozu Cavern, 16 km west of Beysehir Lake) and the deepest (Cukurpinar Sinkhole, 1880 meters at the south of Anamur) caves of Turkey are present on this mountain belt. The exact number of caves investigated and documented by all local and foreign cave explorers is approximately 800 so far.


Please note that hunting can only be done in parties organized by official Turkish travel agencies which have been authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Geographic structure of Turkey is appropriate for development of hunt tourism in connection with its flora and wild life. Hunting grounds, which will be opened to hunting tourism, with considering the hunting animals potential of the country, are determined and announced by the Ministry of Forests (National Parks, Hunting and Wild Life General Directorate). Foreign hunters can hunt with Hunting Tourism Permission Certificate, issued to A-Category Travel Agencies by Ministry of Forest. Also, foreign hunters can only hunt species and breed that set free within private hunting grounds approved by the Ministry of Forest, department of National Parks and Hunt - wild Life.

Foreign tourist hunters, who can hunt by means of Travel Agencies, according to the related decision of MAK (Central Hunt Commission) and regulation related with the application of 6136 Numbered Law, can bring their hunting guns and accessories together with them.

Wild animals allowed for hunting in Turkey are determined each year according to their species and hunting periods. These changes are determined by the decisions of the Central Hunting Commission which has been organized each year. Bear, hook horned mountain goat (Samua), wild goat (Bezoar), wild boar, lynx, wolf, jackal, fox, from big hunting animals, are served against its value to usage of national and foreign hunters under hunting tourism title.


Football (Soccer) is Turkey's national sport and is played everywhere. Some of the well known teams are: Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Trabzonspor. At this stage Turkish football is at a very important point. Turkish national teams are struggling with the strongest teams in the world and are getting more and more successful results. The U-16 and U-18 National Teams had achieved to be the champions and to get degrees in the European Youth Championships and the Mediterranean Championships.

The A-National Team was qualified for the 17th FIFA World Cup in 2002 in Korea/Japan reaching semifinals and they became the third best team of the world. In this Cup, the goal scored by Hakan Sukur at the 11th second of the match played between the Turkish and the Korean national teams was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as "the earliest goal scored in a world cup match". Lately, during the Euro 2008 Cup, Turkey played in the semifinals again and became one of the "best 4 teams of Europe".

The Galatasaray football team, defeating Arsenal at the UEFA Cup Finals in 1999-2000 season, won the UEFA title as well as the Super Cup when it overcame the "European Champion League" champion Real Madrid.


Turkish basketball teams and the National team are very succesful at international events. Efes Pilsen men's basketball team won the first championship of a Turkish team at the European cups in 1995-1996. This team also qualified to play in the "Final Four" held in Greece in 2000. Fenerbahce men's basketball team played the finals in the EuroLeague Final Four cup many times and won it in the season of 2016-17.

Turkey men's national basketball team won silver medals at the EuroBasket in 2001 and at FIBA World Cup in 2010. They also won gold, silver and bronze medals at several Mediterranean Games and the gold medal at the 1981 Balkan Championship.


Turkey women's national volleyball team and some teams are very succesful in the recent years. The National team won gold medals in 2023 European Championship, 2023 World Grand Prix, 2023 World Cup, 2023 CEV European Championship, 2015 European Games, 2014 European League, 2015 Montreux Volley Masters, 2005 Mediterranean Games, and 2021 Islamic Solidarity Games. They are ranked first in the FIVB World Rankings.

Vakifbank Women's Volleyball team is one of the best women's volleyball teams in the world; they won the FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship 4 times and the CEV European Champions League 6 times. Eczacibasi Women's Volleyball team won the European Cup title in 1998 and gold medals in FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship of 2015 and 2016 and 2023. Fenerbahce Women's Volleyball team won gold medals in 2010 FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship, 2011-13 CEV Champions League, and 2013-14 CEV Cup.

Turkey men's national volleyball team won gold medal in 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men's Challenger Cup and gold medals at the Men's European Volleyball League of 2019 and 2021 and 2023.


In recent years, as golf courses with international standards have opened up, Turkey has become an elite golfing center where players from around the world can meet in an environment of quality and prestige. Especially the area of Belek, 30 km (20 mi) east of Antalya, is a potential for golf tourism with the unique bonus of the cultural, historical and natural sightseeing of the region. Top-class courses do also exists in Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia, Bodrum and Kusadasi. In Turkey, most courses are in the vicinity of tourist resorts, around the coastal regions which have the necessary facilities like accommodation, restaurants and entertainment. The Ministry of Tourism plans to establish much more golf courses in these tourist areas.


Winter sports resorts in Turkey are generally located in forested mountains. The following ski centers are easily accessible by road or by Turkish Airlines domestic flights: Bursa Uludag, Antalya Saklikent, Bolu Kartalkaya, Erzurum Palandöken, Kars Sarikamis, Kayseri Erciyes, Ankara Elmadag, Ilgaz Dagi, Zigana Gümüshane. You can get more information on Skiing in Turkey by clicking the link.


Special permission is needed to climb the Büyük Agri (Ararat) and Cilo-Sat ranges. It is generally advisable to inform the Turkish Mountaineering Club of the region and time of the intended climb. The Club will then inform the relevant authorities. You can get more information on mountaineering and world famous mountains in Turkey by clicking the link.


Trekking or Backpacking mainly takes the form of hill walking; which is a pity, because the country is made for backpacking. Some of the best and popular trekking routes are:

Mediterranean region: Akdaglar, Beydaglari, Bakirdaglari, Geyik mountains and Göksu river area at Hadim-Ermenek, high plateaus of Anamur, mountain ranges of Mut district, area between Tarsus and Bolkar mountains, high plateaus of Adana - Kozan and Kadirli districts, Mentese mountains, Akcali mountains, Tahtali mountains and Binboga mountains.

Aegean region: Bafa Lake, Besparmak mountains, Kaz (Ida) mountains and Boz mountains.

Marmara region: Kirklareli and Istranca mountains, Ballikayalar canyon near Gebze in Izmit. Ucmakdere near Tekirdag, Kiyiköy and Igneada.

Black Sea region: Ilgaz and Küre mountains, high plateaus between Trabzon - Uzungöl and Savsat, Kackar mountains.

Plateau hiking is another popular form of trekking. The plateaus of Turkey are unique; meadows with large grasslands, its flora, plenty of water and natural beauty. The Tekir and Burucek meadows on the Taurus mountains, Artvin-Kafkasor, Rize-Ayder, Trabzon-Kadirga, Karadag, Erikbeli, Hidirnebi and Giresun-Kumbet, Sinop-Guzfindik and Bozarmut, Ordu-Keyfalan-Cambag are some of the most spectacular areas in the Black Sea region.

Horseback riding

Since ancient times, Turks are always known as "horse people". A heritage from old Turkic States came to our days as Javelin game played especially in Erzurum province and Erzincan; wooden javelins are thrown at horsemen of opposing teams to gain points.

Cappadocia is named as the country of horses. You can also try around Daday, Arac, Efiani, Safranbolu, Ulus, Devrek (near Kastamonu and Bartin), Marmaris, Kemer, Cesme, and Karacabey. There are riding clubs in the big cities such as Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir.

Bird-watching (Ornithology)

Turkey, the meeting point of three continents, forms a natural bridge between the bird breeding areas in the north and the bird's winter quarters in the south. The area between Izmir and Cesmealti was declared a natural heritage region in 1985, because of its importance as a vital stop for migratory birds. May is the best month for birding. Other important areas include: Buyuk Menderes Delta around Aydin, Lake Seyfe (near Kirsehir), Sultan Marshes (near Kayseri), Manyas Lake (near Bursa) and Goksu Delta (near Silifke).

Wrestling/Oil Wrestling

Wrestling is another national sport in Turkey. The country has many European and World champions. Turkey obtained its first Olympic title with Yasar Erkan in wrestling at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. Turkish wrestlers won many gold and silver medals in the European and the World Free Wrestling Championships in past years.

Maybe the most interesting type of wrestling in Turkey is the Oil Wrestling in Kirkpinar, in Edirne province. This sport is very traditional as it is practiced since the Ottoman Empire and have a history of more than 400 years.