Make sure to visit entertaining and bustling sports contests in Turkey

Every year Turkey hosts great and entertaining events in many sports, football being chief among them. Those national and international organizations attract millions into the stadiums and around TV screens in every corner of the country, and sports events are always one of the main nation wide news items. The fact that clubs of especially big football teams have become widely popular and started to organize events in various other fields, has carried sports beyond being an entertainment industry towards being a culture and a way of life. At the same time, apart from the large organizations, amateur sport branches are also favored and you can see in the fields, stadiums and schools in almost every neighborhood people in every age group engaging in various sports activities, as different as volleyball, swimming, wrestling, tennis, fitness and jogging. While in Turkey, you can join one of the large sports organizations and witness the excitement or engage in amateur sports yourself in the hotel you are staying at, or at the nearest sports hall or sports field.


Although even the smallest villages have their own football clubs, big clubs of Istanbul are followed in every corner of the country and are famous throughout the world. Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş football clubs, known as “the big three,” fill giant stadiums of İstanbul every year when they play in UEFA Cup matches. Also, “Super League” competitions, in which the best teams of Turkey face off, become the principal agenda of every football fan every week and especially the derby matches of big clubs constitute the most important sports agenda of the year. If you participate in one of those organizations, do not forget to buy one of the uniforms of world-class football players as a gift.


Stadium sports have also been gaining widespread attention in Turkey in recent years and large organizations are held especially in volleyball and basketball. In addition to the clubs of the big three in football, Karşıyaka team of İzmir, the champion of this year, and Anadolu Efes team of İstanbul, are challenging teams in basketball. If you are visiting anytime other than summer break and if you can watch one of the national or international competitions of these clubs, you can experience a real basketball celebration. If you are enjoying your vacation in one of the unique beaches near İzmir in the fall season, you can take a short break and go to one of Karşıyaka’ matches. On the other hand, you can find a basketball court in almost every street of big cities, and take advantage of them to workout and let off steam during your vacation.


Water and river sports are also among exciting and attractive sports alternatives in Turkey, where beaches are broad and rivers are widespread. In addition to water sports like underwater diving and surfing, there are alternatives like water-skiing, rowing and sailing for more daring individuals. There are countless opportunities to enjoy these sports in popular tourist destinations of Turkey or you can simply watch organized events. Or you can try rafting, which is very popular on abundant rivers throughout the country. Manavgat River in Antalya, Dalaman River in Muğla, Fırtına Creek in Rize and Melen River in Düzce, are especially popular because of its short distance from İstanbul, witness big rafting organizations every year. If you prefer a real adrenalin boosting sports experience during your vacation in Turkey, rafting could be an ideal choice.

In addition to these popular sports, “national sports” also attract much interest in Turkey. Wrestling, oil-wrestling, archery, horseback javelin game, horse riding are among such sports branches and some of the tournaments especially in rural areas draw much attention from local people and tourists alike. The biggest of these events is the traditional Kırkpınar Oil-Wrestling Festival organized annually by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The festival, which has been held for many centuries and which was selected for the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 by UNESCO, becomes a showcase for Edirne in the national and international press every year. If you happen to visit the historical city of Thrace at the end of June or beginning of July to see the masterpiece of Sinan the Architect, Selimiye Mosque, you should certainly watch Kırkpınar Oil-Wrestling Festival as well.