Learn All About the Most Popular Sports in Turkey

Hot air baloons in Turkey

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, holds a unique position straddling eastern Asia and the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Renowned for its historical richness, the country has played a pivotal role in various empires, including the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul, the largest city, stands as a cultural and financial hub. Turning to sports in Turkey, the nation boasts a vibrant athletic culture.

Over the years, Turkey has embraced sports as a significant aspect of its identity. From traditional sports to modern competitions, the country’s passion for athletic pursuits is evident. Football, in particular, holds a special place, with Turkish football clubs gaining recognition on the international stage.

As a testament to its commitment to sports, Turkey has hosted major sporting events, leaving a lasting impact on the global sports community. These events not only showcase Turkey’s organizational prowess but also underline its dedication to promoting sportsmanship and unity. The enthusiasm for sports in Turkey extends beyond the professional level, with grassroots initiatives and community engagement playing crucial roles in shaping the nation’s athletic landscape.

Why you should explore Turkey?

The waterfront of Istanbul.

Turkey, a transcontinental country bridging western Asia and southeastern Europe, offers a diverse cultural tapestry waiting to be explored. The unique blend of cultures within its borders provides a fascinating experience as you encounter various nationalities. Notably, Turkey is home to exceptional sites that contribute to its allure.

Exploring this country unveils iconic landmarks, breathtaking terrains, and landscapes that make it an ideal tourist destination. The favorable climate, influenced by its Mediterranean and southeastern European location, features mild to cold winters and dry, hot summers in the Mediterranean region. Conversely, the Black Sea area experiences a more prevalent oceanic climate.

Further read: Dangerous animals in Turkey

Moreover, Turkey has a rich sporting heritage with a variety of sports played over the years. From traditional to modern, the country offers a diverse array of sports for enthusiasts. Here are some of the exceptional sports you’re likely to enjoy during your trip to Turkey.

Popular Sports in Turkey

Jetski in Turkey

Turkey boasts a rich variety of sports, blending traditional and modern activities that enhance the overall experience in the region. At the forefront of traditional sports is the national favorite – oil wrestling. This captivating sport involves participants covering their bodies with substantial amounts of oil before engaging in intense matches to determine the victor.

Beyond oil wrestling, Turkey embraces a diverse array of sports. From traditional to more contemporary choices, the country offers a spectrum of athletic activities for enthusiasts to enjoy during their time in the region. The sports culture in Turkey adds an extra layer of excitement to the overall experience, making it a destination that caters to a wide range of sporting interests. Whether you’re a fan of time-honored traditions or modern competitions, Turkey has something to offer for every sports enthusiast.


Turkey is a football powerhouse, showcasing its prowess in various World Cup series, notably ranking third in the 2002 World Cup held in Korea. The country’s success extends to European Championships and other qualifiers. With popular clubs like Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Besiktas participating in UEFA competitions, football is deeply ingrained in the culture. The passionate local fans flock to major stadiums, fostering the growth of both football stadiums and fanbase. Whether enjoying a match at Ankara Stadium or other major venues, football enthusiasts will find Turkey an exciting destination.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving in Turkey

Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts offer prime locations for scuba diving. Certified professionals guide enthusiasts through waters teeming with diverse fauna and flora. Whether diving to depths of 30 meters or 42 meters for experienced divers, Turkey’s underwater world is a captivating experience. Educational dive programs allow exploration of the sea’s creatures and surrounding water bodies, providing a unique adventure for those seeking aquatic discovery.


Judo holds a significant place in Turkish sports, with clubs like Galatasaray Judo actively participating in European and World Championships. The sport’s popularity has grown, fueled by awareness programs and increasing participation. Established over four decades ago, judo clubs continue to thrive, contributing to Turkey’s presence in various European tournaments and World Championships.


Basketball in Turkey

As the second most popular sport in Turkey, basketball has witnessed significant growth. Turkish athletes in the NBA, FIBA World Cup triumphs in 2002, and successful clubs in the European Championships highlight the country’s basketball prowess. Modern facilities and a thriving basketball culture provide an exciting atmosphere for both players and fans.


Handball has secured a prominent place in Turkish sports, with widespread participation in European and World Championships. The sport’s popularity is evident in numerous successful clubs dominating the national league. With a growing fanbase and increased awareness through various championships, handball remains a dynamic and well-loved sport in Turkey.


Athletics field

Turkey actively participates in athletics, ranking it as the fifth most popular sport. The country’s presence in World Championships and the Olympics reflects its commitment to track and field events. Numerous gold medalists have emerged from Turkey, showcasing the nation’s prowess in athletics. With various marathons and races held across the country, athletics continues to be a growing and engaging sport.


Boxing has gained prominence in Turkey, especially in urban areas where competitions for medals and prizes are commonplace. The Turkish Boxing Federation, in operation since 1924, has played a crucial role in raising awareness and organizing competitions. Boxing matches draw enthusiasts to different stadiums across the country, providing an adrenaline-packed experience for fans.


Volleyball in the air

Volleyball holds the third spot among the most popular sports in Turkey. The country’s competitive edge is evident in international competitions, with Turkish women finishing sixth in the 2010 World Championships. Successful clubs participate in European competitions, solidifying Turkey’s position as a formidable force in the volleyball world.


Turkey’s diverse sporting landscape includes motorsports, gaining popularity with events like the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix. The country’s participation in rallies and Grand Prix events draws enthusiasts to various tracks. Investments in motorsports continue to elevate Turkey’s standing in the industry, offering a thrilling experience for motorsports fans.


Sailing on the coast of Turkey

Sailing thrives in Turkey, blessed with seas and water bodies ideal for hosting tournaments. The Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Marmara Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea provide picturesque settings for sailing events. Participants can enjoy various sailing activities, from competitive events to leisurely exploration. Safety measures, including certified guides, ensure a memorable sailing experience.


Wrestling holds a significant place in Turkish sports, representing the national identity. From traditional oil wrestling to Greco-Roman and Olympic wrestling, the sport requires strength and skill. Turkey has produced numerous boxing champions, and wrestling events draw fervent fans across the country. Exploring different wrestling rings during your trip provides insight into this beloved and enduring sport.


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Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.