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It’s a no-brainer, but Istanbul is a fabulous walking city—and need we remind you it’s the “city on seven hills”? You will feel the burn navigating districts like Beyoğlu, where trendy boutiques and cafes abound on San Francisco-steep cobblestone streets, or bypassing the funicular for your own two feet between Kabataş and Taksim. Walking over the Galata Bridge is a city must, as is strolling the grounds of Ottoman palaces like Topkapı: Leafy Gülhane Park (map) was once that palace’s garden, open to royal court members only; now it’s a lovely place to walk around (and stop for ҫay, or tea, in its waterfront tea garden). Other parks worth checking out to escape the hustle and bustle include woodsy, historic Yıldız Parkı in Beşiktaş (map), Yoğurtçu Parkı in Kadıköy (map)—which has a running track and a few “workout machines,” a favorite feature of parks in Turkey—and Taksim Gezi Park (map), one of the only green spaces in Beyoğlu (the government’s controversial plans to turn this park into a shopping mall, and its harsh treatment of peaceful protesters, was the flame that ignited the 2013 protests across Turkey).
Another great place to power-walk or jog is among the morning dog-walkers and pram-pushers on the Bosphorus promenade between Arnavutköy and Bebek…the perfect activity following a gut-busting brunch at one of the many waterfront restaurants up there (like in Sarıyer). There’s a nice promenade on the Marmara Sea in Kadıköy, too, among others.
While you might bike around sections of the seafront and some of the parks, Istanbul is no place for a foreigner to hop on a bike and just go. We’d follow the advice of The Guide: Istanbul and save our biking urges for the (mostly carless) Princes’ Islands, a nine-island archipelago in the Marmara Sea about 20 km southeast of Istanbul. Called Adalar (“the islands”) by most locals, the Princes’ make a wonderful day trip on warm days, particularly on weekdays when they are markedly less crowded. Hop a ferry from Kabataş to Büyükada or Heybeliada, two of the four islands serviced by ferries, and rent a bike from one of the shops near the pier or in the side streets off the main squares. We’ve heard both islands are hilly, so consider yourself warned.
OK, you won’t burn as many calories doing this, but a trip to a Turkish bathhouse will revitalize, rehydrate, and help rid your body of toxins—the steam is said to speed up your metabolism, increase blood flow, and open up pores. Try the super luxurious, historic Kılıç Ali Pasa Hamam (hamam from 100 TL; massage from 80 TL; Hamam Sokak 1, map) in Karaköy, or the cheaper Kadirga Hamam (212-518-1948; Kadırga Limanı Cad. No. 69, map), in Sultanahmet, where it costs about 40 TL.
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