The Turkish winter season is on, and the country’s interior, northern and eastern regions offer lovely getaways during the cold winter months. The snow-capped mountains are home to several ski centres representing Türkiye’s excellent winter tourism possibilities. These ski resorts, featuring state-of-the-art mechanical facilities and accommodation options ranging from casual to luxurious, also offer an array of the best Turkish wines and food. Let’s see some of Türkiye’s best ski destinations.
Erciyes: At the Peak of Anatolia
In the middle of the country, a short drive away from the world-famous Cappadocia, lies the Erciyes Ski Centre in Kayseri, on top of Mount Erciyes (3,916 m), the highest peak in the Central Anatolia Region. The ski centre is notable for its double chairlifts, which are equipped with state-of-the-art technology at international standards, have a capacity of approximately 26,750 people per hour, and can be dismantled and removed quickly. Skiers can view the endemic vegetation and incredible views of Mount Erciyes from the chairlifts and gondola cable cars.
Do: Erciyes is an hour’s drive from Cappadocia, a place well worth visiting with its otherworldly landscape of fairy chimneys, cave hotels and underground cities.
Try: Kayseri, a city known for its delectable pastırma (pastrami) and mantı (dumplings in the Turkish way), is also known for Turkish wines made from the Emir, a local grape from Central Anatolia, along with the regional Karaman “Divle obruk” and “Niğde mavi” (blue) cheeses.
Palandöken: Winter Delight at the Summit
Suitable for skiing six months out of the year, Palandöken ski centre is nestled 2,100 metres above sea level in the mountain village of Başköy, at the foot of Palandöken Mountain in Türkiye’s eastern province of Erzurum. Host of the 2011 World University Winter Games and the 2017 European Youth Olympics Winter Festival, Palandöken Mountain offers illuminated slopes for night skiing and the longest slope in Türkiye. The centre was ranked in the top 20 of 41 ski resorts by the New York Times and features 22 slopes that stand out with powder snow that allows easy skiing, along with five chairlifts and gondola lifts serving the pistes. Palandöken is ideal for alpine disciplines, snowboarding, slalom and big slalom disciplines.
Do: Visit the Tortum Waterfall, one of the highest waterfalls in the world. Tortum Lake, Narman’s Fairy Chimneys and the İspir Yedigöller are other beauties in Erzurum…
Try: Cağ kebab. This Erzurum delicacy is worth sampling, featuring seasoned meat grilled on skewers in a wood fire.
Sarıkamış: Türkiye’s Easternmost Peak
Kars, the last station of Türkiye’s famous Eastern Express train after Erzurum, is one of the country’s most intriguing winter destinations. The Sarıkamış Ski Resort, at an altitude of 2,100-2,634 metres on Çamurlu Mountain near the city, has the same snow quality as the world-famous Alps. The facility has two mechanical pistes: the first has a capacity of 1,800 people per hour and is 1,435 metres long, while the second has a capacity of 800 persons per hour and is 2,250 metres long. The resort offers seven ski slopes with a beautiful view of yellow pine trees.
Do: Tour the ancient city of Ani, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Çıldır Lake, where horse-drawn sledges glide across frozen waters.
Try The delectable Kars-style baked goose, regional cheeses such as Kars kaşar and gruyere, and traditional wines made from local Öküzgözü and Boğazkere grapes.
Uludağ: Bursa’s White Summit
Uludağ Ski Resort, located southwest of Bursa, is among the most popular resorts in Türkiye due to its proximity to İstanbul. The ski area at the foot of Uludağ, the highest mountain in Western Anatolia, is 1,750-2,543 metres. The ski centre, with eight chairlifts, seven T-bars, and 13 different slopes, offers ski equipment rentals and lessons from professional instructors. In addition, Uludağ Ski Resort has tracks for heli-skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and snow biking.
Do: Bursa is nearby and easily accessible via a cable car. You can add to your ski holiday with a visit to the monumental buildings of Bursa’s inn district, especially Koza Han and Ulu Mosque.
Try: Bursa is also famous for Iskender kebab, a regional delicacy. This is the right place to try Iskender kebab, which is cooked on the grill before being sliced and served on warm, chopped pita bread with hot tomato sauce and a special butter. ///nCa, 9 February 2024 (in cooperation with Embassy of Türkiye to Turkmenistan)