Turkey has many great locations for enjoying a revitalising break in the winter months; indeed, with 60% of the country surrounded by majestic mountains as a continuation of the Himalayan Alps, and more than a hundred peaks at over 3000 metres, there is plenty on offer for winter adventure, with altitudes on a par with the Alps and American Rockies. Most of Turkey’s ski resorts are nestled within forested mountains, providing a stunning setting and breathtaking views for your winter holiday – as well as all the delights of good accommodation, delicious Turkish cuisine, entertainment facilities and great value.
There are two main mountain ranges in the country: the Northern Anatolian range which follows the Black Sea coast and the Taurus Mountains which run parallel to the Mediterranean. The winter sports facilities located along these mountain ranges include pistes for all levels of experience which are ideal for downhill skiing, snowboarding, year-round glacier skiing, with many of the resorts also offering cross-country and heli-skiing during a season which runs from December to April. Already established as a skiing venue with the professionals, the International Skiing Federation has now also approved pistes throughout Turkey as suitable for winter sports contests.
Major Winter Resorts in Turkey:
Located to the south of Erzurum on the Palandoken Mountains, the Palandoken Winter Sports Centre in the northeast of Turkey has some of the longest and steepest ski pistes in the world. 28km worth of ski pistes provide a variety of snow activities at 2200-3175 metres and at a snow depth of 3 metres and as the slopes can accommodate up to 32,000 people per day on a combination of runs.
Facilities include a gondola, five chairlifts, one T-bar and two baby lifts. Equipment rentals and instruction are available. The centre’s four- and five-star hotels, ski lodges and restaurants are easily accessible from the mountain, with the centre providing transportation from the city centre throughout its December–May season. The Palandoken Ski Centre is accessible by daily flights from Ankara and Istanbul. In April, the resort features the popular Palandoken Ski Cup.
Turkey's most popular winter sports and tourism centre is situated on Mount Uludag, one of Western Anatolia's highest peaks, and the Mount Olympos of antique mythology from where the ancient gods watched the Trojan wars. Overlooking the imperial Ottoman capital of Bursa it offers pistes at around 2000 metres and with its accessibility, great facilities and wonderful views is a firm favourite with ski-lovers. The skiing season lasts from December to April with a normal snow depth of around 3 metres. Skiable from the summit, Uludag’s slopes feature eight chairlifts and seven T-bars on a total of 13 blue and green runs. Equipment rentals and instruction are available, and the centre’s 27 hotels can accommodate some 3,000 guests, with numerous restaurants and shops complementing a day on the slopes.
In addition to the usual skiing activities, big foot, skating and snow biking are also available. Uludag is Turkey's largest ski holiday centre with the festivals, contests and concerts held throughout the winter months turning the venue into Turkey's liveliest winter spot and every March, Uludag hosts both the International Youth Cup and the International Endurance Cup. The centre is approximately 60 minutes from Istanbul International Airport.
Easily accessible from both Istanbul and Ankara, the Kartalkaya Ski centre dominates the winter sports scene of northern Turkey’s central Anatolian and Black Sea region in the Koroglu Mountains, and is one of Turkey's most popular skiing centres. Set amid a landscape of luscious pine forests, the areas for skiing are located at heights of around 2000 metres. With an unusually long winter sports season there are skiing opportunities 120 days of the year with snow depths of 3 metres, though the usual ski season is December–April. Kartalkaya Skiing Centre has 20 km worth of pistes with two chairlifts, six T-bars, three baby lifts, and 12 runs offering up to 12 miles of continuous skiing. The centre also features two 3-star hotels that combined can accommodate more than 1000 guests and a variety of activities on offer including snowboarding and ski tours.
Ilgaz Winter Sports Centre set in the Mount Ilgaz National Park of Kastamonu in the Western Black Sea region is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Bordered in the north by the Kure Mountains and to the south by Mount Ilgaz the region receives plenty of snow in the winter months. With skiing pistes at heights of 1700-2000 metres the winter snowfall is usually between 100 and 200cm.
Set in the Lake District region of the Turkish Mediterranean close to the town of Isparta is Davraz Winter Sports Centre on Mount Davraz. With its 8km worth of pistes and a snow depth of 50-250cm, there is the usual array of skiing related activities with the surrounding hotels having Olympic-sized swimming pools, fitness centres and many other facilities.
Forty miles to the west of the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, the Taurus range of mountains are covered in a mantle of snow from December onwards. The Saklikent Winter Sports Centre on the peaks of the Beydaglari (Bey Mountains) is popular with beginners as well as mid-level skiers, many attracted to the region’s special late ski season in March and April when they can ski in the morning then drive down the coast for an afternoon swim in the warm Mediterranean Sea. The winter skiing season lasts two to three months with a snow depth of 100-230cm, though it can reach 5 metres from time to time on the peaks. Providing facilities for beginners through to professional skiers and snowboarders, the centre has a total of 3km worth of pistes.
Saklikent features two T-bars and two ski runs as well as a half-pipe for snowboarders. Its hotel, the Saklikent Resort, can accommodate 75 guests and features a well-regarded restaurant. The area will also soon be home to Mediterranean's longest cable car line of 4350 meters. With no station breaks, the cable car is currently in construction to join the 2365-meter peak of Mount Tahtali, rising between the Kemer district of Antalya and the Tekirova resort, with the Mediterranean. A ski track is also being developed in Tahtali which will comprise of three 4km pistes.
The two winter sports centres close to the northeast Anatolian town of Kars are found on Sarikamis's Mount Osman Yuce and Cibiltepe respectively and are noted for their terrific snow conditions and natural beauty. Protected from winds by the surrounding pine forests there are pistes at 2500 metres and 1.5 metres of snow in a normal winter. Located 50km from Kars airport, the winter sports centres are located in an area rich with the remains of many ancient civilisations.
There are five runs, including one almost eight miles long, with two chairlifts and one T-bar. There are several hotels and guest houses available.
The mercantile region of Kayseri in Central Anatolia is overseen by the majestic snow-capped peak of Mount Erciyes, an extinct volcano rising from the otherwise flat plains. With a winter sports centre on its northern slopes on the Tekir summer pastures, it offers year-round glacier skiing at the northern region of the mountain and skiing at heights of 2100-2900 metres at snow depths of 2 metres. As the highest peak in central Anatolia, Erciyes is also a prime destination for heli-skiiers and serious mountaineers. Accommodation includes four guesthouses and the 60-room Dedeman Erciyes hotel with several restaurants, bars and a swimming pool, though development plans are underway to increase the accommodation and facilities available. Erciyes is 40 minutes from Kayseri Airport.
Climbing and Mountaineering
Although most mountaineering is done during the summer and spring months, you may also enjoy visiting the Kackar Mountains, or Pontic Alps, which run parallel to the Black Sea in the north west of the country, during the winter months – as well as the Aladaglar, or ‘Red Mountains’, which form part of the Taurus mountain chain, running from west to east along the Mediterranean coast.