Although the sun still shines on Turkey’s western and southern shores, winter is around the corner as Turkey’s most-visited ski resorts welcome the first snow of the winter season.
The first snow of the season fell on the summit of Mount Erciyes, located in the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Although the snow depth is only four centimeters, experts said the early snow fall means an early opening for the ski season.
Apart from Mount Erciyes, other popular ski mountains, mounts Uludağ and Palandöken welcome the first snow of the season as well.
Visitors flock to Turkey’s ski resorts
A popular summer holiday destination, Turkey also offers skiing in provinces across the country, attracting more and more domestic and foreign visitors during the winter months.
Palandöken Ski Centre
Offering a nonstop ski experience to its guests, the Palandöken Ski Centre on Palandöken Mountain in Erzurum province has become one of the best winter tourism attractions in the world.
The center has seen over 30 centimeters of snow and has thus attracted many visitors in the new year.
Palandöken is one of Turkey’s most easily accessible ski resorts, located approximately 15 kilometers from Erzurum Airport. It is an hour from the capital Ankara by plane and nearly 1.5 hours by plane from Istanbul and İzmir.
With capacity for 12,000 skiers at once, the center has 24 trails, which are among the longest and steepest in the world. While beginners can enjoy eight easy and mid-level tracks, for enthusiasts who want to push the limits, there are three advanced-level tracks. Two of these various tracks – one of them being the world’s third longest track and Turkey’s longest – have also been registered for slalom competitions by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Also in eastern Turkey, the Sarıkamış resort 50 kilometers from the center of Kars province, features 14 kilometers of slopes and four ski lifts with an elevation of between 2,100 and 2,600 meters.
The ski season in Sarıkamış Ski Centre is from December to April and the thickness of the snow in Sarıkamış reaches up to 50-200cm.
Kartalkaya: Close to Ankara and Istanbul
Located at the peak of the Köroğlu Mountains, 38 kilometers from Bolu, Kartalkaya is a beautiful ski resort and popular destination for a winter holiday break. Surrounded by picturesque pine trees, the area is the ultimate center for Turkey’s attractive ski hotels and centers. Kartalkaya has much to offer snowboarders with its off-pistes available until April. The ski resort is 270 kilometers from Istanbul and features 12 ski pistes. Snow depth can sometimes be three meters. Tourists can choose from a range of luxury and affordable ski hotels. One of Turkey’s few ski resorts, Kartalkaya provides an ideal environment for winter sports, as the area is already covered with snow. You can rent snowboards, skis and sledges from almost all hotels.
Turkey’s first ski resort, Uludağ in the northwestern province of Bursa, has been attracting winter lovers for the last 50 years.
Uludağ’s hotel area is just 40 kilometers from Bursa city center. Snow remains deep enough to allow for skiing four months of the year at Uludağ, which hosts 17 hotels with a bed capacity of more than 6,000.
Holidaymakers can also snowboard and ice-skate at Uludağ, and it is also possible to tour the area on snow bikes.
Mediterranean ski resort
Perhaps surprisingly, the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, already a major destination with its stunning beaches and sunny skies, now attracts winter visitors with its Saklıkent ski resort.
Located 50 kilometers from the center of Antalya, Saklıkent has four tracks operating from mid-December to the beginning of April.
The resort sits on the peak Bey Dağları (Bey Mountains) at an altitude of 2,400 meters. During winter last year around 45,000 people skied at the center.
“Our goal is to reach one million tourists in Saklıkent,” Emin Altıner, president of cooperative housing for Saklıkent, told Anadolu Agency.
“We aim to be the center of winter tourism. It is possible to create more than 30 ski resorts like Saklıkent in the region. Antalya could then become a center of skiing, as it already is in golf,” Altıner said.
Sources: Daily Sabah/Hurriyet Daily News