Snowshoeing in Turkey: Modern Facilities, Magnificent Landscapes, Exotic Locales and the Best Prices in Europe

Offering altitudes on par with the Alps and the American Rockies and a traditional November through April mountain season as well as year-round glacier skiing, Turkey offers winter sport experiences that are as varied and challenging as they are enjoyable. Whether for cross-country, downhill, heli-skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, Turkey’s ski resorts offer modern facilities and equipment, skilled skiing instructors and a full range of contemporary accommodations.

 

Perhaps the only category where Turkey’s ski resorts don’t measure up to their European counterparts is price: Turkey’s resorts are generally less costly than many other popular European ski destinations, due in part to Turkey’s currency being the Turkish Lira and not the more expensive Euro.

 

Following is a sampling of premier ski resorts in Turkey.

 

Uludag Ski Center

 

Located twenty-two miles south of Bursa in western Anatolia, the Uludag Ski Center is one of Turkey’s most popular. The forest-covered mountain – the region’s highest at 8,343 feet – is a legendary vantage point from which, according to lore, the ancient gods watched the Trojan War.

 

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 Center’s 27 hotels can accommodate some 3,000 guests, with numerous restaurants and shops complementing a day on the slopes. A sampling of accommodations:

 

Hotel Grand Yazici: Four stars, 250 rooms, two restaurants
Hotel Kervansaray: Four stars, 169 rooms
Magic Life Kartanesi: 155 rooms, four restaurants
Agaoglu My Resort: 184 rooms, two restaurants

 

Every March, Uludag hosts both the International Youth Cup and the International Endurance Cup. The Center is approximately 60 minutes from Istanbul International Airport.

 

Kartalkaya Ski Center

 

Easily accessible from both Istanbul and Ankara, the Kartalkaya Ski Center dominates the winter sports scene of northern Turkey’s Western Black Sea Region in the Koroglu Mountains.  The 6,060 to 7,287-foot mountain is popular for alpine skiing, cross-country and ski touring from December through March, with two chairlifts, six T-bars, three baby lifts, and 12 runs offering up to 12 miles of continuous skiing. The Center also features two 3-star hotels that combined can accommodate more than 1,000 guests.

 

Erciyes Ski Center

 

On the Tekir Plateau on the northern slopes of the once-volcanic mountain of Erciyes, the Erciyes Ski Center features year-round glacier skiing at the northern region of the mountain. At 12,848 feet, the highest peak in central Anatolia, Erciyes is also a prime destination for heli-skiiers and serious mountaineers.

 

Ski runs range in altitude from 7,217 to 10,170 feet, with one chairlift and two T-bars. Accommodations include four guesthouses and the 60-room Dedeman Erciyes hotel with several restaurants, bars and a swimming pool. Erciyes is 40 minutes from Kayseri Airport.

 

Palandoken Ski Center

 

Palandoken Ski Center rises above Erzurum, the largest city in eastern Anatolia.  The mountain rises to 10,449 feet and offers some of the longest and steepest ski runs in the world. The slopes can accommodate up to 32,000 people per day on a combination of runs so extensive that it is possible to ski continuously for 17 miles.

 

Facilities include a gondola, five chairlifts, one T-bar and two baby lifts. Equipment rentals and instruction are available. The Center’s four- and five-star hotels, ski lodges and restaurants are easily accessible from the mountain, with the Center providing transportation from the city center throughout its December–May season. A sampling of accommodations includes:

 

Erzurum Palandoken: 224 rooms, three restaurants
Erzurum Palan Hotel: 160 rooms, two restaurants
Dedeman Palankoken: 186 rooms, two restaurants

 

Palandoken Ski Center is accessible by daily flights from Ankara and Istanbul. In April, the resort features the popular Palandoken Ski Cup.

 

Saklikent Ski Center

 

Forty miles from Antalya’s airport, the Saklikent Ski Center is located in the Beydag mountain range. With altitudes between 6,562 and 7,874 feet, the Center is popular with beginners as well as mid-level skiers, many attracted to the region 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.

 

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.

 

Sarikamis

 

Sarikamis, near Kars in eastern Anatolia, has an elevation of 6,600 feet and is noted for its terrific snow conditions and natural beauty. 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, including the 146-room Sim-Er Hotel, which features two restaurants and the 50-room Hotel Karabag, which has one dining establishment.

 

For more information on winter sport resorts in Turkey, please visit Turkish Ski Committee at http://www.turkski.com or the Federation of International Ski at http://www.fis-ski.com.

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Ryan Alford