Turkey attracts millions of tourists during the summer season with its beaches and sunny weather although the country is now rising through the ranks as a major destination for holidaymakers in winter thanks to its ski resorts, which have yet to be fully discovered.
From east to west, there are 18 ski centres in Turkey. The only thing tourists - both domestic and foreign - have to decide is which ski centre best suits them and their needs. Here we take a closer look at the hidden gems of Turkey's alpine regions.
Turkey's most popular winter sports centre is located on a mountain called Uludağ in Bursa. Uludağ's ski centre is at an elevation of between 1,750m and 2,543m. The most suitable period for skiing is between December and March. In total there are 27 accommodation facilities with a 3,000-bed capacity. The area is 36kms from the city centre and 150kms from Istanbul. The average snow depth in Uludağ is 1.5m during peak season.
The ski season in Ilgaz, located in Kastamonu province in north-western Turkey, begins in December and ends in April. Pistes are at an elevation of 1,800m-2,000m. There is a double-seat chairlift facility and a T-bar facility at the resort. The average snow depth during the ski season is between 50cms and 200cms. The area is surrounded by pine trees and there is a bed capacity of 500 at Ilgaz's hotels. The average length of the pistes is 2,000m and one of them has floodlights, so skiers can ski whenever they want.
The ski season in Davraz, located in Isparta province in southern Turkey, is from December to April. Pistes are located at an elevation of 2,637 meters. The snow depth is between 50cms and 200cms, with 12 pistes in the area. There is a ski house and three hotels with a bed capacity of 450 in total. Here, you can complete the North Discipline, Alpine Discipline, Ski Touring, Snowboarding and Telemark courses at the Davraz Ski Center's trails, which are up to 4kms in length. Davraz is 26kms from the city centre, 154kms from Antalya and 58kms from Süleyman Demirel Airport.
Erciyes is one of the ski centres in Turkey that attracts the highest number of the tourists. The resort is located in the central province of Kayseri and sits at an elevation of 2,000m, from where it is possible to see the scenery of the Cappadocia Valley. As well as luxury hotels, there are also mid-range hotels in Erciyes. There are eight pistes in Erciyes with a total length of 60kms. The resort is 25kms from Kayseri city center.
The resort in Palandöken is at an elevation of 2,200-3,176m and is located in the eastern province of Erzurum. The area is covered with snow for almost six months of the year. There are four and five-star accommodation facilities, a ski house and restaurants in the area. The trails of the Palandöken Ski Centre are among the longest and the steepest ski trails in the world. The longest track is 12kms in length, while the total length of the tracks combined is approximately 28kms. Palandöken hosted the Winter Universiade in 2011, which is the world's biggest international winter sporting event after the Winter Olympics. A record 52 countries attended the 24th edition of the event.
Kartalkaya Ski Center, which was established in the Köroğlu Mountains in northwestern Turkey, is one of the most important spots for winter tourism in Turkey. The area is close to both to Istanbul and Ankara. The total length of the 13 trails is 35kms, while the snow reaches depths of up to 1.5m in January and February.
This is a place where many Istanbul residents go to for a short weekend vacation because it is the closest ski centre to the city. There are trails for skiers of every level and equipment rental is possible, with more reasonable prices to be found in the city centre.
Sarıkamış is located 55kms from Kars province in eastern Turkey. The area is suitable for skiing for four months of the year, with snow depths of around 1.5m. There are mid-range hotels at reasonable prices as well as five-star hotels in the area. It is possible to receive ski lessons and rent equipment in Sarıkamış.