Turkey is a popular and affordable beach destination for Brits, but many don’t know that there’s good skiing too (it’s just as affordable!).
In fact, more than half of the country is classified as mountainous, and they are also big mountains, the highest Mount Ağrı (Ararat) 5,137m… it’s more than 300m higher than Mont Blanc.
Worldwide ski area monitoring skiResort.info reports that Turkey is now home to more than 40 ski resorts, around half of which were established in the past 20 years alone, with the country’s government being a major proponent of their development.
Package holidays were indeed organized for some of them in the 1980s and 1990s from the UK, with the resort of Uludağ, about three hours south of Istanbul, the destination of choice for a ski and city stay. The country’s main ski area in the last century, it remains a weekend hotspot for well-heeled Turks, but larger and more modern ski areas have sprung up in more remote parts of the country.
These new areas tend to be close to the border with countries like Syria, Iran and Iraq and are popular with Arabs and Russians, but less so with Western Europeans, despite their marketing efforts to correct this.
Palandöken, with 43km of slopes and more than a dozen modern lifts, has grown significantly since the late 1990s above the 6,000-year-old city of Erzurum. In 2011, the city hosted the 25th Winter Universiade, a kind of Winter Olympics for skiers from all over the world, with the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions taking place there.
With now 55 km of slopes served by 14 lifts, Erciyes currently claims the largest ski area in Turkey. With the highest lift in the country reaching 3,346m, it is also one of the easiest to get to, just 30 minutes drive from the local Kayseri airport, and has the highest lift capacity in its network of ski lifts, some 26,000 skiers per hour. .
Elsewhere, Turkey has many smaller and quirky ski centers well worth a visit. Salda, for example, has only five tracks but a breathtaking view of the vast Lake Burdur with its 250 km2 area below, or Merga Bütan in Hakkari, which claims one of the longest seasons in the country, from November to May.
If you are looking for sea and snow, Saklıkent, about 50 km from the resort town of Antalya, is a good choice. There are four tracks here operating from mid-December to early April.
For more resort inspiration, check out our resort guide