Winter beauties in Turkey

Winter beauties in Turkey

Melih Uslu
Winter beauties in Turkey

Istanbul takes on a different beauty when its historic peninsula, Bosphorus strait, museums and restaurants are covered with snow. And using it as a center, you can branch out to Anatolia, the rising star of winter sports.

Istanbul is irresistibly attractive in winter. Capping the Hagia Sophia in white, snow falls over the Galata Tower and on up the Golden Horn finally reaching the Bosphorus. Passing Ortaköy, Rumelihisarı, Kuzguncuk and Kanlıca along the way, its tiny flakes fall as far as Anadolu Kavağı. Ensconcing yourself on the deck of a ferry on a snowy winter morning and venturing to the Bosphorus villages on the Anatolian shore, you will experience the privilege of being in Istanbul.

Centuries-old trees and old wooden houses with cantilevered balconies surround the quiet ferry landings. Head for the Historic Peninsula to experience the city’s history. After you tour the Egyptian Bazaar, warehouse of colors with its unique odors and hues, Gülhane Park and the Archaeology Museum await you, offering landscapes non-pareil in the snow. From here the route continues to the Hagia Sophia. An integral part of the Istanbul skyline with its six minarets, Sultanahmet Mosque enchants visitors in the snow. Topkapı Palace meanwhile skillfully preserves the six-century Ottoman heritage. With its authentic shops packed into labyrinthine lanes, the Grand Bazaar is like a whole other world within the city. Surrounded by colorful lampmakers, the tranquil courtyard of Çorlulu Ali Pasha Madrasa is ideal for a Turkish coffee break.


Istanbul is irresistibly attractive in winter. With close to a hundred museums and a rich cultural life, Istanbul has an event for everybody, even in winter. Besides city classics like Pera Museum and Istanbul Modern, upwards of fifty art galleries line the route from Taksim to Dolmabahçe Palace. As night slowly falls, the time comes to explore Beyoğlu. Gliding along Istiklal Caddesi with its endless bookshops, movie theaters and shopping centers, the nostalgic red streetcar makes a fabulous snapshot in the snow. Another winter surprise is its own special flavors. The unique flavor of boza, a cup of sahlep to warm your insides, tea and a piping hot simit, the aroma of roasting chestnuts that permeates the streets, and a host of other smells will accompany you on your way, ensuring that you savor the pleasure of winter in Istanbul.


Let us venture now from Istanbul’s quiet beauty into the exciting world of winter sports… Following its recent winter sports initiative, Turkey has become one of the world’s leading destinations in this area. There are numerous ski centers ready to welcome you with the hospitality characteristic of Turkish culture. With half a century of experience, Uludağ in Bursa province is the pioneer of winter tourism in Turkey. From suites with fireplaces to restaurants serving world cuisine, every detail seems tailored to guarantee a stunning winter holiday at Uludağ, which lies like a blazing mountain town in a sea of snow. Meanwhile Kartepe, one of Anatolia’s new winter sports centers, is the ski resort nearest to Istanbul. On a peak rising on the shores of Lake Sapanca, this center has pistes for skiers at every level. Combining comfort with nature’s flawless beauty, Kartalkaya has become a favorite winter sports center of late. At 45 kilometers from Bolu city center, Kartalkaya Ski Center appeals for its proximity to both Istanbul and Ankara. Holding the snow record for the season, the center is expected to have a cover of a meter and a half in February. With six big hotels, this center is ideal for everything from skiing and snowboarding to tobogganing and motor safaris. The long-lasting snow cover is a big advantage at this center, whose forested slopes protect it from winter’s harsh winds. With its world-standard ski facilities, five-star spa hotels, high quality snow and a wide choice of pistes, the choices are rife in Turkey, the rising star of winter tourism.


One of them is Erzurum’s Palandöken, which is being transformed step by step into an Olympic city. The twin-towered ski jump platform in this city which successfully hosted the 2011 UNIVERSIAD Winter Games has no match in Turkey. Here too is Turkey’s longest piste with more than ten uninterrupted kilometers. Following a 450 million Euro investment, Erciyes at Kayseri is also becoming a dazzling center of winter sports. Twenty-seven kilometers from Kayseri Airport, Erciyes (pronounced Air-jee-ess) Ski Center boasts 13 runs from easy to moderately difficult. Four hotels operate at the center, which offers winter sports enthusiasts a chance to ski in view of the Cappadocia Valley’s unique contours. The Erciyes hotels offer discounts of up to 40% on weekday stays during semester break. There are runs of varying degrees of difficulty at this center, which opened in December with one meter of snow. And professional instructors are on hand to meet all needs from equipment to lessons. And Antalya’s Saklıkent, the so-called ‘snow coast’, is one of the ski centers closest to the sea in the whole world. Not to mention Kars Sarıkamış, which offers skiing through forest, Isparta Davraz, which is ramping up its mechanical handling capacity, and others… All await you to share their beauty. So come on, we’re off to the mountains!

In its 23rd year, Turkey’s biggest winter festival, Bilyoner WinterFest 2019 will take place at Uludağ Ski Center. The festival will last for an entire month, between January 30 and February 14. Close to 10,000 university students are expected to take part in the festival, which will also feature top entertainment with concerts by Ezhel, The Avener, Synapson, Deeperise, Bhaskar, Ozan Doğulu and much more... Don’t miss the most famous winter festival in Turkey.

Winter beauties in Turkey

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