Snowboarding in Turkey: where to go and what to know

Turkey has dozens of ski resorts scattered across the country, each with their own unique advantages and spectacular views, making it difficult to choose where to go. In addition, the conditions for skiing and snowboarding do not always match. So, here is a list of the top five snowboarding destinations in Turkey brought to you by qualified experts in the sport whom I recently interviewed.

Kartalkaya in Bolu

Kartalkaya’s snowboard slopes have long been a favorite, perhaps both for the area’s proximity to Istanbul and Ankara as well as its spectacular setting among pine forests in the heart of the Black Sea region. . Kartalkaya has breathtaking views and better quality snow than the country’s most popular resort, Uludağ. It is less crowded but has only 13 pistes (ski slopes) totaling around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of pistes and eight ski lifts. That said, this destination is a favorite of many and while there are certainly more basic accommodation options, the resort is also home to some of the most exclusive hotels with private chalets.

Located just 30 kilometers from the Black Sea town of Bolu and served by Ankara Airport, the ski resort is still a 2.5-hour drive from the capital and a four-hour drive from Istanbul. Many hotels offer transfer services from both cities for their guests, equipment rental and courses for beginners.

The sun shines on Kartalkaya, in Bolu, Turkey. (Photo Shutterstock)

Sarıkamış to Kars

For snowboarding enthusiasts in Turkey, the Sarıkamış ski resort in Kars is a popular destination that seems far away, but it’s actually only a short plane ride followed by a 45-minute drive (60 kilometers) to get there. to return. The setting of Kars is truly spectacular with the slopes lined with golden pine forests and covered in crystal clear powder for which the region is famous. It is the same type of snow found in the Alps, making it the ultimate snowboarding conditions in terms of snow in Turkey. There are nine tracks totaling 25 kilometers of slopes for snowboarding in Sarıkamış. Accommodation and rental fees are more reasonable than at other high-end resorts in Turkey, and activities such as horse-drawn sleigh rides are available on the sidelines.

If you’re really into the adventurous spirit, there’s always the Eastern Express train ride which takes passengers on a spectacular 25-hour, 1,300-kilometer journey from Ankara to Kars, passing through stops at Kırıkkale, Kayseri , Sivas, Erzincan and Erzurum along the way. way.

Snow covers the Kaçkar Mountains, in Rize, Turkey.  (Photo Shutterstock)

Snow covers the Kaçkar Mountains, in Rize, Turkey. (Photo Shutterstock)

Kaçkar Mountains in Rize

I bet you didn’t know that Turkey is among the top 10 destinations in the world for the extreme sport of heliskiing. With heliskiing, a helicopter serves as a kind of cable car for skiers and boarders looking to test remote, untouched terrain. The mountain range itself, which rises 3.9 kilometers above sea level, has more than 150 peaks that stretch 130 kilometers along the Black Sea coast. This offers countless drop-off points for experienced snowboarders or skiers.

Many European athletes travel to Mount Kaçkar during the season, which will last until March, for a spectacular and adrenaline-filled adventure. Certainly much sturdier than its counterparts and only for adventurous souls and more seasoned snowboarders, venues like Ovit Mountain offer an exciting opportunity to take on the sport. As you can see, the region as a whole offers much more than landing on the slopes from the sky.

Mount Erciyes is one of the best spots for snowboarders, in Kayseri, Turkey.  (Photo Shutterstock)

Mount Erciyes is one of the best spots for snowboarders, in Kayseri, Turkey. (Photo Shutterstock)

Mount Erciyes in Kayseri

Not to be overshadowed, Erciyes Mountain in Kayseri actually boasts the longest snowboard runs in the country. With an altitude of 3.9 kilometers, Mount Erciyes is a volcanic mountain always covered in snow. The lava that escaped from this mountain created the fairytale rock formations of nearby Cappadocia, which together with the Taurus Mountains make up the view from the slopes when the sky is clear. The ski resort sits at an altitude of 2.1 kilometers and has 34 runs and 17 lifts. There are a total of 150 kilometers of slopes of different levels as well as unlimited off-piste areas. The region is also ideal for snow-kiting. The snowiest week is the third week of March, making it an opportune time to visit or combine a trip to a ski resort with a visit to Cappadocia, a spectacular destination to discover in winter. Easily accessible with a 40-minute drive from Kayseri International Airport, the region can also be reached by train aboard the Erciyes Express.

People are skiing on Uludağ mountain, in Bursa, Turkey.  (Photo Shutterstock)

People are skiing on Uludağ mountain, in Bursa, Turkey. (Photo Shutterstock)

Uludag to Bursa

By far the most famous and popular ski resort in Turkey is Uludağ and it has been buzzing in winter for at least 40 years. While admittedly not the best destination in Turkey for snowboarding or skiing, its proximity to Istanbul just a three-hour drive or an hour-and-a-half drive from Bursa airport makes it very attractive. It is undoubtedly the biggest ski resort with the most parties and entertainment. Although expensive and congested as well as marked by long lift lines that you have to pay for yourself, a T-bar can take you from District 1 and District 2 as the area has grown so exponentially in recent years that ‘she had to build a second region station. For snowboarders, District 2 (in Turkish 2. Bölge) is where you want to be and it’s home to the latest accommodation options.

Palandöken mountain is a great place for snowboarding, Erzurum, Turkey.  (Photo Shutterstock)

Palandöken mountain is a great place for snowboarding, Erzurum, Turkey. (Photo Shutterstock)

Honorable mention: Palandöken in Erzurum

It would be a shame not to mention the Palandöken in Erzurum, which was developed for the 2011 Winter Universiade and has 22 different slopes, five chair lifts and a gondola. There are the Olympic tracks “Ejder” and “Kapıkaya” in a total of 28 kilometers of tracks, the longest reaching 12 kilometers. This resort is for serious and experienced winter sports enthusiasts and is less for beginners and those looking to combine snowboarding with a bit of fun and adventure. But Palandöken has the best facilities and conditions for winter sports as well as illuminated slopes at night. A great destination for getting in and out quickly, to get to Palandöken you just need to fly to Erzurum Airport and you can arrive at the resort after a 25 minute drive. Palandöken also has the longest ski season in Turkey.

Fun Fact: One could easily argue that Turkey is the birthplace of the sport of snowboarding, as there was a similar winter activity of tying a steering rope to a plank of wood and then running it down a slope. It was recently called Lazboard as the phenomenon has been taking place in the town of Petran in Rize for over 300 years now.

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