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Snowboarding in Turkey: Where to go and what to know

Written by Visit Frontiers
Snowboarding in Turkey: Where to go and what to know

Leyla Yvonne Ergil

ISTANBUL: Turkey is actually an amazing destination for winter sports, including snowboarding, which is fast on the rise.

Turkey has dozens of ski resorts scattered around the country, each with its own unique advantages and spectacular vistas, making it hard to choose which one to go to. Furthermore, the conditions for skiing and snowboarding do not always match. Thus, here is a list of the top five snowboarding destinations in Turkey presented to you by skilled experts in the sport I recently interviewed.

Kartalkaya in Bolu

The snowboarding runs in Kartalkaya have long been a favorite spot, perhaps both for the region’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 of Uludağ. It is less crowded but only has 13 pistes (ski trails) totaling around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of slopes and eight ski lifts. That said, this destination is a favorite one for many and, while there are definitely more basic accommodation options available, the resort also houses some of the most exclusive hotels with private chalets.

Located just 30 kilometers from the Black Sea town of Bolu and serviced by Ankara airport, the skiing resort is still a 2 1/2-hour drive away from the capital and a four-hour drive from Istanbul. Many hotels offer transfer services from both cities for their customers, rental gear and lessons for beginners.

Sun shines upon Kartalkaya, in Bolu, Turkey. (Shutterstock Photo)
Sun shines upon Kartalkaya, in Bolu, Turkey. (Shutterstock Photo)

Sarıkamış in Kars

For snowboarding enthusiasts in Turkey, the Sarıkamış ski resort in Kars is a beloved destination that feels far away but it actually just takes a short plane ride followed by a 45-minute drive (60 kilometers) to get there. The setting in Kars is truly spectacular with the pistes lined with golden pine forests and covered with crystal powdered snow the region is famed for. This is the same type of snow present in the Alps, making these the ultimate snowboarding conditions snow-wise in Turkey. There are nine pistes totaling 25 kilometers of runs to snowboard in Sarıkamış. Accommodation and rental fees are more reasonable than Turkey’s other high-end resorts and there are activities such as horse-drawn sleigh rides available on the sidelines.

If you are truly in the adventurous spirit, there is always the Eastern Express train ride that takes passengers on a spectacular 25-hour, 1,300 kilometer trip from Ankara to Kars, passing the stops of Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan and Erzurum along the way.

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

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 heli-skiing. With heli-skiing, a helicopter serves as a cable car of sorts for skiers and snowboarders seeking to test out remote and untouched terrain. The mountain range itself, which stands at an elevation of 3.9 kilometers, has over 150 summits that stretch for 130 kilometers along the coast of the Black Sea. This offers countless drop-off points for skilled snowboarders or skiers.

Many athletes from Europe come out to Mount Kaçkar in the season, which will last through March, for a spectacularly stunning and adrenaline-pumping adventure. Admittedly much more rugged than its counterparts and solely for the adventurous souls and the more seasoned snowboarders, sites like Ovit Mountain provide an exciting opportunity to practice the sport. As you see, the region overall offers way more than landing on the slopes from the sky.

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

Mount Erciyes in Kayseri

Not to be outshone, Erciyes Mountain in Kayseri actually has the longest snowboarding runs in the country. With an elevation of 3.9 kilometers, Mount Erciyes is a volcanic mountain that is always covered in snow. The lava that spewed from this mountain created the fairy-chimney rock formations in neighboring Cappadocia, which, along with the Taurus Mountains, makes up the vista from the slopes when the sky is clear. The ski resort area stands at a 2.1-kilometer elevation and has 34 trails and 17 lifts. There is a total of 150 kilometers of various levels of slopes as well as unlimited off-piste areas. The area is also ideal for snow-kiting. The snowiest week is the third week in March, making for an opportune time to pay a visit or combine a ski resort trip with a visit to Cappadocia, a spectacular destination to experience in winter. Easily accessible by a 40-minute drive from Kayseri International Airport, the region can also be reached by train aboard the Erciyes Express.

People skii on the Uludağ Mountain, in Bursa, Turkey. (Shutterstock Photo)
People skii on the Uludağ Mountain, in Bursa, Turkey. (Shutterstock Photo)

Uludağ in Bursa

Hands down, Turkey’s most famous and popular ski resort is Uludağ and it has been buzzing in the winter for at least 40 years. While it is admittedly not the best destination in Turkey for snowboarding or skiing, its proximity to Istanbul at just a three-hour drive or a 1 1/2-hour drive from Bursa Airport makes it highly appealing. It is undoubtedly the biggest ski resort with the most parties and entertainment. While pricey and crowded 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 region has grown so exponentially in recent years they had to build a second resort area. For snowboarders, District 2 (in Turkish 2. Bölge) is where you want to be and it houses the newest accommodation options.

Palandöken Mountain is a great spot for snowboarding, in Erzurum, Turkey. (Shutterstock Photo)
Palandöken Mountain is a great spot for snowboarding, in Erzurum, Turkey. (Shutterstock Photo)

Honorable mention: Palandöken in Erzurum

It would be amiss not to mention Erzurum’s Palandöken, which was developed for the 2011 Winter Universiade and has 22 different pistes, five chairlifts and a gondola lift. There are the Olympic-sized “Ejder” and “Kapıkaya” runs among a total of 28 kilometers of pistes, the longest one reaching 12 kilometers. This resort is for the serious and skilled winter sports enthusiast and is less geared toward newbies and those seeking to combine snowboarding with a little fun and adventure. But Palandöken does have the best facilities and conditions for winter sports as well as pistes that are illuminated at night. A great destination to get in and out of fast, to get to Palandöken you simply fly into Erzurum Airport and you can arrive at the resort after a 25-minute drive. Palandöken also has the longest skiing season in Turkey.

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

Courtesy: Dailysabah

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