Winter Holiday ideas: Where to go in winter in Türkiye

Winter is one of the best times of the year to travel in Türkiye, especially if you are a ski-lover or history enthusiast. Visiting ancient sites and towns and skiing in the near dozen different spots the country has to offer are ways to have something to look forward to in making this winter fun.

The hottest activity in winter is skiing.

One of the most popular winter holidays amongst Turks is to go skiing, and there are many options for doing so. While Uludağ is the country’s largest and most established skiing destination with multiple resorts and pistes, Palandöken in Erzurum would truly satisfy any pro.

Built for the Winter Olimpiade and boasting double-digit runways, this is the country’s most elite skiing spot. Then there is Kartalkaya, which offers a picturesque opportunity for more laid-back skiing and the opportunity to discover the surrounding Black Sea region of Bolu.

While Uludağ and Kartalkaya are a few hours’ driving distance from Istanbul, Palandöken warrants a short airplane flight.

Fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

Mesmerizing in winter, Cappadocia is always a mystical adventure at any time of the year, but witnessing the region’s characteristic fairy trees covered in snow is a vista well worth experiencing.

The same can be said for experiencing a hot-air balloon ride at this time of year, which admittedly can occasionally be made impossible in really tough weather, but most of the time, they do set flight.

Staying in a cave hotel and horseback riding are other adventures that can enhance a trip that is already made spectacular simply by experiencing the open-air Museum of Göreme, which involves discovering the tunnels and underground cities carved into the signature rock formations of the region.

Elixir of youth: Thermal baths

One of the most relaxing and rejuvenating experiences that can be had in winter in Türkiye is to visit one of the country’s thermal bath centers and enjoy soaking in sulfur and mineral-rich baths.

Several destinations in Türkiye feature hotels with thermal baths where you can stay and soak in healing waters while venturing out to discover the surrounding regions. Yalova, Bursa, Denizli, Afyon, Bolu, Manisa and even Ankara with its Haymana thermal springs.

East Express to Kars

The northeastern point of Kars is a spectacular place to visit in winter for its picturesque snow-enriched setting, cheese and historical sites.

Luckily, the Eastern Express train ride can get you there in 24 hours of travel, that takes passengers through breathtaking vistas as it passes through cities such as Erzincan and Erzurum. Kars’ Sarıkamış is also a wonderful place to indulge in some skiing and is one of the spots with the best snow in the country.

Hot time in Antalya

In summer, the city of Antalya is sweltering and crowded and can thus fall off the radar for some who can take the excessive heat. This makes it the hottest place to be in winter, thus the perfect time to visit this lively city on the Mediterranean that boasts an old town and an impressive archeological museum.

The surrounding spots, such as Manavgat, is great to escape into nature or combine a trip with a visit to Demre, which is where Santa Clause lived and died and where there is a church in his honor.

From there, visit the ancient rock carvings in Myra, which is one of the stops on the Lycian Way, and can also be comfortably hiked at this time of year.

Cute Şirince, epic Ephesus

The immensely picturesque hilltop and the forested village of Sirince, with its signature architecture, cobblestone streets and upscale boutique hotels, make for a spectacular base from which to discover the neighboring historical town of Selcuk, which at just seven kilometers’ distance harbors the ancient city of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary.

At the top of any bucket list for Türkiye, these spots in Izmir are best visited when the weather is cooler. The village of Sirince also has the Tiyatro Medresesi, a theater school and the Aziz Nesin Mathematics village, and in Selcuk, there is also a train museum.

Ski, thermal springs in Sapanca

Just an hour and 30 minute drive from Istanbul will transport a world away to the serene town of Sapanca, which is a stunning slice of nature surrounding Sapanca Lake.

From skiing in Kartepe, visiting the thermal baths, or even riding a cable car, this relaxing spot serves as a base for several fun-packed adventures. There are wonderful forested cabin-style accommodations from which to enjoy the lake and comfortable setting of this picturesque town.

Gallipoli battlegrounds, Çanakkale

Immerse yourself in history by visiting the battlegrounds of Gallipoli, which lie off the peninsula of the Dardanelles Strait. With the bustling university town of Çanakkale as your base, it is easy to take the car ferry straight to Gallipoli and then visit the iconic battlegrounds where victory in the Dardanelles Campaign led to the formation of the Republic.

A second significant site to visit for history lovers is Troy, which is just a half-an-hour drive from Çanakkale. Head south another half an hour, and you end up in Assos, where the ancient town Aristotle once taught in still stands to be wandered through in awe.

Then visit the town of Behramkale and the towering Apollon Temple, with its columns in the sky breaking up the breathtaking view.

Tour to Göbeklitepe

One of the oldest civilizations on the planet was uncovered in Göbeklitepe, a fascinating archeological site in Şanliurfa. Several tour companies offer guided tours starting in Gaziantep that also visit Mardin, making for quite an exciting winter adventure.

These tours combine accommodation with bus travel and tours of the region led by a professional guide. Company’s such as Jolly Tur and Fez offer these types of all-inclusive tours throughout the winter.

Spirit of Konya

December is the best time of the year to visit Konya, as the city comes alive with the Mevlana Festival, which is nearly a fortnight of festivities in honor of the Islamic scholar and poet Mevlana, known as Rumi.

From Whirling Dervish ceremonies to visiting the Mevlana Museum and attending exhibitions, lectures and walks, there are a lot of activities held in honor of Rumi at this time in commemoration of the anniversary of his death on Dec. 17.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like