Visitors to Turkey in the winter will be in for a fantastic treat. Most tourists visit Turkey in the summer, but those who come in the winter will be pleasantly surprised.
When winter arrives, the central and eastern parts of Turkey, as well as the interior regions, are blanketed with snow. For instance, two areas have risen to prominence as tourist hotspots thanks to the appeal of their wintery landscapes.
Cappadocia, in the very center, and Kars, in the far northeast, attract visitors from all over the country who come to photograph the snowy landscapes there.
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Visit Kars and the Ancient Ani
Many travelers use Kars as their base camp from which to explore the rest of Turkey during the winter. This city in the extreme northeast of Turkey has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years, especially during the winter season.
Its rising popularity can be attributed in great part to the fact that it is the most convenient base from which to explore Lake Alder and the other popular attractions of the Northeast.
Ani is the most visited destination in the area since it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is interesting to explore any time of the year but appears especially beautiful when its structures are blanketed in snow.
Historically a major commerce route town, Ani became the capital of the Armenian kingdom in the 10th century and is situated on a high plateau on the border between Turkey and Armenia.
In 1045, the Byzantines regained control of this economic center from the Seljuks, Georgians, and Kurds; in 1236, the Mongols invaded and took full control. It’s been over two centuries since this war ended.
The city began to fall after a devastating earthquake in 1319, and it was only sealed by a shift in trade routes later in the century, leading to its abandonment.
Ani’s once-grand churches and other landmarks lie in ruins all over the plateau. Ruins from the Seljuk period can be seen, but much of the city as it appears today dates back to the time when it was the capital of the Armenian Kingdom and experiencing its greatest prosperity.
Kars, the city itself, is home to a castle, a few historic mosques, and some outstanding 19th-century architecture that dates back to when the area was under Russian rule.
During the winter, you can enjoy the city’s signature dish, roast goose, which has gained widespread acclaim over the years.
Visit Istanbul in Winter to Avoid the Crowds
Istanbul is a great destination for a city break any time of year, but there are several highlights that are only available during the winter.
You may be able to get a great deal on a hotel room if you travel between November and March when prices drop dramatically. Check out these top honeymoon places in Turkey.
Also, the number of visitors is much lower in the winter, so you may see the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia without the hassle of the crowds and long lines that are the norm in the summer.
The large mosques in Istanbul’s historic old town district, in Sultanahmet and around the Majestic Bazaar, seem especially beautiful when their magnificent domes are dusted with snow, making this a popular time of year for photographers. Here, you’ll also find the Grand Bazaar.
The city’s thriving street food culture, especially during the colder months, is a bonus for foodies.
Sahlap, a hot milky drink made from orchid tubers, and roasted chestnuts are now available from street vendors all throughout Istanbul, making them the perfect snacks for a chilly afternoon spent exploring the city’s many tourist attractions.
Check out Lake Abant
Located 39 kilometers south of Bolu, Lake Abant is a freshwater lake in northwest Turkey. Learn more about the visa requirements and application process to visit Turkey here.
A thick pine forest surrounds it on all sides. Located in a national park at an elevation of around 1,200 meters, the lake has a surface area of slightly more than 1.2 square kilometers.
People wishing for some time in the great outdoors can go there any time of the year because there are trails for walking, biking, and even horseback riding that go all the way around the lake.
On the other side, photographers flock here throughout the winter to shoot images of the picturesque winter landscapes while strolling around the lake.
During the dead of winter, the lake freezes over and the pine needles take on a white frosty aspect, transforming the environment into a stunning snowy vista.
Since it is almost halfway between Istanbul and Ankara, it is one of the most accessible locations in Turkey to visit in quest of winter scenery.
Plan a Winter Trip to the Coast of Ruins
The peak tourist season in Turkey is July and August, but if you want to visit the country’s most famous archaeological sites without crowds, you should go in the winter.
There are still plenty of days with brilliant blue sky in the heart of winter on Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean shores. It goes without saying that you should pack warm clothes.
Even while snow isn’t likely to be an issue due to the coast’s warm winters, you should still pack an umbrella just in case.
Many coastal resort towns, especially those catering to sun-and-sand tourists, close up shop for the winter.
On the other hand, there are always enough places to stay in major cities like Fethiye and Antalya, and in locations where archaeological sites are the main draw like Selcuk.
Hotel rooms are typically much cheaper from November through March, saving you even more money on your winter getaway.
Sarkamos Ski Resort
Sarkamas is not as well-known as some of Turkey’s other ski resorts, but it is nonetheless a hidden gem for those who enjoy the winter season.
The area of Sarkamas, 55 kilometers to the southwest of Kars, is renowned for its excellent powder snow. Skiers who come here often say the snow is the nicest in all of Turkey.
Another reason it’s so popular in the winter is that it has a very lengthy ski season, often starting in early December and going all the way through April.
There are a total of three interconnected lifts and four miles of skiable terrain, all of which are surrounded by a thick pine forest.
The resort area has five hotels and comprehensive ski and snowboard rental facilities, and the terrain is appropriate for beginners all the way up to advanced snowboarders and skiers.