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Turkey’s highest and coldest city, Erzurum, is so confident of its winter sports potential that already they envision staging the Winter Olympics. The message here is that, overlooked by most, the Palendöken mountain range to the south of Erzurum has some of the finest alpine facilities in the world – minus the crowds. For skiers looking for fresh powder challenges, this is the ultimate experience. Two of the 17 runs here are internationally recognized as slalom and giant slalom caliber. Deep powder snow averaging two to three meters (six to ten feet) coats the mountain peaks from November until May. The groomed pistes range from 2,200 ...

Turkey’s highest and coldest city, Erzurum, is so confident of its winter sports potential that already they envision staging the Winter Olympics. The message here is that, overlooked by most, the Palendöken mountain range to the south of Erzurum has some of the finest alpine facilities in the world – minus the crowds. For skiers looking for fresh powder challenges, this is the ultimate experience. Two of the 17 runs here are internationally recognized as slalom and giant slalom caliber. Deep powder snow averaging two to three meters (six to ten feet) coats the mountain peaks from November until May. The groomed pistes range from 2,200 meters (7,212 ft.) to 3,176 meters (10,400 ft.) altitude and the steepest slopes off the summit of Mt. Ejder arc into an exhilarating downhill run of 12 km (7.4 miles). Fifteen lower, shorter runs can accommodate beginner and intermediate skiers. The two most difficult runs start from the peak of Mt. Ejder. Four off-piste trails offer ultra challenges to professional skiers. This is superb downhill skiing at Turkey’s most successful tourism-sporting project. The region features first class resorts and hotels, some of which border the slopes. Vibrant night life continues après ski. Frequent and efficient public transport covers the 5 km (3 miles) from Erzurum centrum to the ski center. Although remotely located in eastern Anatolia, Erzurum is easily reached by air with daily flights from Ankara or İstanbul. Erzurum itself has a Byzantine castle, an excellent 14th-century seminary and an archaeology museum that are usually bypassed by snow lovers. Although Palendöken is Turkey’s premier ski resort, there are 15 others around the country that offer winter activities. To ease ski cramps or muscle fatigue, head 40 km (25 miles) east of Erzurum to Pasinler Thermal Resort where pulsing mineral waters vaporize aches and pains at a scalding 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Centigrade).

Suzanne Swan
About the Expert

Suzanne Swan is the main author of DK's Eyewitness Travel Guide Turkey. She updated and wrote original material for DK's Eyewitness Travel Guide Istanbul.

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Suzanne Swan for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Erzurum is a city in eastern Turkey and has some of the country's finest winter sports facilities.
  • Language: Turkish
  • Currency: Turkish Lira
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    For skiing, November to May, or early summer, May and June