For most holidayers Turkey is a summer destination promising long hot sunny days relaxing by the cerulean coloured Sea, cold beers on balmy nights and getting a tan so dark you’re reminded of your vacation for weeks after returning home.
But Turkey has more to offer than sunburn, beach parties and booze cruises. Here’s 10 reasons why Turkey should be your next winter holiday destination of choice.
1. You’ll have all the major attractions to yourself
The ancient city of Pergamon, Ephesus, Pamukkale, the seemingly endless list of incredibly unique and stunning UNESCO world heritage sites are just a few of the main draws for tourists to Turkey. Huge crowds swarm to these sites in the summer time making a visit crowded, frustrating and near impossible to get a photo without someone’s selfie stick getting in the way. In the winter? Tourist numbers are so low you’ll have most of the major attractions to yourself so you can sit back and soak in the history in solitude.
2. Prices plummet
Tourists have the upper hand in winter with tour companies and accommodations dropping their rates considerably and operators are open to haggling prices. Want a Hot Air Balloon ride over Cappadocia? In the summer time, prices are fixed. In the winter, you can negotiate a rate at a quarter of the peak season cost.
3. You can get in a ton of winter sports
Turkey is home to 10 ski resorts offering a diverse range of terrain, with Uludag accessible as a day trip or weekend getaway from Istanbul. With powdery conditions all winter long and lift tickets and equipment hire a tiny fraction of those charged elsewhere in Europe, it’s a snow sport enthusiasts dream.
4. You can hike without heat stroke
The Lycian Way Trek is a stunning hike along Turkeys turquoise coast that passes through quaint villages nestled deep in the valleys of a dramatic mountainous backdrop. One of the top 10 treks in the world it’s steeped in history and offers spectacular scenery. With unbearably hot temperatures in the summer the trek becomes a sweaty, arduous hike under a relentless sun. In the winter, temperatures are low and the sky is clear making for a much more enjoyable day outside.
5. You can travel on a whim
Transportation and accommodation in peak season fills fast so having a scheduled itinerary with accommodation booked in advance is necessary to avoid disappointment. In the winter, you can decide in the morning to head to another city that afternoon and book your hotel on the bus ride there.
6. The snow adds a picturesque touch
There’s no argument that Turkey is beautiful no matter the season. But with a dusting of snow over its most famous monuments and landscapes, suddenly things appear even more enchanting.
7. You can attend the Rumi Festival in Konya
Every December on the anniversary of Rumi’s death, thousands of the poet’s followers and admirers descend on Konya, the Central Anatolian city where Rumi spent most of his life and is now buried. The festival celebrates his teachings with a dazzling whirling dervish ceremony. A dizzying dance performed by religious men as an act of love and dedication of faith towards the Sufi arm of Islam. Using traditional instruments the music is haunting and beautiful, it’s hard not to be moved by the devout dance.
8. You’ll meet more locals
As one of the few tourists traipsing around Turkey in the cold, you’ll be approached by naturally curious and incredibly hospitable locals. Keen to make you feel welcome or to practice a little English you’ll be invited in for tea, stopped for a quick chat on the street, or even insist you come in for dinner!
9. It’s romantic
Is there anything more romantic than being curled up by a fire place, munching on fresh hot roasted chestnuts from a street vendor, sipping on mulled wine and watching snow drift slowly and mesmerizingly past your window?
10. Ward off the cold in a Turkish Bath
Cold weather is the perfect excuse for a day of pampering at a Turkish Bath. Soak, steam and scrub away the chills in one of the many authentic, historic and architecturally stunning Hammams across the country.
So what are you waiting for? Put away your bikini and pack your beanie for an unforgettable winter escape to Turkey.