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Turkey Winter Destinations: Eastern Anatolia

Eastern Anatolia, the cradle of Turkish culture, is the largest region covering 21 percent of Turkey. This region is relatively colder than the other parts of the country, making it one of the best Turkey winter destinations. Unlike Istanbul or the other metropolitan cities, this region includes more relaxing places with fewer people. If you are looking for not so popular but cozy holiday and affordable spots away from the noisy metropolitan Turkish cities, then you’re in for a treat. Here are the best cities and activities available for winter tourism in the Eastern Anatolia region.

1- Kars

Kars is an old city located in the east of Turkey famous for its extremely cold weather during winters. Although there are many activities in Kars, it has a particularly famous railway line, called Doğu Ekspresi (East Express). If you choose Kars as a destination and want to travel there through the East Express, then Istanbul would be a wonderful way to reach there. Doğu Ekspresi gained popularity during the past few years, and this is why, tickets are almost impossible to find. The journey takes 24 hours, so it is mostly considered as a get-away itself. If you depart from Istanbul, you will reach the rural part by morning, therefore you will witness the mesmerizing views of mountains, trees, and lakes covered with snow during the day.

Once you reach Kars, Ani Ruins, Çıldır Lake and Sarıkamış might be interesting places to explore. Çıldır Lake is the natural wonder of Kars. It is usually frozen during winters, thus one of the most popular activities is ice fishing. Sarıkamış has one of the biggest ski centers in the area and is a popular destination for winter sports fans.

2- Erzurum

Erzurum is the second-largest city in the Eastern Anatolia region. The province is famous for its local food “cağ kebabı”, and extremely cold weather. Although it is extremely far from the main cities like Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir, Erzincan is one of the most popular Turkey winter destinations.

Erzurum’s Palandöken Ski Center is available for alpine skiing and snowboarding. Erzurum is also one of the stops of Doğu Ekspresi (East Express). You may hop off in Erzurum if you want to explore the city by trying out its famous foods and desserts or visiting its tourist areas and landmarks like Çifte Minareli Medrese, Üç Kümbetler.

3- Erzincan

Erzincan is a beautiful small city surrounded by mountains. The city is fascinating with its cultural and historical places as well as natural beauties. Erzincan has two ski centers, Bolkar and Ergan Ski Center, making it a perfect choice for winter tourism.

Erzincan’s ski centers are usually preferred by the local people, but it also welcomes tourists around the world. The best time to visit these centers is between December and April. If you want to explore other natural wonders of Erzincan, you can visit Ekşisu Thermal Springs to enjoy hot waters in cold weather. Karanlık Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the world, is another option available for extreme sports like rafting, base jumping, and canoeing.

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