Türkiye is one of those countries blessed with four clearly distinct seasons, each bringing bountiful opportunities for a variety of adventures, including different sporting activities. Let’s take a closer look at the plethora of seasonal adventures that await.
As a land of great contrasts and vivid colors – from turquoise waters and stretches of golden sand to verdant forests and valleys in the shadows of majestic mountains – Türkiye offers premium conditions for outdoor enthusiasts of every possible interest and fitness level. The varied landscape of the country also allows the co-existence of several microclimates, enabling visitors to enjoy a rich variety of sports at any given time. In Türkiye, you will have more opportunities for outdoor escapes for you and your family than you could imagine, even allowing you to couple watersports with ski adventures within the same day!
Autumn: Immense in Nature and History
If you are a trekking enthusiast in search of serene environments and picturesque landscapes, all within a thrilling setting of ancient civilizations and genuine local culture, then a walking adventure through Türkiye may be your cup of tea. As the country’s first long-distance hiking route, the Lycian Way is already a classic that extends from Fethiye to Antalya for about 540 kilometers, offering a moderate to difficult walk and combining old shepherd’s paths, mule trails and caravan routes that require an average fitness level. Those who’d rather experience how Türkiye’s hinterland looked like in Biblical times can indulge in the wonderful St. Paul Trail. This 500-km way-marked footpath spans from the ancient city of Perge in Antalya to the small town of Yalvaç near Lake Eğirdir and partly follows the old Roman roads and byways used by St. Paul during his first missionary journey to Asia Minor around 47-48 AD. Traversing Yazılı Canyon Nature Park as well as some breathtaking ancient cities like Adada and Selge in the Taurus Mountains, the trail allows hikers authentic homestays in picturesque mountain villages along the way.
Golfing in Belek is yet another way of enjoying the season along the Turkish Riviera. A mere 35-minutes from the International Antalya Airport, the amazing collection of destination-worthy signature golf courses adjacent to sprawling 5-star resorts here makes it very easy for this sport’s enthusiasts to combine their rounds of golf with plenty of watersports, and family-friendly activities.
More Sporty Autumn Getaways:
One of the best places to observe the country’s seasonal color shift is Yedigöller (Seven Lakes) National Park, where you could trek along mild trails from one lake to another, staying in wooden huts in the forest or setting up your own camping ground. Autumn is also the peak of the sailing season in the TurkAegean, during which several local yacht clubs organize races and regattas around the bays and islands of Bodrum, Marmaris and Göcek.
Winter: Go With the Snow
With two-thirds of the country’s terrain covered with mountains, one can easily experience the magic of winter in several ski resorts around Türkiye. Mount Uludağ (2.543 m) is the oldest and among the most popular winter playgrounds with its good selection of pistes for novices and experts, vibrant apres-ski life, and proximity to İstanbul. It provides a good selection of pistes for novices and a few daring runs for advanced skiers, as well as ice skating rinks and enjoyable snowmobiling trails in the pine woods.
As you go east, the mountains of Türkiye soar to even greater heights, bestowing ski enthusiasts with two majestic pinnacles: Erciyes (3.917 m) and Palandöken (3.346 m). The Erciyes Ski Centre attracts copious visitors with its well-connected treeless ski runs, a frozen lake where you can perform snowkiting and its great selection of high-quality ski-in and ski-out hotels. Its proximity to Cappadocia also gives visitors the chance to combine their winter escapes with a visit to this epic UNESCO-protected region. The Palandöken Ski Centre is a favorite of more advanced skiers in Türkiye, owing its developed infrastructure to the 2011 Winter Universiade which was held here. Two of the longest runs of Türkiye that are suitable for Olympic slalom skiing are here: Ejder and Kapıkaya. The ski center also attracts ski mountaineering and ice climbing enthusiasts with its adjacent rugged peaks and an artificial ice wall resembling a frozen waterfall.
Those who are chasing off-piste adventures on untouched powder usually head even further northeast, towards Kaçkar Mountains (3.937 m) in Rize. The sky is the limit for free-riding snowboarders looking to play around the high plateaus of Ovit and Handüzü every season. Additionally, the amazing massif also attracts heliskiing enthusiasts from Europe, with its peaks rising above abundant and far-reaching rivers and forests.
More Sporty Winter Getaways:
Being one of Türkiye’s easternmost cities, Kars is a true winter wonderland to enjoy deep fresh powder along the natural ski runs cutting through yellow pine forests at Sarıkamış Ski Centre (2,700 m), or to skate on the frozen expanse of Çıldır Lake. If you choose to go further down to the south, Antalya along the Turkish Riviera boasts the small but attractive Saklıkent Ski Centre, where you could relax your muscles by swimming in the Mediterranean starting from February.
Spring: Pedal Along Green Trails
March officially marks the start of spring in Türkiye, and there is no better way to enjoy this delightful season than by exploring nature on two wheels. The Princes’ Islands in İstanbul are where the endemic golden mimosa trees start to flower from mid-February. That’s when one can enjoy the traffic-free streets of Büyükada or Heybeliada (the two most popular of the islands) on an e-bike peacefully. Another special spot for cyclists to feel the arrival of spring in Istanbul is the shores of the Bosphorus where the hills are painted in purple by judas trees in full bloom in April.
To escape the mega-city to the closest wilderness, one can hop on an endurance road bike and head northwest towards the Istranca Mountains in Kırklareli, offering the rare natural beauty of floodplain forests facing the Black Sea. Alternatively, at the junction point of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, some of the most secluded natural beaches and bays of Türkiye meet forested mountains soaring directly from the sea. This is an enchanting land where one can enjoy a memorable cycling adventure along the Eco Trails, a 740-km network of cycling routes consisting of five trails in Köyceğiz, four in Ortaca and five more in Dalaman, all interconnected and waymarked with informative red signage. The ancient city of Kaunos, with its stunning rock tombs, the sığla (sweetgum) forest, and the nearby Toparlar Waterfall, are among the highlights of this network of cycling trails.
More Sporty Spring Getaways:
For more cycling adventures, one could head to Cappadocia, Fethiye, Dalaman and Kemer for exploring the best MTB and downhill enduro trails of the country. Spring is the time when the snowcapped mountains start feeding the rivers, resulting in the best rafting conditions in the TurkAegean. Starting in April and May, one could enjoy the rapids along the rivers of Dalaman and Köprülü Çay. Rock climbing enthusiasts, on the other hand, head to the Geyikbayırı in Antalya around the same time to explore hundreds of routes marked on the limestone walls jutting out from the ground of a high mountain.
Summer: A surfing & Diving Paradise
The TurkAegean coast is a treasure trove of unique summer experiences and is also home to two of Türkiye’s surfing capitals: Alaçatı and Akyaka. Çeşme peninsula, near İzmir, not only hosts some of the coolest beach clubs and sunset dance parties, but also the historic town of Alaçatı, which was rediscovered by surf enthusiasts in the 1990s. The consistent currents of shallow waters nearby make this town a dream for novices, who can test their abilities in a safe environment. These windswept shores are also ideal for pros and host national and international championships regularly. Alaçatı is also a go-to destination for weekenders from big cities with its picturesque side streets full of wine-clad houses, boutique hotels, buzzing bars and pretty courtyard restaurants serving Turkish country-style essentials. Urla Wine Route and the ancient city of Ephesus are also in the vicinity for those who would like to combine a surfing weekend with some cultural finds.
Akyaka near the city of Muğla, on the other hand, is the TurkAegean’s enclave for the kite-surfing community. The steady afternoon winds of Gökova Bay place this locale among the world’s best kite-surfing destinations. In addition to its beach, the area is also famous for its ice-cold rivers that are fed by the high mountain springs and crystal-clear coves that attract “blue voyagers” from near and far who rent private boats and set sail for the hours or days ahead.
Türkiye is also a magnet for experienced divers with its vast coastline stretching 8,000 thousand kilometers. The southern summer resort of Kaş in the province of Antalya is the country’s leading scuba diving hotspot, both for recreational divers as well as marine biologists, thanks to its rich underwater diversity. The region offers around 40 diving backdrops ranging from islands and banks to reefs, sinkholes, underwater structures and expansive canyons. The best time to visit is from June to September when the water temperature is above 21°C, and the underwater visibility is crystal-clear. Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Historical Underwater Park, on the other hand, provides history buffs the unique opportunity to dive into the wrecks of 14 warships that sunk off in the Dardanelles Strait during World War I.
More Sporty Summer Getaways:
Kaş is an ideal spot for multiactivity tours as well, combining diving with walking along the Lycian Way, canyoning and wild water rafting along the region’s deep gorges, paragliding from the peaks surrounding the Kaş Peninsula, coasteering along the region’s rocky shores, open water swimming and paddling over the sunken city of Simena on a sea kayak ―a truly memorable experience that would take you thousands of years back in time.
Click here to learn more about the opportunities in sports in Türkiye.
What’s on the Calendar
58th Tour of Türkiye
Türkiye’s flagship cycling event is held every spring on a different route spanning over a thousand kilometers, and the main tourist hubs of the country.
4th Presidential International Yacht Race
25-30 July 2023, Muğla Leg
27-29 October 2023, İstanbul Leg
As the only yacht race in the world organized between two continents, Presidential International Yacht Race kicks off on the Marmaris – Bodrum course and continues with three more cups in İstanbul along the Bosphorus, Moda-Princes’ Islands, Caddebostan-Princes’ Islands courses.
22nd Bosphorus Cup
21-24 September 2023
The four-day event is open for IRC and ORC boats and takes place along a course on the Bosphorus in İstanbul, one of the most attractive places for yachting on the planet.
Cappadocia Ultra Trail
A unique running event along a 119-km ultra trail reaching heights over 3,730 meters while spanning the hills and valleys of Cappadocia, a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. An easier short and medium trail is also provided.
Lycian Way Ultra Marathon
One of the country’s most awe-inspiring ultra-marathon events takes place in the land of the ancient Lycian civilization. Four courses with different levels of difficulty cover some of Antalya’s most scenic spots from Tekirova to Finike, Adrasan, Çıralı and Gelidonya Lighthouse.
Ironman 70.3 Belek
The world’s premier triathlon series takes place in Belek, and anyone completing its three courses (180 km of cycling, 42,2 km of running and 3,8 km of swimming) under 17 hours becomes an “Ironman”.
Arena Aqua Masters Swim Series
This international series of open-water swimming races are held at four courses in Antalya, Bodrum, Marmaris and Göcek around the year.