Sports and Activities in Turkey
Whether you want to descend a river by boat, sail over archaeological remains, climb mountains or explore the countryside on horseback, Turkey offers great opportunities for both kayak and ski lovers. Security measures are good as long as reputable companies are hired, with qualified English-speaking staff.
Walking and hiking in Turkey
Hiking is an activity that is gaining popularity and there are more and more companies offering this activity. The country is fortunate to have many mountains, from the Taurus Mountains in the southwest to the Kaçkar in the northeast, and all offer magnificent excursions that includes in our turkey tour packages
As for hiking, the options vary between the multi-day outings, which include, on the one hand, the highest peak in the country, Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), and the search for the supposed place where Noah’s Ark ran aground, and on the other hand quiet walks in places like Cappadocia.
Security in Turkey
Except for a few well-known and well-maintained trails, the vast majority are not signposted and it is advisable to hire a guide or at least ask the locals before setting off.
The weather can change dramatically and quickly, so you have to be well equipped and check the weather in the area.
Day trips from Istanbul
Cappadocia is second to none for half or full day excursions. It features a dozen valleys that are easy to navigate on foot around Göreme and the Ihlara Valley. These one to several hour long hikes with gentle slopes are ideal for casual hikers and families. Fairy chimneys are unforgettable and walking is the best way to do the landscape justice: it allows you to discover areas that travelers do not usually reach.
Long distance trails
Culture Routes in Turkey maintains two marked historical routes, the Lycian Route and the St. Paul’s Path, and has developed new long-distance routes, such as the Carian Route, in the southern Aegean, or the Abraham Trail, in the surroundings of Sanlıurfa. The best time to undertake these routes is spring or autumn, and it is not compulsory to complete the entire route; it is easier to cover small sections. Consult the websites of p. 39 for information, guides and plans.
Selected by the British newspaper The Sunday Times as one of the 10 best walking tours in the world, the Lycian Route covers 509 km between Fethiye and Antalya, partly inland and partly along the coast of ancient Lycia, and passes through Patara, Kalkan, Kaş, Finike, Olympos and Tekirova, among impressive views of the coast, pine and cedar forests, quiet villages, ruins of ancient cities, Mount Olympos and Baba Dağ. Kate Clow, who established the route, describes it in detail in The Lycian Way guide.
St. Paul’s Way
Almost 500 km north from Perge, 10 km east of Antalya, to Yalvaç, northwest of the Eğirdir Gölü (Lake Eğirdir), the Path of Saint Paul follows the route outlined by the saint during his first missionary journey to Asia Minor. It is harder than the Lycian Route and passes through canyons, waterfalls, forests, a medieval road, some Roman baths, an aqueduct and a lot of picturesque towns.
St Paul Trail, by Kate Clow and Terry Richardson, describes the route in detail. Eğirdir is a good base of operations, with an activity center dedicated to the trail.
Turkey also allows for interesting mountain tours.
Mount Ararat The highest mountain in Turkey, the majestic Ararat, 5137 m high, next to the Armenian border, is one of the best peaks in the region. The ascent can be done in five days (including acclimatization) from Doğubayazıt. It will be necessary to pay (it is obligatory to carry a permit) and to be patient with the bureaucracy.
Kaçkar Mountains In northeastern Anatolia, the Kaçkar are increasingly popular with Europeans. They offer lakes, forests and varied fauna, at altitudes between 2000 and 3937 m. There are many possible routes, ranging from a few hours to several days; Among the latter, the Trans-Kaçkar Trek stands out.
Cappadocia The south of this region offers good mountain excursions, including Mount Hasan, 3,268 m and the Taurus, in the Ala Dağlar National Park.
Relaxing on a white sand beach is most tempting, but there are many more things to do at sea.
It is not the Red Sea, but where else in the world can you swim among amphoras and vessels of ancient wrecks? In Turkey there are also many reefs and coves. The waters are usually calm, without tides or currents, and there is an average visibility of 20 m (not bad for the Mediterranean standard). Pelagic species are scarce, but reef species abound. Here, one can cross with grouper, dentex, moray eel, bream, octopus, parrotfish and, occasionally, with serviolas, barracudas and rays. You don’t have to be an expert diver; there are places for all skill levels. The most experienced ones have fantastic expanses of red coral (almost always within 30m).
The facilities are good and the centers are professional: they have qualified instructors who speak languages. Most of them are members of internationally recognized diving organizations. Compared to other countries, scuba diving in Turkey is relatively cheap, and it is also an ideal place to learn. Most companies offer beginner starter dives and certification courses in the open sea at a good price.
Although it can be practiced all year round, the best time is from May to October, when the water is warmer (up to 25 ° C in September).
The best dive sites
Kaş is the center of scuba diving in Turkey, with magnificent dive sites in the Mediterranean and numerous operators. On the Aegean coast, Marmaris, Bodrum, Kuşadası and Ayvalık also have a good reputation.
Kayaking and canoeing in the sea
The maps clearly show the winding coastline of the western Mediterranean: lonely coves, deep blue bays, pine-covered mountains, islands that shine in the distance, and quiet villages. The most comfortable way to cross this virgin terrain and discover the amazing landscape of the so-called Turquoise Coast is rowing, since a good part of it is inaccessible by road. To add excitement to the journey, you can see flying fish and turtles, and hopefully playful dolphins.
Circuits of more than one day are also organized, where you spend the night in tents, under the stars, on deserted beaches. Transfers, guides, all necessary equipment and meals are included. You can also paddle the Aegean coast, including Akyaka in Mugla.
The best places to row
Kekova Submerged City A magical place, with partially submerged Lycian ruins 6 m below the sea, which lends itself to a sea kayaking circuit from Kaş. This day trip allows the traveler to glide with the kayak through crystalline waters on walls, foundations and stairways, which are perfectly visible and were submerged by various earthquakes in the s. ii.
The canoe trips on the Janto river offer the unique opportunity to slide along the banks that remind of the jungle and discover an ecosystem populated by birds, crabs and turtles, among others. Finishing at the Patara beach, the longest in Turkey, ends the experience.
It is a mix of climbing, hiking, abseiling, swimming and waterfall jumps, river gorges and natural pools. It is not usually necessary to have experience, but water safety and good physical shape are recommended. Canyoning Adventure Centers provide suits, helmets, and harnesses, and all outings are done with a qualified instructor. The 18 km long Saklıkent Gorge, southeast of Fethiye, offers jumps in natural pools, swimming in gorges, climbing and abseiling in waterfalls.
It is very important to choose an operator with the appropriate experience and equipment to enjoy an exciting and safe experience. The instructor must give a comprehensive talk on safety and how to paddle before travelers embark on the adventure. The best places for rafting are as follows.
Çoruh River You must go to Yusufeli between June and August to enjoy good rafting, and do it before 2018 because the area will be flooded by a dam. Thanks to a rugged topography and an abundance of meltwater, the Çoruh River and its tributaries offer one of the best descents in the world, with powerful rapids ranked from level 2 to 5. An added thrill is the scenery that borders the steep walls of Çoruh’s gorge. The outings usually last 3 h.
İspir and Barhal rivers Also near Yusufeli, the less daring can opt for a gentler but equally spectacular experience in these tributaries of Çoruh.
Çamlıhemşin Across from the Kaçkar, it offers friendlier rapids and stunning scenery.
Köprülü Canyon Near Antalya.
Saklıkent Gorge 18 km Gorge near Fethiye.
Zamantı River In the Ala Dağlar National Park in Cappadocia.
‘Windsurfing’ and ‘kitesurfing’
The PWA World Championship (Professional Windsurfing Association) is held in Alaçatı, on the Çeşme peninsula. With constant and strong breezes (more than 25 knots) and a 2 km beach with calm and shallow waters from mid-May to early November, it is a top destination for windsurfers and kitesurfers. It is also a good place to learn, with English speaking instructors and all kinds of classes. Akyaka (near Marmaris) is gaining popularity for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
Winter sports in Turkey
It’s not the Alps, but snow lovers will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of infrastructure and the snow conditions in Turkey from December to April. Both novice and expert kayakcı (skiers) have endless options. Almost all stations have been renovated in recent years, with good facilities and well-equipped hotels, and they are cheaper than many in Western Europe.
Most hotels offer one-day or one-week turkey packages that include ski passes and full board. You can rent equipment and hire classes, although not many instructors speak English. Almost all have a snowboard offer and some offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Uludağ Near Bursa; Great station with hotel chains and a cable car from the outskirts of the city. Very popular on the weekend.
Palandöken Important station on the outskirts of Erzurum.
Sarıkamış Surrounded by pine trees, this simple resort near Kars offers thick layers of powder snow.
Davraz Dağı Mount Davraz rises between three lakes near Eğirdir, offering Nordic and alpine skiing, and snowboarding.
Erciyes Dağı About Kayseri, in the Cappadocia region, offers empty tracks and a station under construction.