By Sinan Balcikoca</p> <p>BURSA, Turkey (AA) - Turkey attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists with its ski resorts and thermal springs during the winter season.</p> <p>Among the world's most popular tourism destinations, Turkey hosted more than 40 million tourists in 2018.</p> <p>The tourists that prefer Turkey make the most of snow days by skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snow biking, while others relax and enjoy thermal waters.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Ski and thermal springs within 1 hour</p> <p>Uludag, located in northwestern Bursa province, is one of the popular winter tourism centers with its 7,000-bed capacity hotels and 20 ski tracks of nearly 400,000 meters.</p> <p>Uludag -- which offers snowboarding, sledding and snow-biking -- is one of the most preferred tourism destinations during the New Year and semester holidays. </p> <p>There is only one hour of transportation distance between the hot springs and ski facilities which make it possible for visitors to experience both on the same day.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Skiing in Erciyes, thermal springs in Kozakli</p> <p>The Erciyes Ski Center, which met international standards after an investment of €350 million ($400 million), has become one of the must-see places in the winter season.</p> <p>Being located near Cappadocia, having easily accessible areas and its budget-friendly policy, Mount Erciyes draws more attention with each passing day. The tourists who have an interest in skiing can choose Erciyes Mount, while others can experience thermal springs in the Kozakli district.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Hot-air balloon rides in Cappadocia</p> <p>Turkey's much-known tourism center Cappadocia offers a lot to visitors in just one day.</p> <p>The early hour hot-air balloon ride offers breathtaking scenery -- an authentic atmosphere of fairy chimneys, valleys consisted of natural rocks. </p> <p>Skiing at Mt. Erciyes and getting in the hot waters of Kozakli are optional opportunities to complete the day, which started with hot-air balloon tour.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Erzurum: Ski and thermal tourism destination</p> <p>Erzurum, a city that come first to mind when one hears "skiing", attracts the attention of local and foreign tourists with its ski resorts and thermal facilities.</p> <p>The city, which was once home to many civilizations with its 7,000 years of history and in recent years is a shining star of the country especially in terms of winter tourism, offers tourists an opportunity to enjoy both skiing and hot water baths.</p> <p>The Palandoken Ski Center in the city welcomes guests from Russia, Iran, Georgia, Poland and many other European countries during winters.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Bolu: Daytime for skiing and evening for hot springs</p> <p>Located between Turkey's capital Ankara and Istanbul, Bolu -- with convenient transportation, thermal baths and a ski resort of international standards -- has tourist points such as Abant, Golcuk, and Yedigoller National Park.</p> <p>Bolu also has dozens of thermal facilities in Mudurnu, Seben, Goynuk, Karacasu, and Taskesti, which awaits their visitors.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Afyonkarahisar: Capital of thermal tourism</p> <p>With its five-star thermal facilities, historical and natural beauties, Afyonkarahisar is the first city that comes to mind in terms of "spa and health tourism" in Turkey. It is one of the centers of attraction for winter tourism.</p> <p>The city is famous for its mud baths, physical therapy and rehabilitation centers and rich mineral thermal waters, where local and foreign guests can benefit from 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) thermal pools.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Medicinal holiday address: Denizli</p> <p>With its white travertine, thousands of years of history and natural beauty, Turkey’s Aegean province of Denizli is an important tourism center and a focus of attention for those who are seeking healing thermal waters with an alternative ski resort.</p> <p>Located in Denizli, the “white paradise” Pamukkale -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey.</p> <p>Those who come to Pamukkale can enjoy warm water swimming in the "Cleopatra Pool" in the ancient city of Hierapolis.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Ski and thermal facilities all around Turkey</p> <p>The ski resort in Ilgaz, one of the highest mountain range in the Western Black Sea, the Saklikent Ski Resort built in Beydaglari half a century ago in Antalya and Abali Winter Sports Center in Gevas district of Van are alternative places for ski lovers.</p> <p>Those who are looking for different destinations for thermal tourism can choose Haymana and Kizilcahamam in Ankara and Ilica district in Cesme.
By Halil Sahin</p> <p>DENIZLI, Turkey (AA) - With its white travertine, thousands of years of history and scenic beauty, Turkey's Aegean province Denizli is becoming a focus of interest for those seeking cure in mineral-rich thermal pools during semester break.</p> <p>Denizli, a key tourism center of the country in the southwest, offers a dynamic winter tourism for vacationers with its activities like paragliding, skiing, and hot air balloon riding.</p> <p>Visitors can find numerous tourist attractions in ancient cities, caves and waterfalls, as well as a chance to taste local delicacies and shop in the historic bazaars.</p> <p>In the city, which has been seen as a unique thermal therapy center since ancient times, hotels reached a 90 percent occupancy rate with the demand for thermal spring waters.</p> <p>Located in Denizli, the “white paradise” Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- is among the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey.</p> <p> </p> <p>- First stop: Pamukkale</p> <p>One of the oldest tourist attractions in Turkey, Pamukkale is also a key landmark of the city.</p> <p>Standing over the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, Pamukkale has been known as a thermal therapy center for millennia since the Roman times, and especially famous for its white limestone travertine, shaped by calcium-rich hot springs.</p> <p>The hot springs allow visitors to walk barefoot on the travertine terraces, without making them feel cold thanks to the temperature of the water which is hot even during winter time and its view offers tourists a unique scene for their pictures.</p> <p>The world-renowned Pamukkale has been visited by more than two million tourists over the last 11 months, which is all time high. It is most popular among tourists from the Europe, Far East, Latin America countries and Russia.</p> <p>Gazi Murat Sen, the president of a Denizli-based local tourism and hotel management association, told Anadolu Agency that occupancy rate of hotels in Pamukkale has already reached 90 percent thanks to the upcoming semester holiday.</p> <p>Stating that domestic tourists mostly prefer places with thermal waters and skiing centers, Sen added that vacationists coming to Denizli would enjoy skiing in day time and relax in thermal waters at their hotels in the evening.</p> <p>He added that Denizli’s climate was suitable for vacation throughout the year. </p> <p>The ancient city of Hierapolis, which dates back to some 2,800 years ago and known as the Holy City in the literature of archeology for many temples and other religious structures in it, also entices visitors.</p> <p>In front of the ancient theater, visitors first meet the “gate to hell”, which was unearthed in 2013 and also called “gate to the dead country” in ancient sources.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Swimming past millennial old ruins</p> <p>The Cleopatra’s Pool -- where ancient Egyptian Queen Cleopatra bathed according to a myth -- in Hierapolis, gives visitors a thrill of swimming when surrounded by a 2,000-year-old column and marble ruins.</p> <p>The pool formed naturally after the collapse of a series of columns in an earthquake in 692 A.D., which caused thermal water to accumulate.</p> <p>With its water temperature fixed at 36 degrees Celsius (96 F) regardless of the season, the pool offers its visitors a unique experience. It is believed to have healing benefits for cardiovascular diseases, rheumatism, skin and nerve diseases as well as intestinal disorders if it is drunk.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Unique thermal therapy center since ancient times</p> <p>Thanks to its thermal resources, Denizli has been seen as a thermal therapy center since the ancient times and it still preserves its title.</p> <p>An important medical center during the Roman era, the city has a major place in the health tourism with its calcium and iron rich red waters, which also contain different minerals.</p> <p>In the Karahayit region of the province, where many thermal resources gather, the hotels are occupied in winter season by those who want to find cure in the unusual red water.</p> <p>The red water -- which remains at an average of 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) all year round -- is believed to help those with rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and skin diseases.</p> <p> </p> <p>- Scenic beauty of Denizli</p> <p>Guney, Sakizcilar Asmaalti and Gumussu Waterfalls welcome nature lovers and those who seek peace in nature.</p> <p>Kaklik Cave, which has similar view with the travertine of Pamukkale, and Keloglan Cave which offers interesting scenes with its stalactite and stalagmite are among the most visited places in the city.</p> <p>Mehmet Ermis, a domestic tourist from western Balikesir province, told Anadolu Agency that he came to the city after watching it on the TV.</p> <p>“The weather is cold but hot water reduces its effect. When you come to see such a beautiful place, the cold doesn’t affect you,” he said, adding that Denizli was ideal for winter holiday.
By Cem San
BURSA, Turkey (AA) – Once a capital of the late Ottoman Empire, Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province looks forward to hosting visitors during winter break, with its leading winter tourism center of Uludag and hot springs.
Holidaymakers travelling to Bursa, one of the most preferred winter tourism destinations of Turkey, can enjoy the hot springs that are believed to heal various diseases. In addition, Bursa is home to numerous Turkish delicacies.
Mount Uludag area has a bed capacity of 7,000 and contains 20 skiing tracks ranging from 300 to 980 meters long, making it a leading touristic destination in the winter season.
Cable car is one of the most popular transport means to Uludag, which is some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city center. Visitors can snowboard and skii down the slopes and ride on icesleds and snow bikes.
Bearing the marks of 700 years old Ottoman architecture, Cumalikizik village takes you centuries back with its narrow streets and colourful houses.
Tourists have the chance of tasting the village breakfast, composed of organic indigenous delicacies.
Dating back seven centuries, the Bursa Covered Bazaar is one of the first markets of the Ottoman era, is still one of the most popular centers of commerce in the city.
Both the village and the bazaar are included in UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Those who want to enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine can choose from a variety of local meals, including Inegol meatballs and meatballs on pide, locally known as Cantik. Silk and towels, Iznik pottery, Kemal Pasha Desert, olives and olive oil are among the province's most popular products for tourists.
Hot springs are also important and popular attractions in the area.
Historical sources indicate that thermal treatment in these springs was used long before the Ottomans arrived in the region; the Roman Empire would dispatch wounded or worn out soldiers for medical purposes to these sites.
Murat Saracoglu, a senior official in the Association of Turkey Travel Agents (TURSAB), told Anadolu Agency that the historical city attracted many tourists from varied geographies.
Bursa is a rare example where holidaymakers could enjoy skiing and hot spring tourism simultaneously, he added, highlighting that Uludag is a winter tourism center recognized both locally and internationally.
"There are many foreign tourists who enjoy the hot springs. A tourist could find themself skiing, just an hour after having bathed in the hot spring," he said.
Ibrahim Calp, a holidaymaker, described Uludag as a "white paradise", noting that everyone should visit the area to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
Ramazan Akin, a tourist from Germany, said he was looking forward to relaxing in hot springs.
"This is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. We can feel both cold and hot here. This makes it possible to enjoy four seasons at the same time. I recommend everyone visit this site," he added.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story from Ankara.