Turkish tourism has been slowly recovering from the terror attacks of 2015 and 2017, and the deadly aborted coup in 2016.
According to a report released by the Turkish statistics office (TUIK) last month, the percentage of tourists increased by 21.84 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, which means that nearly 40 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in 2018. The number of tourists had declined by 24.6 percent in 2016.
As 1 Euro equals 5.95 Turkish Lira, after a huge rate fluctuation in 2018, many more tourists prefer Turkey as a holiday destination, not only in the summertime but also during winter.
The winter season ends in April in Turkey, where the average temperature is above 10 in the north-west regions, and higher than 15 in the south during February. The temperature is even warmer in both regions during March. Some eastern cities, on the other hand, freeze in below-zero temperatures.
The varying temperatures in the different regions mean that activities vary too. Listed below are a few attractions to visit during these two months before the winter season ends:
Büyükada: The biggest island of Princes’ Islands
Despite Istanbul’s relatively cold weather, the fresh air relaxes those who spend weekdays in a stressful working environment.
Prinkipos in Greek, Büyükada, is the largest of the nine so-called Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, just an hour away from Istanbul by ferry. Unlike over-crowded Istanbul, 7,000 people live on the two-square-mile island.
It is a very rich region for history-lovers in terms of the many historic churches, monasteries and mansions, and it is also a well-known place to have breakfast high above the white picturesque view of Büyükada in winter.
Cappadocia: Alluring ambience
This is a historical region in central Anatolia that neighbours provinces such as Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde. Skiing on top of Erciyes Mountain, relaxing in one of the many local thermal springs, or riding hot air balloons are only a few of the countless activities that can be done here.
More than one million tourists visited the area in 2018, according to official numbers.
Uludağ: Pearl of Bursa
Well-known for its winter sports, Uludağ, Mysian Olympus in ancient times, has been a hit to sports and nature lovers with its astonishing snowy landscape and ski-run areas. It is located in western Turkey, within the boundaries of Bursa province. A lift takes you from the city centre to the top of the hills of Uludağ while you enjoy the exquisite views.
Turkish officials were delighted to see thousands of tourists visiting the area last year.
“Most of the tourists this year are from Russia,” said Murat Saraçoğlu, chairperson of Marmara in Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).
Antalya: The warmest city in winter
Contrary to the northern Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea in the south keeps its neighbouring lands warmer than expected during winter. That might be the reason why nearly 100,000 tourists visited Antalya in February 2018, according to the Hotel Association of Turkey statistics.
In 2018, mainly Russian tourists rushed into Antalya, followed by many Germans. Here is where tourists will find many places in which to spend time. From the icy mountain named Beydağları, to beaches and traditional streets of Kaleiçi, as well as gardens that spread intriguing aromas of citrus fruits, oranges and mandarins, is what makes Antalya attractive
The ski centre of Palandöken, which boasts top international standards, and which hosted the 2011 Winter Universiade, is one of the most popular tourist destinations for winter sports.
Erzurum, an eastern Anatolian city of Turkey, is situated 1,757 metres above sea level
Eastern Express, Popular Overnight Journey to the East
This train starts its engines in the capital of Ankara, and heads east, passing through six cities, including Kırıkkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, Erzurum and the last stop being Kars, near the UNESCO-listed archaeological ruins of Ani.
The Eastern Express is the first overnight train in Turkey since the 1930s. It boasts well-designed rooms with showers and is attracting more and more youngsters during the winter holidays. The total distance of the trip is 1,310 km.