It was a sweltering hot mid-summer day down in the valley. The kids were wasting their time lazily lounging on the sofa in the salon under the steady flow of artificially cooled air from the A/C. My wife and I were getting tired of being cooped up in the house. And we had heard that the reconstructed teleferik had recently reopened and was running people up the side of the mountain. We imagined the cool breeze and the fresh mountain air, and we immediately knew that we needed to go. So we grabbed our jackets, stopped by to pick up our friend, Sabiha, and headed for the hills.
Bursa’s original teleferik opened in the early 1960s and consisted of two large, 20-person, standing-room-only gondolas that ran on an aerial cable from the Teferrüç neighborhood at the edge of the city center to Sarıalan, a plateau high up on the side of Uludağ mountain. In 2013-2014, the teleferik was closed and the line was completely replaced with a modern cable system consisting of newly designed terminals and a large number of smaller 8-seat gondolas. Now, the comfortable (and breathtaking!) ride up from Teferrüç to Sarıalan takes around 20 minutes.
At an elevation of 1,600 meters/5,300 feet, Sarıalan is a great place to spend a hot summer afternoon. It boasts beautiful natural areas such as forests, streams, and meadows, activities such as trekking, bicycling, and off-roading, and Palabıyık Et Mangal, an outstanding restaurant serving up grilled meat and large pots of tea. And best of all, on a hot summer day in the valley, the air on the high plateau of Sarıalan is refreshingly cool.
On our hot, breezy summer afternoon, the cable ride up to the Sarıalan terminal tested my intestinal fortitude with dizzying heights and a gondola that swayed in the wind. But our courage was rewarded with spectacular views of the city below. Once our feet were firmly back on the ground and color had returned to my face, we made a bee-line to Palabıyık’s pine garden. We sat down in the cool shade for a grilled meat sandwich and a pot of tea while the kids ran around the garden, digging in the dirt and hiding in the bushes.
After a good while relaxing at Palabıyık, we took a walk into the forested national park and let the kids hunt for treasures under rocks in the stream and frolic around in the green meadow. Sabiha pointed out native plants and insects and stopped to say hello to herb hunters roaming the hillside. It was a lovely time as the cool mountain breeze rustled through the trees and made it necessary for us to throw on our jackets from time to time.
When the sun started to lower in the summer sky and the temperature started to fall, we decided it was time to head back down the mountain. As the cable car started its unsettlingly steep descent back down to Teferrüç, we were again treated to fantastic views of mountain vistas and the city spreading out across the valley below. Stepping off the gondola at the Teferrüç terminal, we tossed off our jackets and headed toward home, tired but refreshed. We knew we had made a good choice on this toasty summer day.
Notes on the Uludağ Teleferik
- To get to the teleferik from the city center, go to the dolmuş terminal at Heykel behind the City Museum (Kent Müzesi). Grab a dolmuş car heading to Teleferik. Alternately, city buses 15-A, 15-B, and 3-I, run from downtown to Teferrüç, and dolmuş minibuses run from Kent Meydanı.
- As of this writing, the teleferik costs 30 tl per adult round trip, takes around 20 minutes one way, and runs daily from 8:00am to 10:00pm.
- If you don’t want to go all the way up to Sarıalan, teleferik passengers can hop off the cable car at Kadıyayla, a plateau halfway between Teferrüç and Sarıalan. Also, the teleferik has been extended beyond Sarıalan to the Uludağ hotels area. Inquire at the ticket office about prices and availability.
- Visit the official teleferik website for current details.
By the way, here’s some solid advice before you ride the cable up the mountain: look up. If you see the mountaintop enveloped in heavy clouds, there is a good chance that you’ll need to be ready for cool temps and thick fog. One warm day not long ago, we decided to take a trip up the mountain with the hopes of having a leisurely picnic in the sunny meadow. As we ascended the mountain, bright sunny skies were replaced with cold, thick fog. By the time we reached Sarıalan, the fog was so thick we could only see a few meters in front of us. Not wanting to venture into the foggy wilderness, we canceled our picnic plans and instead opted to visit Palabıyık, where we made the best of our situation by grilling beef köfte and chicken wings at the communal grill and enjoying an excellent meal in a neat atmosphere. It turned out to be a fun family adventure, but it taught us an important lesson about the Uludağ teleferik: look up before you ride up.