It was a rainy 7 degrees centigrade when my buddy, Mehmet, called me out of the blue and asked me if I’d like to go with him on a Saturday afternoon drive up Uludağ Road to the mountaintop. “Um, okay,” I said with a slight bit of trepidation, wondering in the back of my mind what kind of trouble we’d be getting ourselves into. Seven degrees and heavy rain in the valley means zero degrees and heavy snow on the mountain. But after assuring me that he had just put snow tires on the car the day before, Mehmet convinced me to join him in his adventure. So, I grabbed my stocking hat and camera bag and headed for the door, hoping for a good time and a few decent photos. I wasn’t disappointed.
The Uludağ ski center consists of two villages, or zones. Between the two zones, around 30 hotels offer accommodations during the peak season, along with a number of restaurants, cafés, pubs, shops, and night clubs. Reaching the top of the mountain, Mehmet veered to the right and headed toward Zone 1. As we slowly rolled in to the bustling ski village, we could see the slopes full of winter thrill seekers. With its position on the highest peak in western Turkey, its well-developed ski center, and its proximity to Istanbul, Uludağ is one of Turkey’s most popular ski resorts. During the high season (December through April), skiers can choose from 25 runs ranging from beginner to expert, with the longest running 2 kilometers in length.
Not content to hang out at the bottom of the hill, we hopped on the ski lift and took the 10-minute ride up to Kartal Yuvası (Eagle Nest), a café at the top of Beceren run. There we enjoyed the warm fire and sipped a hot drink while staring out the arched windows at the wind and snow.
After getting just warm enough to head back out into the winter cold, we jumped back on the lift for a ride down the hill, watching skiers enjoy the slopes below. Cold, wet, and wind burned, we climbed into the car after our adventure on the mountaintop, having spent well a Saturday afternoon on our snowy drive up Uludağ Road.
Notes on Driving Uludağ Road in the Winter
- The drive from the city to the hotel zones takes at least an hour, and longer depending on traffic and weather conditions.
- Good snow tires or chains are necessary. You can sometimes rent or buy chains from vendors along the road.
- If you’re not in a hurry, there are plenty of places along the road for a cup of tea or a bite to eat.
- To get to the top of the mountain, you’ll enter Uludağ National Park. Entrance costs 10 TL per car.
- Drive safely! It’s not uncommon to see cars stuck in the ditches along the road.