You have just landed at Istanbul's brand-new international airport. You set off for Bursa, not far from the Sea of Marmara, a journey of about two and a half hours by road. You are greeted by the sculptured minaret of the famous Green Mosque. Open to visitors, it unveils sumptuous turquoise earthenware inside, renowned throughout the world. This first monument gives a hint of the other architectural treasures in this former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Another gem is the Koza Han silk market. A strategic centre in the days of the Silk Road, you can still buy high-quality fabrics here, sold under the stone arcades lining a small and peaceful courtyard. Protected in this imposing haven, you warm yourself up with an elma çay, an apple-flavoured black tea typical of the region. Even in the heart of the city, the green and snow-covered vistas all around reveal the splendid natural beauty of the surrounding mountains. "Bursa the Green" certainly lives up to its nickname.
Green Mosque (Yeşil Cami)
Müze Sk., 2
Osmangazi, Uzunçarşı Cd.
Reaching for the heights
Eager to discover Bursa's surrounding area, you go up to Bursa Uludağ ski resort, named after the mountain that looks over the region. This ancient volcano is known in mythology as being the mountain from where the gods watched down on the Trojan War. It gave birth to one of the highest mountains in Turkey. So, just 30 or so kilometres south of Bursa, you find yourself on the edge of a skiing area covering 28 km of runs at an altitude of between 1,767 and 2,322 m. There are two options open to you. If you have decided to stay in Bursa, you can take the ultra-modern cable car which whisks you up to the Kurbağa Kaya station, the starting point for the runs, in about 20 minutes. The cable cars run constantly on a loop from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., so you can get to the top quickly and easily. Both on the way up and the way down, the view over the pine forests and snow-capped peaks from the cabin's floor-to-ceiling glass windows will take your breath away. Nine kilometres of sheer wonderment also make it the longest single cable-car line in the world.
However, if you would rather stay even closer to the great mountain expanse, opt for a hotel right in the heart of the resort. After a fantastic day in the open air, head to the Karinna Hotel, located close to the pistes. Enjoy the comforts it has to offer, especially the indoor pool: ideal for winding down after an intense day of winter sports. Do not forget the Turkish bath: its damp heat is perfect for soothing any muscle stress after your acrobatic feats! Children will have a great time at their very own Kids Club. So, as the afternoon draws out, calm and relaxation are in order, surrounded by stunning scenery.
2. Gelisim Bolgesi Volfram Yolu Uludag
Uludag National Park 16370
+90 224 285 23 60
A superb ski track
Whether you are a traditional skier or a snowboarder, you will love slaloming through the magnificent forests. With 24 runs of varying difficulty, there is something for every taste and every level. You can also do cross-country skiing up there. The 20 km of groomed runs take you among the pines to discover the local flora and fauna, even if at this time of year, the animals prefer to hibernate.
If you are coming here with your family, lessons are organised under the guidance of experienced instructors. After your efforts, you get your reward: the sledging on offer promises great thrills and especially lots of laughs together… When it is time for lunch, you can picnic at the side of the runs. This gives you a better opportunity to observe the natural surroundings and watch the birds. Take a deep breath and set off again with renewed vigour because as we all know… the call of the slopes cannot be ignored.
When the sun comes out
When the blanket of snow disappears in springtime, it gives way to a green landscape that is just as attractive. Before you is Uludağ National Park with its flower-filled meadows, lakes of pure water and paths now accessible on foot or perched on a snowmobile. The mountain can be explored on wonderful hikes that anyone can do, revealing its natural treasures. At this time of year, you might spot birds of prey in the sky, circling round on the thermals and giving the impression of being guardians of the place. More inconspicuous but just as beautiful are the 46 recorded species of butterflies, including the Apollo, an endemic species. As for the flora, the park has no fewer than 104 varieties of plants, including 32 unique to Uludağ. The cable car, in operation all year round, makes it easy to get about and choose the starting point that takes your fancy for your walking trips. Finally, after these wonderful days in the great outdoors, treat yourself to a relaxing interlude in one of Bursa's thermal baths. The city is indeed known for the virtues of its warm, mineral-rich waters. Without further ado, slide into the Eski Kaplica baths. Built by the Romans, they have been in use ever since, and you will be playing your part in continuing this tradition.
Uludağ National Park
+90 312 207 50 00
Zübeyde Hanım Caddesi Çekirge
+90 224 233 93 09