Did you know there is some sensational skiing to be found in the Middle East, nestled in most beautiful mountains, with delicious cuisine and the most embracing locals?
Who needs the Alps, the European charm and attraction of the jagged imposing mountains set to impressive views. What if we told you, you could experience all that, plus unique experiences, enchanting atmospheres, delicious food and the most friendly and embracing locals but by heading to ski resorts in the Middle East. Crazy right?
Skiing in the Middle East should be well and truly on your adventure bucket list, that is why we compiled a list of the best ski resorts in the Middle East to reignite your travel fire and encourage you to think outside the ski box.
Navigating through the unique weather patterns of the Middle East's ski resorts requires keen preparation. Importantly, proper attire is critical to fully embrace the thrill of these ascents. For the female adventurers, a well-selected ladies ski jacket from our curated collection guarantees warmth amidst the winter chill. Moreover, for our male explorers, seeking comfort and style, explore our extensive selection of ski jackets for men. Apart from dressing warmly, it's vital to consider protective eyewear. We recommend packing all-weather ski goggles to accommodate unexpected mountain condition shifts that are typical to these regions. So gear up and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!
Generally speaking, Rainfall is almost nonexistent in Middle Eastern countries consist of semi-arid, desert terrain; however, there are 2 other points to note. The first point being; Many of the northern areas of Iraq, Iran and Turkey experience more wet weather in the Winter months with them being so close to the Mediterranean. This can fall as snow even at sea level during the coldest times but also means the mountainous regions get consistent snowfall throughout peak months. The other point is that like all other dense mountain regions across the globe, these areas are home to a unique micro-climate. Meaning that it could be 25c by the sea but up in the hills, it could be perfect pow! In fact, in Pakistan, for example, where the mountains are particularly extreme, one can experience severe winter weather, with temperatures dropping well below freezing.
This is a tricky section to write, we want to pass on the most accurate up-to-date information. However, unlike riding in North America or even Asia, where resort transport is well established, travelling around certain parts of the Middle East can be much more…complex, shall we say. For example, when visiting the ski resorts in Turkey, which were well established in comparison, you can expect to find buses from the airport to resort; also car hire is readily accessible. Easy peasy. But when it comes to resorts in Pakistan or Iran or Iraq, it may be a case of planes, trains and automobiles to arrive at your destination or better yet, speak to a tour operator that can help you. Where possible we have included relevant links to some companies that can help with travel and in some cases, accommodation as well. (Some of these enchanting resorts don’t have housing.)
We looked at the price of ski passes, gear hire, food/drink, hotel/Airbnb for each region and assigned a rating based on the average cost of staying for 7 nights and 6 days of skiing in mid- January.
€ – Inexpensive, perfect for skiers/snowboarders on a budget
€€ – Middle of the range budget required
€€€ – Expect to pay premium prices
So strap on your ski’s, or maybe just your slippers for the moment, sit back and let’s dive right in!
Nearest Airport: 1 hour from Beirut (BEY), Lebanon
Ski-Able Terrain: 80 km 19 ski lifts
Elevation: 1,850 and 2,465 m
Mzaar is the largest ski resort in the Middle East, which means out of all the resorts in the area, it is the most bustling with locals and tourists alike. The draw is the atmosphere that is very much like the alps, with an incredible variety of restaurants and bars, both traditional Lebanese and Western. This is a great resort to try if you are looking to explore the Middle East; it should probably be the first on the Middle East bucket list.
Nearest Airport: Erbil International Airport, Iraq
Ski-Able Terrain: 0.3km 1 ski lift
Elevation: 1,674 to 1,704 m
Korek Mountain resort is something a little unique, perhaps not like your traditional ski holiday. The resort is essentially two pistes, one for skiing and one for sledging and is ran by the resort hotel. If you are first learning a snow sport or are just looking to ski for a day or two, then Korek could be a great couple of days. The resort itself has luxury accommodation, a variety of restaurants and outdoor activities. Staying for a weekend in Korek would be a fun-fuelled few days in the beautiful mountains. Head here to learn more about packages to Iraq.
The ski swing is super cool!
Nearest Airport: 1.5 hrs from Teheran, Iran
Ski-Able Terrain: 18km 12 ski lifts
Elevation: 900m to 3500m
Dizin is the largest ski resort in Iran and is a popular resort for its great conditions, high elevation and incredible views. Dizin can rival the alps with the snow conditions and snow surety, due to its elevation, as the summit reaches a whopping 3500m. Dizin is also great for its varied skiing, especially being one of the larger resorts, it can keep the first-timers to the seasoned pro’s entertained.
The snow park is brilliant!
Nearest Airport: Tel Aviv
Ski-Able Terrain: 45km 9 ski lifts
Elevation: 1,600 and 2,040 m.
Mt. Hermon is a great destination to visit while in Israel and exploring the areas around Tel Aviv. You fully appreciate the spectacle that you can visit the tropical coastal regions of the capital city, and then drive a couple of hours to the snowy mountainous area of Mt. Hermon. The resort is surprisingly large with plenty of slopes to after, especially if you are an intermediate/ advanced skier or boarder. You can enjoy the thrills of the mountain for a few days then go soak up the sun and the culture in Tel Aviv all in one trip.
Try out the Alpine Coaster!
Nearest Airport: Technically it’s Islamabad, but from what we can understand- Info is sparse, you must arrive in Gilgit then take a jeep or land cruiser up to the base camp. The Journey may take up to 20 hrs.
Ski-Able Terrain: Unknown, not much we imagine but how blooming cool either way! We believe it’s one significant chair lift and other travelators.
Elevation: 2870m to 2950m
Naltar in Gilgit is a truly captivating resort. It’s going to be a mission to get there but once you arrive. . . well, a ski experience in Pakistan is like nothing else on earth. The ski area is in the Gilgit–Baltistan region in the extreme north of Pakistan. Naltar is 40 km (25 mi) from Gilgit and can only be reached by off-road vehicle- exciting. Naltar is a forested (pine) village known for its wildlife and magnificent mountain scenery. There are ski lifts run by the ‘Ski Federation of Pakistan’. For help with travel, booking accommodation and everything else, seek a package with a tour company such as Find My Adventure.
Just going, period! What an adventure, a unique experience, out of your comfort zone. A chance to see a country that doesn’t get the attention it deserves for its nature, beauty, people and culture.
Nearest Airport: 1 h 49 min (47.6 km) to Saidu Sharif airport
Ski-Able Terrain: 4 lifts, under 10 km
Elevation: 2452m to 2652m
“Malam Jabba is the largest ski resort in Pakistan and owes its existence to a suggestion by the Austrian ambassador, in 1962.”- Snow forecast.
The small ski area, ideally suited to intermediates, Malam Jabba, is serviced by 4 relatively modern lifts and one large 35 room hotel which will become your home from home. The locals are incredibly friendly, and its considerably easier to arrive and to stay independently than Naltar. Ski Packages are even available on the Pakistani tourism website which would be super cool! The resort has a general snowfall base of 2-3 m which for the minimal terrain makes even coverage throughout the peak months, reasonably reliable.
Just like Naltar, it’s something totally different, simply going there to visit is what we recommend. Experience a side to Pakistan you could never possibly imagine without seeing it for yourself.
Nearest Airport: 24 min (26.8 km) to Dubai airport
Ski-Able Terrain: 1.5 km of slopes and 3 lifts
Where do we even begin? There is so much to do in this comparatively small ski centre, something totally different from what we are used too! In just 1.5km of slopes, at between 85m and 100m, this one-stop-shop offers skiing and snowboarding, (their longest slope is 400m long which is impressive) the snow park, i.e. for sledging, bob slay plus much much more. Don’t miss out on the apres-ski bar, the famous Ski Dubai hot chocolate and the Hotel on site that offers chalet-style accommodation.
Try every riders dream day, ski/snowboard in the morning then surf in the afternoon on the beach almost right outside.
Nearest Airport: 47 min (33.8 km) to Kayseri Airport
Ski-Able Terrain: 55.1 km of slopes over 14 lifts
Elevation: 2,088 to 3,346 m
Mt Erciyes is part of a larger ski area that totals around 150km. Still, the ski centre at Mt Erciyes is a fairly substantial resort that can rivel the western European counterparts. The mountain has a great atmosphere on and off the mountain, really well-maintained slopes and even untapped off-piste! There is sadly no snowpark or terrain park, but the resort is covered by 80% artificial snowmaking, so the resort becomes a snow-sure winter fun destination!
The terrain is ideally suited to snowkiting. Big open planes, the perfect area to try this remarkable discipline.
Nearest Airport: 2 h 16 min (203.8 km) to Ankara
Ski-Able Terrain: 23 km of slopes, 18 lifts
Elevation: 1,800m to 2400m
During the week, this place is enchanting. Wide opened slopes, not a soul in sight, just above the tree line, fairly reliable snow coverage, friendly locals and delicious local cuisine, plus it’s much cheaper. But come the weekend coaches from Istanbul and Ankara arrive bringing crowds of people. I mean you can call it atmosphere, certainly a different vibe to St Anton but if you like blissful solitude, then a trip during the week would be amazing.
The snowpark is half decent! There are three main slopes, a corner, three handrails and three boxes!
Nearest Airport: 2 h 9 min (195.8 km) from Istanbul
Ski-Able Terrain: 28 km of slopes, 16 lifts
Elevation: 1,300 to 1,699 m
What was it we learned in high school history of ancient mythology? The mountain upon which the gods watched the Trojan war, formally known as Mount Olympus, now known as Uludağ which literally translates as big mountain. Perhaps not as “big mountain” as let’s say Revelstoke or Jackson hole, Uludağ still offers an epic and unique ski experience in Turkey no less. The resort has great infrastructure with plenty of beds, restaurants etc. and is popular with people from Istanbul. Find tranquility in the mountains in a resort still not ruined by mainstream tourism.
The most incredible place to try Heli-skiing, there are vast off-piste bowls to explore!
Nearest Airport: 1 h 53 min (120.6 km) from Istanbul
Ski-Able Terrain: 21.2 km of slopes across 4 lifts
Elevation: 1,300 to 1,699 m
In the mood for some dense tree skiing? Good thing you find yourself interested in Kartepe or should we call it Green Park Resort – Kartepe (as it’s known by the resort owners). With no less than 12 tree-lined runs and much more slack country, this resort is sure to keep all freeriders occupied. With nearly half the slopes being red, then a good split between challenging slopes and easy routes, it feels like this resort is a great place for intermediates to progress. Watch out for weather changes, the resort is prone to foggy conditions.
Ease your aching muscles after a day skiing in the traditional Turkish bath at the hotel/base.
Nearest Airport: 2 h 24 min (135.5 km) from Tbilisi
Ski-Able Terrain: 35 km of slopes available across 15 lifts
Elevation: 2,196 m – 2780m
Looking for a Middle Eastern ski resort that offers a long season, the kind that could rival its alpine counterparts? Then Gudauri has you covered. With fantastic skiing available from December to April and terrain that’s perfectly suited to all levels, every skier or boarder will be satisfied. The Gudauri also beacons visitors with its freeriding availability and heli-skiing opportunities. Large quantities of natural snow make the surrounding peaks on the border between Europe and Asia ideal terrain for powder enthusiasts.
This section isn’t just one thing, its a list of unmissable activities! There is so much to do, try Cat skiing, night skiing, cross-country trails, ski tours and snow tubing.
Is the ski season in the Middle East similar to that in the Alps?
In some regions, yes. For instance, Lebanon’s ski season is akin to that in the Alps, starting in early December and extending until mid-late April. However, factors like altitude, latitude, and climatic conditions may cause variations.
Is it difficult to travel to the Middle Eastern ski resorts?
Travel might be a bit complicated in certain parts depending on the country's infrastructure and political context. Resorts in Turkey are relatively easy to reach, but areas like Pakistan, Iran, or Iraq may require a more intricate route. Engaging a tour operator may be a practical solution.
There you have it. A round up of the best ski resorts in the Middle East and a chance to explore something new, off the tourist trail, off the beaten track. Riding where you never thought you could. Meeting people you would never otherwise encounter. Try something new this Winter, don’t follow the crowd, you won’t regret it.